Rockefeller Millions for Children Spurned, June 25, 1906



Promoters of National Project for Juvenile Work, Offered $5,000,000 by Oil Man, Refuse the Money as Tainted.


DENVER, June 25.-–The cry of tainted money has been raised by the friends of the children. John D. Rockefeller's offer of $5,000,000 to start the work of a national juvenile improvement association on lines suggested by Judge Lindsey of the Juvenile Court of Denver has been rejected.

Judge Lindsey himself, to whom Mr. Rockefeller voluntarily made the offer at the time the oil magnate was in hiding from deputy sheriffs seeking to subpoena him as a witness, made the decision. He has pledged his word to Miss Jane Addams of the Hull House, Chicago, when she approached him in behalf of other charitable workers, that he would not accept a penny of Mr. Rockefeller's money. The work is to go forward, but the money is not in sight. If Mr. Rockefeller's proposal had not been turned down, unlimited millions would have backed the project.


 It was a question of accepting the money and working alone, or refusing the money and working with the assistance of other organizations throughout the length and breadth of the land. In reply to this proposition Judge [Lindsey] never hesitated a moment.

"The work of the nationalization of the juvenile improvement association," said he, "is of too much importance for me to stand in its way. There is no other money in sight to start the work, but I have faith, and I pledge myself not to accept any assistance from Mr. Rockefeller."

The offer of Mr. Rockefeller was made to Judge Lindsey last January. The judge for two years has had his mind set on the organization of such a work. He has learned much of the needs of the children and the causes that lead them to go astray while on the bench of the Denver Juvenile Court, and when he received a letter from Mr. Rockefeller's secretary inviting him to call on him in New York to discuss the financing of the project he was delighted.


He went to New York and on the trip did much missionary work in behalf of the movement. It was one of Mr. Rockefeller's conditions in offering the money that the association should become national in scope, and wherever he went Judge Lindsey discussed the matter with other juvenile workers whom he invited to attend the convention of charities and corrections in Philadelphia and effect a national association of children's charities.

The [question of tainted] money was discussed quietly by the leaders in the work in the different cities after Judge Lindsey had propounded the plans and explained Mr. Rockefeller's offer. The sequel came at the Philadelphia meeting, which Judge Lindsey was unable to attend. On the motion of Judge Mack of Chicago the whole question was laid on the table.   

Judge Lindsey was almost heartbroken, as he knew nothing of the reasons that were [back] of this move. He corresponded with Judge Mack and it was agreed that the matter should be revived and that a convention of juvenile workers should be held. Judge Mack himself issued the call for a meeting to be held in the Hull House.


The week before this meeting Judge Lindsey and Miss Addams were both at St. Paul attending the national council of women's clubs. It was there that Judge Lindsey gave his pledge not to accept the Rockefeller donation. Miss Addams told him that only on that condition would it be possible for the other workers to give the movement any support, and that she herself would not be present at the meeting to be held the following week unless he gave the desired pledge. Miss Addams said the other workers had agreed it would be impossible to hold up a high ideal of citizenship to the child through an organization financed by a man who had been a fugitive from officers of the law.

When Miss Addams reported that Judge Lindsey had given the pledge desired the meeting was held. An international juvenile association was formed with Judge Lindsey as chairman. The movement was launched with hearty support of all juvenile workers, and with the moral support of a quietly voiced, but vigorous protest against tainted money.