His schemers’ joys were short lived as Shields was in business again one year later in 1906 with the help of friends. He formed a corporation—Game Protection Company—to publish Shields’ Magazine, with his first new monthly journal published January 1906. In his May 1906 issue, he wrote:
Shields’ Magazine will, however, be published under my editorial management. I now appeal to all readers of Recreation, to all true sportsmen, to all nature lovers and, in short, to all who approve of my work in the past, to rally to my support in this emergency.
A few friends are financing me temporarily, and it is up to the sportsmen of this country to provide the funds for carrying on my work.
Few other men have worked for game protection as I have, and few ever will work so hard. No one else has put so much money into the cause, though thousands of League members have many times the amount at their command. Not only have I impoverished myself, but I have put my heart’s blood into the cause. Will you fail now, in the day of trial, to stand by me and by the cause in which so many of you have urged me on with your words of approval?
My readers will readily understand how thoroughly humiliating it is for me to have to go before the world with such an appeal as this, but I have put 10 years of the best of my life into this work of game protection and I am not willing to quit now. The work is only half done. The question for the sportsmen of America to answer is, whether I shall be allowed to finish my work, or whether I must give it up for lack of financial support?
I have at least 10 years more of hard, vigorous work in me. I have recently been offered 3 positions in other lines, with good salaries, but have declined them all. I mean to work for the wild animals and the birds as long as I work for anything or anybody. I mean to keep after the game butchers until the last one of them is reformed or put out of business.
Now, brethren, I want at least 10,000 of you to send me checks of $5 each, for 4 years’ subscription to Shields’ Magazine. Or, you may pay $10 in advance, for 8 years’ subscription if you wish. Persons who are already subscribers may renew or extend their subscriptions on this basis. Now let us have a landslide of $5 and $10 checks. And while you are about it, put in another dollar for membership in the L.A.S.
If this appeal is thus met, a fund will be created which will put this magazine on a sound financial basis for all time to come. Meantime, it, in connection with the other forces at work, will have secured ideal game laws everywhere, and will have created a public opinion that will sustain such laws and that will eventually render game wardens unnecessary everywhere.
The only kind of sympathy that counts now is that which brings with it the sinews of war.
I am now compelled to put the price of Shields’ Magazine at $1.50 a year, and 15 cents a copy.
I trust the small advance which is rendered inevitable may not put this magazine out of the reach of any human being. The advance in cost is trifling to the individual, but on an issue of 65,000 a month the difference is great.
At present I am not allowed to own property or to have a bank account. Checks should, therefore, be made payable to The H.L. Suydam Co., and sent to 1269 Broadway, New York, Room 601. All funds thus received will be properly placed, and due credit given the subscribers.
According to Shields, the schemer was Annis, who “coveted” Shields business and who had tried to buy his business several times. Annis nudged two unnamed gunmakers to join him, with him taking over Shields’ business and the gunmakers would not be subjected any longer to his protest against their firearms. Then they sought out the printer of his magazine which they knew that Shields owed a substantial amount of money for printing services which they told the printer that Shields did not have the resources to pay him. The printer was told that “We will pay you for he owes you and then put him into bankruptcy and have you still print Recreation.” Once agreed upon, they entered into a conspiracy, with T.G. Bennett of Winchester getting one of his attorneys to do everything possible to get this matter to court so they could put him out of business. The attorney then instructed the printer that he should assign a part of his claim against Shields to a “straw man,” which he did. The attorney swore in court that Shields was transferring property to one of his creditors for the purpose of defrauding his other creditors. For only on such claim would the high court grant their petition for bankruptcy. And all this was done secretly and with great caution, lest it might become known to Shields too soon and he might circumvent them in their efforts. And the conspirators waited patiently until Shields had left his office, and went to Washington to attend a Forestry Congress. Then the conspirators speedily asked the high court of justice to appoint a custodian to take charge of the business of Shields and to exclude him therefrom. And when Shields returned to his workshop he found it in possession of the custodian; and a printed parchment was nailed to the door informing the world of the acts of the conspirators, and notice was given to the world, through the daily newspapers, that a suit had been filed in the high court of justice, asking that the said Shields be declared bankrupt and that his business be taken away from him and sold. And this was done; and all his business and personal belongings including his hunting trophies and guns, which he had gotten together in the course of his whole life, were sold by order of the high court of justice. And great was the rejoicing in the camp of the thieves; for they said, “This man Shields has been a thorn in the side of us gun makers for lo, these many years. But at last we have him down; we have triumphed over him and never more will his voice be raised, in condemning our machines.”
An editorial in the Bulletin of the New York Zoological Society stated after his bankruptcy:
Ever since its incorporation, the New York Zoological Society has actively engaged in game protection work, and with the policy in view of making a more vigorous future campaign, has appointed Mr. G.O. Shields, formerly editor of Recreation, as its special agent for game protection.
During the past two years important work for bird protection has been accomplished, through the income of an endowment fund given by Miss Caroline Phelps Stokes to the Zoological Society, for use only in the cause of bird protection.
The first expenditure from this fund was utilized in printing a special edition of 3,000 copies of the director’s “Report on the Destruction of Our Birds and Mammals,” a pamphlet which has been in great demand by teachers and by persons seeking to secure the enactment of better laws for game protection. Two thousand copies of this reprint were distributed throughout the United States, generally, and, at the request of a member of Congress, copies were sent to all members of the Senate and House of Representatives.
During the recent struggle in Texas for the enactment of better laws for bird protection, copies were sent to all members of the State Legislature, and the resulting victory by the bird protectionists was partly accredited to this literature.
In 1904, Mr. Shields was sent to Louisiana for the purpose of rendering active assistance in securing the passage by the Legislature of better laws for the protection of birds.
The result of the trip was most gratifying, and the work which Mr. Shields accomplished has proven of permanent value. The State of Louisiana has long lacked proper bird laws, and the result has been that an immense number of song birds, not to mention waterfowl, have annually been slaughtered. The Society defrayed the entire expense of this trip from the Stokes Fund.
Early in 1904, the attention of the Zoological Society was called to the fact that certain manufacturers were about to put on the market an automatic shotgun, of great destructive power, when brought to bear against birds. The idea of a machine gun for the slaughter of birds caused the Zoological Society great concern, and when Mr. Shields appealed to the Society for funds with which to print 10,000 copies of a pamphlet protesting against the automatic gun, for special distribution among the members of State Legislatures, the Society appropriated $100 for that purpose. The pamphlet was printed to a total number of 10,000, and a copy was sent to each member of every State Legislature in the Union. This required about 6,000 copies, and to supply the number of extra copies that were called for by State Legislators, about 1,000 additional copies were sent out.
Mr. Shields had planned to make a vigorous personal campaign in several States against the automatic gun while law-making bodies were in session, but the amount of money that he had personally expended in game protection led to his being thrown into bankruptcy in January, 1905, and the loss of his game protection magazine. In order that he may continue this work, the Executive Committee has made the appointment as mentioned above, and its members have individually subscribed a substantial sum toward the financing of Shields’ Magazine, which, of course, will he largely devoted to the cause of game protection.”
This is what Shields wrote under the heading “MAKING A NEW START” in his Shields’ Magazine. This account was written while he was still in bankruptcy, but had started his new business of publishing Shield’s Magazine:
As most of my readers have already learned, I have been forced into bankruptcy, and now, at an age when I should have been able to retire with a competency, I am compelled to make a new start in life, or quit. I have chosen the former. I have never been a quitter, and do not mean to change now. This action against me has not been one of a fair-minded creditor against an honest debtor. I have good reason to believe it was inspired by a certain corporation [probably Winchester] that I have antagonized in my work for game protection.
The proceedings against me have, from the start, been marked by strong evidences of malice. A week ago the attorneys on the other side went into court and asked Judge Holt to commit me to jail for contempt, for having issued the appeal to sportsmen, which is reprinted on the opening pages of this magazine. Judge Holt turned these lawyers down on their own statement. It was not necessary for my attorneys to say a word. The Judge examined the circular carefully, and said he could see nothing wrong with it; that I had a perfect right to appeal to my friends for help in such a crisis as this. It is the only instance I have ever known, of a lawyer losing a case on his own argument and without a word from opposing counsel. This effort on the part of the prosecuting lawyers is only one of many which they have made, to bind me hand and foot and to compel me to get out of the field and stay out. But I am not built that way. It would take more money than the corporation I refer to ever had, to stop me from doing everything in my power to save the wild animals and birds of this country.
There are more facts in connection with this case than I care to make public now; but they will all come out in the future, and the trickery of some of the people connected with this affair will be exposed to the world before I get through with them.
I established Recreation in 1894, and for 5 years thereafter I worked 14 to 16 hours a day, 365 days in each year. Even since that I have worked harder and longer than probably any other editor or publisher ever did. Yet the magazine I have built up, which has made me 300,000 warm friends, which has done so much for the preservation of the wild life of the country and for which I have twice been offered $100,000 in cash, has been sold at a public sale for a few hundred dollars.
And I start again with volume 1 number 1 [of Shields’ Magazine]. I must go through the same ordeal of day, night and Sunday work, for another 5 years, that I went through from 1894 to 1898, to put the new magazine on its feet. I say I must do this, and I mean it. Some one must do it. Some one must devote himself to the cause of game and bird protection, or there will be no game left in a few years.
The League of American Sportsmen must live, and must have an official organ. There are plenty of publications that would be glad to rush in to fill the gap; but I feel it is my duty to do it. I organized the League. Many men have paid their money into it every year for the past 6 years, and some 50 men have paid $25 each for life memberships. I am not going to quit now and take the chances of the League dying out for want of hard work on the part of some one man. I shall fulfill my obligation to these men if I live long enough, and I believe the great mass of the sportsmen of this country will yet come to my support, will join the League and that its membership will yet reach the 100,000 mark I made for it in 1898. [when it formed after a subscriber suggested its organization in the October issue of 1897.]
While I have received many cordial responses to the appeal which I sent out in circular form, and which is printed in the opening pages of this issue, the number of such responses is not so great as I hoped it would be. I feel that the sportsmen should be willing to supply me at this time with a working capital of $10,000. I have not asked any man for a contribution. I have offered to give each and every man who sends me money, what I consider good value, and I believe there are thousands of men in the country who have not taken up this offer, and who will yet do so. The names of all subscribers in response to this appeal, will be printed in a future issue of this magazine, in order that they may be placed on record.
This issue of my new magazine is not so large as the old, but the size will be increased as fast as the income will admit of, and I hope soon to make the new magazine larger than the old ever was.
This issue of Shields’ Magazine is placed in the hands of all new dealers who have been handling the old Recreation. Please tell your friends about it and ask them to buy a copy.
Shields was not too complimentary of Recreation afterwards and that magazine did not set back idly. The editor responded in their January 1906 issue:
During the past year, one George O. Shields, formerly publisher of RECREATION, has been industriously circulating false and malicious statements about this publication. As RECREATION, under its new, honest and able management, has improved, grown in influence and become recognized as the leading magazine for real sportsmen, Mr. Shields’ desire to injure it has increased accordingly, and he has said and done about everything that a man of his character and mentality could be expected to say and do. RECREATION has permitted his attacks to pass without comment, being convinced that it was only a matter of time when the public would be given an unprejudiced measure of Mr. Shields’ true character and methods. The searchlight of truth, in the form of the United States District Court of the Southern District of New York, which has recently turned upon this worthy gentleman, now reveals him in his true color. It stigmatizes him as having taken a false oath to conceal property from his creditors and as being the perpetrator of a sham paper transaction and a fraudulent scheme in dealing with friends who had assisted him by purchasing stock in his company.
Shields continued his League of American Sportsmen, with him as President. Some officials of the organization which one might recognize was 2nd Vice President was W.T. Hornaday, 3rd Vice President was T.S. Palmer, Dept. of Agriculture, Washington, D.C., and 4th Vice President was Hon. John T. Lacy of Iowa (Lacey Act of 1900 fame). The executive council was made up of 28 men of national prominence, headed by Theodore Roosevelt. In 1906, the League had 20,000 members. It was the first national organization organized exclusively to protect American game. The League strongly supported John Lacey in getting the Lacey Act passed. Lacey said, “the work the league has done had a profound impression upon the House [of Representatives]. Lawmakers everywhere will soon learn that the just demands of this League cannot lightly be put aside.” After its passage, the League had a strong force of wardens stationed in the city of Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago and New York, watching for any infractions of the Lacey law.
W.T. Hornaday, of New York City, was very supportive of Shields, especially his style of using extravagant invectives. With the help of Hornaday and militant conservationist, Shields made things boiling hot for game hogs and poachers and the semi-automatic gun users and manufacturers.
As Shields said that he would continue his campaign against the semi-automatic shotgun, in 1906 here is an editorial from the Buffalo Sunday Morning News:
A bill will be introduced in all the Legislatures in the United States, as they convene, to prohibit the use of the automatic gun in hunting birds, and diligent efforts will be made by prominent men in each” State to secure the passage of the bill. The tonic will become an important one next winter, and there can be no doubt as to where the humane general public and sportsmen, who see something in hunting besides mere slaughter, will stand.
The Morning Telegraph-Union, Bridgeport, Conn., reported in 1906:
Those who have listened to the lectures of G.O. Shields, better known as “Coquina” in Bridgeport in former years, and who appreciate his thoroughly sportsmanlike qualities, will attach great importance to the fact that he has organized a crusade against the use of the automatic shot gun which has just been put on the market. In this, he represents not only his own views and those of all lovers of fair and honorable sport, but the convictions of the New York Zoological Society, whose special agent he is. The object of the movement is to prohibit the use of the automatic gun in hunting birds. The aid of each State Legislature will be invoked as soon as it convenes and it is hoped to arouse public sentiment to such a degree that ample legislative action may be obtained against this new menace to bird life.
In November 1906, The Springfield Daily News reported: “A bill is to be introduced at the coming session of the Massachusetts Legislature, as part of concerted action all over the United States, looking to the protection of birds from the onslaught of men who use automatic guns, and a strong effort will be made by prominent men of the State to secure its passage. In this connection it is interesting to note that a new automatic shot gun, backed by the gun trust, went on sale last month, and thus another of these murderous weapons is at hand for all those who have not the skill to use a more humane weapon and whose only aim is the indiscriminate slaughter of birds and game.”
Shields reported in his magazine for the January 1906 issue under the heading “WHAT A WOMAN DID WITH AN AUTOMATIC SHOT GUN,” that was printed in St. Louis Republic newspaper:
Mrs. J.W. Smith, wife of the chief surgeon of the Cotton Belt system, has earned the distinction of being the first St. Louis woman to kill a wild goose this fall. The feat was performed on a big sandbar below Chester, in the Mississippi river, where Mrs. Smith was shooting with her husband. Mr. and Mrs. Smith hid themselves in deep pits and awaited the coming of a big flock of Canada geese which had been hovering around the bar several days. Mrs. Smith was armed with her husband’s automatic shot gun, and when the geese, in answer to her husband’s call, flew low, she picked her birds and dropped eight before the flock reversed its course and got out of range.
Shields responded: “And yet Browning and Bennett and the Remington people claim that you cannot kill any more game with an automatic gun than you can with a double barrel. How many geese would Mrs. Smith have killed out of that flock with a double barrel gun? Mr. Browning, it is your first guess.”
Shields was relentless in his pursuit of trying to outlaw the use of semi-automatics for hunting. In March 1906, Shields, representing the League of American Sportsmen, appeared before a U.S. House of Representative committee seeking their help in passing a bill to prevent the use of the semi-automatic shotguns for hunting purposes. Appearing on the other side was the attorney for Remington and John Browning. Shields turned heads when asked if he wanted to band all firearms for hunting. His answer was “Yes, for five years,” to include “all repeating rifles and shotguns.” Needless to say, his recommendation went nowhere with this committee. At this time, no state had passed a law, against using semi-automatics for hunting purposes, so he had directed his attention to the federal government. At the time of his testimony, 10,000,000 shotguns were in use with one billion cartridges being used, while 500,000 shotguns were being sold each year, of which 350,000 were sold for $5.00 or less.
In March 21, 1906, Shields received a letter from one of his subscribers, Arthur Robinson, who wrote:
Regarding the use of the automatic shot-gun, would say that I am a member of two southern ducking clubs where these guns are used very extensively. I have seen a flock of ducks come into a blind where one, two, or even three of these guns were in use, and have seen as many as eleven shots poured into a single flock. We have considerable poaching on one of these clubs, the territory being so extensive that it is impossible to prevent it. We own 60,000 acres, and these poachers, I am told, nearly all use the automatic guns. They frequently kill six or eight ducks out of one flock—first taking a raking shot on the water, and then getting in the balance of the magazine before the flock is out of range. In fact, some of them carry two guns, and are able to discharge a part of the second magazine into the same flock.
I am not so much against the gun when in the hands of gentlemen and real sportsmen, but, on account of its terrible possibilities for market hunters, I believe that the only safe way is to abolish it entirely, and that the better class should be willing to give up this weapon as being the only means of putting a stop to this willful game slaughter.
For his June 1906 issue, he wrote under the headlines “HELLISH WORK OF AUTOMATIC AND PUMP GUNS”:
In a recent issue of the Journal of the Maine Ornithological Society, published at Portland, there appeared an article on the Ducks of Merrymeeting Bay, by Frank T. Noble of Kennebec, in which he says:
“I can not close this article without an allusion to that great evil, the repeating shot gun, the work of which is witnessed daily on this famous ducking ground. It is certainly a serious matter and one which must shortly be reckoned with if our shooting is to be preserved. In making this broad statement I voice not only my own views, but the candid opinion of many of the older native gunners of the bay shore, whose observations of the results have extended over many years, and who, themselves, have been forced to adopt the use of these terrifying magazine guns in order to ‘hold their own,’ as they express it, with others, who bring these guns to the bay. These resident hunters have repeatedly assured me of the great harm these furious fusillades have done to the birds, and have asked if something could not be done to prohibit them. The hunters say they would welcome the day when every one would be obliged to go back to the old double barrel breech loader. The birds would then have a show at least, and all the gunners would be on an equal footing as far as firearms go.”
In December 1906, Shields wrote in the magazine under the heading “THE END OF THE FIRST CAMPAIGN”:
Now that the first campaign against the automatic gun is at an end, it may be well to review briefly the history of this fight, since many people who have become interested in it during the past winter do not know the early history of the contest.
In 1902, Browning Bros., of Ogden, Utah, announced that they were having a lot of automatic shot guns built in Belgium that would be imported and put on sale in this country at an early date. Almost at the same time, the Winchester Arms Co. announced that it was building machinery to make an automatic shot gun. I wrote both parties, informing them that in my judgment, and in that of many other sportsmen and nature lovers, it would be unfair and unjust to the game protection interests of this country to put such a murderous weapon as an automatic shot gun on the market. In the November, 1903, issue of my magazine, I printed an editorial from which I quote:
“It would seem that reasonable men, no matter how eagerly they may seek the mighty dollar, should be satisfied with the weapons already on the market for destroying American birds and wild animals. We have repeating rifles, repeating shot guns, double barrel and single barrel shot guns by the million, and with these the birds and the wild animals have been reduced to pitiable remnants of their former great numbers; but now, as if not satisfied with the slaughter which has been and is being carried on, these gun houses are putting out still more murderous engines of destruction for market hunters and pot hunters. This announcement should arouse the indignation of every decent sportsman and every nature lover on the continent, and I appeal to all such to write at once to the Winchester Arms Co., protesting in the strongest and most vigorous language possible, against the making and putting on the market of an automatic gun.
“The repeating rifle has been an important factor in wiping out the big game of this country. The pump gun, so called, has proven little short of a national calamity. An automatic shot gun would be a disgrace to the nation, and its introduction should be prohibited by law.
“I appeal to all readers of this magazine to write at once to the company mentioned, stating that they will never buy or use an automatic gun; that they will discourage its use by others in every legitimate way; and they will not associate with any man who may use such a weapon.”
At my request some hundreds of leading sportsmen in this country wrote the Winchester Co, protesting against the manufacture and sale of an automatic shot gun. Mr. Bennett, the President of that Company, replied to these letters in defiant and aggressive terms, stating, in effect, that the company would, if it saw fit, go ahead and build and put on the market an automatic shot gun.
It seems, however, that some of the stockholders in that Company thought better of the matter than Mr. Bennett did. At any rate, the Company abandoned its purpose and has not, up to this date, completed its machinery for building automatic shot guns.
The Remington Arms Company seems to have believed that it knew more about the temperament of the sportsmen of the country than the Winchester people did. In defiance of the thousands of protests that had been written and published against the proposed weapon, Remington in New Haven, Connecticut went ahead, built machinery and made up, according to Mr. Browning’s statement, 15,000 automatic shot guns, the first of which were put on the market in 1905.
I, in conjunction with many people who believe as I do, had planned a vigorous campaign in the Legislatures which convened last winter, in favor of the enactment of laws prohibiting the use of this machine gun. But my enemies got to work in December, and on the 3rd of January, 1905, while I was in Washington attending the Forestry Congress, a petition was filed against me in the United States Court, a receiver appointed, and when I came home I found him [Annis] in possession of my office. The sole object of this proceeding was to put me out of business and to stop my fight against the automatic and pump guns. The conspirators succeeded for a time; but unfortunately for them I did not stay out.
We went to work again, and in January, 1906, our bill to prohibit the use of the automatic gun was introduced in the Legislatures of New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Mississippi and Rhode Island, and in the Congress of the United States.
The gun people at once organized a powerful lobby which visited the Capitals of these various States, and some of the employees remained in close communication with members of the Legislatures for weeks at a time. In fact, one of their men spent a good part of the winter at Trenton, N.J., and I am told by persons in a position to know, that he personally interviewed every member of the Senate and Assembly of that State.
Our bills were regularly referred to the proper committees in the various legislative bodies, and the gun people concentrated their principal efforts on the members of these committees. The lobbyists did their work so effectively that all the committees to whom these bills were referred refused to report them out. When we found what had been done, we requested the committee to report the bills even if unfavorable, with recommendations that they be not passed, in order that the measure might be fought out on its merits in the legislative bodies; but the committees refused to do even this. Why?
If the question is merely one of right or wrong, why should it not be fought out on the floor of each House? Why should not each member of each Legislature have the privilege of discussing the automatic shot gun bill and voting on it?
Every reader will draw his own conclusion.
It will not take any man long to make up his mind as to why a committee should not be willing to put a measure of this kind before the parent body on its merits. One member of one of these legislative committees told me that he had been offered a fine gun if he would agree to hold up the automatic gun bill and not allow it to be reported. How many members of these committees could make similar statements if they saw fit to tell the whole truth?
The Remington people complain that we are attacking a legitimate industry in which they have invested $50,000 Why should they have invested $50,000 or even $1 in making and putting on the market a slaughtering machine, after the whole gun trade had been warned by thousands of prominent sportsmen that such a gun would not be allowed? The Remington Arms Co. saw fit to defy public opinion, and now it is proper that this Company should be required to take its medicine.
We can easily figure up that this first campaign has cost the gun and ammunition trust at least $20,000. For instance, they employed John S. Wise to go to Albany and make an argument before the Senate Committee against our bill, and it is safe to say they paid him a handsome fee for that piece of work. They employed C.N. Boyee to go to Washington and make an argument before the House Committee on Territories against our bill, and it is safe to say they paid him another large check for that trip. They had other attorneys at other places. They kept Tom Marshall at work all winter, on a big salary, and there are various rumors of champagne dinners, theatre parties, automobile tours and other entertainments to which he treated the various committeemen having our bill in charge.
If it cost the gun and ammunition people $20,000 to fight our proposed amendments, resolutions and bill in eight States last winter, what will it cost them to fight it in the 35 States, whose legislatures convene next winter?
It might be well for the stockholders of the various gun and ammunition companies to do some careful figuring during the next few weeks, and to consider whether they want another campaign at a price corresponding to the cost of the last one.
The New York Zoological Society and the League of American Sportsmen and the Audubon Societies and the thousands of good sportsmen and nature lovers outside of all these organizations, will be in much better shape to fight next winter than we were last winter. In fact, as Paul Jones said, “We have not yet commenced to fight.” You watch our smoke and you will learn something interesting during the next 12 months.
Of the bills introduced in 1906 in New York, Georgia, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Ohio, Mississippi, Virginia, Rhode Island and the District of Columbia to prohibit the use of automatic shotguns in hunting game, none received favorable action.
During 1907, Shields, working as special agent for the Zoological Society, worked diligently with the legislatures of 35 states, which then were in session, to secure certain amendments to their game laws which were deemed necessary, and also to secure passage of certain new laws. It was largely through his effort that the Pennsylvania legislature finally enacted a law prohibiting the use of the automatic shotgun.
In July 1907, the Pennsylvania Legislature passed an “anti-automatic shot gun bill, by sweeping majorities. The vote for it in the House stood 106 to 13, and in the Senate 32 to 1”:
The Governor has signed the bill and hereafter it will be unlawful to use any so-called automatic shot gun in that State, in hunting birds or animals.
The Gun and Ammunition Trust maintained a lobby at Harrisburg all winter, working tooth and nail to defeat this measure, but they were unable to stem the tide of public sentiment and were ignominiously defeated. Then the gun people made a vigorous canvass of the State to induce the Governor to veto the bill. Tom Marshall attended the tournament of the Pennsylvania State Sportsmen’s Association, at Lebanon, a few days after the bill passed, and lobbied a resolution through at the business session, asking the Governor to veto the bill.
It is said that over 1,700 automatic guns have been sold in Pennsylvania and that the gun people sent a circular letter to the owner of every one of them asking him to do everything in his power to induce the Governor to veto the automatic gun bill. I am told the gun people wrote every gun dealer in Pennsylvania to do everything in their power to induce the Governor to kill the bill.
All these interests responded, but the good people of the State were too many for the gun people and simply snowed the Governor under with petitions, letters, telegrams, urging the approval of our measure.
The State Game Commission was a unit for the bill and every member of it appealed personally to the Governor to affix his signature to our bill. John M. Phillips, President Wooden, Dr. Kalbfus and Private Secretary Black worked like Trojans for the bill.
The Hon. George Shiras, of Pittsburg, author of the bill to provide Federal protection for wild fowl, wired Governor Stuart in these words:
“The automatic shot gun is more destructive to game than the punt gun, and is on a par with killing fish by dynamite. As these latter means of destruction have long been prohibited in every State nothing can now justify the use of automatic guns, in view of the present scarcity of wild life. I hope you may approve house bill 476 to prohibit the use of that gun.”
Soon after its passage, a hunter in Pennsylvania killed a bird with an “automatic” and was arrested by a L.A.S. warden and was convicted by a local justice. The gun manufacturers of automatics took the case to the County Court where it was reversed, declaring it unconstitutional. It was then appealed to the higher Superior Court who ruled in favor of the law, stating the state could make any law or do anything it liked for the purpose of protecting its fish and game. The gun manufacturers were in a state of panic after this ruling.
In 1907, game bills to prohibit the use of semi-automatic shotguns in hunting game in the District of Columbia, Georgia, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island and Virginia were introduced, but the opposition to its passage was so strong, and so well organized, that success was attained in Pennsylvania only.
Owing to an unfortunate shortage of funds for game protection measures, it was impossible for the Zoological Society to continue Shields services as the Society’s special agent after May 1, 1907. However, the Society continued to be the main sponsor of Shields’ Magazine until 1912.
However, Shields’ bully-pulpit crusade against semi-automatics had more effect in the Canadian provinces and one other state than Pennsylvania to outlaw semi-automatic guns for hunting: 1906, Saskatchewan and Prince Edward Island; 1907, New Brunswick, Ontario and Alberta; 1909, Manitoba; 1911, British Columbia; 1912, New Jersey. The L.A.S. was strong in Canada during this time, with memberships starting in 1900.
Some sportsmen clubs did likewise: Adirondack League Club, New York; Blooming Grove Park Hunting and Fishing Club, Pennsylvania; Greenwing Gun Club, Ottawa, Illinois; Western Ducking Club, Detroit; Bolsa Chica Club, Los Angeles; Westminster Club, Los Angeles; Los Patos Club, Los Angeles; Pocahontas Club, Virginia; Tobico Hunting Club, Kawkawlin, Michigan; Turtle Lake Club, Turtle Lake, Michigan; Au Sable Forest Farm Club, Michigan; Wallace Ducking Club, Wild Fowl Bay, Michigan; Lomita Club, Los Angeles; Golden West Club, Los Angeles; Recreation Club, Los Angeles.
In 1909, State Senator Love of Utah, after President Theodore Roosevelt had denounced the automatic as a slaughtering machine, John Browning packed an automatic and an old-fashioned pump gun into this trunk and went to Washington to try and convince Teddy that the former was no worse than the latter, as if that would prove the automatic an entirely harmless and respectable weapon. So the two of them went over to the White House. Meeting with the President, Browning stated his mission, took the two guns from their cases and started in on his demonstration, when the Rough Rider promptly went off, refused either to look or listen and denounced both guns as pot hunter’s weapons. The two tried to reason with him, with Browning reminding the Rough Rider of what he had said to Shields about the automatic being a slaughtering machine and hinting that he had unfairly attacked “a great industry.” Thus only adding fuel to the flames. The President cut the men short and closed the conversation in his well known abrupt manner with some vitriolic language. Browning took his guns under his arm and faded away. It was several hours before the poor gunmaker recovered his nerve so that he could talk of what he called the disgraceful treatment he had received at the hands of the Rough Rider, saying before leaving the Senator that “I certainly stirred up a hornet’s nest.”
In a letter of February 16, 1911, Shields, on behalf of the League of American Sportsmen, asked that Senator Franklin D. Roosevelt introduce a bill to bar the use of automatic and pump guns and enclosed a circular in which was printed a copy of the proposed measure. Shields felt that Roosevelt’s was the one to introduce the bill, being that he was chairman of the Senate Forest, Fish and Game Committee. However, Roosevelt felt another member should introduce the bill. On May 3, Senator James J. Frawley (a member of the committee) introduced Senate bill 1421 to prohibit “the use of automatic or repeating shot guns, pump guns or any gun holding more than two cartridges at one time.” On June 20, Roosevelt reported the bill favorably and it was ordered to a third reading; on the next day it was recommitted. No further action, however, on it was taken.
Having grown tired of fighting anti-automatic gun bills in state legislatures fostered by Shields, Winchester felt it necessary to take a different approach by winning over some of his support, fearing Shields would never stop his crusade. In 1911, Harry Leonard, then vice president of the Winchester Repeating Arms Company, approached the Audubon Society’s secretary, T. Gilbert Pearson, who he knew was looking for a new funding source as Audubon was somewhat financially strapped. He wanted Pearson to head up the new game protection organization of the Audubon Society. A company representative said that Winchester felt that “as the game decreases our business grows less.” Winchester promised to assign sales agents to the new organization to enroll new members. Pearson embraced the idea and suggested that Winchester find out whether other gun manufacturers were interested in supporting conservation efforts by also making funds available to the Audubon as he told Leonard that it would take $125,000 to fund the new organization for five years. If they were, they should pool their resources and give the money to the Audubon instead. Soon several gun manufacturers offered a combined $25,000 a year for five years, which Pearson felt would not be a problem with the board since the organization had already accepted funding from an ammunition manufacturer—the U.S. Cartridge Company—in the past without controversy and it had not been problematic. Leonard also suggested that Pearson’s salary be handsomely increased from $3,000 to $6,000 annually.
Pearson brought the matter to the board, who was hesitant to accept the offer but six of the nine board members finally approved it with Pearson’s urging. Some one leaked the information the same night that the vote took place to Shields. This immediately drew the angst of those not a part of the Audubon Society—especially William Hornaday and Shields. They argued that gun manufacturers had approached other prominent conservationists and officers of sportsmen clubs, for instance Hornaday and Shields with similar offers and were rejected. Hornaday produced a letter showing previous attempts by the gun manufacturers to strike a deal with him, offering him $10,000 to drop his opposition to semi-automatic weapons, whereupon Hornaday told Leonard that he “should go and form his own, and spend the money yourselves.” He said further, “Five years before, I told Mr. Browning that the New York Zoological Society would not sell out its principles against the use of machine guns for a million dollars.”
Shields indicated that he too was approached, with Leonard offering him $10,000 from Winchester and $15,000 from other gun and ammo manufacturers, if the fight against the automatic and pump was stopped, as was another $800 worth of advertising a month was offered for his magazine, Shields’ Magazine, on the same condition. They claimed that in exchange for their donations, gun companies expected that any organization taking funds from them would not advocate for legislation that would ban the use of automatic guns in hunting. They argued that the gun manufacturers’ gift to Audubon was intended to buy the organization’s silence on the question of automatic or pump guns. They also pointed out that though several organizations, such as the New York Zoological Society, League of American Sportsmen, and the New York State Forest, Fish and Game League (of which Shields and Hornaday were leaders), had been actively fighting the use of pump guns for hunting, and they were opposed the use of automatic guns for hunting. The Audubon had not joined their campaign. The Audubon responded by stating emphatically that the gun manufacturers’ gift was unconditional and by publishing excerpts from a letter the board sent to the gun manufacturers, which stated, “It is expressly understood the acceptance of this fund does not commit the Audubon to any policy for or against the use of any particular gun.”
As rumors spread across the country, Leonard, said that “It is not true that the offer of the gun manufacturers to the Association of Audubon Societies was on condition that the organization discontinue its opposition to the use of automatic firearms. The fact that the Audubon Society has not permitted itself to take sides in the unsuccessful agitation against automatic firearms is in itself a flat contradiction of this malicious rumor.”
Two weeks after receiving the gift, the organization called a special meeting at which they decided to return the money. After they had done so, the New York Times stated that Hornaday was prone to error and accused him of thwarting the plan for starting a game-protection division in the Audubon. However, Hornaday responded in the New York Herald that “Winchester has for some time been endeavoring to get control of the National Association of Audubon Societies.” Shields told the New York Times, “Why turn out all these deadly guns and all this vast quantity of deadly ammunition for the destruction of birds and then subscribe to a bird protection fund? It looks fishy. In hearings before a dozen legislative committees with in the past five years, at which I have been present, the chief advocate for the gun and ammunition trust has read a letter from Mr. Pearson stating that in his opinion it does not matter what kind of gun a man uses if the game laws are all right. Tom Marshall always boasts after reading that letter to the committee that it puts the Audubon Society squarely on record as opposing any legislation aimed to prohibit the use of these slaughtering machines.”
After being rejected by Audubon, as a last resort, the gun companies responded by forming their own conservation group—the American Game Protective and Propagation Association—endowing it with $125,000 of “blood money,” according to Shields. The DuPont Powder Company sent a letter to all its stock holders urging them to subscribe more money. In part it said: “A much larger fund than the $125,000 is absolutely required, if the work of the Association is to be of any good at all. Such a fund can only be secured by subscriptions from individuals and firms interested in the cause.” Shields said in his magazine for February 1912 that he would continue his fight to prohibit automatics and pumps for hunting purposes for another 20 years, if he had to. Hornaday, who Shields called the “old war horse,” was right there alongside him answering some of the letters that came in from those whose opposed what Shields and Hornaday was doing.
In 1911, Shields was instrumental in passing the New York Bayne Law, which limited the sale of migratory birds in New York City’s game market, whether coming from within or without the state of New York. New York was left to import bird shot only in a foreign country. It was one of the three most important wildlife bills every passed and which had a far-reaching effect. The other two, which Shields help implement, were the Lacey Act of 1900 and the Weeks-McLean Migratory Bird Act. As New York was an entrepot for waterfowl for this nation, the Bayne’s Law’s effect on waterfowl can be demonstrated by Currituck Sound, which was a vast slaughter pen for waterfowl. No power or persuasion had availed to induce the market hunters of North Carolina to check or regulate or in any manner mitigate the slaughter of geese, ducks and swans. It was estimated that 200,000 waterfowl were annually slaughtered there. Shields who advocated for the Bayne law said, “Close the New York markets against Currituck birds and you will stop a great deal of the slaughter.” The greatest game market in America was absolutely closed. During the winter of 1911, the annual killing of waterfowl was fully 50 per cent less than during previous years. In one small town, 20 professional duck shooters in Currituck went entirely out of business because they couldn’t sell their ducks. The dealers refused to buy them. In Maryland, the price paid to the market hunters brought half of what they brought before.
In 1911, Shields’ Magazine had a circulation of 50,000. In his last issue of August 1912, and for that matter throughout all issues of 1912 of Shields’ Magazine, there continued to be subscribers who were writing in to support him in his battle to prohibit pump and automatics along with support for the L.A.S., with only a handful who condemned him. Publicly, he was an outspoken critic of the many conservation groups and individual in his years-long battles trying to get the automatics and pumps prohibited for hunting.
After 1912, there are a few mentions of him lecturing and that he wrote one more book, but that is it. It appears that in a very few states the local chapters of the L.A.S. carried on through the 1920s, or least part of it, yet it is hardly mentioned after 1912.
Almost the very last paragraph in the August 1912 issue is his comments on the report of the Week-McLean Migratory Bird Act by the Senate Committee, which he had worked so hard for in its passage, in which he stated: “Game commissioners and other officers representing 43 States, together with some of the leading ornithologists of the country, appeared before your committee, and their testimony, based on years of experience and practical observation, was conclusive of the fact that State control of migratory birds must, from the very nature of the surrounding temptations and conditions, end in failure.”
Two weeks after his last issue, September 18, 1912, fifteen supporters of the Weeks-McLean Migratory Bird Act gathered for a meeting in New York City to rally for its passage. Shields was not among them. The bill finally passed in 1913. It was a moment of hard-won satisfaction for Shields and Hornaday.
After his magazine folded in 1912, and with the formation of the American Game and Protective and Propagation Association in 1911, which he wanted no part of, the fight would be left to William Hornaday to continue the fight for conservation, at least the way he and Hornaday saw it. Hornaday said in 1913: “We are weary of witnessing the greed, selfishness and cruelty of ‘civilized’ man toward the wild creatures of the earth. We are sick of ales of slaughter and pictures of carnage.”
Shields saw Hornaday as a clone of himself, being a most vocal exponent of game law reforms and strongly against automatics and pumps. They both were interesting and complex figures in the fight for conservation. They were able to transcend wealth, faction or class in pursuing their goal, taking on politicians, bankers, lawyers, wealthy sportsmen and gun clubs. Here were two over whom the “Gun and Ammo Trust” had no hold of, and who were therefore able to stand for fair play. They were men of habitual directness, passion and vigor. Their position on conservation was not a popular mantra.
If Shields’ life-long work for wildlife could be summed up in a few words for our present and future generations, it just might be these: “It is being brought home to mankind that the wildlife about us is a valuable asset of the people as a whole. It is more than an asset. It is a necessity to us in our struggle for existence. It is part and parcel of the great cosmic scheme of the Creator. It was my duty to educate everyone to a higher humanity, and to inspire a deeper reverence for the Great Creator of these birds and animals and a more profound consciousness of our duty to protect them.”
On April 18, 1912, George Orville Shields pulled his copy of William Temple Hornaday’s Two Years in the Jungle off the shelf for a little evening reading. After 30 minutes, he took out his pen to write the book’s author, his old friend Hornaday: “I have kept you busy explaining and apologizing for me,” Shields wrote, “but we may both console ourselves with the assurance that 100 years hence people will understand both of us better than they do now, and will be sorry that our warnings were not heeded more generally than they are.”
Called by Outdoor Life “unquestionably our most eminent and successful pioneer in the cause of the conservation of wild life,” Shields in his earlier days was a heartless slaughterer of wildlife, which he unquestionably enjoyed, having hunted and killed every kind of big game in North America south of the Arctic Circle. It all changed in 1883, when he wrote in his Rustlings in the Rockies, “I sat down and gazed for twenty minutes upon his lifeless form and bitterly did I reproach myself for bringing to an untimely end so noble, so majestic an animal. What a strange passion it is that leads men to slaughter of innocent creatures, and what a strange fancy it is that leads them to think such slaughter is sport. It is too deep a problem for my untutored mind; I leave it to the meta-physician, to the psychologist.” After seeing the folly of slaughtering everything that moved, he became concerned for the future of wildlife in America and devoted his time and life to conservation. He spent everything he made from Recreation and Shields’ Magazine, and basically paid for the work of the L.A.S.
To Shields, he saw himself, while in New York City penniless, as a pauper, an outcast, a bit of civilization’s wreckage more helpless than a tramp. He never married and had no offspring. He died a pauper in New York City November 11, 1925.
As for Recreation, after its bankruptcy, it reorganized and continued on under William E. Annis and Daniel Carter. Annis was murdered by two brothers, Peter C. Hains II and Thornton Jenkins Hains (a well-known author of sea stories). The murder was sensationalized throughout the national press of the time. Dan Beard was an avid outdoorsman, author, illustrator and a member of the L.A.S. Mark Twain once said of him: “He is the only man who can correctly illustrate my writings, for he not only illustrates the text, but he also illustrates my thoughts.” In 1888 the Amateur Sportsman journal was being published by Outdoor World Publishing Co. which was in competition with Recreation. In June 1912, Outdoor World bought Recreation. The journal’s name changed to The Illustrated Outdoor World and Recreation. In May 1914, its name changed to Recreation and Outdoor World and by October its name had changed again to Recreation.
As for the League of American Sportsmen, from a nucleus charter membership of 140 sportsmen in 17 states, the L.A.S. grew to a nationwide force of thousands within a few years. One of its aims were “to promote good-fellowship among sportsmen; to foster in the minds of the people a love of nature and of nature’s works.” Shields was the League’s only president and guiding force, and it declined along with his personal fortunes after 1908. He had tried in 1908 to turn the leadership of the L.A.S. over to John Lacey, but he had declined, stating his legal practice occupied all of his time. At Hornaday’s urging for him to accept the presidency in 1909, Shields once again turned to Lacey, with Shield saying, “I naturally feel that that ten years is long enough for any one man to work for one organization and I cannot consistently do so. He told the board of L.A.S. that “I have served the League as well as I knew hot 10 years, and feel that I have earned a rest. I therefore respectfully decline a re-election, in favor of Major John F. Lacy,” so Lacy in 1909 was elected the president of the L.A.S., but once again he declined so Shields continued on. In 1908, Shields made a tour across the United States, in which he delivered 74 lectures and over 200 addresses to grade schools and universities, each one of which was a powerful appeal in behalf of wildlife.
Recreation and the League of American Sportsmen never paid their own way and eventually put Shields into bankruptcy.
The world’s most prolific firearms inventor, John Moses Browning was given the sobriquets “Father of Modern Firearms” and “Thomas Edison of Guns.” He died November 26, 1926 in Leige, Belgium of a heart attack while working on new ideas at his work bench. Before his death, he had obtained 128 patents. His first was filed May 19, 1879 and granted October 7, 1879. His last patent was filed July 31, 1923 and granted after his death May 10, 1927. He also designed seven different cartridges. Browning’s Remington Auto 5 and his Winchester Model 1897 were two of his best. We are still using these two shotguns today. The Auto 5 features a distinctive high rear end, which earned it the sobriquet “Humpback” because of its squared-off receiver. Browning considered this design to be his greatest achievement. In 1952, the city of Leige, Belgium had a bronze plaque made which read: “In memory of John M. Browning, 1855-1926. It is here where 30 years beforehand he came from Ogden to have his first automatic pistol manufactured that on November 26, 1926, death surprised in the midst of his work the greatest firearms inventor the world has ever known.”
The plaque was placed outside the room where John M. Browning died of a heart attack while he and his son, Val, who was his father’s representative in Leige, were discussing technical details of the over and under, superimposed, double-barrel shotgun then being developed at the Fabrique Nationale factory. The plaque consisted of a life-sized likeness of the inventor and a likeness of his first automatic pistol and automatic shotgun. The inscription was in French. It was at FN that in January of 1913 a banquet was held in celebration of manufacture of the one millionth Browning automatic pistol. At this time, Browning was honored with the decoration of Chevalier de l’Ordre de Leopold (Knight of the Order of Leopold) from King Albert I of Belgium. He was also presented with a bronze statue representing Genius by the noted sculptor Rosseau. This statue was then displayed in Ogden at the residence of Val, who was also present at the 1952 celebration. Up to August of 1952, in this plant alone, a total of 3,900,000 firearms of John Browning invention had been produced and sold.
As for Remington, which had exclusive rights to manufacture and sell these arms in the United States, the last of the patents for the Model 11 expired February 13, 1923. Shortly thereafter, the Remington Arms Co. wrote a letter to the Brownings refusing to pay further royalties, although it continued to manufacture and sell these guns. Under these circumstances, the Brownings again began to import their shotguns, which they were able to do, because FN was making them for the European markets under the original licensing agreement with the Brownings. Before the Brownings resumed importations, and just after the Remington Arms Co. stopped paying royalties, the Remington Arms Co. had itself decided to import the 16-gauge automatic shotgun, which it had never made. It placed an order for 1,000 of these guns with FN and actually had imported and received delivery of 200 of them before the attention of the Belgian manufacturer was called to the fact that the Brownings had reserved the exclusive sales rights for the United States under the foreign patents on these guns with FN. Under these circumstances, the Brownings again availed themselves of their right to sell these guns in the United States under their agreement with the FN and resumed importation of the guns. In resuming importation, therefore, the Brownings were merely capitalizing their own name and reputation. The 16-gauge gun, as stated above, had never been made in this country, and, therefore, it did not compete with the only automatic shotgun (12-gauge) made in this country. The domestic demand for the 16-gauge automatic shotgun had been developed at great expense by the Brownings only. In importing automatic shotguns, they were simply trying to make up the loss which they suffered through the cessation of the royalty payments by the Remington Arms Company. The number of automatics imported by the Browning Arms Company, beginning in 1923 at the time they began importing again, was 31,547 over a five-year period. The number of 12-gauge automatics sold by Remington from 1910-1922 were 166,338 as reported by Remington to Browning for which royalties were paid on. Earlier year data was not known. However, the total royalty paid by Remington from 1903 to 1923 was $600,000. By 1929, Remington’s output of firearms and ammunition together constituted about one-third of the production in the United States. The autoloader cost FN about $14.00 to manufacturer, much cheaper than in the U.S., while Remington’s cost to manufacturer was $28.00. Browning costs from FN was $16 for each. One year after Browning’s death, in 1927 the Browning 12 gauge was selling for $41.30, while Remington’s was selling for $38.41 each. The combined total yearly sales of automatic shotguns by the Browning Arms Co. and the Remington Arms Co. was about 30,000 guns.
The company’s name was changed to Remington Arms-Union Metallic Cartridge Co. in 1911, which sold a production licensed version of the Browning Auto-5 built beginning in 1911 under the trade name of Remington Model 11, which would be the first auto-loading shotgun produced in the U.S. It was practically identical to the then current Browning Auto 5. The Salvage Arms Company also sold a variant of the autoloader and called it the Model 720, which was built between 1930-1949. The original Auto-5 was produced in Belgium until the early 1970s when production shifted to Japan. The Auto-5 was discontinued in 1998. Just before the start of WWI, more than a million of Browning’s iconic designed Auto 5 had been sold by FN, with Browning receiving royalties on the sales of each. Browning was an inventor of more successful firearms than any man who ever lived. He died in 1926 at age 72, the same year that T.G. Bennett retired from the board of Winchester. On his seventieth birthday, he had an even dozen patents pending in Washington. His death occurred on his 62nd visit to Europe. He was a “success from the start.” Just as Thomas Edison was the wizard of electricity, so was Browning the wizard of firearms. His chief indoor sports were tinkering with firearms in his little shop or strumming on his banjo. For outdoor sports, he enjoyed fishing and big game hunting up on Wyoming.
Marcellus Hartley, as a 20-year old, in 1847, was working in the gun department at the import house of Francis Tomes & Sons of New York City, dealers in fancy hardware and sporting goods. His duties often required him to solicit business from dealers in the South and Midwest. His early years prepared him for a career in the gun business and hardened him to long and arduous trips to visit both suppliers and customers throughout the world. With a thorough business knowledge of American and European sporting arms, Marcellus made the acquaintance of two men who worked for a competitor of Francis Tomes & Sons, Jacob Schuyler and Malcolm Graham of the firm Smith, Young & Company. It took no time at all for the three young men to strike up a friendship and establish “a fancy hardware and military goods” business to compete with their former employers. Thus, the firm Schuyler, Hartley & Graham was established March 1, 1854 in New York City, as purveyors of military goods (uniforms, swords, weapons and musical instruments) and sporting arms and related accessories. He and Schuyler sailed for Europe to purchase goods for the new but nearly empty store. They traveled throughout the Continent and England for about four months, procuring goods and establishing business relationships with manufacturers and wholesalers which they would utilize for decades to come. The recently acquired goods attracted buyers throughout the industrialized East, the rural South and the burgeoning West, including Saint Louis, Memphis and Chicago. Buyers included sportsmen, sporting goods stores, gentlemen and emigrants. There was no lack of willing buyers of new and used firearms in the years prior to the Civil War. He went on to be a great benefit to the Yankees during the Civil War. His services to the Union, from 1862-1864, were of the utmost importance. With millions to his credit, he was instructed by the government to purchase arms and munitions of war. In his work in England as the representative of the United States Government, he purchased arms and ammunition for the Federal army from the Birmingham gun makers. He went to Leige and bought all they had, fit for fighting purposes. He did the same in Vienna and Berlin. In England, he not only succeeded in controlling the arms for the Northern armies, but he kept the agents of the Confederacy from obtaining arms, who had been sent over on the same errand. The country, at that time, did not then understand gunmaking, and by visits to the factories he learned the secrets of gun metals and mechanism, which were invaluable to the Federal Government. During the War, their business boomed. After the War, the muzzleloader would be replaced by breechloaders that would shoot self-contained, internally primed metallic ammunition. Realizing the possibilities of such, in December 1865, they had the capital necessary to purchase the assets of two struggling manufacturers of metallic ammunition: Crittenden & Tibbals Manufacturing Company of South Coventry, Connecticut, and C.D. Leet & Company of Springfield, Massachusetts. Combining the metallic cartridge machinery of both companies and the know-how of experienced workmen, a new company was established on March 17, 1866, in Bridgeport, Connecticut and was called the Union Metallic Cartridge Company. In February 1878, he established the Bridgeport Gun Implement Company, which manufactured articles not only in firearms and shells, but gun implements such as loading tools, cleaning rods, shell extractors and powder measures. During the 1870s and 1880s, Schuyler, Hartley and Graham developed a strong business relationship with the proprietors of Remington & Sons of Ilion, New York. In March 1888, Remington’s plant was sold at auction by the receivers, in whose hands it had been for some years. Hartley, in connection with the Winchester Arms Company, bought the entire plant and reorganized the company under the name of the Remington Arms Company. Hartley became the president while T.G. Bennett became vice-president. In 1896, Hartley’s firm purchased the half-interest which the Winchester Repeating Arms Company had in the Remington Arms Company and became sole owners. On the death of business partner, Mr. Graham, in 1899, the whole property passed into the hands of Mr. Hartley.
[Some text herein is from “Marcellus Hartley-Merchant, Financier, Millionaire and Philanthropist,” by Roy Marcot.]
As for Winchester, Oliver Winchester, the founder of Winchester, had a knack of surrounding himself with competent people. Whether this was luck or foresight is hard to determine, but his greatest “foresight” was hiring his son-in-law, Thomas Gray Bennett, who married his youngest daughter Jane in May 1872. T. G. Bennett’s family originated around Charleston, South Carolina, but he came to a then famous New Haven Connecticut Military School and on graduation enlisted during the Civil War with the Northern Army, coming out as a Captain. Afterwards, he graduated from Yale. It was T.G.’s business ability and integrity that built the Winchester Repeating Arms Co. His greatest accomplishment was when his western salesman reported to him the increasing success of three young Mormon brothers in the gun business, whereupon he stepped on a train in about 1880 and went to Utah, hiring the Browning brothers—a tremendous stroke of genius. Nevertheless, his greatest failure was not agreeing to pay royalties on John Browning’s 12-gauge autoloader, something he had never done before. “How much did the Company owe him,” Bennett asked him. Browning responded by saying, “This is a totally new device and I do not want to sell it outright but wished to put it on a royalty basis.” Bennett recoiled as he had consistently refused to enter into any royalty agreements in the past. He was perfectly willing to pay handsomely for the gun but not on a royalty basis.
To come up with their own autoloading shotgun, the company had great difficulty getting around the patent rights of Browning, who had been meticulous in securing patents on his designs. It wasn’t until 1911 that Winchester came out with its Winchester 1911 SL model, designed by T.C. Johnson to compete with the Auto 5. That same year, Bennett was near retirement from the company. It was a flawed design that could cause serious injury; it even earned the nickname the “widow maker.” In 1913, Winchester designer Johnson came up with what many consider to be the finest pump gun ever made-the Model 12. In their “75 Years of Conservation: Hunters make it happen” issue, the author mentions the early hunter-conservationists that were significant in the conservation movement, but there was no mention of Shields nor Hornaday.
As for Shields, he should have a place among the other great battlers in the name of conservation: George Bird Grinnell, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Casper Whitney, Gifford Pinchot, Dr. Hornaday, Ding Darling, Aldo Leopold and Jack Miner, etc. Nonetheless, this will never happen because he had the temerity to take on the powerful firearm and ammunition companies. He was an uncompromising fighter for the protection, preservation and propagation of all game; placing a sane limit on the bag that can be taken in a day or season; the prevention of the shipment or transportation of game, except in limited quantities, and then only when accompanied by the party who killed it; the prohibition of the sale of game and, as he said, “This machine gun has recently been placed on the market by Remington Arms Co., backed by the Gun and Ammunition Trust. It is a serious menace to the bird life of this country, and the good sportsmen and the nature lovers of the whole country are practically a unit in demanding that the use of this terrible engine of destruction shall be prohibited by law.” Being zealous in the extreme, he rubbed a lot of people, companies, corporations and subscribers the wrong way and “to the horror of the moderatist,” he designated everyone who used the automatic shotgun in hunting birds as a game hog, which tended to overshadow all of his conservation accomplishments. It was he who coined and put the term “game hog” into the American lexicon. His tongue and pen spared no one, and some of the subjects of his ridicule were among the prominent wealthy social and economic leaders of the nation. He was a man both able and willing to fight for the rights of the wild creatures of value to mankind, that could not speak for themselves. He had often been criticized by those who disagreed with him and his tactics for his “sledgehammer methods.” It wasn’t easy to sell the idea of conservation, at least the way he saw the path to conservation. To him, the gun and ammunition manufacturers and many so-called conservation organizations regarded only those resources that were capable of giving back immediate returns, in cash that could be counted. As he said, “Their sordid view is certainly not not a spirit which I can justly be proud of.” From 1897-1903, he headed the Campfire Club of America at its inception, having been selected to do so by Hornaday, who was the one who invisioned such an organization. He selected Shields because he needed “a power in the sportsmen’s world.” Hornaday wanted a closed interest group, and according to Hornaday’s proposal, membership was limited to only 50 members of his own kind. Camp Fire held monthly meetings, and for six years Shields did all the work of that organization, which was one of the greatest and most important game protective organizations in America at that time.
Shields had a slightly different idea from Hornaday, so he decided to set up the League of American Sportsmen the following year in 1898, while continuing on as head of the Campfire Club, from which he resigned from in early 1903 due to pressure of taking care of his magazine business and excessive time taken with activities involving other conservation efforts, whereupon Hornaday took over its leadership. Hornaday left the L.A.S. in 1909. Shields, through his L.A.S. and his vitriolic editorials in his two magazines, had a major influence on most state game laws, especially as they applied to the imposition of reasonable daily bag limits and open-season length, abolishing market and plume hunting and spring shooting of waterfowl, the latter of which, due to his efforts and his magazine, had been outlawed in 22 states and all of the Canadian provinces. He was also instrumental in securing Congressional action for the creation of forest preserves and game refuges. He was born in 1846 in Batavia, Ohio, and died in 1925 when he was 79 years old. He lived in Eddy, New Mexico, working as a general passenger agent for the Pecos Valley Railroad before he took up the position with Recreation. He was a great pioneer conservationist and specialized in books about hunting in North America, some of which he published under the pseudonym “Coquina.” Hunting in the Great West sold over 200,000 copies. He also wrote for Harper’s Magazine, Harper’s Weekly, The New York World, and Chicago Tribune. It was said by Hornaday that “The work he did will live and be remembered by his countrymen long after his active labors are done.
As for William T. Hornaday, he was one of Shields’ strongest supporter. He described Shields as a “human storage battery of energy.” Like Shields, he took no prisoners, always rising to the defense of wildlife while swinging a mighty sword with such vigor that he often laid open his enemies. Someone once said, who knew him well, “He is a soldier who is not in step with the army” and observed that he fully enjoyed that distinction. Like Shields, he attacked most all of the conservation organizations, largely because they did not offer the result that they thought best for conservation and were too much dependent on funds from the firearm and ammunition companies. Like Shields, he considered the American Game Protective Association, after Gilbert Pearson took over, a tool of the sporting arms and ammunition manufacturers, and the Audubon Society as soft and vacillating. As head of the Zoological Society, it was an amazing fact that of all the scientific institutions of America at that time, only two were actively engaged in the promotion of measures for the preservation and increase of wildlife. The other was the American Museum of Natural History. He absolutely blistered the scientific institutions which did not get out of the closet to promote wildlife protection to prevent After Shields faded from the fight, Hornaday’s impact upon the conservation movement in the 1920s was significant. Due to his commanding personality and caustic remarks, to the press he was an object of fascination, so they endeared him, thus receiving more publicity than other conservationists. Like Shields, he was known as a national crusader for conservation and wildlife. He said of Shields, “One thing at least is certain. During a period of his publishing and writing career, while his war with the game-hogs was on, from Maine to California, Mr. Shields’s name became a genuine terror to excessive killers of game; and it is reasonably certain that his war saved a great number of game birds from the slaughter that otherwise would have overtaken them!”
(I will have a chapter on Hornaday later on in my Blog.)
MY EDITORIAL COMMENTS: The reasons the crusade against semi-automatic and pump were not generally prohibited by law are easily stated. In the first place, wealthy influential individuals and millionaire corporations behind these guns would not permit such laws to be passed. Their lawyers and lobbyists beat Shields’ attorneys and his best efforts to do so in Recreation and Shields’ Magazine and the League of American Sportsmen. Other conservation organizations were too cozy with gun, ammo and hunting gear manufacturers to take them on. Depending too much for their funding and other incentives from them, they escaped their scutiny. Many were in debt so accepting their funding wasn’t a hard choice to make.
In the second place, 85 per cent of the hunters and sportsmen of the United States wanted these guns, they were determined to have them, and they and the gunmakers absolutely controlled the situation in the legislatures of 46 states, and do so to this day. By 1913, the crusade was essentially over as they decided to give up the fight, and go after other measures that made for game salvage. Probably, the most significant event that came out of Shields’ crusade was the passage of the Lacey Act of 1900. He said of Lacey, “His greatest work was in preparing, introducing, and finally securing the passage of a bill to prevent interstate commerce in birds and animals killed or taken in violation of state laws.
The years 1800 to 1900 were a bloody century for American wildlife. Prolific species like the ubiquitous passenger pigeon and the hardy buffalo were gunned down with reckless abandon. A determined group of conservationists managed to pull the buffalo back from the brink of extinction, but the passenger pigeon fell into the abyss.
One is left with the question of whether preventing the use of semi-automatics and/or pumps for hunting purposes would have slowed or eliminated the further decline in the population of game. Many said and would say that it made no difference because of implementation of bag limits and restricting semi-automatic’s and pump’s action to a maximum of three shots for wildfowl hunting, which they said were rigorously enforced, worked just as well without restricting hunters of their rights. They did not see the danger of using it for wildfowling.