A recent story featured a house that was commissioned by Thurman and Frances Arnold of Laramie that is located near Grand Ave. on 15th St.

I noted that Mr. Arnold was mayor of Laramie, a family man, UW College of Law faculty member, Albany County delegate to the Wyoming Legislature, and practicing attorney with his father, Constantine Arnold. He was also head of the Broadcasting Committee at the Episcopal Cathedral that in 1922 sponsored station KFBU, the first radio station in Laramie.

That would seem to be enough for one person, but it is nothing compared to what he accomplished a little later in life. Without going into much detail, many of his legal cases and writings established precedents that left a permanent mark on how American business functions — like regulating the dairy industry so it couldn’t keep doorstep delivery as the only way to get milk.

Apple falls close to treeThe Arnold family of Laramie began with Ohio-born Constantine Peter Arnold (1860-1943), who graduated from Wabash College in Indiana. By 1884 he was a founder and first president of the Wyoming Bar Association.

C.P. Arnold was for many years the Laramie City Attorney. He was often a Democratic Party candidate for mayor, twice even on nonpartisan tickets.

He began law practice during a depression, the result of the “Panic of 1884.” This was especially hard on people with mortgages. C.P. Arnold and others founded the Albany Mutual Building Association which for nine years of its existence, refinanced mortgages at lower interest rates than elsewhere, thus allowing hundreds of locals to stay in business or keep their homes. The group dissolved in 1897 when its mission was accomplished.

Although he had business and industry clients, C.P. Arnold was a champion for freeing Americans from the tyranny of big business monopolies and trusts. “No community is independent when the prices of the necessities of life are the playthings of trusts and combines,” he said in an 1896 Laramie Fourth of July speech.

At that time, his firstborn son, Thurman Wesley, was five years old. But as the boy grew, dinnertime conversations must have included populous politics and lively debates.

Harvard Law gradThurman Wesley Arnold (1891-1969) was educated in Laramie schools, but his father saw to it that his son had a first-rate higher education, sending him to Princeton College in New Jersey, and then to Harvard Law School. He received his law degree in 1914.

After that, T.W. Arnold practiced law in Chicago. But trouble on the Mexican border and the looming European conflict caused him to join the Illinois National Guard. He deployed to France and served behind the lines on the Western Front in WWI.

While still in the National Guard, he came back to Laramie and had great fun promoting war bonds by touring Wyoming with two local Guard members, Sam Knight and Ralph McWhinnie. They exhibited a small army tank, moving it from town to town by railroad, and demonstrated driving it over brick piles and into whatever hazards they could find. Bond purchasers were rewarded with rides in or on the tank, as UW historian T.A. Larson reported in his 1978 book, “History of Wyoming, 2nd Edition.”

Around 1918, T.W. Arnold met and married Frances “Deedee” Longan, a Missouri native. Their first son, Thurman W. Arnold II, was born in Illinois, but in 1919 the family moved to Laramie and T.W. began practicing law with his father. As an ardent prohibitionist and veteran, T.W. was almost immediately elected mayor of Laramie. In 1920, he was elected as the only Democrat to serve in the Wyoming House of Representatives.

William Kolasky, who has written a short biography of T.W. Arnold, tells what happened in the Wyoming House that term. The first order of business was to select a Speaker of the House, so T.W. Arnold rose to say that the Democrats had caucused the night before (he was the only member of that caucus), and had selected him as their nominee. Then he rose again to second that nomination. As everyone laughed, he rose again to say to the speaker pro tem: “Mr. Speaker, some irresponsible Democrat has put my name in nomination, and I wish to withdraw it.”

This anecdote may show something of the sense of humor and ability to make fun of himself that endeared T.W. Arnold to his law students and colleagues. He was quickly asked to be a member of the UW Law School faculty that had just been founded in 1920. While there, he founded the Potter Law Club, named for a justice of the Wyoming Supreme Court who had donated his entire law library to the fledgling school.

Leaves LaramieIn 1927, the T.W. Arnold family left Laramie for good, and moved to Morgantown, West Virginia. At the University of West Virginia, he became dean of a well-established law college that had been founded in 1878. The Arnolds were a family of four now; George Longan Arnold was born in 1922.

However, Arnold quickly received an offer he couldn’t refuse. After just two full years in West Virginia, Yale University tapped him to become part of their Law College faculty. He had stellar colleagues, including William O. Douglas, the future Supreme Court Justice. Others became influential friends. Yale Press became the publisher of his four well-received books, beginning in 1935 with “The Symbols of Government.”

Arnold spent three summers and one sabbatical year (from Yale) working in Washington D.C. for various federal agencies. In 1938, that experience led him to be asked by FDR’s Attorney General, Homer Cummings, to become head of the antitrust division of the U.S. Justice Department. He took a year’s leave of absence from Yale, but stayed on with the Justice Department for five years, leading to a termination of his Yale association.

‘Trust Buster’His official title was “Special Assistant to the Assistant Attorney General.” Too many “assistants” in that title, he felt, but he went after the work with gusto. His job was not only to enforce the 1890 Sherman Anti-Trust Act but also to build public support for monopoly-curbing antitrust regulation and additional laws to lessen the burden of the high costs of necessities for working Americans and help lift them out of poverty as effects of the Great Depression lingered.

Enforcing the Sherman Act was the first order of business. Rather than the previous practice of seeking civil consent decrees, Arnold went after companies with criminal prosecutions. Some were settled out of court, but many went to trial, with Arnold often winning by “laying out the case in plain English for strong antitrust enforcement,” as biographer Kolasky says.

Arnold’s aggressive enforcement focused on collusion among manufacturers to fix prices to those who sell their products to consumers. Among the industries he went after first were the “big three” automakers, the movie industry, the dairy industry distributors, and the American Medical Association (AMA). He was able to demonstrate that collusion led to antiquated delivery systems (like home delivery of milk) and severely limited competition, thus keeping prices high and tying the hands of local businesses, like auto dealers.

Then he focused on the building trades, filing 100 separate cases, each with multiple indictments. As Kolasky reports, “in Los Angeles alone, Arnold ended up indicting eight trade associations, four labor unions, 38 corporations and 171 individuals in the building trades.” Then he went after the food and transportation industries.

An astounding recordIn Arnold’s five years at the Justice Department, he initiated “nearly half of all the cases that had been brought since the Sherman Act was enacted,” says Kolasky. No other administration had come close to this level of enforcement compared to that done with approval of President Roosevelt.

All this activity did not always convey great public admiration for Arnold. Threatening to jail doctors because the AMA prohibited M.D.s from forming group practices was not a popular move, though it did have important consequences. When he went after labor unions, he was often unsuccessful. Those workers were the very people he was trying to help through lowering consumer prices, but they didn’t see it that way.

In hindsight, when “trust busting” is mentioned, one of the cases that often comes up is a much earlier one that Arnold had nothing to do with — the breakup of Standard Oil Company of New Jersey. That 1911 case brought under the Sherman Act ended the Rockefeller monopoly in the oil industry at the moment when gasoline-powered automobiles were taking over.

The heyday of the trust-busting period was from 1938 to 1940. By then, the Nazi march across Europe was engulfing many countries and in September 1940 the Germans began bombing England. FDR’s focus was on providing war materials to aid England and the allies. The build-up to massive wartime production had begun. Americans were back to work, the depression was essentially over, and people had other things on their minds than monopolies.

The next phaseAs antitrust activity wound down in the FDR administration, Arnold turned his attention to breaking up commodity cartels among other national governments that kept prices of war materials high. He had some success with this, but as America entered the war in 1941 with the bombing of Pearl Harbor, it became a different America overnight.

Many of his pending cases were postponed and frustrations mounted for Arnold, though his fame as a trust-buster sealed his reputation as a legendary prosecutor. In 1943, he resigned to accept an appointment from FDR as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. He was unhappy at losing the support of the FDR administration for pursuing the fight against monopolies. Those companies would go back to their old ways after the war, he thought. But T.W. Arnold was at heart a prosecutor, being a judge was not satisfying. After three years on the bench he resigned to go into private practice.

The firm he founded, Arnold, Fortas & Porter, went on to become a powerhouse in Washington D.C. and “a model for the modern Washington law firm” as Kolasky puts it.

The Arnolds remained in Fairfax, Virginia. The law firm, now called Arnold & Porter, continued to occupy him; he published a memoir in 1965, “Fair Fights and Foul: A Dissenting Lawyer’s Life.” When Thurman W. Arnold died in 1969, a memorial service was held for him in Washington National Cathedral, and another in Laramie at St. Matthew’s Cathedral. His widow came back to Laramie and moved into the Constantine Arnold home at 812 Grand Ave. until her death in 1988 at age 98.

Their son, Thurman Arnold II (1919-2000), became an attorney, and now their grandson, Thurman Arnold III, continues the legal tradition of the Arnold family, as a family law practitioner in Florida. The T.W. Arnold’s other son, George Longan Arnold, also became a lawyer who practiced elsewhere but moved back to Laramie to join the UW Law College faculty where his father had once served. G.L. Arnold died in Laramie in 1993. His widow, Sheila Keddy Arnold, continued the family tradition as a Democratic Party activist, and was a longtime member of the Albany County delegation to the Wyoming House of Representatives, serving from 1978 to 1992.

Judy Knight is collection manager at the Laramie Plains Museum. The referenced biography by William Kolasky, “Thurman Arnold: An American Original” was published in “Antitrust”, Vol. 27 No. 3, summer 2013 — a publication of the American Bar Association. This story and others in the history series can be found on the website of the Albany County Historical Society.

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