Thomas Lincoln Chadbourne (1871-1938)

By Richard Sanders, Editor, Press for Conversion!

Chadbourne is known to have donated at least $6,250 to the American Liberty League.

As a youth, Chadbourne was expelled from seven schools and excelled largely at partying. After briefly attending university, where he boxed for prize money, he appropriately joined the Chicago police.

He began practicing law in 1893 and by 1903, upon moving to New York, he became one the country’s top business lawyers. He was hired by U.S. Steel in 1907. In 1921, during its first year, Chadbourne joined the Council on Foreign Relations, an elitist think-tank of wealthy Americans that still wields great influence over government policies. In the 1920s, Chadbourne masterminded a merger of New York City’s subway, train and streetcar firms and became the City’s “traction Czar.” During the 1930s, public transit systems in 45 U.S. cities, starting in Manhattan, were acquired by National City Lines (NCL), a consortium of General Motors, Firestone Tires, Mack Truck and Standard Oil. The NCL then destroyed these mass transit systems in order to force public reliance on cars. Chadbourne was on the board of International Motors (now Mack Truck) and has represented General Motors.

Chadbourne also successfully represented Charles Mitchell (President of Rockefeller’s National City Bank of New York), when he was indicted for suspicious financial transactions during the 1929 stock market crash. Mitchell later sat on the Board of American I.G. Farben, a Nazi holding company. Although three Germans on this board were convicted for “crimes against humanity,” Mitchell and four fellow-American board members were never tried: Edsel Ford (president, Ford Motors), Walter Teagle (president, Standard Oil), Paul Warburg (chairman, Federal Reserve Bank) and Herman Metz (director, Bank of Manhattan).

In 1931, as counsel for giant sugar firms, Chadbourne brokered a seven-nation agreement to limit sugar production. By then a millionaire, his Wall Street firm employed 60 attorneys and assisted 150 of America’s biggest corporations. During the Depression, he sat on many boards, including Wright Aeronautical (now General Electric), Otis Elevator & Manufacturers Trust (now part of J.P. Morgan Chase Bank). Some of his earliest clients are still with the company, including North American Aviation (now Rockwell Automation) and Adams Express (investment).

Chadbourne & Parke, with 800 staff, offices across the U.S. and in London, Moscow, Kiev, Warsaw, Beijing and elsewhere, is among the world’s largest law firms. It continues to serve many of the world’s richest corporations.


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Source: Press for Conversion! magazine, Issue # 53, "Facing the Corporate Roots of American Fascism," March 2004. Published by the Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade.

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