Kenesaw Mountain Landis

In 1907 a violent Chicago gangster named Jacob Tennes, known by his nickname Mont, had acquired a very lucrative business when he took over a wire service that transmitted the results of horse races that bookies needed. Tennes demanded Illinois bookies to pay him half of their daily take and there were more than 700 bookies in just Chicago. But other gangsters wanted in on such a profitable enterprise and Tennes' home was bombed 6 times from July to September 1907. Mont Tennes was so successful that his activities prompted Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis of the United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois, to launch an investigation. Judge Landis issued subpoenas and also requested the cooperation of Illinois Bell Telephone in the investigation. On October 2, 1916, Tennes, without a subpoena, was surrendered by his special counsel, Clarence Darrow. Tennes took Darrow's advice and refused to answer incriminating questions. But others who knew of Tennes operations reluctantly testified that the General News Bureau, with Tennes owning 65%, made $20,000 to $25,000 per month profit but kept absolutely no paperwork of its business. Adjusted for inflation, $25,000 in 1916 is worth about $494,000 in 2009. But Judge Landis ended the investigation when he concluded local gambling was not within the jurisdiction of the federal courts and the interstate transmission of sporting news was not a crime. In 1921, Judge Landis was appointed to be the first commissioner of Major League Baseball and he served as commissioner until 1944. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, LC-DIG-npcc-25701