Okay, anyone still with me?
William Borah was a Boise attorney who went up against Clarence Darrow as one of the prosecutors of “Big” Bill Haywood. Haywood was acquitted but the trial brought national fame to Borah.
At the time of the trial in 1907, Borah had already been selected as a U.S. Senator from Idaho. That was when legislatures named senators. He had time for the trial because Congress didn’t start their sessions until December in those days. Borah replaced the vehemently anti-Mormon Fred T. Dubois. No scandal there, though no doubt there was some backroom intrigue, par for the course in elections on the floor.
No scandal, either, when Borah was reelected by the Legislature in 1912, or when he was elected and re-elected by the citizens in Idaho in 1918, 1924, 1930, and 1936.
Borah started showing up on presidential nomination ballots at Republican National Conventions beginning in 1916. He got the most votes in the Presidential Primaries in 1936, but Alf Landon won the nomination that year at the convention. Again, no scandal.
The scandal wasn’t on the political side for Borah, but on the personal side.
In 1895, Borah married the daughter of Idaho’s third governor, William J. McConnell. Mary McConnell was a lovely, tiny woman who during their years in Washington was often referred to as “Little Borah.” They had no children. And there’s the scandal. The senator apparently did.
Rumors of philandering dogged Senator Borah for years. Of particular interest for this particular scandal, was an affair he had with Alice Roosevelt Longworth, daughter of Teddy Roosevelt that was later confirmed by her diary entries.
Alice was married to Representative Nicholas Longworth III, who served as Speaker of the House. The daughter in question was ultimately named Paulina, but Alice, who had a wicked sense of humor, reportedly toyed with the idea of naming her Deborah. Deborah could have been read as De Borah, you see. According to H.W. Brands’ book A Traitor to His Class,* which is largely about Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Paulina was often referred to by D.C. wags as “Aurora Borah Alice.”
And, there you have it. Don’t say you weren’t warned.