Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Arts (DA)




Alexander McKenzie and Rex Beach both traveled to Nome, Alaska, in the summer of 1900 to get rich. McKenzie attempted to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars from the region's gold mines in one of the most outlandish schemes in the history of the American legal system. His plan failed and McKenzie xvas found guilty of contempt and sentenced to one year in jail. The incident began a twenty year slide in political power until his death in 1922. Rex Beach intended to discover gold, but like McKenzie, he also failed in his attempt. But he found a gold mine of another sort. A mine of stories, anecdotes and colorful characters, plus the details of the McKenzie conspiracy provided the basis for a series of muckraking articles that he published in 1905. This series led to his most popular novel, The Spoilers, published in December, 1905, and a stage production of the same name which appeared briefly in Chicago and New York in 1906 before going on the road. In 1914 the first movie version was released, followed by different versions in 1923, 1930, 1942 and 1955. McKenzie's failure get rich in 1900 thus led to the spectacularly successful career of Rex Beach, who defined the twentieth century popular author by writing a popular story and then exploiting every medium possible to profit from his effort.