Oakland Socialist Voice/March 26, 1906
Here are two men, Moyer and Haywood, known all over the United States as earnest workers in the cause of labor, who are suddenly arrested in Colorado, not allowed to communicate with their lawyers or even with their wives, and put on a special train, kidnapped out of Colorado into Idaho, and there charged with the murder of I don’t know how many score or hundreds of people. The way these confessions grow does not enable one to keep up with the account of the dead. One of the murders, it is alleged, occurred in San Francisco.
I say, and I know that I voice the sentiment of every socialist and labor unionist in the United States, if these men are guilty of these murders they deserve nothing better than hanging, for in that case they have played into the hands of the enemy, in that case they committed rash acts that no leaders of the working class should commit. But on the other hand I want to say that not merely reasonable doubt obtains but a practically certain doubt, a practical certitude obtains that these men are not guilty. There is no doubt about it at all.
We know from experience that the capitalist class leaves no means unused to enable it to overcome the working class in the battle that is now raging all over the United States. It is necessary to show cause, and from the capitalist standpoint we can show cause.
The working class, the labor unions, have held up and increased wages and shortened hours. According to the short-sighted capitalistic policy, that is a loss of profits to the capitalist, and if it will be possible to break up the A.F. of L. they would immediately make millions of dollars which they are prevented from making because of the action of the Federation of Labor preventing long hours, for low pay. And the same way with the Western Federation: if that organization could be broken up it would redound to the immediate benefit of the capitalist class to the tune of millions of dollars. If the capitalist class had a pure record, it would be different; but that class has adulterated food, poisoned millions of babes and children in the United States, stolen lands and forests and franchises. The capitalist class has robbed widows and orphans (see our insurance exposures), has bribed our representatives in our halls of legislation and has committed perjury in court after court in the United States. With such a class capable of committing such acts, one is compelled to doubt the purity of its motives in violating the laws, in abducting -– kidnapping –- Moyer and Haywood. Furthermore, if the capitalist class has not stopped at murder in the past, it is not likely in the present. You know it is a custom of law in a courtroom that, if a witness is proven to lie, the jury need not credit anything else that witness may say. And when a class has murdered in the past and has lied and perjured itself as that class has, we are very right in doubting that these men, Moyer and Haywood, are guilty of the acts charged to them by such a class.
This is not the only confession that has taken place. Murder is charged by four previous confessions. The whole country has previously been horror struck on seeing in the papers all over the United States big headlines dealing with murder committed, according to sworn confessions. Moyer was previously accused of murder, but he was never convicted on any charges, and the papers did not say anything more about them. Four times have confessions of this kind taken place and been heralded all over the country in big headlines and the whole thing has dwindled away — it fell through, and nothing was said by the press. Now, in the minds of millions of people the feeling exists that the leaders of labor in Colorado committed many murders, because no denial was made after these confessions were proved to be mere fakes and farces.
This man Orchard, what was he at the time of the blowing up of the railroad station at Independence where many men (scabs) were killed? At that time the striking miners were on the verge of settling the strike successfully. Just then that railroad station was blown up, martial law was proclaimed, the strike was lost, because of that horrible deed. The miners were charged with it all over the country by the capitalist press.
Orchard, up to the day previous to the explosion, was an employee of the Mine Owners’ Association, and furthermore (this is something that the capitalist class did not publish) bloodhounds were put upon the trail. They went straight to the house that sheltered Orchard; that is the man who today makes this confession. I say that we must doubt, we must greatly doubt, any truth whatever in that confession. But, after all, if Moyer and Haywood were being given a square deal there would be nothing for me to say tonight; but they are not being given a square deal. That great principle of considering a man innocent until proved guilty is being violated today throughout the land; and in every capitalist newspaper these men are considered guilty before being proved innocent.
The Storm of Protest
And it is because of that that a great storm of protest is arising from the working class all over the United States, demanding we should take the other side and say these men are innocent until proven guilty. After all, no class but the working class knows what we have to contend with and the dangerous position of Moyer and Haywood.
Why, for instance, did the miners of Silverton, Idaho pledge themselves to the extent of $1,000. Why did the Smeltermen’s Union., Butte, send $5,000? And why did a rival organization, the miners of Illinois, on the edge of a great strike themselves, send $5,000 from their treasury to the Western Federation of Miners for the defense of Moyer and Haywood? Because the working class knows thoroughly the danger of these leaders of labor and the menace to the whole working class of the United States if they allow their leaders to be dragged down one by one, and murdered.
And this makes my heart as a socialist feel good —socialists and unionists are rallying, rushing into each other’s arms.
I have a very little more to say and I will be done. The capitalist press has never in the past given us a fair deal and is not giving us a fair deal today. Three socialist papers in the United States, “Wilshire’s” of New York, “The Toledo Socialist,” and “The Appeal to Reason,” have sent correspondents up to Idaho to personally report what takes place there because what really takes place there will not be reported by the American Associated Press.
The first act of the labor unions is to send money. In Oakland we have the SOCIALIST VOICE. The SOCIALlST VOICE is a small socialist paper that has no money to invest in stocks and bonds. If there is a dollar ahead that dollar is put into the increased efficiency of the product. The VOICE is making a big fight for publicity and fairness in this Moyer and Haywood affair, and the VOICE is going to get out in a couple of weeks a special edition dealing with this matter. This edition will not be made to sell at sensational prices, 10c a copy. On the contrary, it will be given away — will be sent out at cost and given away at less than cost, and because of that it is necessary that some funds be raised.
I want to say this: I do not believe personally that there is one chance in a hundred thousand that Moyer and Haywood are guilty. I believe that if this had occurred thirty years ago that they would be hanged; I believe that today they will not be hanged because today is thirty years later and we have a class-conscious proletariat in the United States. I do not believe that Moyer and Haywood will be convicted, but I do believe that if found guilty upon no better evidence than were the men accused of the murders of the Haymarket, it would take the whole United States army to carry out their execution. As Debs said: “If they hang these men, they will have to hang me.” It was said by an American patriot long ago, and applies just as well today: “If we do hot hang together, they will hang us separately.”
And at this point let me read to you what August Bebel said in his great speech at the Congress at Jena, September 18-23, 1905: “Situations are approaching which must of physical necessity lead to catastrophes, unless the working class develops so rapidly in power, number, culture and insight that the bourgeoisie loses its desire for catastrophes. We are not seeking for a catastrophe, — of what use would it be to us? Catastrophes are brought about by the ruling classes. Perhaps an attempt may be made to suppress us by means of special legislation. But I know many a comrade in our ranks who is longing for the day when a new discriminative law is passed and catastrophes arrive; for then they will be able to show what stuff they are made of. And I hope I, too, will be with you when the struggle breaks out afresh.”
I would wish to call attention to this fact, that we socialists of the world are the only organization that is declaring against war. It remains for the proletariat to rise up and say we are against war; we will use every method possible to prevent war when it threatens to arise. On top of that I will state that there is no organization, there is no political party in any country that will fight more readily and more fiercely than will these same socialists if they be driven to it by the actions of the capitalist mashers of society, actions such, for instance, as are taking place in Idaho and Colorado today.
The work of Jack London and other major American journalists is freely available at The Archive of American Journalism.