ADDRESS OP ALBERT R. PARSONS.
That poem epitomizes the aspirations, the hope, the need, of the working
classes, not alone of America, but of the civilized world.
Your honor: If there is one distinguishing characteristic which has made
itself prominent in the conduct of this trial, it has been the passion, th'e heat,
and the anger, the violence both to sentiment and to person, of everything
connected with this case. You ask me why sentence of death should not be
pronounced upon me, or, what is tantamount to the same thing, you ask me
why you should give me a new trial in order that I might establish my innocence and the ends of justice be subserved. I answer you and say that this
verdict is the verdict of passion, born in passion, nurtured in passion, and is
the sum total of the organized passion of the city of Chicago. For this reason
I ask your suspension of the sentence and the granting of a new trial. This
is one among the many reasons which I hope to present before I conclude.
Now, what is passion? Passion is the suspension of reason; in a mob upon
the streets, in the broils of»the saloon, in the quarrels on the sidewalk, where
men throw aside their reason and resort to feelings of exasperation, we have
passion. There is a suspension of the elements of judgment, of calmness, of
discrimination requisite to arrive at the truth and the establishment of justice.
I hold that you cannot dispute the charge which I make, that this trial has
been submerged, immersed in passion from its inception to its close, and even
to this hour, standing here upon the scaffold as I do, with the hangman
awaiting me with his halter, there are those who claim to represent public
sentiment in this city, and I now speak of the capitalistic press—that vile
and infamous organ of monopoly of hired liars, the peopled oppressor—even
to this day these papers are clamoring for our blood in the heat and violence
of passion. Who can deny this? Certainly not this court. The court is fully
aware of the facts.
In order that I may place myself properly before you, it is necessary, in
vindication of whatever I may have said or done in the history of my past life,
that I should enter somewhat into details, and I claim, even at the expense
of being lengthy, the ends of justice require that this shall be done.
For the past twenty years my life has been cloBely identified with, and I
have actively participated in, what is known as the labor movement in America.
I have some knowledge of that movement in consequence of this experience and
of the careful study which opportunity has afforded me from time to time to give
to the matter, and what I have to say upon this subject relating to the labor
movement or to myself as connected with it in this trial and before this bar I
will speak the truth, the whole truth, be the consequences what they may.
The United States census for 1880 reports that there are in the United
States 10,200,000 wage woikers. These are the persons who, by their industry
create all the wealth of this country. And now before I say anything further
it may be necessary in order to clearly understand what I am going to state
further on, for me to define what I mean and what is meant in the labor
movement by these words, wage worker. Wage workers are those who work
for wages and who have no other means of subsistence than the selling of
their daily toil from hour to hour, day to day, week to week, month to month,
and year to year, as the case may be. Their whole property consists entirely
of their labor—strength and ekill or, rather, they possess nothing but their