altgeld's reasons for pardoning
killed the policeman, and the evidence does not show any connection whatever
between the defendants and the man who did throw it. The trial judge, in
overruling the motion for a new hearing, and again, recently in a magazine
article, used this language:
"The conviction has not gone on the ground that they did have actually
any personal participation in the particular act which caused the death of
Degan, but the conviction proceeds upon the ground that they had generally,
by speech and print, advised large classes of the people, not particular individuals, but large classes, to commit murder, and had left the commission,
the time and place and when, to the individual will and whim or caprice, or
whatever it may be, of each individual man who listened to their advice, and
that in consequence of that advice, in pursuance of that advice, and influenced
by that advice, somebody not known did throw the bomb that caused Degan's
death. Now, if this is not a correct principle of the law, then the defendants
of course are entitled to a new trial. This case is without a precedent; there
is no example in the law books of a case of this sort."
The judge certainly told the truth when he stated that this case was without a precedent, and that no example could be found in the law books to sustain the law as above laid down. For, in all the centuries during which government has been maintained among men, and crime has been punished, no
judge in a civilized country has ever laid down such a rule before. The petitioners claim that it was laid down in this case simply because the prosecution, not having discovered the real criminal, would otherwise not have been
able to convict anybody; that this course was then taken to appease the fury
of the public, and that the judgment was allowed to stand for the same reason.
I will not discuss this. But taking the law as above laid down, it was necessary under it to prove, and that beyond a reasonable doubt, that the person
committing the violent deed had at least heard or read the advice given to the
masses, for until he either heard or read it he did not receive it, and if he did
not receive it, he did not commit the violent act in pursuance of that advice;
and it is here that the case for the State fails; with all his apparent eagerness
to force conviction in court, and his efforts in defending his course since the
trial, the judge, speaking on this point in his magazine article, makes this
statement: "It is probably true that Rudolph Schnaubelt threw the bomb,"
which statement is merely a surmise and is all that is known about it, and is
certainly not sufficient to convict eight men on. In fact, until the State proves
from whose hands the bomb came, it is impossible to show any connection
between the man who threw it and these defendants.
It is further shown that the mass of matter contained in the record and
quoted at length in the judge's magazine article, showing the use of seditious
and incendiary language, amounts to but little when its source is considered.
The two papers in which articles appeared at intervals during years, were
obscure little sheets, having scarcely any circulation, and the articles themselves were written at times of great public excitement, when an element in
the community claimed to have been outraged; and the same is true of the
speeches made by the defendants and others; the apparently seditious utterances were such as are always heard when men imagine that they have been
wronged, or are excited or partially intoxicated; and the talk of a gigantic