ALTGELD S REASONS FOR PARDONING
of the stairway leading from the hall down to the street, who applied their
clubs to them as they passed, seemingly with all the violence practicable
under the circumstances.
" Mr. Jacob Beiersdorf, who was a manufacturer of furniture, employing
some 200 men, had been invited to the meeting and came, but as he was about
to enter the place where it was held, an inoffensive old man, doing nothing
unlawful, was stricken down at his feet by a policeman's club.
"These general facts were established by an overwhelming mass of testimony, and for the purpose of the questions in the case, it is needless to go farther into detail.
" The chief political right of the citizen in our government, based upon
the popular will as regulated by law, is the right of suffrage, but to that right
two others are auxiliary and of almost equal importance:
"First: The right of free speech and of a free press.
" Second: The right of the people to assemble in a peaceable manner to
consult for the common good.
"These are among the fundamental principles of government and guaranteed by our constitution. Section 17, article 2, of the bill of rights, declares:
' The people have a right to assemble in a peaceable manner to consult for the
common good, to make known their opinions to their representatives, and
apply for redress of grievances.' Jurists do not regard these declarations of
the bill of rights as creating or conferring the rights, but as a guarantee against
their deprivation or infringement by any of the powers or agencies of the government. The rights themselves are regarded as the natural and inalienable
rights belonging to every individual, or as political, and based upon or arising
from principles inherent in tbe very nature of a system of free government.
" The right of the people to assemble in a peaceable manner to consult
for the common good, being a constitutional right, it can be exercised and
enjoyed within the scope and the spirit of that provision of the constitution,
independently of every other power of the State government.
"Judge Cooley, in his excellent work on 'Torts,' speaking (p. 296) of
remedies for the invasion of political rights, says: 'When a meeting for any
lawful purpose is actually called and held, one who goes there with the purpose to disturb and break it up, and commits disorder to that end, is a
trespasser upon the rights of those who, for a time, have control of the place
of meeting. If several unite in the disorder it may be a criminal riot.' "
So much for Judge McAllister.
Now, it is shown that no attention was paid to the judge's decision; that
peaceable meetings were invaded and broken up, and inoffensive people were
clubbed; that in 1885 there was a strike at the McCormick Reaper Factory,
on account of a reduction of wages, and some Pinkerton men, while on their
way there, were hooted at by some people on the street, when they fired into
the crowd and fatally wounded several people who had taken no part in any
disturbance; that four of the Pinkerton men were indicted for this murder by
the grand jury, but that the prosecuting officers apparently took no interest in
the case, and allowed it to be continued a number of times, until the witnesses
were sworn out, and in the end the murderers went free; that after this there
was a strike on the West Division Street railway, and that some of the police,