FIELDEN, NEEBE AND SCHWA11.
to be guilty beyond a reasonable doubt before he can be convicted of criminal
offense. I have examined all of the evidence against Neebe with care, and it
utterly fails to prove even the shadow of a case against him. Some of the
other defendants were guilty of using seditious language, but even this cannot be said of Neebe.
PREJUDICE OR SUBSERVIENCY OF JUDGE.
It is further charged, with much bitterness, by those who speak for the
prisoners, that the record of this case shows that the judge conducted the trial
with malicious ferocity, and forced eight men to be tried together; that in
cross-examining the State's witnesses, he confined counsel to the specific
points touched on by the State, while in the cross-examination of the defendants' witnesses he permitted the State's Attorney to go into all manner of
subjects entirely foreign to the matters on which the witnesses were examined
in chief; also, that every ruling throughout the long trial on any contested
point, was in favor of the State; and further, that page after page of the record contains insinuating remarks' of the judge, made in the hearing of the
jury, and with the evident intent of bringing the jury to his way of thinking;
that these speeches, coming from the court, were much more damaging than
any speeches from the State's Attorney could possibly have been; that the
State's Attorney often took his cue from the judge's remarks; that the judge's
magazine article recently published, although written nearly six years after
the trial, is yet full of venom ; that, pretending to simply review the case, he
had to drag into his article a letter written by an excited woman to a newspaper after the trial was over, and which therefore had nothing to do with
the case, and was put into the article simply to create a prejudice against the
woman, as well as against the dead and the living; and that, not content
with this, he, in the same article, makes an insinuating attack on one of the
lawyers for the defense, not for anything done at the trial, but because more
than a year after the trial, when some of the defendants had been hung, he
ventured to express a few kind, if erroneous, sentiments over the graves of
his dead clients, whom he at least believed to be innocent, it is urged that
such ferocity of subserviency is without a parallel in all history; that even
Jeffries in England, contented himself with hanging his victims, and did not
stoop to berate them after death.
These charges are of a personal character, and while they seem to be sustained by the record of the trial and the papers before me, and tend to show
the trial was not fair, I do not care to discuss this feature of the case any farther, because it is not necessary. I am convinced that it is clearly my duty
to act in this case for the reasons already given, and I, therefore, grant an
absolute pardon to Samuel Fielden, Oscar Neebe, and Michael Schwab, this
26th day of June, 1893. John P. Altgeld,
Governor of Illinois.