The commoner. (Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-1923, October 11, 1901, Image 1

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II ..
lit I
Vol. i. No. 38.
- 'f f;
. Lincoln, Nebraska, October 1 1, 1901.
$1.00 a Year
Law. ,
When God said, "Let there bo light," there
was light; and that -was law. The sun, moon
and stars operate according to a law fixed by
the Creator of all things. Tlie human body
operates on the lines of perfect law and when
this law is violated a penalty must bo paid.
Many men have doubted and disputed the ex
istence of a God, but they have been made to
realize that in spite of their disputations and
their doubts there aro natural laws which can
not bo violated with impunity. So society
must have laws and these laws will exist and
be enforced in spite of the protests of'thoso
who oppose all law and all government. Those
who do not understand the law, and even those
who dispute the authority of the law, are will
ing to take advantage of the law wheneven
Ifchey need protection. When Emma Goldman and
her fellow anarchists were placed under arrest
they were quick to call for a lawyer and ready
to avail themselves of the guarantees of 'the
government, although in doing so they invoked
the aid of the government which they had de-
give to anyone within the confines of civiliza
tion the privilege of rejecting all law and com
batting all order, but rather that when one
form of law or government becamo destructive
of the ends of government, the people, acting
through the majority, might change the form
of the law, not by the destruction of govern
ment but by the substitution of more whole
some laws, better order and a more perfect gov
ernment. ,
Society will bo benefited if the attention of
all is fixed upon the manner in which every
safeguard was thrown about the president's
assassin. ' When he fired upon the president,
that was anarchy; when the crowd, excited by
the assault upon the chief .ma jestrato and justly
indignant, sought to destroy the assassin's life,
that was anarchy; but when the wounded pres
ident said, "Let no one hurt him," that
was law. It is not difficult to understand why
the impulse of the crowd at Buffalo was to de
stroy the assassin, yot had his life been taken
an injury would have been done to the cause of
good government. It was in recognition of
this fact that the authorities took every care to
nounced. . .
While it waaJaw, that f orade-theanar- raq bim ffpmxiolfiiicJa,JUi
dsts to do'ovil, it-was likewise law tnattfiew of tno world thd caua.e of good goVernnidriii
about them the safeguards essential to individ
ual liberty. It was law that enabled these
people, oven in the moment when publio pas
sion was stirred to its depths, to escape swift
and summary punishment a punishment which
in the absence of proof would have been injus
tice. ' '
Dr. Johnson said:" Law is the last result
of human wisdom acting upon human experi
ence for the benefit of the public." No one
has contended that law is perfect; the steady
trend of the good men of the world has been,
and is, to make upon the law such improve
ments as are suggested by experience. History
is filled with the achievements of' men who
have organized opposition to governments then
existing; but honor is accorded only to those
who, while protesting against one form of gov
ernment or one administration of government
proposed to substitute in its place, not anarchy,
but another form of government or another ad
ministration complete in its order and in their
opinion more likely to be advantageous to the
Even our own Declaration of Independence,
after stating the ends of government, said
''whenever any form of government becomes
destructive of these ends, it is the right of the
people to alter or to abolish it, and to substi
tute a new government, laying its foundations
'on such principles, and organizing its powers
in such form, as to them shall seem most likely
to .effect their safety and happiness." This
cloar right was recognized, not that- it would
for government is recognized in IlolyWrit and
the constant offortof statesmen who have had at
heart the well-being of society has been to make
human laws conform as nearly as possiblo to
tho laws of nature and of nature's God. The
laws of men have been imperfect, and to tho
end of time tho laws of mon will lack perfec
tion, but tho remedy is not in the destruction
of all law but in tho remodeling and reforming
of existing laws in accordance with tho lessons
of human experience. Law is all pervasive
and its authority inoludes man, the climax of
creation, as well as tho smallest atom.
If the fear of God is the beginning of
wisdom, tho recognition of authority and obe
dience to law como next in the pathway of
progress. As centuries pass tho human law
should more nearly approach toward tho per
fection of that divine law whoso infinite scopo
tho poet describes when ho says:
"That very law which molds a tear
And bids it trickle from its source
That law preserves tho earth a sphere
- And guides the planots in their course."
was never mord completely vindicated or the au-
thprity of the law better illustrated than iu tho
trial accorded tho president's murderer.
Tho JJar Association of Buffalo realized
that this was to her a supreme test of the wis
dom and justice of law, and therefore the asso
ciation asked for tho appointment of two of
tho most eminent lawyers of the community,
Judge Titus and Judge Lewis as attorneys for
the prisoner. Although tho task was a thor
oughly distasteful one, tho responsibility im
posed by the court was accepted by the lawyers
and within one week after tho president was
laid to rest, in spite of excitement and pas
sions, the assassin went to trial surrounded by
the protection accorded to every individual
under the law. While it is law that requires
the life of the president's assassin now that
his guilt has been judicially established, it is
likewise the law that prevents tho conviction
of an innocent or irresponsible men. Not only
did the court inquire into his act in firing tho
shot, but it caused an examination to be made
by the most eminent physicians to determine
whether the prisoner at the bar was sane and,
therefore, responsible for the deed.
This display of justice, this zealous care for
the rights of the prisoner demonstrates tho
rectitude of the government and the regard for
the,wisdom of tho very .rules which Czolgosz
and his colleagues dispute and despise.
It is said that the anarchists who have been de
ifying the" authority of society and government
also deny the existence of a God. Tho necessity
TJie editdr of Tub Commoner has recently
received p, letter Ifrom" a Democrat who, feeling
that his efforts have been fruitless, is inclined
to hybernato for a while and take no interest
in public affairs.
While this is the only letter of the kind re
ceived, it probably reflects the feelings of a
'considerable" number of persons who have
labored long and earnestly in behalf of reforms
without being able to note tho progress which
they hoped for and had reason to expect. It
is not unnatural that a period of enthusiasm
'and earnestness should be followed by a period
of depression and despondency. JEven ttfe best
of men have sometimes halted and hesitated in
the prosecution of a noble cause. Elijah, one
of the most courageous of the prophets of the
olden time, once became discouraged, but the
Lord revived his drooping spirits by showing
him that there were thousands who had not
"bowed the knee to Baal."
So reformers can take courage today, for
although the enemy is even more strongly
entrenched than we thought, there are mil
lions who arc still loyal to Jefforsonian princi
ples and still interested in reforming the abuses
which have grown up under republican rule.
The fight must bo continued. Whether
the battle be long or short, it is the duty of
every citizen to think for himself, form his own
convictions, and then stand by his opinion, con
fident that the right will finally triumph and
that truth will ultimately prevail. Xherig
comfort and inspiration ' in .Bryant's f'Battlo
'Fields which will be found on another pag