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About The commoner. (Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-1923 | View Entire Issue (Jan. 1, 1909)
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VOLUME 8, NUMBER St
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The Commoner. Jail Sentence for Gompers, Mitchell and
'WjU'JAM J. UUVAN CIIAJU.I'H W. lillVAN
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THE COMMONER, Lincoln, Neb.
'. , t
' Ui .' Minority Loader Champ Clark' and. Speaker
rJoseph' 'Cannon use tho sarho word's,, hut Mr.
rClHfk uses them with finer discrimination and
not quite so much profane emphasis.
Perhaps we would do well to refrain from
criticisms of tho public utterances of President
Castro until such .time as wo are not in a posi
tion to bo called Kettle Black by some Pot Black.
, , , "America is tho throne of the world!" ex
, . claims Senator Bcvoridgo. . Perhaps but that's
. .no. sign the man who.Jninks ho is occupying tho
.throne should bo too fidgety, to keep -his crown
,i.,n straight. . .
. ! If an African lion will just be wise enough
to 'make a noise like a '-Panama canal when
'-the proper time comes,' it can escape safely while
.tho intrepldihuntor is unlihibering his vocabulary
of invective; ... '
us. ria 'r','
ypf We hazard the prediction that the truly
"goo'd Rov. Dr. Lyman Abbott, is going to be
"'shocked by some of the things he sees in the
proof sheets submitted by his future, associate
and advisory oditor.
A dangerous $5 bill is in circulation
D47963782, says the Chattanooga Times. Wo
had a $5 bill tho other day, and remembering,
tho Times' warning, started to examine it. Just
aB wo got to the "6" wo had to let it go.
The job landed by Dan Keefo pays better
in" money than tho one to which Samuel Gom-
H,pors was re-elected, but there are not enough
(.official positions in all this land to induce'
Samuel Gompers to act like Dan Keefe acted.
- v :
Sifted down to facts, "Mr. Harriman's prop-
osition tospend. $2,000,000 on improvements on
-;tho Southern Pacific is basefd on the understand-'
!ing'that he can increase freight rates to a point
tfthdt will add $10,000,000 to the road's receipts.
''." ' Mr. Dan Keofo has "got his'n," and very
itfew people-who aro acquainted with tho facts
Twill deny that the gentleman making the ap
pointment and the gentleman who took it under
all the circumstances are quite well qualified
J for the transaction of that sort of business.
The suggestion has been made that when
. the territory of New Mexico is admittod to the,
t union its name shall. be .changed., .to. .Lincoln.
It certainly ought not come in Avith .its present
- x namoH-rrSalt .Lake Herald, - .
What is generally conceded to be the most
important labor decision in history was delivered
by Justice Wright of tho supreme court of the
District of Columbia, December 23. Justice
Wright sentonced Samuel Gompers to twelve
months in jail', John Mitchell and Frank Morri
son, all officers of the American Federation of
Labor, to six months each. These men wero
so sentenced for an alleged contempt of court
for violating an order enjoining them from plac
ing the Buck Stove and Range company of St.
Louis on the unfair list. The following is an
Associated Press report:
All the defendants were in court when sen
tence was pronounced and notice of an appeal
to tho District of Columbia appellate court at
once was filed, Gompers being released on $5,
000 bond; Mitchell on $4,000, and Morrison on
The wife and daughter of Gompers heard
the sentence and were visibly affected. With
tears coursing down his cjieeks, President Gom
pers heard the order which condemned him to
prison for a year. Both Mitchell and Morrison
seemed stunned, although Mitchell appeared to
be the least concerned.
GOMPERS MADE A STATEMENT
Asked if he had anything to say why sen
tence should not be pronounced, President Gom
pers declared that he had not consciously vio
lated any law. There was much he would say,
but ho could not do it at that time, he added,
hdwever, that "this is a struggle of the working
people for their rights. It is a struggle for
wages the struggle of men of labor to throw
off some of the burdens which have been heaped
upon them, to abolish some of the wrongs and
to secure some of tho rights too long denied."
Mitchell and Mdrrisori told the court today
they endorsed what Gompers had said.
Justice Wright's decision, Which consumed
two hours and twenty minutes in reading, was a
scathing arraignment. ' ,
"Everywhere," the!' cotirt said "ail over,'
within the court, without, utter rampant, inso
lent defiance is heralded and proclaimed; unre
fined insult, coarse 'affront, vulgar ignominy
measures tho litigants' conception of the tribur
nals due, wherein his cause still pends."
The law's command has been, he said, "to
stand hands off until justice for this matter can
be ascertained," but, he said, there had been
a studied, determined, defiant conflict, "precipi
tated in the light of open day between thq de
crees of a tribunal ordained by thte government
of the federal union, and of the tribunals of
another, federation grown up in the land."
One or the other,, he declared, must suc
cumb, "for those who would unlaw the laud
are public enemies."
APPEAL TO THE PRESIDENT
f Whether President Roosevelt will take any
action as he has oeen urged to do in telegrams
from different labor organizations throughout
tho country, in connection with Judge Wright's
decision, has not been decided, it was stated at
the White House. It was stated there that the
president has not read Ihe decision and can not
say if he will take any action. There was an
intimation, however, that some action might be
taken if the president is convinced the sentence
is unjust. The labor organizations urge the
president to prevent the incarceration of the
The Illinois United Mine Workers sont this
"In the name of 75,000 mine workers in
Illinois we desire to protest against the recent
decision ' committing to penal servitude those
great commoners and representatives of the
labor movement. These men may be guilty of
a breach of law, but a law that denies the use
of a free press and full speech is a breach of
tho fundamental principles of our country. Such
decisions only tend to create enmity and class
hatred.. We respectfully solicit, your influence
to prevent the incarceration of these men."
HISTORY OF THE CASE
.The-Buck company's prosecution of the offi-
-cials .ofntihe Federation began in August 1007
Tho original action was a test cast, wherein it
was.squght to enjoin the labor .unions from usinir
.: the, Unfair:? and "we don't patronize" .lists in
their.. fight against firms and individuals. Justice
Gould of the supreme court of the District of
Columbia issued an injunction which later was
made permanent, forbidding the publication of
the company's name in these lists. President
Gompers, in an editorial in the Federationist
of January last, made known his intention not
to obey the court's order, contending that the
injunction issued was in derogation of the rights
of labor and an abuse of the injunctive power
of the courts. Gompers, Mitchell and Morrison
subsequently wero cited, for contempt and this
phase of the case has been before the court for
many months, the proceedings taking the form
of a hearing of testimony before an examiner
and many arguments.
Justice Wright's decision was a scathing de
nunciation. 'Coming to the question of the violation of
tho court's injunction Justice Wright said:
"That Gompers and others had in advance
of the injunction determined to violate it if
issued, and had in advance of the injunction
counselled all members of labor unions and of
the American Federation of Labor and the public
generally to violate it in case it should be issued,
appears from the following, which references
point out also the general plan and mutual un
derstanding of the organizations and their va
The court here read a mass of extracts from
reports of proceedings of conventions of the
Federation, reports of President Gompers, edi
torials from the columns of the American Fed
erationist and the labor press generally in sup
port of his statement that there was a pre
destination to violate.
INTENDED TO VIOLATE LAW
Discussing the actions of the defendants
since the issuance of the injunction, Justice
"Having in mitid what may be In. the fore
going delineation which indicates that either of
.the three respondents did before the Issuance
of the injunction deliberately determine, to" wil
fully violate it and did counsel others to do
the same, let me now turn to their sayings and
doings since the decision of Mr. Justice Gould
was formally announced, and the order of in
junction Itself put into technical operation by
giving of the injunction bond. On December
17, 1907, the opinion of the court was filed in
the case; the order of injunction was entered
on December 18, the giving of the undertaking
required by it was consummated on December
23, and I am disposed now to look at the sep
arate conduct of. each respondent with a view
of recording his individual responsibility in suffi
The court quoted at great length the atti
tude taken by Mr. Gompers since the injunc
tion was. issued, his writings, interviews and
public addresses and remarked:
"All of which was done, all of which was
published, all of which was circulated in wilful
disobedience and deliberate violation of the in
junction and for the purpose of inciting and ac
complishing the violation generally, and in pur
suance of the original common design of him
self and confederates, to bring about the breach
of plaintiffs existing contracts and others to de
prive plaintiff of property (the good will of its
business without due process of law) ; restrain
trade among the several states; restrain com
merco among the several states."
ALL HAD KNOWLEDGE OF. ACT
As to Secretary Frank Morrison, the court
declared that he had full knowledge of all that
was being done, took part in.. the. preparation
and publication of the American- Federationist
of April, 1908, with complete knowledge of its
"With knowledge and approval of the other
writings and . speakings hereinbefore specified
against .Gompers, he (Morrison), took part in
the circulation and distribution in large num
bers of each and every issue of the Federationist
. containing them as hereinbefore speoified against
Gompers and with tho same purpose and intent."
Concerning Mitchell, the court pointed to
various acts by him, which, he said placed him
in the pale of the Jaw. He quoted from Mitchell's
book on ''Organized Labor, its Problems. Pur
poses and Ideals," cortain rv passages wherein
Mitchell declared that it waa the duty of all
patriotic and law-abiding citizens to resist or
. -t&j, ... iJt.
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