Page:War Prisoners (Darrow).djvu/18

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WAR PRISONERS.

Why, few of the really respectable people of the United States believed in the revolution! That was carried on by the hoodlums and George Washington! Preachers, lawyers, judges and bankers were mostly all with England. Why not? They were not losing anything. New Brunswick was settled by the loyalists, who were driven out by the mobs during the Revolutionary War. They did not need any law for it. Human nature is law enough when it is awakened. Human nature, is deeper than law. It gets back to the very fount of life and life depends on it. It has always happened and always will happen. So, whether these things were done by law or not, made little difference. And I am interested, now that the war is over, in correcting the manifold barbarities which grew out of the frenzy of the time.

I could not tell you how many men and women have been convicted under the Espionage Act. I do not know. I do know that in the temper of the country; in the temper of juries and courts, they could not have the fair trial that any citizen, whether American or otherwise, ought to have. I know they could not have a calm, deliberate, human judgment upon the facts of their cases. I know that for some trifling offenses and which were freely allowed before the war; for doing what under the Constitution of the United States every citizen had the right to do since America was a nation; I know that these sentences, from five to ten years, even twenty years, were given, right and left to all comers, almost without discrimination.

These men and women for the most part were honest. They were speaking their convictions as much as I was speaking mine. There was no question of bravery in it. They were braver because it does not take bravery to go with the crowd. The newspapers always tell about the fearless judge who hanged a man. A fearless judge who hanged a man! He is fearless so far as the man goes, but he may be a coward so far as the newspapers go. We might as well say "a fearless hunter who killed a rabbit!"

These people, for the most part, were conscientious, and they were brave, and largely, they are in prison today. You all know of the case of Eugene Debs! No braver, truer, kindlier man ever lived than Eugene Debs! No such man ought to be in jail in any country, unless under the strongest need, which I never believe existed here! And certainly it cannot be excused when all need is gone. You remember Kate O'Hare? Ten years for each of these. She, a kindly, humane,