Upton Sinclair, ed. (18781968). The Cry for Justice: An Anthology of the Literature of Social Protest. 1915.
Address to the Jury
By Arturo M. Giovannitti
(Italian student and clergyman, born 1884, who left the Church for the labor movement. During the strike at Lawrence, Mass., he was arrested upon a charge of constructive murder. He spoke in his own defense at Salem Court House, November 23, 1912)
MR. FOREMAN AND GENTLEMEN OF THE JURY: It is the first time in my life that I speak publicly in your wonderful language, and the most solemn moment in my life. I know not if I will go to the end of my remarks. The District Attorney and the other gentlemen here who are used to measure all human emotions with the yardstick may not understand the tumult that is going on in my soul at this moment. But my friends and my comrades before me, these gentlemen here who have been with me for the last seven or eight months, know exactly, and if my words will fail before I reach the end of this short statement to you, it will be because of the superabundance of sentiments that are flooding to my heart.
I speak to you not because I want to review this evidence at all. I shall not enter into the evidence that has been offered here, as I feel that you gentlemen of the jury have by this time a firm and set conviction; by this time you ought to know, you ought to have realized whether I said or whether I did not say those words that have been put into my mouth by those two detectives. You ought to know whether it is possible, not for a man like me but for any living human being to say those atrocious, those flagitious words that have been attributed to me. I say only this in regard to the evidence that has been introduced in this case, that if there is or ever has been murder in the heart of any man that is in this courtroom today, gentlemen of the jury, that man is not sitting in this cage. We had come to Lawrence, as my noble comrade Mr. Ettor said, because we were prompted by something higher and loftier than what the District Attorney or any other man in this presence here may understand and realize. Were I not afraid that I was being somewhat sacrilegious, I would say that to go and investigate into the motives that prompted and actuated us to go into Lawrence would be the same as to inquire, why did the Saviour come on earth, or why was Lloyd Garrison in this very Commonwealth, in the city of Boston, dragged through the streets with a rope around his neck? Why did all the other great men and masters of thoughtwhy did they go to preach this new gospel of fraternity and brotherhood? It is just that truth should be ascertained, it is right that the criminal should be brought before the bar of justice. But one side alone of our story has been told here. There has been brought only one side of this great industrial question, the method and the tactics. But what about, I say, the ethical part of this question? What about the human and humane part of our ideas? What about the grand condition of tomorrow as we see it, and as we foretell it now to the workers at large, here in this same cage where the felon has sat, in this same cage where the drunkard, where the prostitute, where the hired assassin has been? What about the better and nobler humanity where there shall be no more slaves, where no man will ever be obliged to go on strike in order to obtain fifty cents a week more, where children will not have to starve any more, where women no more will have to go and prostitute themselves; where at last there will not be any more slaves, any more masters, but one great family of friends and brothers. It may be, gentlemen of the jury, that you do not believe in that. It may be that we are dreamers; it may be that we are fanatics, Mr. District Attorney. But so was a fanatic Socrates, who instead of acknowledging the philosophy of the aristocrats of Athens, preferred to drink the poison. And so was a fanatic the Saviour Jesus Christ, who instead of acknowledging that Pilate, or that Tiberius was emperor of Rome, and instead of acknowledging his submission to all the rulers of the time and all the priestcraft of the time, preferred the cross between two thieves.