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Closing Arguments of the Four Attorneys

We have included excerpts from the four attorneys' summations to the jury, in the order in which they spoke.

Prosecutor James Hawley spoke for more than eight hours. Defense attorney Edmund Richardson spoke for more than ten hours, followed by defense co-counsel Clarence Darrow, who spoke for more than eleven hours. William Borah, for the prosecution wrapped up the closing arguments, speaking for more than five hours.


Excerpts from James Hawley's Closing Arguments

[Image: James Hawley]

We have for ten weeks, gentlemen of the jury, been in continuous session in this court, giving our attention to this question. It is probably the most important criminal case that was ever given to a jury for its attention and consideration in these United States . . . .

We are not here to urge the conviction, gentlemen, of a man whom you believe is innocent or think under any circumstances can be innocent. We are not here, gentlemen, representing anyone except the state of Idaho.

We have been engaged here in making history, I might say; this case will be looked upon as one of the most important in the criminal annals of the country. It is important, therefore, that we do our duty fully and come to a correct conclusion.

The days pass and the Christmas season comes with all its thoughts — of peace and good will — the season when men live with their families, when people of the Christian faith rejoice, and if there is ever a time when all thought of fear should be laid aside then is the time. That is the season when love for mankind should rule, and exist if at all. That is the season when men should most feel safe from harm.

[Image: re-enactment of the explosion at Stuenenberg's home]

Just as the old year was fading — just as the new year was about to make its appearance — when all seems safe and peaceful, Orchard lays his bomb in front of Steunenberg's gate, and that night as the governor hastens home through the dusk to his family, in his mind the happy thoughts of the loving greeting in store for him . . . he is sent to face his God with out a moment's warning and within the sight of his wife and children. . . .

Now, I am not one of those that believe in death bed conversions . . .

Gentlemen, the conviction has been forced upon me in this case, as I believe it has been forced upon every man that heard the testimony of Harry Orchard, that some cause has impelled him to tell the entire truth. I think I understand what that cause is. I believe it is the religious training of his early youth awakened by those references that were made to him in the loneliness of his cell by the gentleman who approached him and obtained his confession . . .

And I believe that we are warranted in coming to the conclusion that it was the saving power of divine grace, gentlemen of the jury, working upon the conscience of this man that finally impelled him to make this confession that in all probability will bring to the bar of justice the worst set of conspirators that have ever infested any section of the United States.

[Image: harry orchard]

I'll tell you this, gentlemen: If Orchard had killed anybody else besides Steunenberg or some man who had not acted contrary to the interests of the Western Federation of Miners — had not gained their enmity — you wouldn't have found Moyer and Haywood putting up any $1,500 or 15 cents for his defense. That money was not to defend Orchard. It was not put up to protect him so much as it was put up to protect their own necks. . . . .

Gentlemen, it is time that this stench in the nostrils of all decent persons in the West is buried. It is time to forever put an end to this high handed method of wholesale crime. It is the time when Idaho should show the world that within her borders no crime can be committed and that those who come within her borders must observe the law.

haywood and two other defendants

Gentlemen, I wish that I could look over this evidence and find some way of satisfying myself that this man here upon trial was innocent and that these other men associated with him in this indictment were also innocent of this offense. I have no desire, gentlemen, to have the scalp of any innocent man hanging at my girdle . . .

But we can come to but one conclusion, and that is that he is not only responsible for this atrocious murder but that for more than a score of other murders that have been proven here he is equally responsible.

I ask you to take this evidence and carefully consider it. I ask you to give it that weight and consideration that under the instructions of the court it will be entitled to. I ask you that you honestly, in your own good judgment, apply the law to the evidence and thus find your verdict. And I for one, gentlemen, will say in advance that with the utmost confidence in this jury and every member of it, I will be satisfied whatever that verdict may be. Gentlemen, I thank you for your attention . . . .


Excerpts from Edmund Richardson's Closing Arguments

[Image: Edmund Richardson]

It had been Governor Steunenberg's fortune while governor of this state to be called upon to stand in the forefront of a labor controversy which occurred in the northern part of the state. Perhaps the situation demanded of him all that he did. I don't know about that, and I am not going to discuss it . . . .

One thing is certain, that it gave rise to an endless amount of discussion throughout the entire civilized world. For the first time in the history of America the military bull pen was established in the administration of what were practically civil affairs. For the first time in the history of America men were deprived of their liberty with, perhaps, just cause but without due or any process of law.

They arrested the union miners right and left without warrant. They deprived them of their liberties. They threw them in the dirty, vile-kept bullpens and they were subjected to all sorts of indignities and insults at the hands of those negro soldiers.

If you had been there, covered with vermin . . . if you'd been there, gentlemen of the jury, it is certain that you would have attained in your breast a righteous hatred for every person who had anything to do with causing your humiliation and suffering . . . .

[Image: Mr. Mcparland]

Where is this ‘terror to evildoers,' as Mr. Hawley has called him. Hawley promised you he would have Mr. McParland tell his story. Never but once has his figure darkened the door of this courtroom . . . Was he afraid of the questions I would ask him on cross examination? Where are the other slimy Pinkertons who sneaked in our unions to make trouble? Why have they not testified?

I say this man [Orchard] is a cheap and a tawdry and a tinsel hero, seated on this witness stand like a king upon his throne...under a promise as plain as noonday that his worthless head and carcass shall be saved if only there can be secured a condemnation of the officers of the Western Federation of Miners. Which would you rather believe, this man on the stand wearing his cheap bravado and putting obloquy upon those who are innocent, or this husband and this father [pointing to Haywood], an exemplary citizen all of his life, nursing tenderly and caring properly for this crippled woman who now sits and has for long year sat by his side?


Excerpts from Clarence Darrow's Closing Arguments

[Image: Clarence Darrow]

Gentlemen, I sometimes think I am dreaming in this case. I sometimes wonder whether this is a case, whether here in Idaho or anywhere in the country, broad and free, a man can be placed on trial and lawyers seriously ask to take away the life of a human being upon the testimony of Harry Orchard. We have the lawyers come here and ask you upon the word of that sort of a man to send this man to the gallows; to make his wife a widow, and his children orphans — on his word. For God's sake what sort of an honesty exists up here in the state of Idaho that sane men should ask it? Need I come here from Chicago to defend the honor of your state? A juror who would take away the life of a human being upon testimony like that would place a stain upon the state of their birth and their nativity — a stain which all the waters of the great seas could never wash away, and yet they ask it. You had better let a thousand men go unwhipped of justice — you had better let all the criminals that come to Idaho escape scot free than to have it said that twelve men of Idaho would take away the life of a human being upon testimony like that.

There are certain qualities which are primal with religion. I undertake to say, gentlemen, that if Harry Orchard has religion now that I hope I may never get it. I want to say to this jury that before Harry Orchard got religion he was bad enough, but it remained to religion to make him totally depraved . . . .

[Image: harry orchard on the stand looking at the camera]

I see what to me is the crowning act of infamy in Harry Orchard's life, an act which throws into darkness every other deed that he ever committed as long as he has lived, and he didn't do this until he had got Christianity or McParlandism, whatever that is ; until he had confessed and been forgiven by Father McParland he had some spark of manhood still in his breast.

I don't believe that this man was ever loyally in the employ of anybody. I don't believe he ever had any allegiance to the Mine Owners' Association, to the Pinkertons, to the Western Federation of Miners, to his family, to his kindred, to his God, or to anything human or divine. I don't believe he bears any relation to anything that a mysterious and inscrutable Providence has ever created... . He was a soldier of fortune ready to pick up a penny or a dollar or any other sum in any way that was easy . . . to serve the mine owners, to serve the Western Federation, to serve the devil if he got his price, and his price was cheap.

For thirty years I have been working to the best of my ability in the cause in which these men have given their toil and risked their lives; for thirty years I have given the best ability that the God has given me; I have given my time, my reputation, my chances, all this to the cause which is the cause of the poor. I may have been unwise, — I may have been extravagant in my statements, but this cause has been the strongest devotion of my life, and I want to say to you that never in my life did I feel about a case as I feel about this; never in my life did I wish anything as I wish the verdict of this jury, and if I live to be a hundred years old, never again in my life will I feel that I am pleading a case like this . . .

[Image: silver miners]

Other men have died in the same cause in which Bill Haywood has risked his life. Men strong with devotion, men who love liberty, men who love their fellow men have raised their voices in defense of the poor, in defense of justice, have made their good fight and have met death on the scaffold, on the rack, in the flame, and they will meet it again until the world grows old and gray. Bill Haywood is no better than the rest; he can die, if die he needs. He can die if this jury decrees it, but, oh, gentlemen, don't think for a moment that if you hang him you will crucify the labor movement of the world . . .

Let me tell you, gentlemen, if you destroy the labor unions in this country, you destroy liberty when you strike the blow, and you would leave the poor bound and shackled and helpless to do the bidding of the rich.

Gentlemen, it is not for him alone that I speak. I speak for the poor, for the weak, for the weary, for that long line of men who in darkness and despair, have borne the labors of the human race . . . .

The eyes of the world are upon you, upon you twelve men of Idaho tonight . . .

[Image: bill haywood reading the newspaper in his jail cell]

If you should decree Bill Haywood's death, in the great railroad offices of our great cities men will sing your praises. If you decree his death amongst the spiders of Wall Street will go up paeans of praise for these twelve good men and true who killed Bill Haywood. In every bank, almost, in the world, where men hate Haywood because he fights for the poor and against the accursed system upon which the favored live and grow fat, from all those you will receive blessings and praise, that you have killed him.

[But if your verdict should be 'not guilty,'] There are still those who will reverently bow their heads and thank these twelve men for the life and the character they have saved. Out on our broad prairies where men toil with their hands, out on the wide ocean where men are sailing the ships, through our mills and factories, down deep under the earth thousands of men, and of women and children — men who labor, men who suffer, women and children weary with care and toil, — these men and these women and these children will kneel tonight and ask their God to guide your judgment, — these men and these women and these little children, the poor the weak and the suffering of the world, will stretch out their hands to this jury and implore you to save Haywood's life.


Excerpts from William Borah's Closing Arguments

[Image: William Borah]

There is here no fight on organized labor. This is simply a trial for murder. Frank Steunenberg has been murdered, and we want to know. A crime has been committed, and the integrity and the manhood of Idaho wants to know. An offense which shocked the civilized world has taken place within our borders, and unless we went about it earnestly and determinedly to know, we would be unfit to be called a commonwealth in the sisterhood of commonwealths of the Union.

Watch these five men. In a little over thirty days Frank Steunenberg is going to die. What are their actions? They are going to and fro, their association, their connection — you will find out whether there is evidence here or not to show a conspiracy outside of any testimony of Harry Orchard. . . . Watch them. . . . We have got them in touch with one another. They are moving to the scene.

. . . Why? Why? Always back to Denver? Unless it was to find there the protection and the pay of his employers. . . . (this last sentence is the one Judy is having a hard time tracking down in the actual transcripts, but it's been quoted in books; we'll have to get back to you).

[Image: courtroom jury]

You are carrying with you tonite the solicitude of an entire people.

There is no home in Idaho tonight, but that a thought of you and your final duty will mingle with the sentiment which made that home possible . . .

After the trial has been finished, after the work is over... the thing which will remain with us is that sleepless mentor of the soul asking over and over again as the years go by were you brave and faithful in the discharge of the most solemn duty of your life?

You have no doubt often in this case been moved by the eloquence of counsel for the defense.

They are men of wonderful powers. They have been brought here because of their power to sway the minds of men. . . to sometimes draw you away from the consideration of the real facts in this case, to beguile you from a consideration of your real and only duty. But as I listened to the voice of counsel and felt for a time their great influence, there came to me after the spell was broken another scene. . .

I remembered again the awful thing of December 30, 1905, a night which has added ten years to the life of some who are in this courtroom now.

[Image: re-enactment of the explosion]

I felt again its cold and icy chill, faced the drifting snow and peered at last into the darkness for the sacred spot where last lay the body of my dead friend, and saw true, only too true, the stain of his life's blood upon the whitened earth. I saw Idaho dishonored and disgraced. I saw murder — no, not murder, a thousand times worse than murder — I saw anarchy wave its first bloody triumph in Idaho. And as I thought again I said, 'Thou living God, can the talents or the arts of counsel unteach the lessons of that hour?' No, no. Let us be brave, let us be faithful in this supreme test of trial and duty.

Some of you men have stood the test and trial in the protection of the American flag. But you never had a duty imposed upon you which required more intelligence, more manhood, more courage than that which the people of Idaho assign to you this night in the final discharge of your duty.