OCR Interpretation


The day book. (Chicago, Ill.) 1911-1917, February 22, 1917, LAST EDITION, Image 12

Image and text provided by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Library, Urbana, IL

Persistent link: http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83045487/1917-02-22/ed-1/seq-12/

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YOUNG MAN SAID UNKIND THINGS ABOUT
GEORGE WASHINGTON REPENTS IN JAIL
Tacoma, Wash., Feb. 22. While
the nation is today celebrating
Washington's birthday, Paul Haffer,
a young Socialist, lies in jail here for
'defaming" the memory of the first
president
It is among the strangest libel
cases In American history.
Haffer publicly asserted that
"Washington had been intemperate,
Paul Haffer.
swore like a trooper and was a slave
owner.
A six months' prison sentence, sol
emnly approved by the state supreme
court, was the outcome.
Haffer's motive, he explained was
"to check the unthinking idolatry of
heroes held up as demi-gods before
the public."
But when Col. Albert Joab, an el
derly attorney, haled him into court
under a statute making it unlawful
to slander deceased persons, even
though they have no living relatives,
the Socialist was unable to substan
tiate his accusations by historic doc
uments. The jury's verdict created wide
spread surprise. Few people even
know of the existence of such law,
though it is on the books of many
states.
Haffer's case, with its comprehen
sive precedent, makes it dangerous
to inludge In criticism of national
heroes, even though they may have
died a hundred years ago.
Iconoclasts must hav6 the FACTS
before they can with impunity begin
smashing pedestals.
Col. Joab's irate defense of Wash
ington's memory, 185 years after his
birth, contrasts oddly with the soldier-statesman's
own broad toler
ance and lack of hero worship.
"George Washington lives in the
hearts of his countrymen," was
Joab's explanation, "and no one is
going vto defame hs memory while I
am alive to resent it."
And a jury helped Joab keep the
"Father of His Country's" great
name untarnished.
So if you don't really believe the
story atfbut Washington and the lit
tle red hatchet, the "story that he
NEVER lied like other mortals, you'd
better keep the doubt to yourself.
Otherwise you might find yourself
in Haffer's boots.
WHY HAFFER DID IT
"I merely wanted to show that
George Washington was human
not entirely without mortal faults, as
unthinking idolators would have us
believe.
"And in making my assertions I
was repeating only what I had read
from time to time. I was unable to
find these references during my trial,
however."
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