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Newspaper Page Text
SATURDAY? NOV. 8, 1020.
Two More Political Prisoners
The trial in New York of C. E. Ruthenberg
and I. E. Ferguson resulted in their conviction by
a carefully picked jury of business men and their
sentence to serve an indeterminate term of from
five to ten years in the state penitentiary. They
go there to join Jim Larkin and Ben Gitlow who
were convicted and given the same sentences
early in this year.
The practice of engaging high-priced lawyers
to make elaborate legal defense was not followed
in this case ; the defendents being satisfied that it
is impossible for advocates of the workers' cause
to get justice in the class courts of America. On
the contrary they made their persecution an oc
casion for communist propaganda, boldly pro
claiming in open court their adherence to revo
lutionary principles. I. E. Ferguson, himself a
lawyer of standing, conducted the defense. Ex
tracts from his brilliant speech to the jury bring
out clearly the uncompromising attitude of the
two communist agitators.
"I have not felt at any time during the course
of this trial, "he said," that Charles Ruthenberg
and Isaac Ferguson are defendents in this case.
The real defendents are those who are responsible
for this prosecution.
Opposing Capitalism, Their Crime.
" We were not indicted for advocating crim
inal anarchy; we were indicted for opposing the
capitalist system which controls the government,
newspapers, courts, schools, theaters, magazines,
all the organs for moulding opinion and creat
"The same brutal capitalistic campaign of
terrorism against organized labor which is in
dicted by the Left Wing manifesto, as printed in
the Revolutionary Age for July 5th, 1919, brought
us into this courtroom, but we are not terrorized.
"If communism is so persuasive that it can
not be admitted to platforms of political discus
sion to determine whether it is right or wrong,
you cannot crush it by jailing those who advocate
it. If communism is so dynamic, so much a part
of social conditions that a mere statement of its
principles will convince and convert, it will live no
matter how many go to prison for it.
"We are charged with advocating a general
strike to overthrow the government. Yon cannot
suppress the strike! The strike is the life need of
the workers. Strikes come because workers do not
get enough to live on. We say this is no sort of a
social system to ask Americans to live under!
" 'The spirit of resistance to government is
so valuable that it ought to be kept alive.' So
Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1787.
"In 'The New Freedom', Woodrow Wilson,
the student, writes:
" 'I am aware that those who advocate the
measures which we have been discussing are de
nounced as dangerous radicals. I am particularly
interested to observe that the men who cry out
most loudly against what they call radicalism arc
the men who find their private game in politics
is being spoiled.' "
Unrest Cannot Be Jailed.
"You stop nothing by silencing Ruthenberg
and Ferguson in a penitentiary. Social forces now
at work contain the logic of their own growth.
Unrest is not created by agitators, but by the con
ditions of life. Social disturbances come because
the government is not able to meet the actual pro
blems of existence.
"Under the conditions of this statute relating
to criminal anarchy you should have heard of our
getting leadpipe and gunpowder and preparing
bombs to blow up buildings and kill individuals in
power. Instead you have heard of educational pro
paganda, organization activities, and concerted
efforts to bring about a better understanding
among the workers of their class needs.
"And that work will go on regardless of what
happens to us. The posts vacated by our imprison
ment will be filled by others who will come for
ward from the ranks to take up the flag when
we drop it at the prison door. Persecution and im
prisonment could not hold back the movement in
Russia and they cannot hold it back here. The
proletarian revolution is invincible."
ROBERT MINOR SPEAKING DATES.
Chicago November 6th, evening. He will be
the principal speaker at the Third Anniversary of
the Russian Revolution.
Milwaukee Sunday, the 7th, afternoon.
Racine, Wise. Sunday, the 7th, evening. I