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17 page printout Reproducible Electronic Publishing can defeat censorship. Contents of this file page THE CIRCULATION OF OBSCENE LITERATURE. 1 EFFECT OF THE WORLD'S FAIR ON THE HUMAN RACE. 11 A TRIBUTE TO MRS. MARY H. FISKE. 14 THE LAW'S DELAY. 16 **** **** This file, its printout, or copies of either are to be copied and given away, but NOT sold. Bank of Wisdom, Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 The Works of ROBERT G. INGERSOLL **** **** THE CIRCULATION OF OBSCENE LITERATURE. ONE of the charges most persistently made against Colonel Ingersoll is that during and after the trial of D.M. Bennett, persecuted by Anthony Comstock, the Colonel endeavored to have the law against sending obscene literature through the mail repealed. That the charge is maliciously false is fully shown by the following brief history of events connected with the prosecution of D.M. Bennett, and Mr. Ingersoll's efforts in his behalf. After Mr. Bennett's arrest in 1877, he printed a petition to Congress, written by T.B. Wakeman, asking for the repeal or modification of Comstock's law by which he expected to stamp out the publications of Freethinkers. The connection of Mr. Ingersoll with this petition is soon explained. Mr. Ingersoll knew of Comstock's attempts to suppress heresy by means of this law, and when called upon by the Washington committee in charge of the petition, he allowed his name to go on the petition for modification, but he told them distinctly and plainly that he was not in favor of the repeal of the law, as he was willing and anxious that obscenity should be suppressed by all legal means. His sentiments are best expressed by himself in a letter to The Boston Journal. He says: WASHINGTON, March 18, 1878. To the Editor of the Boston Journal: My attention has been called to the following article that recently appeared in your paper: "Col. Robert G. Ingersoll, and others, feel aggrieved because Congress, in 1873, enacted a law for the suppression of obscene literature, and, believing it an infringement of the rights of certain citizens, and an effort to muzzle the press and conscience, Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 1 THE CIRCULATION OF OBSCENE LITERATURE. petition for its repeal. When a man's conscience permits him to spread broadcast obscene literature, it is time that conscience was muzzled. The law is a terror only to evil-doers." No one wishes the repeal of any law for the suppression of obscene literature. For my part, I wish all such laws rigidly enforced. The only objection I have to the law of 1873 is, that it has been construed to include books and pamphlets written against the religion of the day, although containing nothing that can be called obscene or impure. Certain religions fanatics, taking advantage of the word "immoral" in the law, have claimed that all writings against what they are pleased to call orthodox religion are immoral, and such books have been seized and their authors arrested. To this, and this only, I object. Your article does me great injustice, and I ask that you will have the kindness to publish this note. From the bottom of my heart I despise the publishers of obscene literature. Below them there is no depth of filth. And I also despise those, who, under the pretence of suppressing obscene literature, endeavor to prevent honest and pure men from writing and publishing honest and pure thoughts. Yours truly. R.G. INGERSOLL. This is sufficiently easy of comprehension even for ministers, but of course they misrepresented and lied about the writer. From that day to this he has been accused of favoring the dissemination of obscene literature. That the friends of Colonel Ingersoll may know just how infamous this is, we will give a brief history of the repeal or modification movement. . . . On October 26, the National Liberal League held its Congress in Syracuse. At this Congress the League left the matter of repeal or modification of the laws open, taking no action as an organization, either way, but elected officers known to be in favor of repeal. On December 10, Mr. Bennett was again arrested. He was tried, and found guilty; he appealed, the conviction was affirmed, and he was sentenced to thirteen months' imprisonment at hard labor. After the trial Colonel Ingersoll interposed, and endeavored to get a pardon for Mr. Bennett, who was held in Ludlow street jail pending President Hayes's reply. The man who occupied the President's office promised to pardon the Infidel editor; then he went back on his word, and Mr. Bennett served his term of imprisonment. Then preachers opened the sluiceways of vituperation and bilingsgate upon Colonel Ingersoll for having interceded for a man convicted of mailing obscene literature. The charges were as infamously false then as they are now, and to show it, it is only necessary to quote Colonel Ingersoll's words during the year or two succeeding, when the Freethinkers and the Christians were not only Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 2 THE CIRCULATION OF OBSCENE LITERATURE. opposing each other vigorously, but the Freethinkers themselves were divided on the question. in 1879, while Mr. Bennett was in prison, a correspondent of the Nashville, Tenn., Banner said that the National Liberal League and Colonel Ingersoll were in favor of disseminating obscene literature. To this Colonel Ingersoll replied in a letter to a friend: 1417 G St., WASHINGTON, Aug. 21, 1879. MY DEAR SIR: The article in the Nashville Banner by J.L. is utterly and maliciously false. A petition was sent to Congress praying for the repeal or modification of certain postal laws, to the end that the freedom of conscience and of the press should not be abridged. Nobody holds in greater contempt than I the writers, publishers, or dealers in obscene literature. One of my objections to the Bible is that it contains hundreds of grossly obscene passages not fit to be read by any decent man, thousands of passages, in my judgment, calculated to corrupt the minds of youth. I hope the time will soon come when the good sense of the American people will demand a Bible with all obscene passages left out. The only reason a modification of the postal laws is necessary is that at present, under color of those laws, books and pamphlets are excluded from the mails simply because they are considered heterodox and blasphemous. In other words, every man should be allowed to write, publish, and send through the mails his thoughts upon any subject, expressed in a decent and becoming manner. As to the propriety of giving anybody authority to overhaul mails, break seals, and read private correspondence, that is another question. Every minister and every layman who charges me with directly or indirectly favoring the dissemination of anything that is impure, retails what he knows to be a wilful and malicious lie. I remain, Yours truly, R.G. INGERSOLL. Three weeks after this letter was written the National Liberal League held its third annual Congress at Cincinnati. Colonel Ingersoll was chairman of the committee on resolutions and platform and unfinished business of the League. One of the subjects to be dealt with was these Comstock laws. The following are Colonel Ingersoll's remarks and the resolutions he presented: It may be proper, before presenting the resolutions of the committee, to say a word in explanation. The committee were charged with the consideration of the unfinished business of the League. It seems that at Syracuse there was a division as to what course should be taken in regard to the postal laws of the United States. These laws were used as an engine of oppression against the free circulation of what we understand to be scientific literature. Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 3 THE CIRCULATION OF OBSCENE LITERATURE. Every honest man in this country is in favor of allowing every other human being every right that he claims for himself. The majority at Syracuse were at that time simply in favor of the absolute repeal of those laws, believing them to be unconstitutional -- not because they were in favor of anything obscene, but because they were opposed to the mails of the United States being under the espionage and bigotry of the church. They therefore demanded an absolute repeal of the law. Others, feeling that they might be misunderstood, and knowing that theology can coin the meanest words to act as the vehicle of the lowest lies, were afraid of being misunderstood, and therefore they said, Let us amend these laws so that our literature shall be upon an equality with that of theology. I know that there is not a Liberal here, or in the United States, that is in favor of the dissemination of obscene literature. One of the objections which we have to the book said to be written by God is that it is obscene. The Liberals of this country believe in purity, and they believe that every fact in nature and in science is as pure as a star. We do not need to ask for any more than we want. We simply want the laws of our country so framed that we are not discriminated against. So, taking that view of the vexed question, we want to put the boot upon the other foot. We want to put the charge of obscenity where it belongs, and the committee, of which I have the honor to be one of the members, have endeavored to do just that thing. Men have no right to talk to me about obscenity who regard the story of Lot and his daughters as a fit thing for men, women, and children to read, and who worship a God in whom the violation of [Cheers drowned the conclusion of this sentence so the reporters could not hear it.] Such a God I hold in infinite contempt. Now I will read you the resolutions recommended by the committee. RESOLUTIONS. Your committee have the honor to submit the following report: First, As to the unfinished business of the League, your committee submits the following resolutions -- Resolved, That we are in favor of such postal laws as will allow the free transportation through the mails of the United States of all books, pamphlets, and papers, irrespective of the religious, irreligious, political, and scientific views they may contain, so that the literature of science may be placed upon an equality with that of superstition. Resolved, That we are utterly opposed to the dissemination, through the mails, or by any other means, of obscene literature, whether "inspired" or uninspired, and hold in measureless contempt its authors and decameters. Resolved, That we call upon the Christian world to expunge from the so-called "sacred" Bible every passage that cannot be read without covering the cheek of modesty with the blush of shame and Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 4 THE CIRCULATION OF OBSCENE LITERATURE. until such passages are expunged, we demand that the laws against the dissemination of obscene literature be impartially enforced. We believe that lotteries and obscenity should be dealt with by State and municipal legislation, and offenders punished in the county in which they commit their offence. So in those days we argued for the repeal of the Comstock laws, as did dozens of others -- James Parton, Elizur Wright, O.B. Frothingham, T.C Leland, Courtland Palmer, and many more whose names we do not recall. But Colonel Ingersoll did not, and when the National Liberal League met the next year at Chicago (September 17, 1880), he was opposed to the League's making a pledge to defend every case under the Comstock laws, and he was opposed to a resolution demanding a repeal of those laws. The following is what Colonel Ingersoll said upon the subject: Mr. Chairman, I wish to offer the following resolution in place and instead of resolutions numbered 5 and 6: Resolved, That the committee of defence, whenever a person has been indicted for what he claims to have been an honest exercise of the freedom of thought and expression, shall investigate the case, and if it appears that such person has been guilty of no offence, then it shall be the duty of said committee to defend such person if he is unable to defend himself. Now, allow me one moment to state my reasons. I do not, I have not, I never shall, accuse or suspect a solitary member of the Liberal League of the United States of being in favor of doing any act under heaven that he is not thoroughly convinced is right. We all claim freedom of speech, and it is the gem of the human soul. We all claim a right to express our honest thoughts. Did it ever occur to any Liberal that he wished to express any thought honestly, truly, and legally that he considered immoral? How does it happen that we have any interest in what is known as immoral literature? I deny that the League has any interest in that kind of literature. Whenever we mention it, whenever we speak of it, we put ourselves in a false position. What do we want? We want to see to it that the church party shall not smother the literature of Liberalism. We want to see to it that the viper of intellectual slavery shall not sting our cause. We want it so that every honest man, so that every honest Woman, can express his or her honest thought upon any subject in the world. And the question, and the only question, as to whether they are amenable to the law, in my mind, is, Were they honest? Was their effort to benefit mankind? Was that their intention? And no man, no woman, should be convicted of any offence that that man or woman did not intend to commit. Now, then, suppose some person is arrested, and it is claimed that a work written by him is unmoral, is illegal. Then, I say, let our committee of defence examine that case, and if our enemies are seeking to trample out Freethought under the name of immorality, and under the cover and shield of our criminal law, then let us defend that man to the last dollar we have. But we do not wish to put ourselves in the position of general defenders of all the slush that may be written in this or any other country. You cannot afford to do it. You cannot afford to put into the mouth of theology a perpetual and continual slur. You cannot afford to do it. And this Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 5 THE CIRCULATION OF OBSCENE LITERATURE. meeting is not the time to go into the question of what authority the United States may have over the mails. It is a very "Wide question. It embraces many others. Has the Government a right to say what shall go into the mails? Why, in one sense, assuredly. Certainly they have a right to say you shall not send a horse and wagon by mail. They have a right to fix some limit; and the only thing we want is that the literature of liberty, the literature of real Freethought, shall not be discriminated against. And we know now as well as if it had been perfectly and absolutely demonstrated, that the literature of Freethought will be absolutely pure. We know it. We call upon the Christian world to expunge obscenity from their book, and until that is expunged we demand that the laws against obscene literature shall be executed. And how can we, in the next resolution, say those laws ought all to be repealed? We cannot do that. I have always been in favor of such an amendment of the law that by no trick, by no device, by no judicial discretion, an honest, high, pure-minded man should be subjected to punishment simply for giving his best and his honest thought. What more do we need? What more can we ask? I am as much opposed as my friend Mr. Wakeman can be to the assumption of the church that it is the guardian of morality. If our morality is to be guarded by that sentiment alone, then is the end come. The natural instinct of self-defence in man-kind and in all organized society is the fortress of the morality in mankind. The church itself was at one time the outgrowth of that same feeling, but now the feeling has outgrown the church. Now, then, we will have a Committee of Defence. That committee will examine every case. Suppose some man has been indicted, and suppose he is guilty. Suppose he has endeavored to soil the human mind. Suppose he has been willing to make money by pandering to the lowest passions in the human breast. What will that committee do with him then? We will say, "Go on; let the law take its course." But if, upon reading his book, we find that he is all wrong, horribly wrong, idiotically wrong, but make up our minds that he was honest in his error, I will give as much as any other living man of my means to defend that man. And I believe you will all bear me witness when I say that I have the cause of intellectual liberty at heart as much as I am capable of having anything at heart. And I know hundreds of others here just the same. I understand that. I understand their motive. I believe it to be perfectly good, but I truly and honestly think they are mistaken. If we have an interest in the business, I would fight for it. If our cause were assailed by law, then I say fight; and our cause is assailed, and I say fight. They will not allow me, in many States of this Union, to testify. I say fight until every one of those laws is repealed. They discriminate against a man simply because he is honest. Repeal such laws. The church, if it had the power to-day, would trample out every particle of free literature in this land. And when they endeavor to do that, I say fight. But there is a distinction wide as the Mississippi -- yes, wider than the Atlantic, wider than all the oceans -- between the literature of immorality and the literature of Freethought. One is a crawling, slimy lizard, and the other an angel with wings of light. Now, let us draw this distinction, let us understand ourselves, and do not give to the common enemy a word covered with mire, a word stained with cloaca, to throw at us. We thought we had settled that question a year ago. We buried it then, and I say let it rot. Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 6 THE CIRCULATION OF OBSCENE LITERATURE. This question is of great importance. It is the most important one we have here. I have fought this question; I am ever going to do so, and I will not allow anybody to put a stain upon me. This question must be understood if it takes all summer. Here is a case in point. Some lady has written a work which, I am informed, is a good work, and that has nothing wrong about it. Her opinions may be foolish or wise. Let this committee examine that case. If they find that she is a good woman, that she had good intentions, no matter how terrible the work may be, if her intentions are good, she has committed no crime, I want the honest thought. I think I have always been in favor of it. But we haven't the time to go into all these questions. Then comes the question for this house to decide in a moment whether these cases should have been tried in the State or Federal court. I want it understood that I have confidence in the Federal courts of the nation. There may be some bad judges, there may be some idiotic jurors. I think there was in that case [of Mr. Bennett]. But the Committee of Defence, if I understand it, supplied means, for the defence of that man. They did, but are we ready now to decide in a moment what courts shall have jurisdiction? Are we ready to say that the Federal courts shall be denied jurisdiction in any case arising about the mails? Suppose somebody robs the mails? Before whom shall we try the robber? Try him before a Federal judge. Why? Because be has violated a Federal law. We have not any time for such an investigation as this. What we want to do is to defend free speech everywhere. What we want to do is to defend the expression of thought in papers, in pamphlets, in books. What we want to do is to see to it that these books, papers, and pamphlets are on an equality with all other books, papers, and pamphlets in the United States mails. And then the next step we want to take, if any man is indicted under the pretence that he is publishing immoral books, is to have our Committee of Defence well examine the case; and if we believe the man to be innocent we will help defend him if he is unable to defend himself; and if we find that the law is wrong in that particular, we will go for the amendment of that law. I beg of you to have some sense in this matter. We must have it. If we don't, upon that rock we shall split -- upon that rock we shall again divide. Let us not do it. The cause of intellectual liberty is the highest to the human mind. Let us stand by it, and we can help all these people by this resolution. We can do justice everywhere with it, while if we agree to the fifth and sixth resolutions that have been offered I say we lay ourselves open to the charge, and it will be hurled against us, no matter how unjustly, that we are in favor of widespread immorality. Mr. Clarke: -- We are not afraid of it. Colonel Ingersoll: You may say we are not afraid. I am not afraid. He only is a fool who rushes into unnecessary danger. Mr. Clarke: What are you talking about, anyway? Colonel Ingersoll: I am talking with endeavor to put a little sense into such men as you. Your very question shows that it was necessary that I should talk. And now I move that my resolution be adopted. Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 7 THE CIRCULATION OF OBSCENE LITERATURE. Mr. Wakeman moved that it be added to that portion of the sixth resolution which recommended the constitution of the Committee of Defence. Col. Ingersoll: I cannot agree to the sixth resolution. I think nearly every word of it is wrong in principle. I think it binds us to a course of action that we shall not be willing to follow; and my resolution covers every possible case. My resolution binds us to defend every honest man in the exercise of his right. I can't be bound to say that the Government hasn't control of its morals -- that we cannot trust the Federal courts -- that, under any circumstances, at any time, I am bound to defend, either by word or money, any man who violates the laws of this country. Mr. Wakeman: We do not say that. Colonel Ingersoll: I beg of you, I beseech you, not to pass the sixth resolution. If you do, I wouldn't give that [snapping his fingers] for the platform. A part of the Comstock law authorizes the vilest possible trick. We are all opposed to that. Mr. Leland: What is the question? Colonel Ingersoll: Don't let us be silly. Don't let us say we are opposed to what we are not opposed to. If any man here is opposed to putting down the vilest of all possible trash he ought to go home. We are opposed to only a part of the law -- opposed to it whenever they endeavor to trample Freethought under foot in the name of immorality. Afterward, at the same session of the Congress, the following colloquy took place between Colonel Ingersoll and T.B. Wakeman Colonel Ingersoll: You know as well as I that there are certain books not fit to go through the mails -- books and pictures not fit to be delivered. Mr. Wakeman: That is so. Colonel Ingersoll: There is not a man here who is not in favor, when these books and pictures come into the control of the United States, of burning them up when they are manifestly obscene. You don't want any grand jury there. Mr. Wakeman: Yes, we do. Colonel Ingersoll: No, we don't. When they are manifestly obscene, burn them up. A delegate: Who is to be judge of that? Colonel Ingersoll: There are books that nobody differs about. There are certain things about which we can use discretion. If that discretion is abused, a man has his remedy. We stand for the free thought of this country. We stand for the progressive spirit of the United States. We can't afford to say that all these laws should be repealed. If we had time to investigate them we could say in what Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 8 THE CIRCULATION OF OBSCENE LITERATURE. they should be amended. Don't tie us to this non-sense -- to the idea that we have an interest in immoral literature. Let us remember that Mr. Wakeman is sore. He had a case before the Federal courts, and he imagines, having lost that case, you cannot depend on them. I have lost hundreds of cases. I have as much confidence in the Federal courts as in the State courts. I am not to be a party to throwing a slur upon the Federal judiciary. All we want is fair play. We want the same chance for our doctrines that others have for theirs. And how this infernal question of obscenity ever got into the Liberal League I could never understand. If an innocent man is convicted of larceny, should we repeal all the laws on the subject? I don't pretend to be better than other people. It is easy to talk right -- so easy to be right that I never care to have the luxury of being wrong. I am advocating something that we can stand upon. I do not misunderstand Mr. Wakeman's motives. I believe they are perfectly good -- that he is thoroughly honest. Why not just say we will stand by freedom of thought and its expression? Why not say that we are in favor of amending any law that is wrong? But do not make the wholesale statement that all these laws ought to be repealed. They ought not to be repealed. Some of them are good. The law against sending instruments of vice in the mails is good, as is the law against sending obscene books and pictures, and the law against letting ignorant hyenas prey upon sick people, and the law which prevents the getters up of bogus lotteries sending their letters through the mail. At the evening session of the Congress, on the same day, Mr. Ingersoll made this speech in opposition to the resolution demanding the repeal of the Comstock laws: I am not in favor of the repeal of those laws. I have never been, and I never expect to be. But I do wish that every law providing for the punishment of a criminal offence should distinctly define the offence. That is the objection to this law, that it does not define the offence, so that an American citizen can readily know when he is about to violate it and consequently the law ought in all probability to be modified in that regard. I am in favor of every law defining with perfect distinctness the offence to be punished, but I cannot say by wholesale these laws should be repealed. I have the cause of Freethought too much at heart. Neither will I consent to the repeal simply because the church is in favor of those laws. In so far as the church agrees with me, I congratulate the church. In so far as superstition is willing to help me, good! I am willing to accept it. I believe, also, that this League is upon a secular basis, and there should be nothing in our platform that would prevent any Christian from acting with us. What is our platform? -- and we ought to leave it as it is. It needs no amendment. Our platform is for a secular government. Is it improper in a secular government to endeavor to prevent the spread of obscene literature? It is the business of a secular government to do it, but if that government attempts to stamp out Freethought in the name of obscenity, it is then for the friends of Freethought to call for a definition of the word, and such a definition as will allow Freethought to go everywhere through all the mails of the United States. We are also in favor of secular schools. Good! We are in favor of doing away with every law that discriminate against a man on account of his belief. Good! We Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 9 THE CIRCULATION OF OBSCENE LITERATURE. are in favor of universal education. Good! We are in favor of the taxation of church property, Good! -- because the experience of the world shows that where you allow superstition to own property without taxing it, it will absorb the net profits. Is it time now that we should throw into the scale, against all these splendid purposes, an effort to repeal some postal laws against obscenity? As well might we turn the League into an engine to do away with all laws against the sale of stale eggs. What have we to do with those things? Is it possible that Freethought can be charged with being obscene? Is it possible that, if the charge is made, it can be substantiated? Can you not attack any superstition in the world in perfectly pure language? Can you not attack anything you please in perfectly pure language? And where a man intends right, no law should find him guilty; and if the law is weak in that respect, let it be modified. But I say to you that I cannot go with any body of men who demand the unconditional repeal of these laws. I believe in liberty as much as any man that breathes. I will do as much, according to my ability, as any other man to make this an absolutely free and secular government. I will do as much as any other man of any strength and of my intellectual power to give every human being every right that I claim for myself. But this obscene law business is a stumbling block. Had it not been for this, instead of the few people voting here -- less than one hundred -- we would have had a Congress numbered by thousands. Had it not been for this business, the Liberal League of the United States would to-night hold in its hand the political destiny of the United States. Instead of that, we have thrown away our power upon a question in which we are not interested. Instead of that, we have wasted our resources and our brain for the repeal of a law that we don't want repealed. If we want anything, we simply want a modification. Now, then, don't stain this cause by such a course. And don't understand that I am pretending, or am insinuating, that anyone here is in favor of obscene literature. It is a question, not of principle, but of means, and I beg pardon of this Convention if I have done anything so horrible as has been described by Mr. Pillsbury. I regret it if I have ever endeavored to trample upon the rights of this Convention. There is one thing I have not done -- I have not endeavored to cast five votes when I didn't have a solitary vote. Let us be fair; let us be fair. I have simply given my vote. I wish to trample upon the rights of no one; and when Mr. Pillsbury gave those votes he supposed he had a right to give them; and if he had a right, the votes would have been counted. I attribute nothing wrong to him, but I say this: I have the right to make a motion in this Congress, I have the right to argue that motion, that I have no more rights than any other member, and I claim none. But I want to say to you -- and I want you to know and feel it -- that I want to act with every Liberal man and woman in this world. I want you to know and feel it that I want to do everything I can to get every one of these statutes off our books that discriminates against a man be cause of his religious belief -- that I am in favor of a secular government, and of all these rights. But I cannot, and I will not, operate with any organization that asks for the unconditional repeal of those laws. I will stand alone, and I have stood alone. I can tell my thoughts to my countrymen, and I will do it, and Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 10 THE CIRCULATION OF OBSCENE LITERATURE. whatever position you take, whether I am with you or not, you will find me battling everywhere for the absolute freedom of the human mind. You will find me battling everywhere to make this world better and grander; and whatever my personal conduct may be, I shall endeavor to keep my theories right. I beg of you, I implore you, do not pass the resolution No. 6. It is not for our interest; it will do us no good. It will lose us hosts of honest, splendid friends. Do not do it; it will be a mistake; and the only reason I offered the motion was to give the members time to think this over. I am not pretending to know more than other people. I am perfectly willing to say that in many things I know less. But upon this subject I want you to think. No matter whether you are afraid of your sons, your daughters, your wives, or your husbands, that isn't it -- I don't want the splendid prospects of this League put in jeopardy upon such an issue as this. I have no more to say. But if that resolution is passed, all I have to say is that, while I shall be for liberty everywhere, I cannot act with this organization, and I will not. The resolution was finally adopted, and Colonel Ingersoll resigned his office of vice-president in the League, and never acted with it again until the League dropped all side issues, and came back to first principles -- the enforcement of the Nine Demands of Liberalism. In 1892, Writing upon this subject in answer to a minister who had repeated these absurd charges, Colonel Ingersoll made this offer: I will pay a premium of one thousand dollars a word for each and every word I ever said or wrote in favor of sending obscene publications through the mails. END **** **** EFFECT OF THE WORLD'S FAIR ON THE HUMAN RACE. THE Great Fair should be for the intellectual, mechanical, artistic, political and social advancement of the world. Nations, like small communities, are in danger of becoming provincial, and must become so, unless they exchange commodities, theories, thoughts, and ideals. Isolation is the soil of ignorance, and ignorance is the soil of egotism; and nations, like individuals who live apart, mistake provincialism for perfection, and hatred of all other nations for patriotism. With most people, strangers are not only enemies, but inferiors. They imagine that they are progressive because they know little of others, and compare their present, not with the present of other nations, but with their own past. Few people have imagination enough to sympathize with those of a different complexion, with those professing another religion or speaking another language, or even wearing garments unlike their own. Most people regard every difference between themselves and others as an evidence of the inferiority of the others. They have not intelligence enough to put themselves in the place of another if that other happens to be outwardly unlike themselves. Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 11 EFFECT OF THE WORLD'S FAIR ON THE HUMAN RACE. Countless agencies have been at work for many years destroying the hedges of thorn that have so long divided nations, and we at last are beginning to see that other people do not differ from us, except in the same particulars that we differ from them. At last, nations are becoming acquainted with each other, and they now know that people everywhere are substantially the same. We now know that while nations differ outwardly in form and feature, somewhat in theory, philosophy and creed, still, inwardly -- that is to say, so far as hopes and passions are concerned -- they are much the same, having the same fears, experiencing the same joys and sorrows. So we are beginning to find that the virtues belong exclusively to no race, to no creed, and to no religion; that the humanities dwell in the hearts of men, whomever and whatever they may happen to worship. We have at last found that every creed is of necessity a provincialism, destined to be lost in the universal. At last, Science extends an invitation to all nations, and places at their disposal its ships and its cars; and when these people meet -- or rather, the representatives of these people -- they will find that, in spite of the accidents of birth, they are, after all, about the same; that their sympathies, their ideas of right and wrong, of virtue and vice, of heroism and honor, are substantially alike. They will find that in every land honesty is honored, truth respected and admired, and that generosity and charity touch all hearts. So it is of the greatest importance that the inventions of the world should be brought beneath one roof. These inventions, in my judgment, are destined to be the liberators of mankind. They enslave forces and compel the energies of nature to work for man. These forces have no backs to feel the lash, no tears to shed, no hearts to break. The history of the world demonstrates that man becomes what we call civilized by increasing his wants. As his necessities increase, he becomes industrious and energetic. If his heart does not keep pace with his brain, he is cruel, and the physically or mentally strong enslave the physically or mentally weak. At present these inventions, while they have greatly increased the countless articles needed by man, have to a certain extent enslaved mankind. In a savage state there are few failures. Almost any one succeeds in hunting and fishing. The wants are few, and easily supplied. As man becomes civilized, wants increase; or rather as wants increase, man becomes civilized. Then the struggle for existence becomes complex; failures increase. The first result of the invention of machinery has been to increase the wealth of the few. The hope of the world is that through invention man can finally take such advantage of these forces of nature, of the weight of water, of the force of wind, of steam, of electricity, that they will do the Work of the world; and it is the hope of the really civilized that these inventions will finally cease to be the property of the few, to the end that they may do the work of all for all. When those who do the work own the machines, when those who toil control the invention, then, and not till then, can the world Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 12 EFFECT OF THE WORLD'S FAIR ON THE HUMAN RACE. be civilized or free, When these forces shall do the bidding of the individual, when they become the property of the mechanic instead of the monopoly, when they belong to labor instead of what is called capital, when these great powers are as free to the individual laborer as the air and light are now free to all, then, and not until then, the individual will be restored and all forms of slavery will disappear. Another great benefit will come from the Fair. Other nations in some directions are more artistic than we, but no other nation has made the common as beautiful as we have. We have given beauty of form to machines, to common utensils, to the things of every day, and have thus laid the foundation for producing the artistic in its highest possible forms. It will be of great benefit to us to look upon the paintings and marbles of the Old World. To see them is an education. The great Republic has lived a greater poem than the brain and heart of man have as yet produced, and we have supplied material for artists and poets yet unborn; material for form and color and song. The Republic is to-day Art's greatest market. Nothing else is so well calculated to make friends of all nations as really to become acquainted with the best that each has produced. The nation that has produced a great poet, a great artist, a great statesman, a great thinker, takes its place on an equality with other nations of the world, and transfers to all of its citizens some of the genius of its most illustrious men or woman. This great Fair will be an object lesson to other nations. They will see the result of a government, republican in form, where the people are the source of authority, where governors and presidents are servants -- not rulers. We want all nations to see the great Republic as it is, to study and understand its growth, development and destiny. We want them to know that here, under our flag, are sixty-five millions of people and that they are the best fed, the best clothed and the best housed in the world. We want them to know that we are solving the great social problems and that we are going to demonstrate the right and power of man to govern himself. We want the subjects of other nations to see a land filled with citizens -- not subjects; a land in which the pew is above the pulpit; where the people are superior to the state; where legislators are representatives and where authority means simply the duty to enforce the people's will. Let us hope above all things that this Fair will bind the nations together closer and stronger; and let us hope that this will result in the settlement of all national difficulties by arbitration instead of war. In a savage state, individuals settle their own difficulties by an appeal to force. After a time these individuals agree that their difficulties shall be settled by others. This is the first great step toward civilization. The result is the establishment of courts. Nations at present sustain to each other the same relation that savage does to savage. Each nation is left to decide for itself, and it generally decides Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 13 EFFECT OF THE WORLD'S FAIR ON THE HUMAN RACE. according to its strength -- not the strength of its side of the case, but the strength of its army. The consequence is that what is called "the Law of Nations" is a savage code. The world will never be civilized until there is an international court. Savages begin to be civilized when they submit their difficulties to their peers. Nations will become civilized when they submit their difficulties to a great court, the judgments of which can be carried out, all nations pledging the cooperation of their armies and their navies for that purpose. If the holding of the great Fair shall result in hastening the coming of that time it will be a blessing to the whole world. And here let me prophesy: The Fair will be worthy of Chicago, the most wonderful city of the world -- of Illinois, the best State in the Union -- of the United States, the best country on the earth. It will eclipse all predecessors in every department. It will represent the progressive spirit of the nineteenth century. Beneath its ample roofs will be gathered the treasures of Art, and the accomplishments of Science. At the feet of the Republic will be laid the triumphs of our race, the best of every land. -- The Illustrated World's Fair, Chicago, November, 1891. **** **** A TRIBUTE TO MRS. MARY H. FISKE. At Scottish Rite Hall, New York, February 6, 1889. MY FRIENDS: In the presence of the two great mysteries, Life and Death, we are met to say above this still, unconscious house of clay, a few words of kindness, of regret, of love, and hope. In this presence, let us speak of the goodness, the charity, the generosity and the genius of the dead. Only flowers should be laid upon the tomb. In life's last pillow there should be no thorns. Mary Fiske was like herself -- she patterned after none. She was a genius, and put her soul in all she did and wrote. She cared nothing for roads, nothing for beaten paths, nothing for the footsteps of others -- she went across the fields and through the woods and by the winding streams, and down the vales, or over crags, wherever fancy led. She wrote lines that leaped with laughter and words that were wet with tears. She gave us quaint thoughts, and sayings filled with the "pert and nimble spirit of mirth." Her pages were flecked with sunshine and shadow, and in every word were the pulse and breath of life. Her heart went out to all the wretched in this weary world -- and yet she seemed as joyous as though grief and death were nought but words. She wept where others wept, but in her own misfortunes found the food of hope. She cared for the to-morrow of others, but not for her own. She lived for to-day. Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 14 A TRIBUTE TO MRS. MARY H. FISKE. Some hearts are like a waveless pool, satisfied to hold the image of a wondrous star -- but hers was full of motion, life and light and storm. She longed for freedom. Every limitation was a prison's wall. Rules were shackles, and forms were made for serfs and slaves. She gave her utmost thought. She praised all generous deeds; applauded the struggling and even those who failed. She pitied the poor, the forsaken, the friendless. No one could fall below her pity, no one could wander beyond the circumference of her sympathy. To her there were no outcasts -- they were victims. She knew that the inhabitants of palaces and penitentiaries might change places without adding to the injustice of the world. She knew that circumstances and conditions determine character -- that the lowest and the worst of our race were children once, as pure as light, whose cheeks dimpled with smiles beneath the heaven of a mother's eyes. She thought of the road they had traveled, of the thorns that had pierced their feet, of the deserts they had crossed, and so, instead of words of scorn she gave the eager hand of help. No one appealed to her in vain. She listened to the story of the poor, and all she had she gave. A god could do no more. The destitute and suffering turned naturally to her. The maimed and hurt sought for her open door, and the helpless put their hands in hers. She shielded the weak -- she attacked the strong. Her heart was open as the gates of day. She shed kindness as the sun sheds light. If all her deeds were flowers, the air would be faint with perfume. If all her charities could change to melodies, a symphony would fill the sky. Mary Fiske had within her brain the divine fire called genius, and in her heart the "touch of nature that makes the whole world kin." She wrote as a stream runs, that winds and babbles through the shadowy fields, that falls in foam of flight and haste and laughing joins the sea. A little while ago a babe was found -- one that had been abandoned by its mother -- left as a legacy to chance or fate. The warm heart of Mary Fiske, now cold in death, was touched. She took the waif and held it lovingly to her breast and made the child her own. We pray thee, Mother Nature, that thou wilt take this woman and hold her as tenderly in thy arms, as she held and pressed against her generous, throbbing heart, that abandoned babe. We ask no more. Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 15 A TRIBUTE TO MRS. MARY H. FISKE. In this presence, let us remember our faults, our frailties, and the generous, helpful, self-denying, loving deeds of Mary Fiske. END **** **** THE LAW'S DELAY. THE object of a trial is not to convict -- neither is it to acquit. The object is to ascertain the truth by legal testimony and in accordance with law. In this country we give the accused the benefit of all reasonable doubts. We insist that his guilt shall be really established by competent testimony. We also allow the accused to take exceptions to the rulings of the judge before whom he is tried, and to the verdict of the jury, and to have these exceptions passed upon by a higher court. We also insist that he shall be tried by an impartial jury, and that before he can be found guilty all the jurors must unite in the verdict. Some people, not on trial for any crime, object to our methods. They say that time is wasted in getting an impartial jury; that more time is wasted because appeals are allowed, and that by reason of insisting on a strict compliance with law in all respects, trials sometimes linger for years, and that in many instances the guilty escape. No one, so far as I know, asks that men shall be tried by partial and prejudiced jurors, or that judges shall be allowed to disregard the law for the sake of securing convictions, or that verdicts shall be allowed to stand unsupported by sufficient legal evidence. Yet they talk as if they asked for these very things. We must remember that revenge is always in haste, and that justice can always afford to wait until the evidence is actually heard. There should be no delay except that which is caused by taking the time to find the truth. Without such delay courts become mobs, before which, trials in a legal sense are impossible. It might be better, in a city like New York, to have the grand jury in almost perpetual session, so that a man charged with crime could be immediately indicted and immediately tried. So, the highest court to which appeals are taken should be in almost constant session, in order that all appeals might be quickly decided. But we do not wish to take away the right of appeal. That right tends to civilize the trial judge, reduces to a minimum his arbitrary power, puts his hatreds and passions in the keeping and control of his intelligence. That right of appeal has an excellent effect on the jury, because they know that their verdict may not be the last word. The appeal, where the accused is guilty, does not take the sword from the State, but it is a shield for the innocent. Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 16 THE LAW'S DELAY. In England there is no appeal. The trials are shorter, the judges more arbitrary, the juries subservient, and the verdict often depends on the prejudice of the judge. The judge knows that he has the last guess -- that he cannot be reviewed -- and in the passion often engendered by the conflict of trial he acts much like a wild beast. The case of Mrs. Maybrick is exactly in point, and shows how dangerous it is to clothe the trial judge with supreme power. Without doubt there is in this country too much delay, and this, it seems to me, can be avoided without putting the life or liberty of innocent persons in peril. Take only such time as may be necessary to give the accused a fair trial, before an impartial jury, under and in accordance with the established forms of law, and to allow an appeal to the highest court. The State in which a criminal cannot have an impartial trial is not civilized. People who demand the conviction of the accused without regard to the forms of law are savages. But there is another side to this question. Many people are losing confidence in the idea that punishment reforms the convict, or that capital punishment materially decreases capital crimes. My own opinion is that ordinary criminals should, if possible, be reformed, and that murderers and desperate wretches should be imprisoned for life. I am inclined to believe that our prisons make more criminals than they reform; that places like the Reformatory at Elmira plant and cultivate the seeds of crime. The State should never seek revenge; neither should it put in peril the life or liberty of the accused for the sake of a hasty trial, or by the denial of appeal. In my judgment, defective as our criminal courts and methods are, they are far better than the English. Our judges are kinder, more humane; our juries nearer independent, and our methods better calculated to ascertain the truth. **** **** Reproducible Electronic Publishing can defeat censorship. The Bank of Wisdom is a collection of the most thoughtful, scholarly and factual books. These computer books are reprints of suppressed books and will cover American and world history; the Biographies and writings of famous persons, and especially of our nations Founding Fathers. They will include philosophy and religion. all these subjects, and more, will be made available to the public in electronic form, easily copied and distributed, so that America can again become what its Founders intended -- The Free Market-Place of Ideas. Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 17


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