Update 11-13: Sunday, November 27, 2011.

"Foster Jury Given Radical Education: C.E. Ruthenberg Acts As Professor of Communism and Capitalism in Michigan Syndicalism Case," by Joe Carroll [March 31, 1923]  Coverage by a reporter for the left wing Federated Press of testimony in the trial of William Z. Foster for alleged violation of the Michigan Criminal Syndicalism Law. Carroll details the testimony of Communist leader C.E. Ruthenberg in Foster's defense, observing that the Cleveland radical looked "quite like a professor, talked fluently, as he sought to show that the gathering at Bridgman was a philosophical gathering not bent on violence and armed insurrection." Carroll quotes Ruthenberg as testifying that "The Communist view is that force is not a weapon for a small group or party to use. If force is resorted to it must come out of the social and political conditions existing in a country. An advocacy of force in the United States today would be nonsense."

"Foster’s Fate With Jury on Issue of Free Speech," by Joe Carroll [events of April 6, 1923]  Federated Press coverage of closing statements in the William Z. Foster trial in St. Joseph, Michigan. Carroll notes the extreme appeals to patriotism made by the prosecution, observing that "male members of the jury wept when Attorney General O.L. Smith offered his four little boys to his country for the next war." Tears were also drawn from female jurist Minerva Olson by lead defense attorney Frank P. Walsh, according to Carroll, when Walsh "told of the departure of his 18 year old son for camp in the recent war and showed how much better the world would be if there were no war and pacifists had their way." Carroll indicates that "there seems to be a strong public spirit of opposition toward the whole proceeding, evinced not only by discontent over the expense, but also through protest against enforcement of the all too comprehensive statute under which such prosecutions would be permitted." Carroll extensively reviews the testimony of Foster himself, called to the stand in his own defense.

"The Verdict in the Foster Case," by C.E. Ruthenberg [April 6, 1923]  Press release sent out by the Workers Party Press Service in the aftermath of the hung jury in the William Z. Foster "Criminal Syndicalism" case held in St. Joseph, Michigan. Workers Party of America Executive Secretary C.E. Ruthenberg declares the result a "great victory for Communism in the United States" based upon Judge Charles E. White's instructions to the jury, which set a high bar for finding of a guilty verdict. Highlights of White's instructions are quoted here. Ruthenberg quotes a member of the jury as stating “The prosecution didn't prove that the Communist Party advocated violence. That was the only thing we split on."

"Why Mrs. Olson Voted for Foster," by Jay Lovestone [April 10, 1923]  In the aftermath of the mistrial in the William Z. Foster case, one member of the jury gained her proverbial 15 minutes of fame -- Mrs. Minerva Olson, the sole woman on the jury and an outspoken civil libertarian. This piece by Jay Lovestone, targeted to the Workers Party of America's press, salutes Olson for her courage in expounding "the American spirit of fair play." Olson declared that "The stage setting of the prosecution seemed over-employed with such a display of detectives and undercover men that it appeared more like trying to railroad Foster than like prosecuting him." She added that "Agitation may not be altogether pleasant, but we must remember that it is the agitators who have brought progress into the world" and she expressed her conviction that the Foster Criminal Syndicalism trial "was really a big battle for human rights." Lovestone encourages readers to write to Olson thanking her for her courage.

"Debs and the United Front: An Open Letter to Eugene V. Debs from C.E. Ruthenberg, April 14, 1923."  Upon learning that Socialist Party leader Gene Debs had faced disruptions of his meetings by members of the Workers Party, Executive Secretary C.E. Ruthenberg drafted the following open letter to the aging orator disclaiming responsibility. "No member of the Workers Party has been directed or authorized to carry on such activities in relation to your meetings," Ruthenberg declares. Ruthenberg takes advantage of the opportunity to publicize the WPA's ongoing effort to forge a United Front with other radical organizations, emphasizing a 6 point program for common action -- amalgamation of unions, protection of foreign born workers, repudiation of international rivals of the Comintern, recognition of the USSR, fundamental transformation of the American system of government to a unicameral legislature with neither executive nor judicial veto power, and establishment of a labor party on the British model. Ruthenberg asks Debs for a statement of his views on these matters.

"Ruthenberg Jury Selection, Day 2," by T.J. O’Flaherty [April 18, 1923]  Chastised by a mistrial due to a hung jury in the trial of William Z. Foster, the prosecution in the Michigan Criminal Syndicalism case against C.E. Ruthenberg attempted to learn from its mistakes, placing special emphasis on jury selection. This first-hand account by Tom O'Flaherty relates the second morning of jury selection — a process which had placed a retired businessman, local Chamber of Commerce Treasurer, retired policeman-turned-detective, a justice of the peace, and nephew of a member of the Foster jury who had voted for conviction on the panel. O'Flaherty takes colorful ad hominem potshots at star prosecution witnesses Louis Loebl (of the Chicago office of the Bureau of Investigation) and Francis Morrow, likening the look of the former to "a cornered rat" who "would fill the picture of the popular conception of the dope peddler and pickpocket type." O'Flaherty remarks upon the "fairness and simplicity" of the judge in the case.

"Ruthenberg Jury Selection, Day 3," by T.J. O’Flaherty [April 19, 1923]  Reporter for The Worker T.J. O’Flaherty details the end of jury selection in the trial of C.E. Ruthenberg for alleged violation of the Michigan Criminal Syndicalism law. It was revealed that Michigan law required property ownership as a condition of jury service, resulting in the summary dismissal of a box factory worker from the jury panel. The state removed another former union member with its final peremptory challenge, O'Flaherty notes. "Taken in connection with the peremptory challenge by the state of the only union man on the jury list, our readers can draw their own conclusions, regardless of the fairness of the judge, as to the handicap under which C.E. Ruthenberg suffers in facing twelve men who must necessarily possess property and are presumably in favor of a system of which the private ownership of socially essential property is a cornerstone," O'Flaherty remarks.


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