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January, 1909

Vol. XVI. No. 5


The Right of Political
Asylum Threatened

Felix Abler


William M. Salter

-Published Monthly by-


(Entered at Philadelphia as second-clasi matter)



Issued monthly, except July and August. Volume begins
with the September number.

Vol. XVI. No. 1. (September, 1908.)
The Moral Effect of Gambling. Felix Adler.
The Sources of Moral Inspiration. Leslie Willis Sprague.

Vol. XVI. No. 2. (October, 1908.)
What is an Ethical Society? Leslie Willis Sprague.
Ethical Culture — Some Misapprehensions Corrected. Leslie

Willis Sprague.
The Summer School of Ethics.

Vol. XVI. No. 3. (November, 1908.)
The Four-Fold Path of Spiritual Progress. Felix Adler.
Echoes of the International Congress on Moral Education.

Vol. XVI. No. 4. (December, 1908.)
John Milton — An Apostle of Liberty. David Saville Muzzey.



Issued Quaiterly. Volume begins with October Number

Fri»»dricli Paulsen's Ethical Work and Influence. By Pro-
fessor* Praxvk Thilly, ComeU :Uii'versity.

The liRte Dr.; Ej^Tvard* .€«Cijt;<'l.* • By Professor J. S. Mackenzie,
University College,* Carcfifi!' '• *

The International Congrress on M-^ral Edncation. By Pro-
FESSCT{ ^f.^l!S.»feftdrer,'Cnivex.'sit.vr of 'Manchester.

Self-Este.Wo. ^m^, iVe -< I*<t\;e ©f* R«cit»srnition as Sonrces of
Condnct. By H. H. Schbo'eder/ State Normal School, White-
water, Wisconsin.

The Morals of an Immoralist — Priedrich Ntetasche. II. By
Alfred H. Benn, Florence, Italy.

The Will to Malie-Believe. By Wilbur M. Urban, Trinity College,
Hartford, Conn.

Crime and Social Responsihility. By Carl Heath, London.

Yearly, $2.60 Single Nnmher, 65 Cents

Comhinatlon with "Ethical Addresses," Yearly, fS.OO.

1415 L.ocast Street. Philadelphia, Pa.


A FEW words of explanation may be offered of the cir-
cumstances which have led to the republication of the two
following lectures by Felix Adler and William M. Salter.

The Russian Extradition Treaty of 1893 has made
America the unconscious tool of the Czar's autocracy.
This possibility was foreseen by such lovers of liberty as
George Kennan, Felix Adler and William Salter at the
time the Treaty was concluded. Since the ratification of
the Treaty, the Russian people have gone through a heroic
revolution. In it the blood of martyrs has beeri gener-
ously spilt, while the atrocities perpetrated by the Russian
government can only be compared to the exquisite cruel-
ties of the Inquisition.

A policy of treacherous concession brought about the
Czar's manifesto of 1905, which proposed to offer some
fundamental constitutional rights; — freedom of speech,
the right of assembly, and electoral rights. Three Dumas
have been formed, each more farcical in its basis of pop-
ular representation than the other. The self-sacrifice of
the finest flower of the Russian youth has still borne no
actual fruits.

The autocracy is intrenched ; for in the two years since
the Czar's manifesto of 1905, i8,374 persons were con-
demned for political offences. Of these, 2,717 v/ere sen-
tenced to death. During the months of January and Feb-
ruary, 1908, 500 political offenders were executed. An
official document, signed by thirty-five members of the
second Duma is authority for such heartrending facts as
these! From December, 1905, to June, 1906, 1,170 per-



II4/.". : i/5l^ir/RlGj^ ^F/JOLtTICAL ASYLUM.

sons in the Lettish region alone were executed without
trial. This document further accuses the government of
torturing the politicals in order to wring "confessions"
from them. The absence of any semblance of legal pro-
cedure in these cases is abhorrent to those who have been
nurtured in the spirit of our free political institutions.
And now, conscious of its security at home, the Russian
autocracy has ventured to commit barbarity abroad. It
has caused two Russian peasants to be arrested, — Jan
Janoff Pouren in New York, and Christian Roudovitz in
Chicago. In both these cases, the Russian government
has manipulated the harmless treaty of 1893, and in ac-
cordance with its ''innocent" provisions, has charged
them with common felonies. Yet, despite the opinions of
some of those most learned in the law, that the defence
has supplied ample evidence that Pouren and Roudovitz
were participants in the revolution, and that these acts, if
committed at all, were of a purely political character,
they have been incarcerated in American jails. What-
ever may be the fate of these peasants, it is clear that the
Russian government is utilizing this treaty to hound its
patriots abroad, and to deny them, if possible, our time-
honored right of political asylum. A fundamental moral
issue is here involved. Hence, the prophetic protests of
Prof, Adler and Mr. Salter; and hence the appropriate-
ness of makinof their addresses available.


By Felix Adler.

The feeling of good-will between the United States and
Russia is of long standing, and has become, so far as we
are concerned, almost a part of our national tradition. It
is founded in part on valuable service rendered in the past,
in part on more general grounds. Likeness of situation
begets sympathy between peoples as well as individuals.
The Russian nation, like our own, is a nation in the mak-
ing. After long ages of subjection to a foreign rule, after
centuries of intellectual tutelage and dependence on for-
eign examples, Russia to-day claims for herself a pre-
eminent place among civilized states, and the most ardent
of her patriots aspire to add to the world's stock of
thought and experience a unique contribution of their own
in harmony with the peculiar character and endowments
of the Russian race. Already a marvellous literature has
been produced which has spread far beyond the confines
of their empire. The works of Tolstoi, Tourguenef, Go-
gol, and many others have been translated into every
tongue and are read in every zone, and these are but the
fair beginnings, giving promise of mightier developments
to follow. The Russian people, moreover, are like our
own in this, that they have before them a vast continent
to be subdued. The Russian Empire includes half of Eu-
rope and Asia, and covers one-sixth of the land surface

*An address delivered before the Society for Ethical Culture
of New York, Sunday, March 26th, 1893.


of the globe. In this immense extent of territory there
are boundless vacant spaces to be filled by colonization,
latent resources of incalculable value to be developed, and
splendid fortunes seem to beckon on the pioneers. What-
ever turn affairs may take, this much is certain, that we
at the present day are but at the beginning of human his-
tory, and that the growth of Russia will powerfully af-
fect, for good or evil, the future destinies of mankind.

Considerations such as these suffice to explain the in-
stinctive sympathy that subsists between the Rusian and
American people, widely separated as they are, as well in
point of space as in manners, habits of thought, and insti-
tutions. And, in what I shall have to say to-day, I desire
that nothing may be construed as reflecting upon this
sympathy, or as intended to lessen the kindly feeling to-
ward a people which, whatever its faults may be, pos-
sesses so many generous qualities that challenge respect
and admiration. But we are bound to separate between
the people and the government.

V' The occasion which calls forth my remarks to-day is
the negotiation of a treaty between the President and
Senate of United States and the government of the Czar,
under the terms of which an attempt upon the life of the
Russian Emperor shall not be considered a political crime,
and Russian Refugees in this country against whom a
prima facie case of complicity in such an attempt can be
made out shall be extradited. What is there in the nature
of such an agreement, it may be asked, to excite protest ?
Do we desire that this country shall harbor anarchists?
Does any sane man, any man whose moral judgment is
not distorted approve of murder? Do we wish that per-
sons who use criminal means for the attainment of politi-
cal ends, self-constituted defenders of popular rights,
shall make this land their asylum? Why, then, should


we remonstrate on behalf of a class of persons so odious
and pernicious ? Opinions like these one often hears ex-
pressed by persons who betray but a superficial acquaint-
ance with the issues involved. In order that the true
bearings of this treaty may be understood, it is necessary
before all things to examine into the nature of the gov-
ernment with which we are about to enter into these en-
gagements, and to a preliminary sketch of this sort, I
have to ask your attention.

Among all the nations of Christendom, Russia is the
only one the government of which has remained an abso-
lute autocracy. It is difficult for Americans to imagine
how an autocratic government operates, so utterly alien
is it to their sentiments and principles. In Russia, the
will of one man is law and the source of all law. With
the exception of the provincial assemblies, the Zemstvos,
whose functions are restricted to local affairs, there are
no representative bodies that express the will, or even voice
the wishes of the people. There exist, indeed, two po-
litical organs, the Senate and the Council of the Empire,
the names of which might suggest a certain limitation of
the autocratic power. But the Directing Senate, founded
by Peter the Great, has ceased to direct and has become a
judicial chamber solely; while the Council of the Empire,
created at the beginning of the present century, is permit-
ted, indeed, to discuss laws, but has no share in their en-
actment. Its function is limited to giving advice. It can-
not even make recommendations to the Czar as a unit,
for the opinion of the minority, as well as the majority of
its members, must be laid before the Emperor, and it is
for him to adopt either opinion, or to disregard both, as
he prefers. The Council of the Empire, therefore, is in
no sense a check upon the unlimited sovereignty of the
Czar. Its members, moreover, are appointed by the Em-


peror himself. They are his creatures, dependent upon
his will. How, then, can they be expected to oppose his
wishes ?

Again, in many monarchial countries, the Ministers —
and especially the Prime Minister — exercise a species of
restraining influence upon the action of the King. But
the Russian Czars permit in their vicinity no Prime Min-
isters to grow up, and perhaps to overshadow them, as
Bismarck overshadowed his King. There is no Cabinet
of Ministers. Each minister is independent of his col-
leagues. He may decide on matters that involve the gen-
eral policy of the Empire without their knowledge, and is
often secretly at war with them. It has frequently been
the policy of the Czars to foment these jealousies and ri-
valries among their immediate advisers on the principle of
"divide et impera," in order to prevent any one of them
from gaining an ascendency which might in the least ham-
per the full, free sweep of the imperial will.

The Russian system is a kind of paternalism carried to
the verge of the absurd. The theory is that the people are
children, minors, and that the Czar is their father. A
Russian is not allowed to leave the country without hav-
ing first received the permission of the Czar. A Russian
merchant, peasant, or workingman is not allowed to
travel for a distance of more than a few miles from his
place of residence without father's permission. The
Russian is not allowed to read what he pleases, but, by
the imperial censorship, a catalogue is published of books
which it is not safe for him to read, just as parents care-
fully select the reading matter for their children, so that
nothing shall fall into their hands which can harm them.
The Russian is not even permitted to perform certain acts
of charity on his own motion. No one may found a bed
in a hospital, nor a scholarship in a school, without first


asking the permission of the government to do so. Under
the Emperor Nicholas it is said that no one was allowed
even to build a house, if it had more than five windows,
without first obtaining the authorization of the Czar.
Thus the figure of the Czar everywhere looms up, huge
and overawing — Hke one of those statues of the ancient
Egyptian Kings which we see in museums — and fills the
whole political horizon.

But, it will be asked, does not the press serve in Russia,
as everywhere else, to restrain the abuses of power? Does
it not give expression to the wishes of the people, and
bring the grievances of the governed to the notice of their
julers? The Russian press can render no such service,
because it is itself bound and gagged. The journals are
permitted to treat literary and scientific subjects, and to
discuss, to a certain extent, the politics of foreign coun-
tries. But the moment they touch on domestic affairs,
they do so at their peril. The slightest indiscretion will
bring upon them the most drastic measures of administra-
tive repression. Sometimes a newspaper appears with
many or even all of its columns blank, the copy having
been cancelled, by official order, and nothing remaining
but the advertisements. Sometimes, on the other hand,
the right of printing advertisements is withdrawn, and
the journal is thus fcrippled in its financial resources. At
other times, the sale of a newspaper on the streets is for-
bidden. Or an obnoxious editor is forced, under govern-
ment pressure, to resign, and, if he should attempt to re-
sist, is quietly sent into exile to reflect, on the frozen
shores of the White Sea, or in distant Siberia, on the
folly of unseasonable candor. Under such circumstances,
how can the press serve as the champion of freedom, or
as an agent in the redress of popular wrongs ?

Now, what have been the fruits of this system ? They


have been such as might be expected, such as a system of
this kind can alone bring forth. The finances of the Em-
pire, despite its vast resources, as is well known, are in a
precarious condition. The serfs, it is true, have been
emancipated by the father of the present Emperor; but
how has emancipation thus far profited them ? The gov-
ernment has poured seven hundred millions of rubles, in
the shape of redemption money, into the lap of seventy-
one thousand proprietors. But the great mass of the peas-
ants have not been benefited. A few wealthy persons
have been still further enriched. The great multitude has
been more deeply impoverished than ever. The allotments
of land assigned to them are insufficient for their needs.
They are victimized by crafty speculators and rack-rent-
ing landlords. Every year one-half the adult male popu-
lation leave their homes and wander through Russia, a va-
grant army in search of labor and subsistence. The
famine decimates their ranks, and the cholera finds among
them a congenial soil.

A people can only be strong if it be free, and to use
freedom aright education is indispensable. The great
mass of the Russian people are ignorant, uneducated, and
illiterate. The government, perceiving the necessity of
raising the educational level of the people, has founded
universities and schools. But, by one of those singular
contradictions which one meets with so often in this un-
happy country, it has withdrawn with one hand what it
oflfered with the other. The love of liberty, that is nour-
ished in the higher educational centres, has provoked the
hostility of the authorities. Many a time the universities
have been closed, the students persecuted, and the cur-
riculum of studies interfered with and restricted, and
while the means which have been provided for popular
education are altogether inadequate, the government jeal-


ously debars private individuals from establishing schools
which might supply the deficiencies of its own provisions
to this end.

In addition to the evils already signalized, corruption
reigns to a degree almost incredible. The whole govern-
ment service is honeycombed with it. A system of police
espionage has been devised which penetrates even into the
sanctuary of the family. The mails are habitually tam-
pered with, so that even high government officials do not
dare to entrust their secret correspondence to the postal
service. And, above all, religious intolerance of the fierc-
est and most unrelenting kind has full sway under the
present incumbent of the throne. It is said by those who
profess to speak from knowledge that the Emperor Alex-
ander the Third is a man of irreproachable personal hab-
its, of the strictest principles, and fully imbued with the
belief in the sacredness of his mission. The powers of an
autocrat, when united in the hands of an honest fanatic,
are infinitely more to be dreaded than when entrusted to
a more worldly and less sincere nature. Every scruple
that might plead on behalf of humanity is quelled by the
counsels of bigotry. Every obstacle to the execution of
those counsels is removed by the possession of despotic

Is it to be wondered at that, under such a system, with
such a nightmare pressing on the breast of the Russian
people, there should have arisen in certain quarters a cry
of protest ; that, among the young, the hopeful, the intel-
ligent, the students of the superior schools and universi-
ties, combinations should have been formed with a view
of shaking off the yoke under which their country has suf-
fered so long, and is still suffering. Russian nihilism is
the legitimate offspring of Russian despotim. The Rus-
sian nihilists are not to be confounded with those insane


anarchists who are bent on destruction, reckless of conse-
quences. The Russian nihilists, it cannot be denied, have /
been moved by a patriotic motive. In the beginning, their j
methods were mild and gentle enough. They acted the '
part, as has been said, of Christian evangelists. They
mingled with the peasants. They stripped themselves of
the privileges of their superior station. They led the life
of hardship and privation. They sought, by teaching and
by the spread of literature, to prepare the common people
for that better political and social state of which they
dreamed. It was only when the authorities, by the em-
ployment of the most violent measures, checked this
peaceful propaganda, when the Russian patriots beheld
their brothers buried in the depths of Russian prisons, or
condemned to the horrors of Siberian exile, that one sec-
tion of them, the extreme section, determined to meet vio-
lence with violence. At first, their retributive measures
were directed against the agents of the Czar — the Chief
of Police and the Governors. And it was when these
measures failed to procure relief that their attacks were
finally turned against the Emperor himself. In a country
like Russia, there are only two ways open by which a
change may be effected. The one is to work from below
upward ; the other from above downward. The one is to
disseminate liberal ideas among the people at large and
to prepare them slowly for a political transformation.
The other is to induce the person in whom the sovereign
power is vested to grant of his own accord liberal institu-
tions to the nation. The former way was blocked by the
Czar himself. As to the latter, the nihilists might well be
tempted to ask how an autocrat who believes that he rules
by divine right could be induced to divest himself of even
the smallest fraction of his power? Should it be by ar-
guments derived from reason? Should it be by petition



or by entreaty? All these methods had been tried, Sc'em-
ingly without avail. And hence they reached the conclu-
sion that the only way to influence him would be through
the motive of fear, that he must be terrified into letting
go a part of his power. And it was in this way that a sec-
tion of the Revolutionists became, in the literal sense of
the word, "terrorists." I am not here to discuss, much
less to defend their methods. The system of terror which c.^ ^
they tried seems not to have produced the results they ex- \^^^
pected. But it seems to me equally impossible to deny ^|,.i.e^c
that their actions were inspired by political motives, and t-^i^^o
that whatever crimes they have committed are^to be classi- du^ ^t>r
fied and characterized as political crimes. If, then, the ^^ '
treaty now pending with Russia, declares that attempts
upon the life of the Czar shall not be regarded as political
crimes, but shall be treated as ordinary murder, the posi-
tion therein taken seems to me an untenable one. This po-
sition would be valid in the case of a liberal, or quasi-
liberal government like that of Belgium, with which a
similar treaty is already in existence. But it is not valid
in the case of Russia. For, in Russia, an attack upon the
government is an attack upon the Czar, and an attack
on the Czar an attack on the governnient. For the Czar
is the keystone of the governmental arch. Nay, he is
himself the government, the fountain-head of power, the
source from which all authority whatsoever througliout
his vast dominions is derived. The rule that nations do
not surrender fugitives for political offences is now well
established and generally accepted. All that it is neces-
sary to prove, in the present instance, is that attempts
against the life of the Czar are dictated by political mo-
tives ; that those who make such attempts are political of-
fenders, and not ordinary criminals. That this is so, I,
for one, cannot doubt. Nor must we make the mistake of


supposing that a refusal to surrender in the least implies
the condoning or the approval of the offence or crime in
question. The Swiss Republic in 1871 refused, in answer
to a request by President Thiers, to extradite the Com-
munists who had fled for shelter to its territory. And this
decision was taken not because we can for a moment be-
lieve that the members of the Federal Council approved
of the methods of the Communists, but because they be-
lieved that the actions of these persons, however hateful
they might be, were prompted by political motives, and
that the right of asylum for political refugees ought to be
kept inviolate.

But, it has been said by Lord Stanley ^ that "the prin-
ciple of non-surrender for political offences being con-
ceded, it is however clear that immunity from punishment
should not be granted to those who, not political refugees
properly so-called, have committed murders, or other
grievous crimes in furtherance of some political object
when a state of recognized war or open revolt has not ex-
isted." It is contended that "mankind turns with disgust
and reprobation from the inhuman use of assassination as
a means in the furtherance of a political object." Admitted
that this is so. But is not the case of the Russian nihilists
altogether a peculiar one ? There is a fable which tells that
an eagle once seized the cub of a fox and carried it away
in its talons, and that the fox in her desperation took a
firebrand to throw into the eagle's nest in order to force
him to let go her young. Shall we condemn the barbarity
of casting a firebrand into the nest of an eagle and forget
the cruel act which provoked such retaliation? Shall we
have eyes to see only the inhuman methods of the nihilist
fox and forget the inhumanities of the autocrat eagle?
Shall we forget the silent hosts of martyrs who have wet-

'See for this and following quotations Moore on Extradition.

H;V W>c


ted the snows of Siberia with their blood? Shall we for-
get the mental, the moral, and, as some say, the physical
torture inflicted by Russian jailers on their victims?
Shall we forget the flogging of cultivated
men, aye, and women? A hundred blows of
the lash on a frail and shrinking woman's K.'f »^e
form! Shall we forget the barbarous treatment of

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