League for the Revolutionary Party. City Workers C.

Socialist action : bulletin of the City Workers Committee of the League for the Revolutionary Party online

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secution, not content with laying at his door the eharge of murder, with
attempting to'consign him to condign punishment, and involve both him
and his elder brother in one common ruin, mu^ arraign him here, and
in addition to all else^ diarge him with the base and dastardly crime of
perjury.

It is true, that he has really added very little to our cause. We
had other testimony for nearly every fact he has proven ; and he has
merely given us, in one connected narrative, liuk by link, a full account
of the transaction, of which we had before partial details from various
sources. But I have owed it to his character and his honor, thus to go
through his testimony, and repel the foul charge that has been brought
against him. He may be precocious, he may carry Bowie knives, but
manhood, courage, truth and honesty are all indelibly stamped upon his
forehead. Ah, this old English rule, of bringing a witness face to &ce
with the jury, is an admirable thing ! You may judge wit^ certainty
by a man's eye, his voice, his manner, and a thousand other things,
whether he is telling you the truth. There are many circumstance^
under which a lie reads (][uite as well, and sometimes a good deal better,
and smoother, and fairer than the truth ; but it is not so here. You
noted the straightforward and clear manner in which he gave his testi-
mony ; and I must sa;^, that never, in the whole course of my life, have
I seen a witness more fully corroborated, or heard one testify with a
greater air of truthfulness.

But Barlow 1- — what a pean of triumph the gentleman sung when he
took the stand i And on his cross-examination, when by insinuation
and innuendo, he endeavored to leave the impression on your minds, that
he had been suborned and perjured, I thought my ear detected a low
chuckle outside the bar — the first indication that has reached me of
the communication of that wild excitement and imreflecting prejudice
against the prisoner, which has been fomented elsewhere, to this
locality.

Yet how did the gentleman succeed in attempting to discredit this
witness ? He asked him : " Did you not say, on the same day of
this occurrence, that it was a most aggravated murder ? " "I did."
" Did you not say, that if this prisoner was not hung, there was no use
in attempting to hang any man for murder, in Kentucky ? '' '^ I said
something to that effect." " Were you not much excited at the time ? "
" I was." And because these admissions are readily and frankly made,
the gentleman contends, in his argument, that the witness must have
testified falsely on his examination in chief. He speaks of seeing But-
ler, after he was shot, at the residence of Col. Harney, and goes On to



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68 THS WABD TBIAL.

describe minutely his position, and ererj article of his clothing. Be
asked Bntler how it happened, and Butler briefly related Uie circum-
stances to him. But in the cross-examination, the gentleman asks him :
<^ Did you not say at first, that Butler told you he was shot immediately
on striking Ward ? '' He replies : " No, sir, I nerer said so ^ I haTO
always said that he told me he was shot during the scuffle." The ex-
aminer immediately denounces this as a lie ; but was it a lie, Mr. Car-
penter ? Drs. Thomson, Yandell and Caldwell all say, that Butler told
' them they were clenched ; the schoolboys also, all agree that they were
clenched and engaged and ^grappling ; but when Barlow states it, and ki
fully corroborated by your own witnesses, he is denounced as a liar,
because he did not name the conversation to Mr. Bobert J. Ward im-
mediately after it occurred.

But what is his account of it ? It had appeared in testimony before
ike Police Court, had been published, and was bearing with most terrific
Ibtce on the case, that this defendant struck the first blow ; that he had
(g^^^to ihe schoolhouse, refased an explanation, and insulted, cursed,
IftH fe lfffi fd^hot down an unoffending and unresisting man. Barlow had
'K^^tl^i6ftP&^knew that whatever the guilt of the prisoner at the
%k?, thttf^^nf^ ^'not correct; and he felt it his duty to inform
iM^afiS' mi^^j/^lttie fact. And within an hour after the transac-
%lSi Mlff'^WHS^^ participated in the violent excitement that
^f^ViI^f%)^ lfi% ^."kilrenshaw and her husband, and made to them
precisely the statements that he has made here on the witness-stand.
4l{^'^iM%<fti'%J^<imS^ still soonerHim^]^'^ had transpired, to
"SiiWm^f^il^A%'\M^ the pur-

W^m <M^e?Jm>fis^j^^

mi^ of ffl^ Wwfi8*4ftffi^befltlHr8i4h|f^ft, m^^m dteikn^iiftlto
()anipbell county, to build the gallows of this prisoner, over t^^^
mTOS^(Pt(^4«l^^<)fi ffiJ^^ffltfffiiq8f»tf*ffiit^ii>i^oW^>*jteptnter,
^uiS^ i8ffi% #*tfl8s0^^f6n^^rfffXwfeit^*W<fi%rf>#%Jiifer,Uw*are
'dIMant frDJK%tf«l<fe^6Sie6oti!a;^^fe!i&f s,^hei^tr^^^^ ei*s




^x;a^05^>[^-^ v^ th5r'*hi^ ^ikmmM> hb(ie»i ^4td^\iiMMib,



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THX WABD TBIAL* 69

enough to asBocnate with any man. But notice the ingenuity, the infernal
ingenuity, that has been exhibited here. They say : '' Robert J. Ward is
an aristocratic gentleman — ^he is better than others — ^and this son of his,
who is now on trial, is also a trarelled, accomplished and exclusiye
gentleman, and considers himself better than other men.'' Thus they
would play« upon that low, mean, contemptible prejudice, which some
men feel against those who possess the advantages of education and
wealth, and with which envy has so much to do ; and thus would they
influence you in your decision. And when they themselyes introduce
testimony, which proves that this defendant is no such haughty proud-
ling as they have painted him here ; they do not draw the natural and
reasonable deduction, but begin to talk of corruption and bribory.
They do not interpret it as an indication that he is ready to take any
poor man by the hand, but the counsel tells you with an innuendo, that
there are poor men who will do any thing to win a single smile from the
rich. That may be the case with the Carpenters where he hails from —
New Hampshire, I believe — but it is utterly false here. Such ideas
never originated here ; here there are but two classes — gentlemen and
slaves — and the sentiments he has uttered, are a slander upon the people
of Kentucky. Poor and proud, is the Eentuckian's motto, and the
poorer the prouder. When fortune smiles upon him, he may, perhaps,
suffer an insult without resenting it ; but when h^ is poor, beware how
you impugn his integrity, by offering him a bribe, for you do it at your
peril

As 1 said, I had thought that a man might be poor and humble,
and yet be a gentleman. I had been taught to believe that

*"nie wealth is bat the guinea's stamps—
The man's a man for a' that"

And if this gentleman thought when he learned that this young man
had converted an enemy into a friend, he had discovered a rare instance,
he was much mistaken. I am told that no gentleman in his parlor ever
attracted more notice or received more attention, than this young man,
driven from his own home to seek justice at the hands of the free and
noble yeomanry of Hardin county. Again and again have your kind-
hearted people visited him in his narrow cell, and when they have seen
no such huge, brawny ruffian, as they had expected ; when, instead of
looking on a countenance indicating a bad, reckless and malicious heart,
^ey have gazed on that wan, delicate, pale, suffering young brow, the
tears have wet their eyes, and no one has met him without being con-
Tinced that he is a gentleman to be esteemed and loved. And if it
was a crime for Barlow to be corrupted from an enemy into a firiend|



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70 THE WABB 9BIAL.

half the citizens of Hardin county are infected with the same €orrap-
tion. He seems to possess some wonderful alchemy by which all who
see him are thus converted I

I have shown you how unfair and unnatural the deduction of Mr.
Carpenter in regard to the character of the testimony of Barlow. But
he is sustained, not only by the great and overpowering fact^Uiat within
half an hour of leaving Brof Butler he gave precisely the same account
of the conversation he has given here; but he is also corroborated
in other material points. Gudgel and Allen were on the spot within
from three to five minutes of the time when the pistol was fired, and
saw young Worthington there, with the other scholars. And when they
asked what had happened, the boys answered then and there, Worth-
ington assenting, giving the same account of the matter that Burlow
says was given to him by Prof. Butler. He is also corroborated fully,
as to the nature of Butler's statements, by Drs. Tandell and OaldwelL
He seems to be sustained in every point. Under the circumstances,
had he come up here to testify to an important fact, without being cor-
roborated by any one, the case might be different ; but as it is, he
stands before you perfectly unimpaired and unimpeached.

I think, gentlemen, that we have now arrived at the facts of the
case, which are these : That on the 1st of November, in the Louisville
High School, William Ward, a boy fifteen years of age, was charged by
the Principal, Mr. Butler, with lying, and for that — ^not for any breach
of discipline, whipped in the presence of the whole school ; that he
went home and related the occurrence to his brother, his parents both
being absent at the time ; that his books were sent for, and that brother,
in feeble health, thought it right to go around to the school-room of
Prof. Butler, investigate the case and ask ,an explanation ; that Rob-
ert went with him at the request of his mother — not because she appre-
hended difficulty with Butler, but, as she knew the enmity of Storgus,
the prudent apprehensions of a mother's heart, suggested the remote
possibility of some collision with him ; that the prisoner went to the
school-house, called for Mr. Butler, and in a mild and genldemanly
manner,^ asked an explanation, which was haughtily refused ; that all
explanation and satisfaction were totally denied, and that this feeble
man, as he had been insulted and a nlember of his family outri^ed,
simply charges Butler with the same dishonor he had imputed to his
brother ; that he was then seized, struck, pushed back into a comer
and bent towards the ground, when he fired the rfiot which unfortu-
nately proved fatal. These are the fkcts.

Now, what of this relative strength of the men? Tou have seen
how much stress they have laid upon the fact that Butler's hand was



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> THK WABD TBtAL. 7J,

contractf^d by a barn, in early life. Now, we have proved that this ac-
cident merely brought his hand into precisely the same position any
man's hand is in when he doubles his fist; and one of their own wit*
nesses, Mr. Joyce, speaks of his extraordinary *feats of strength, and
the facility and ease with which he could climb ropes, and perform other
difficult manoeuvres on shipboard. Yet they would have you believe
that this man, who could raise his body on a rope ladder, hand over
hand, with such remarkable ease, could not clench his fist and strike a
blow. That the man who performed such feats in the gymnasium, was
utterly powerless in his right hand. But Oampbell thought he could
strike, and picked up the* tongs to keep off Robert while he should
have an opportunity to do so.

The defendant has been delicate and feeble from his early childhood. #
One of the witnesses testified that his wife might easily manage him
^ysically, and another that about this time he weighed only 110
pounds. And when he went around to seek an explanation of a man
he knew well, to relieve the feelings of his younger brother, and refused
to take any one with him until he was pressed to do so, they would have
you infer that he Went to bully and to injure Prof. Butler. You can-
not believe it.

Gentlemen, according to law in Kentucky, according to your own
sense of right ; I put it to you as peaceable and law-abiding citizens,
if this be murder — deliberate, malicious, cold-blooded murder ? That
is the first question you are called upon to decide.

I understand that in this country I have some rights with which I
am armed by G-od and Nature, and which the law sustains me in de-
fending by force so far as it may be necessary for my protection. These
rights are called by the best of early writers on law, Blackstone, Abso-
lute Bights, and are reduced by him to three primary or principal arti*
cles : the right of personal security, the right of personal liberty, and
ihe right of private property.

Of the first, he says :

^* The right of personal security consists in a person's legal and un-
interrupted enjoyment of his life, his limbs, his body, his health and his
reputation."

Here, then, I have guaranteed the right of my personal security.
No man has a right to invade it. Though the law protects it, it is not
derived from law, — it is bestowed on me by nature — ^is inherent and
inviolable. No man has a right to blacken my reputation, to injure
my person, or to restram, stop, let or hinder me in any way, except by
legal warrant for doing so.



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72 THE WABD TRIAL.

Now what of the great law of Self Defense ? I Will read from the
Bame writer, on that point, and the Redress of private Wrongs :

" The defense of one's self, or the mutual and reciprocal defense of
such as stand in the relations 6t hushand and wife, parent and child,
master and servant : — In these cases, if the party himself, or any of
these his relatives, be forcibly attacked, in his person or property, it is
lawful for him to repel force by force ; and the breach of the peace
which follows is chargeable only upon him who began the affray ; for
the law in this case respects the passions of the human mind, and
(wh0u external violence is offered to a man himself, or to those to whom
he bears a near connexion), makes it lawful for hjm to do himself that
immediate justice to which he is prompted by nature, and which no
prudential motives are strong enough to restrain. It considers that the
future process of the law is by no means an adequate remedy for in-
juries accompanied with force, since it is inapossible to say to what
wanton lengths of rapine or cruelty outrages of this sort might be
carried, unless it were permitted a man immediately to oppose one vio-
lence with another. Self-defense, therefore, as it is justly called the
primary law of nature, so it is not, neither can it be, in fact, taken awaj
by the law of society. In the English law, particularly, it is held an
excuse for breaches of the peace — ^nay, even for homicide itself ; but
oare must be taken that the resistance does not exceed the bounds of
mere defense and prevention, for then the defender would himself be-
come an aggressor."

As you have heard, we are told here that this right is not derived
from the law of England, but from the law of sensation — ^the law of
Nature. It is the law of all animate Nature, and, upon a more enlarged
and liberal view, of all Nature, both animate and inanimate. In this
strange and wonderful system of antagonisms, it is an all-pervading
principle. Every thing in the wide bounds of Nature seems to have its
enemy, and is provided with the necessary and and appropriate mieans
of defense.

In animate Nature this is always true. Every animal, from the
noblest to the meanest, has its natural enemy, and each is provided
with its own proper and peculiar weapon to fight against it. Even the
serpent — ^the lowest in the whole range of animal life*-the first tempter
of our race — all cursed and blasted and blighted as he is — ^his head
bruised and ground in the dust by the falling heel — ^between whom and
man God has planted a bitter and undying enmity—even he has the
power of self-defense ; the ALMioHTt has not deprived him of that, but
has left him his venom and his fang. And the viper — the lowly reptile
you tread beneath your feet — ^is not unprotected, but he turns upon you



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THE WABB rBIAU *tB'

and exercises that right of self-defense with whieh Nature has prcmded

him*

But what does this right mean, and how far does it extend ? It
confers upon me the pririlege of beating off any injury or infringement
upon those inherent rights with which God and Nature haVe prorided
me. It gives me the right to exercise any nwans, to use any amount
of force that may be necessary to repel such attacks. No man has a
right to take my life ; I may defend it and preserve it at any cost
But this is not all ; a man's rights are not confined merely to the pre-
servation of his life. He has others, many others, guaranteed by
Nature, that are nearer and deurer, and which it is his privilege and his
duty to protect. Without these, life itself could have no charms ; and
had I no other right than the simple one of existence, I would ndse my
own wild hiUKl and throw back my life in the &oe of Heaven, as a gift
unworthy of possession I

I maintain that I have as much right to defend my personal liberty
as my life ; but the force to be used is only that necessary to repel the
attack, and to prevent injury. Were this defendant to attack me, and
attempt to chasUse me, I would have no right to take his life, because
he is an invalid, and so ixt inferior to me in physical strength, that I
have no reason to apprehend any serious injury. But with a man of
more powerful frame than myself, ^e case would be different. He has
no right to attack me ; I have a right to defend myself, and I may use
just the amount of force necessary to do so. If I choose, I may strike
him with my fist. That would show a great deal of game ; but if he
were stronger than I, it would certainly tend to exasperate him, and
render my chastisement six times as severe as it would otherwise have
been. Perchance I may be able to seize a bludgeon, with which I ckn
fell him to the earth, and thus protect myself. But if no such means
are at hand, will any man, will any Kentuckian, tell me that I must
stand and be beaten like a dog, at his discretion ? Certainly not. I
may repel him and defend myself in any way I can, and if nothing dse
will prove effectual, I have a perfect right to cut his throat from ear to
ear. I may use any amount of force whatev^ that is necessary ; and
this, as I understand it, is the law on the subject, as construed, ap-
plied and executed, throughout the land. I ask you to look at the facts
in this case, and a|^y the law to them.

. I have defended many cases of felonious homicide, though I have
never before appeared in a court in Hardin county. But I must say
that I was much gratified at the manner in which this jury was formed|
and the implicit reliance manifested by the accused, in the justice of his
cause, and iu your honor and integrity. To him, as to me, you are all



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^ ras WABD^ TBIAL.

perfect strasgers ; bat as the jury wm made up, not a single man was
rejected, who thought that his mind was unprejudiced, and that he could
try the case fairly and impartially. The law gave him the right to
twenty peremptory challenges, yet only one Was made ; and neyer, in
the whole course of my experience, haye I seen a prisoner throw him-
self into the arms of strangers with such perfect and child-like confidence
ol his innocence, and in Uie result of an iuTestigation by the first
men who gave assursmee of Uieir belief that they could fairly try his
cause.

I believe the law I have laid down is so plain, and applies so di-
rectly to the facts, that it must appeal to every man before me. And
by it, I would ask, was the act for which the prisoner at the bar is
arraigned, murder ? Was it any thing like murder ? or can it hy any
possibility even foe construed manslaughter ? In many eases, accord-
ing to the old English law, the life of a man on trial may depend on the
most nice and subtle distineiions ; but there is no occasion f(»r such un-
certainty here. When a man is driven back until he comes to some
obstacle which he cannot pass, and as his adv^sary continues to press*
upon him, and he has no retreat, if he slay his opponent, then^ accords
ing to all law and all reason, it is neither murder nor manslaughter, but
homicide in self-defense.

In this case, one of the parties was relatively a strong, active man.
The other was an inva^d, seeking the interview to relieve the injured'
feelings of a younger brother — ^with no intenti(m or expectation of a
quarrel. And when the explanation and reparation which he had a
right to demand, were steadily refused, he took the only satisfaction
which remained in his power, by denouncing his adversary as that
brother had been denounced before. Th^ he was attacked — ^pushed
back against the wall, pressed down towards ^e earth, beaten in t^e
&ce. Under such circumstances, this poor, fbeble, fainting, falling
invalid, shoots his adversary, and the woimd unfortunately proves
&tal.

Should he die for this ? Does this act make it necessary for that
young prisoner to be stricken from the roll of living men ? Does it
render him unfit to live, and a dangerous member of human society ?

But if you think to mitigate his punishment, will you immure him
within the walls of a Penitentiary ? Will you cut those fiowing locks
— ^will you shave that classic head — ^will you snatch him from the bosom
of his loving family — t^a him from the arms of his girl-wife and
rudely sunder every tie Uiat makes life dear ? Will you do this and
oall it mercy ?

As the irepres^tatives of a just and merdfid Gop, if you feel il



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THE IT ABD ^BIAU 75

yeur soleMn &u.tf to pimidii Urn, oh let Mm tKe 1 TaQi not of ai^cy,^
while you infltet upon him a^ curse for which there can be no hnttaa
pftrallel, a punishment to which dea^ is nothing in comparison. No,
no, if you talk of mercy, show that mercy the Prosecutor sp(^e of this
morning— the mercy of the grav^. Oh give him liberty or gire 14m
death ! But the Prosecutor seemed greatly alraid of mercy, imd again
and again he Mijoined it upon you to show none. He thought that per*
hi^s the Almighty might possess some, but of even that he seemed to.
be doubtfuly and he charged you to beware that not a single feather
cdioiild faU from the wings of the dove, to contaminate l^is jury box by^
its presence.

For the sad event that has occurred, we feel regret^->4eep, lasting,
bitter. If that day's act could be recalled, no man on earth would da
80 mu(^ to reverse it, as the prisoi^r at the bar. We i^mpathiae deeply
with the afiieted feimily and lament the occurrence that bereaved them.
But we have felt, and we feel now, no such st/ings of conscience as have
been described here. W4 have thrown ourselves lor trial upon God our
. Creator, and upon you, our country ; and we have said Not Guilty, ta
tins indictment, because we are not guilty of tl^ crimes it charges. The
awful consequences of a verdiet such as it is in your power to render^
iq>pal us with horror — but mingled with that horror there is no remorse^
•^there are no stings of conscience. Not Guilty, we say, living; Nol
Guilty, we say, dying, and Not Guilty, we will ever say.

You have heard the chau'acter of Ihis defendant proved-*^and »tch a
character ! Did you ever know it surpassed ? Could there be one
more mild, more gentle, more peaceful,' Mid more univ^sally beloved ?
Men of all precessions and oceupal^CHMh^-of every position in life^
have testificMi to ^e fact thkt this was true alike of the boy and the
man.

As he grew to manhood, peirhaps f^om too dose attention to study,
his health failed, and he went abroad to regain it. And whatever your
decision shall be, he has left behind a monument that will ever place
his name hi^ among men of inteiligenoe ^nd of letters. I allude to
this volume ; I suppose I may not read from it, for the gentlemen might
object that it had not been offered in evidence ; but it shows how my
unhappy client has spent his time. And I owe him much for the grati-
fication I have experienced, as I have followed him in his wanderings,
on hallowed and on classic ground. I have been with him down the
beautiful Rhine, within ^ ancient walls of Aix-La-Chapelle, up the
Sluggish Nile, and on Mount Sinai's rugged brow; «id oh, if I were
permitted to read to you the thoughts and feelings that there swelled



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i& TBS WARD TBIAU

hk breast, yon would realise what a heart yon are entreated to omdi—
wliat a light of genius you are asked to extinguish for erer.


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Online LibraryLeague for the Revolutionary Party. City Workers CSocialist action : bulletin of the City Workers Committee of the League for the Revolutionary Party → online text (page 8 of 20)