W. (William) Harding.

Dreyfus: the prisoner of Devil's Island, a full story of the most remarkable military trial and scandal of the age online

. (page 33 of 35)
Online LibraryW. (William) HardingDreyfus: the prisoner of Devil's Island, a full story of the most remarkable military trial and scandal of the age → online text (page 33 of 35)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


sense of its people — the lynching of colored men, for instance, or the
whitewashing of the late Secretary of War. It does not by any means fol-
low that the American people are not entitled to have a perfectly clear



382 DREYFUS: THE PRISONER OF DEVIL'S ISLAND

opinion on the subject and to express it in any form they choose, except
through the Executive. As a matter of fact the American people have
formed and expressed an opinion to which France will in its own way and
in its own time listen. At the moment it is not pleasant to hear, but it
is inspired by a sense of justice and it is not really unfriendly. There is
no reason why we should conceal it. There is every reason why, soberly
and temperately, we should express, explain, and enforce it. In the long
run it will have its effect, and the effect will be salutary. "

In New York City there was much indignation against the verdict of
the Eennes court-martial, and the Municipal Assembly, September 12th,
adopted the following resolution unanimously :

" Whereas, Since the last session of the Municipal Assembly the intel-
ligent people of the world have been startled by the report of the convic-
tion of Captain Alfred Dreyfus ; and

" Whereas, We feel that his conviction was unjust, and not sustained
by the reported facts and testimony —

" Resolved, That the Municipal Assembly of the city of New York ex-
tends to Captain Dreyfus its profound sympathy, and that in the interest
of justice and humanity and of republican institutions this Assembly ex-
presses its hope that this great injustice be corrected by the French Repub-
lic to the end that truth and justice may yet prevail."

Liberty Hall, East Houston Street, New York City, was crowded on
September 12th with Jewish residents of the East Side, gathered under the
auspices of the Englander Family Society, a benevolent and charitable
organization, to protest against the verdict rendered in the Dreyfus trial.

The president of the society is J. Spero, and the secretary Irving Kline.
Osias Mailer presided at the meeting. A letter was read from Alexander
S. Rosenthal, ex-United States Consul to Italy, in which he wrote:

"France has committed a crime by her unjust verdict rendered against
Captain Dreyfus. The entire civilized world is convinced that the verdict
is based on bigotry, intolerance, and prejudice."

The following resolutions were adopted by a unanimous vote :

" Resolved, That through the United States Ambassador in France we
appeal to the President of the French Republic, that he right the wrong



ECHOES OF THE TFtlAL 383

done to an innocent man, not by pardoning Captain Dreyfus, but by inter-
vening to secure for him a new trial ; and should this request be refused,
" Resolved, That we appeal to President McKinley that he should take
measures to prevent the forwarding of any national exhibits by the United
States at the French Exposition in Paris in 1900."

The Central Eepublicau Club, of New York City, at a meeting Septem-
ber 12th, unaniomusly passed the following resolution:

" Whereas, In common with the whole civilized world, we have ob-
served with amazement the extraordinary trial concluded at Eennes and
its final judgment, and since it is the sacred interest of all men to defend
and maintain courts for the administration of justice in any country which
is frequently visited by foreigners, that lives and property may be secure
under the full intercourse of our times, we declare our unqualified censure
of the hateful methods of injustice which were employed to obtain the
second unrighteous condemnation of Alfred Dreyfus by a French court-
nrartial, and we declare that such methods and such tribunals are a per-
version of justice and are more fitted for barbarous lands than for a coun-
try boasting to possess the civilization of the French Republic.**

A copy of the resolutions was mailed to Mme. Dreyfus.
The State G.A.R. reimion of Nebraska, September 18th, adopted the
following resolution:

" Resolved, As a convention of soldiers who have fought in wars under-
taken in the interests of a common humanity, having for their object the
redress of wrongs perpetrated on the weak and defenceless, we desire to
express our abhorrence of a verdict, as in the case of Captain Dreyfus,
that consigns an innocent man to ignominy, shame, and pain, and that be-
speaks the spirit of a bigoted past rather than that of an enlightened pres-
ent."

The following message was sent to President McKinley by the Episco-
pal clergy of San Francisco, September 12th :

"The clericus of the Protestant Episcopal Church of San Francisco,
profoundly moved by the verdict in the Dreyfus case, most earnestly re-
quest your excellency to take such action toward a reversal of the sen-
tence as is possible and compatible with the diplomatic relations existing
between the two nations."



384 DREYFUS: THE PRISONER OF DEVIL'S ISLAND

The following message of sympathy was telegraphed to Mme. Alfred
Dreyfus at Eennes by the summer residents of Northeast Harbor, Maine :

" Madame : The heart of the whole world is toward you. The trial has
made evident the innocence and the noble character of your husband, and
the great public, which has followed this struggle with anguish, now ren-
ders to him and to his children the honor for which he has struggled till
now, for which he is still struggling in France."

The message was signed by William Croswell Doane, Bishop of Al-
bany; S. K. Doane, Eliza G. D. Gardiner, Winthrop Sargent, Aim^ Sar-
gent, Ellen W. Boyd, Margaret Condit, Marguerite Junod, Theodora W.
Woosley, B. W. Frazier, Arthur Hugh Frazier, the Eev. Dr. W. R. Hun-
tington, Rector of Grace Church, New York ; K. F. Gray, James T. Gar-
diner, Andrew L. Wheelwright, Sarah C. Wheelwright; A. de Viti de
Marco, Professor of Finance in the University of Rome ; E. de Viti de
Marco, Katherine Dunham, Ellen Vaughan, George W. Folsom, Etheldred
Folsom, L. L. M. Limoges, Helen Ellis, and Dr. Theodore Dunham.

As a result of the feeling of sympathy with Dreyfus at Wichita, Kan-
sas, Miss Sadie Joseph, a beautiful Jewish girl, was nominated, September
13th, for Queen of the Flower Parade at the Fall Carnival. In a few
hours votes enough were cast for Miss Joseph to put her in the lead of the
other candidates. Voting for other candidates was almost stopped, and
enthusiasm for Miss Joseph ran over the city like wildfire.

In London, England, the Dreyfus Movement Auxiliary Society was
organized soon after the Rennes verdict became known, about one hundred
prominent Jews becoming members. Dr. A. Zuhn was elected president,
and committees on subscriptions and speakers for mass meetings were ap-
pointed.

The London correspondent of the Manchester (England) Guardian,
telegraphed to his paper, September 11th:

" I have known the East End ghetto many years, yet I never saw it
exhibit such evident signs of woe and bereavement. The very mourning
worn by both men and women seemed to indicate that they were suffering
great personal sorrow. The news arrived about an hour before the termi-
nation of the Jewish Sabbath. In that hour there was a great outpouring
of people, all of whom expressed sympathy with the prisoner. A venera-



ECHOES OF THE TRIAL 385

ble rabbi assured me that he had never seen the community, rich and poor
alike, so moved. ' This,' said the rabbi to me, ' is the bitterest day of
modem Judaism.' "

Esterhazy, in an interview in a London afternoon paper, September
1 1th, was quoted as saying :

"Dreyfus was justly condemned, as the inevitable result of the evi-
dence collected by General Mercier. This bore conviction to the minds
of the judges, and the court-martial, following the previous finding, declared
Dreyfus guilty and I innocent. I believe the sentence was in accordance
with an understanding with the Government. Dreyfus is in a position
to claim a reduction of his sentence by one-half. The whole business was
a farce, arranged in advance, and doubtless he will soon be liberated."

The Jewish Day of Atonement was celebrated on September 14th, in
London, with Dreyfus demonstrations, especially in the East End, A
procession with a banner inscribed "Dreyfus, the Martyr. All the Civil-
ized World Demands His Instant Release," marched through Spitalfields.

The Great Synagogue in London, September 14th, presented a striking
spectacle. It was crowded from morning until night, and thousands were
unable to enter.

Dr, Adler, the chief rabbi, delivered a sermon referring to the Dreyfus
case. He said what was morally wrong could not be politically right-
Right, justice, honor, and mercy belonged to the immutable law. False-
hood and injustice might prosper for a time, but certain retribution would
follow those who forsook the path of right and justice. It had been so
with the colossal empires of antiquity, and with Spain in our day.

Dr. Adler declared that Saturday was not, as had been said, the bitter-
est day in the history of modern Judaism on account of the Dreyfus ver-
dict. It was a memorable penitential Sabbath, ever to be remembered
with the keenest disappointment, in which all felt the deepest pity for the
prolonged agony of Dreyfus and his wife, but it was not a day of unalloyed
bitterness for Jews. To France it was a day more disastrous than Water-
loo, more humiliating than Sedan. France, which first allowed to the
Jews the rights of citizenship, had defiled the golden vessels of God's tem-
ple, and branded an innocent man as an odious traitor to the country he
loved so well. Even in France every one had not been hypnotized by the

unholy blend of clericalism and militarism.
25



386 DEEYFUS: THE PRISONER OF DEVIL'S ISLAND

"Let the majesty of the law be vindicated," he concluded, "and let
them not seek a pardon, which should be rejected with scorn ; for where
no crime was committed, how can a pardon be granted? "

Throughout New York City, the news of the pardon of Dreyfus was
hailed with satisfaction. This was particularly so on the east side and in
the French quarter.

The feeling in favor of Dreyfus has always been strong among the
French residents in New York, and the rejoicing over the prisoner's par-
don was general.

At Temple Emanu-El, after the services of the Feast of Tabernacles,
Eabbi Gottheil, in his sermon, commenting on the fact that this was one
of the three Jewish festivals on which it was a divine duty to " be happy
and rejoice," deplored the misfortune of Captain Dreyfus, whose situation
prevented him from fulfilling the divine behest. He fervently hoped,
however, that justice would soon prevail.

At this point his associate, Dr. Silberman, handed Eabbi Gottheil a
cablegram which contained the news of Dreyfus's pardon. Rabbi Gottheil
read the message to the congregation, who demonstrated their satisfaction
by loud applause.

Dr. Gottheil uttered a prayer of thanks and praise to God. Continu-
ing his address he said :

"Among all those who have been roused in all parts of the world to
righteous indignation by the injustice, none have shown such unpreju-
diced sympathy for and implicit belief in the innocence of Dreyfus as have
the press of this country. They were among the first to proclaim their
certainty of his innocence, and they were fearless and indefatigable in
their advocacy of him."



PROPOSAL TO BOYCOTT THE PARIS EXPOSITION 387



Chapter LXII.

PROPOSAL TO BOYCOTT THE PARIS EXPOSITION

One of the outcomes of the Dreyfus verdict was a pretty general pro-
posal to boycott the Paris Exposition of 1900. A sort of "holy alliance "
against France was even suggested, but wise counsels prevailed and the
matter was dropped. The New York Herald, referring to the boycott
suggestion, said in an editorial September 15th:

" The newspapers are filled with threats of a sort of ' holy alliance '
against France and of boycotting the great Exposition of 1900. This
would be more than a mistake ; it would be a gross injustice. Foreigners
are perfectly free to criticise the affairs of France, just as Frenchmen have
a right to express their opinion on anything that takes place in no matter
what country.

"To criticise and condemn is one thing, but it is another and very
different matter to interfere in the internal affairs of a country, as the
would-be boycotters threaten to do. Any one can think what he pleases
about the Dreyfus case. Everybody is privileged to discuss the Eennes
decision and to approve it or stigmatize it. But to go far beyond that by
threatening to punish Frenchmen and injure France because of an unsat-
isfactory verdict by a court-martial for whose action neither France nor
the French people are to blame is pushing matters to an extreme beyond
all right, justice and reason.

"'You cannot indict a people,' said Edmund Burke. No more can
you with any show of reason or justice boycott or indiscriminately con-
demn a nation or a people. Those who are so zealous in fomenting this
absurd agitation must remember that they are striking as well at all those
who have been battling in behalf of Dreyfus. To boycott the Exposition
would be to boycott France, whose highest court annulled the condemna-
tion of 1894 and may yet annul that of 1899, whose Government is known
to have desired an acquittal, whose press in large measure has protested
against the conviction, and many of whose people condemn the Eennes
verdict.



388 DREYFUS: THE PRISONER OF DEVIL'S ISLAND

" It is these agencies in France — the government, the judiciary, the
press and the people — that brought about revision, and it is these that are
still desirous of attaining what they believe to be truth and justice.

" The threatened boycott is, moreover, as foolish as it is unjust, since
it would be as detrimental to the interests of the boycotters as to those of
the boycotted.

"The movement to boycott the Exposition is already losing ground
in Germany. The proposed resolution by the Municipal Council that
the city of Berlin should not send any special exhibit to Paris has been
abandoned. The Tagehlatt in an article on the subject reminded German
exhibitors that by staying away from the great Exposition they would
only be giving an advantage to their competitors.

" The effort to get up a mass meeting in this city to boycott the expo-
sition has been also abandoned by its advocates, as the prominent citizens
they approached refused to participate on the ground that it was ill-advised.

" Fortunately there is reason to expect that all ill-advised newspaper
manifestations will pass away like a fit of bad humor, and that the Exposi-
tion of 1900 will have the great success it merits in view of the prodigious
efforts it has called forth and the world-wide benefit it must prove. Both
the United States and the German governments have refused to lend any
official countenance to the foolishly threatened boycott, and we trust their
commendable example will be followed by every nation represented in the
grand enterprise."

The English press devoted columns of space daily to the telegrams from
all parts of the world relating to the proposed boycott of the Paris Exposition.
Germany, Austria, and Italy also came to the front. But the German
government organs were quick to issue a warning against the proposal.

"Germany has no occasion to take the lead in this matter," says the
Cologne Gazette. " She ought to leave this to other States, which, perhaps,
would not consider it undesirable that Germany, of all powers, should adopt
a hostile attitude toward France in this matter."

According to the The Daily Mail, of London, which was a strong ad-
vocate of a general boycott of the Paris Exposition as a protest against the
Eennes verdict. Baron Suffield, president of the Article Club, an organiza-
tion including in its membership the Colonial Agents General and repre-
senting commercial firms with an aggregate capital of £2,000,000,000,
favored a boycott.

The English papers were full of letters from individuals and several



PROPOSAL TO BOYCOTT THE PARIS EXPOSITION 389

firms announcing their withdrawal from the Paris Exposition, and urging
the Government to do likewise, but the British Government never con-
templated taking such a step.

M. Max O'Ptell (Paul Blouet) wrote a letter to The Daily Chronicle of
London, saying that a public expression of sympathy would go against
Dreyfus, adding:

" For God's sake, use your influence to stop it. But for the universal
sympathy shown for Dreyfus, whom I personally believe to be innocent,
in England and Germany, he would have been acquitted. It is a terrible
thing to say, but I say it and am not afraid of contradiction. "

«

Sir Charles Dilke, M.P., a well-known authority on foreign affairs, in
an interview in London, September 13th, deprecated the expression of re-
sentment by foreigners in regard to the Dreyfus verdict. Such action. Sir
Charles said, was likely to make the situation worse for Colonel Picquart
and other Dreyfus witnesses.

The secretary of the British Commission to the Paris Exposition said
the same day that intimations of withdrawal had been received from only
twelve intending exhibitors, while nearly 2,000 applications for space had
been received from individuals and firms in Great Britain, India, and the
British Colonies.

In many parts of the United States steps toward a boycott of the Paris
Exposition were taken. Many Western firms and individuals who had
contemplated making exhibits at the Paris Exposition changed their plans
for a time. Among the concerns which were said to have cancelled their
orders for space were the California Canneries of San Francisco, the big-
gest fruit-canning concern on the Pacific coast, which is controlled by an
English syndicate, and the North El Paso and Northeastern Eailway of
New Mexico, which planned a fine mineral exhibit. It was also reported
that the feeling on the Dreyfus case was so strong in Los Angeles that a
demand would be made for the repeal of the act passed by the last legisla-
ture appropriating $130,000 for the California exhibit.

The Boston School Board at its session September 1 3th passed an order
which practically meant the boycotting of the Paris Exposition, for which
a large school exhibit was planned. But this was subsequently revoked.

Many manufacturers of Troy, N. Y., who had made application for
space for exhibits at the Paris Exposition decided for a time to take no



390 DKEYFUS: THE PRISONER OF DEVIL'S ISLAND

part whatever in it. William Conners, proprietor of the Troy Paint and
Color Works, had made preparations for an elaborate display, while collar,
cuff, and shirt manufacturers had in process of manufacture many speci-
mens that were to comprise a special department at the French metropolis.
The result of the Dreyfus court-martial caused a cessation of preparations,
but they were subsequently resumed.

The United States Commissioner-General to the Paris Exposition, Mr.
Ferdinand W. Peck, said in an interview at Chicago, September 13th,
that notwithstanding the newspaper statements that merchants in several
parts of the country had refused to send exhibits to the Paris Exposition
on account of the Dreyfus verdict, none had indicated to him any desire
to do so. When asked if he would refuse information if any of the exhib-
itors should withdraw, Commissioner Peck said he was not ready to answer
that question, but he said he did not think it was right for him to disclose
anything about the American exhibitors until their exhibits were installed.
Some two hundred persons have applied to him for lists of the American
exhibitors, but he has refused to furnish them. As he has refused to dis-
close the names of those who have taken space, he thought he ought also
to refuse to tell if they relinquish it.

Rabbi Joseph Leucht, of Newark, N. J., was quoted as saying on Sep-
tember 13th:

" The pimishment for this outrage will surely come. France is on the
verge of revolution to-day ; a bloody day of rebellion is not far off. As
far as the Jews in this country are concerned, I do not think any concerted
action will take place to resent the dastardly deed. France will have to
meet the outburst of indignation of the whole civilized world.

" People are now questioning whether they should visit the exhibition
of a land where human rights are trampled upon, and possibly governments
will reconsider their participation in the affair. I hope, at least, that free
America will take some official act to register its disapproval of this crying
shame.

" The Jews of this country will stay away from the Paris Exposition,
and if some of them disregard this warning they will speedily rue it when
arriving there. The cry " A bas les Juif s ! " will greet their ears wherever
they go. As for poor Dreyfus himself, this trial has brought him a
greater vindication than he could ever hope for."



DREYFUS TRIAL REPORTING 391



Chapter LXIII.

DREYFUS TRIAL REPORTING

The correspondent of the New York Sun, Mr. H. E. Chamberlain,
who described the Dreyfus trial for his paper, writing from Rennes under
date of September 11th, described the strange experiences of the army of
newspaper correspondents there. He said :

" It is for the pleasure of writing something from Rennes which shall
include nothing about Dreyfus and his cause that I am sending this letter.
For five long weeks the three hundred newspaper men assembled here
from all parts of the world where a public press exists have seen, heard,
thought, dreamed, discussed, written — nothing but Dreyfus. Two or three
times, while driving or cycling within a few miles of the Breton capital, I
have come across intelligent, contented peasants who had never heard the
name Dreyfus, and I envied and congratulated them. In an hour or two
I shall leave Rennes, never, I hope, to return, but before I go I want to
tell what a nice town it is and describe for them two or three odd incidents
which have added a touch of comedy to the serious business of our mis-
sion here.

" As for Rennes, most guide-books tell us that it is the cleanest if not
the healthiest city in Europe. One's eyesight tends to confirm the claim.
They even skim the surface of the almost stagnant river in the centre of
the town every morning. One's nostrils suggest doubts on the subject,
and one's experience of existence in so-called first-class hotels yields only
cynical incredulity. I will not dwell upon the matter beyond remarking
that scarcely any of those whose duties compelled them to remain in
Rennes during the whole five weeks escaped one or more sharp attacks of
illness.

" As for the people of Rennes (always excepting two or three of the
principal hotel-keepers) their visitors have words only of grateful acknowl-
edgment of kindness, courtesy, and most patient forbearance. American



392 DREYFUS: THE PRISONER OF DEVIL'S ISLAND

readers will not appreciate the significance of the latter phrase. Here is a
provincial capital, outside the line of tourist travel, inhabited by a sturdy,
honest, intensely religious but narrow-minded people. They saw their
town almost taken possession of five weeks ago by a small army of for-
eigners and Jews. They hate each of these classes with the ignorant but
accumulated hatred of generations. Moreover, they believed these inva-
ders had come for the purpose of overthrowing a just judgment. Any other
verdict than that given yesterday would have been an outrage upon justice
in their ignorant eyes. And yet for five weeks the people of Eennes tol-
erated the presence of these unwelcome visitors, saw thsir streets, and caf^s
and public institutions almost monopolized by them, and said no word of
insult, discourtesy, or resentment — except in their newspapers. I prefer
to believe that the newspapers of Eennes, which in several instances
heaped vile abuse and obscene invective, especially upon the correspon-
dents of the foreign press, represent only the low, venal minds of their
writers, who, alas, typify only too faithfully the degeneration of journal-
ism in France.

" It is not often that the professional side of a newspaper correspon-
dent's work becomes a matter of public interest, but perhaps this unique
experience here at Eennes is entitled to rank as an exception. No pre-
vious event in the world's history has called together a corps of chroni-
clers so representative in its scope. None, it should be remembered, came
by invitation, as at the coronation of the Czar or the crowning of the little
Queen of Holland. Even the Queen's Jubilee in London failed to draw
such an international gathering of journalistic clans. Papers in Japan and



Online LibraryW. (William) HardingDreyfus: the prisoner of Devil's Island, a full story of the most remarkable military trial and scandal of the age → online text (page 33 of 35)