Tuesday, April 30, 2013

"The fact that they assemble with arms . . . does not make the assemblage any the less a peaceable one..."

[House of Representatives, 43D Congress, 2nd Session, Report 261, Part 3 Louisiana Affairs. Report of the Select Committee on that Portion of the President's Message Relating to: The Condition of the South. Testimony taken by the Committee.]

Circuit court of the United States fifth circuit and district of Louisiana.
The United States
William J Cruikshank et al. 

[United States v. Cruikshank, 25 F. Cas. 707 (1 Woods, 308) (C.C.D. La. 1874) (No. 14,897), aff'd, 92 U.S. 542 (1876). ]

Charge of Hon WB Woods, circuit judge, delivered to the petit jury in the Grant Parish massacre case, referred to in the testimony of Mr Beckwith.


The seventeenth day's proceeding in the trial of W.J. Cruikshank and others, charged with conspiracy and murder in Grant Parish last April, opened in the United States circuit court yesterday, by Judge Woods delivering his charge to the jury. We publish that document entire accepting it as a page in the history of Louisiana

JR Beckwith, United States attorney, for the prosecution.
RH Marr w.R. Whittaker, E.J. Ellis, M. Ryan and-- Bryan, for the defense.

The United States vs William J. Cruikshank and others--Judge Woods,[later associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court (1880–87)], charged the jury as follows:

"...This statute is the law of the land, and it is your duty and mine in a proper case to enforce. Its purpose is the protection of all citizens of the United States, of every class and condition, in the exercise and enjoyment of their lawful and constitutional rights. Its operation is equal Its prohibitions are directed to all persons; its penalties fall upon all offenders against its provisions, of every race, condition, and party. No man who takes care not to invade the constitutional or lawful rights of another can be touched by it, and it protects alike the rights of all It applies to all parts of our country, and its provisions extend to every State and Territory in the Union.
"It is a just and wholesome act, designed to promote peace and public order, to protect every citizen, whether lofty or lowly, rich or poor, learned or ignorant, in the free exercise and enjoyment of all the privileges and immunities which are granted or secured to him by the Constitution and laws of his country. All classes of citizens whether white or black, without regard to race or previous condition, are interested in its enforcement...."

"...When in the vicinity they asked for a conference with the colored people, which was granted and took place, (Columbus C. Nash speaking for the white men, and Levin Allen, a colored man, for his side.) Nash demanded that the colored men should give up their arms and yield possession of the courthouse. This demand was not acceded to by the colored men, and thirty minutes were given them to remove their women and children. The colored men took refuge behind their earthwork near the court-house, and at about 10, 11, or 12 o'clock, as variously stated by the witnesses, the firing began. The white men had a small piece of artillery mounted on wheels which, with their small arms, was used against the colored men, who responded with their shot-guns and Enfield rifles; of the latter they had about a dozen. A change in the position of their gun, made by the white men, gave them an enfilading the on the blacks, which demoralized them, and their line broke. A portion of them, leaving their arms, fled down the Red River, in the direction of a strip of woods, at Cuny's Point, and were followed by mounted and armed whites, by whom many of them were overtaken and shot to death. The others, sixty or seventy in number, took refuge in the court-house...."

"...The second count charges a banding together of the indicted parties with the intent to injure, oppress, threaten, and intimidate Nelson and Tillman, with the purpose to hinder and prevent them in the free exercise and enjoyment of their constitutional right to bear arms for a lawful purpose..."

"...These are facts in this case as I understand them to be admitted. If these facts are conceded, or if you find them upon the evidence to be true, your range of inquiry will be much narrowed...."

"...The right of peaceable assembly is one of the rights secured by the Constitution and laws of the United Stares. If citizens come together for a lawful and peaceable purpose, their assembling is within the meaning of the Constitution. The fact that they assemble with arms, provided these arms are to be used not for aggression but for their protection, does not make the assemblage any the less a peaceable one..."

"...Next consider the intent of the banding and conspiring laid in the second count, which is alleged to be to intimidate, &c.. Nelson and Tillman, with the purpose to prevent their exercise of the right to keep and bear arms for a lawful purpos[e].

"The right to bear arms is also a right protected by the Constitution and laws of the United States. Every citizen of the United States has the right to bear arms, provided it is done for a lawful purpose and in a lawful manner. A man who carries his arms openly, and for his own protection, or for any other lawful purpose, has as clear a right to do so as to carry his own watch or wear his own hat."

Interesting, ISN'T IT? Now WHERE have I seen that name “Cruikshank” before?? ….

All of which provides total vindication of Justice Hugo Lafayette Black's dissenting opinion:
"...In addition to the original rights secured to him in the first article of amendments, [Fourteenth Amendment] he had secured the free exercise of his religious belief, and freedom of speech and the press. Then he had secured to him the right to keep and bear arms in his defense. Then, after that, his home was secured in time of peace from the presence of a soldier; and,still further, sir, his house, his papers, and his effects were protected against unreasonable seizure...."
"'Though originally the first ten Amendments were adopted as limitations on Federal power, yet in so far as they secure and recognize fundamental rights-common law rights-of the man, they make them privileges and immunities of the man as citizen of the United States, and cannot now be abridged by a State under the Fourteenth Amendment. In other words, while the ten Amendments, as limitations on power, only apply to the Federal government, and not to the States, yet in so far as they declare or recognize rights of persons, these rights are theirs, as citizens of the United States, and the Fourteenth Amendment as to such rights limits state power, as the ten Amendments had limited Federal power..."
- Adamson v. People Of State Of California, U.S. Supreme Court, (Justice Black, Douglas and Swayne in Dissent), June 23, 1947.

No comments: