Thursday, July 04, 2013

"Every man had a right to bear arms"

  Mr. Loftin did not believe that any idea existed in the minds of the jury that any guards had been placed at the cars to keep the men under restraint; this had been shown by disinterested witnesses. As to carrying a pistol, it had been shown that it was the custom of turpentine men to carry a revolver. Every man had a right to bear arms if he carried them openly, and in this he was protected by the constitution of the United States. That pistols were carried openly was no evidence that a condition of peonage existed at the camps. It was also necessary, as the men at turpentine camps were the most reckless and desperate that could be found in the country; it was but natural that there should be thieves and thugs among them. The fact that there was a watchman at the camp was of no moment, as every lumber camp employed watchman...."

                                                        "....Chas. W. Russell

   "Chas. W. Russell, assistant attorney general of the United States, who was sent from Washington to assist in the prosecution of the peonage cases, next addressed the jury. Mr. Russell began by referring to the counts of the indictment which he explained to the jury. The evidence, he said, made it perfectly clear that, wherever the authority of the Jackson Lumber Co. extended, a condition peonage had existed. There had been no conflict of testimony in the case excepting as to the carrying of guns; most of the witnesses for defense said there had been no guns carried but some of them had admitted that guns were carried and defense had taken the other horn of the dilemma and attempted to prove that the carrying of arms was necessary.

   "The government was endeavoring to show a condition of restraint of the modern and improved kind; there were several occurrences where direct force was used, but the system was more modern than that. The whipping and mistreatment of men in the presence of new arrivals was undoubtedly for the purpose of intimidating the men and letting them know what would happen if they attempted to leave the camp. There was no evidence that any of the men had stolen anything. While it was not proper to admit heresay testimony about the whippings It was proper for the jury to infer the consequence of these
whippings and their effect upon the minds of the men. The principal object of the beatings was not so much to Injure the men as to terrify the new arrivals from New York..."

- The Pesacola Journal, Pensacola Florida, Saturday Morning, November 24, 1906. Vol. IX No. 277. Pg. 8.

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