Saturday, March 15, 2014

"The right of free speech; the right of assembly; the right of trial by jury, the right to carry arms, the right of habeas corpus...."


Proclamation of Governor Presents Real Position Among Strikers And Coal Magnates of The State--Militiamen Are Keeping Order in District

   CHARLESTON, W Va., Sept. 6.-The Kanawha river today divides the Government of the United States from the benevolent military satrapies of Cabin creek and Paint creek, fifteen miles from Charleston, both of which are in West Virginia, but at present not of it; the only territory within the United States where the Constitution is not in effect.

   By decree of Governor Glasscock the coal creek county is in a state of war; until civil law, destroyed by the anarchy of the mine guards, is reconstructed martial law--the laws of war--will prevail. "Martial law" sounds romantically terrifying. It's romantic, but not terrifying.

   It is even fun. The creek folks enjoy it. In the coal creek country it in blessed as a deliverance. It has banished the mine guard and his automatic revolver; it has taken from the hands of the coal barons several machine guns, with which the barons had planned to bust the strike--machine guns that could shoot lead with the cumulative effect of a hall storm.

   It's funny this martial law like grandma's hoop skirt dress, like great-great-great-great-great-grandpa's steel-riveted suit of armor and other antiquities. It's a free trip into the morning of Anglo-Saxon civilization, way back before the days of King John, who was the father of habeas corpus, the right to which is one of the things you lose the moment you step out of the United States into the "state of war."

   Immediately us you leave the skiff that carries you across the Kanawha you are stripped of all your constitutional guarantees, your revolver and the bottle of whiskey. If you have any.

   The constitutional rights you lose, as you walk into the benevolent and even gentle military despotism and which 4,000 driven men of the mines have gladly sacrificed temporarily are;

   The right of free speech; the right of assembly; the right of trial by jury, the right to carry arms, the right of habeas corpus, that's martial law.

   You are ferried across the Kanawha, an American citizen, and, presto! you're nothing. You can't make a speech, and if you and your friend and your friend's friend stop to discuss the weather or the sylvan beauties of Paint creek, you are in an unlawful assembly that may land you in the guard house, to be tried, not by a jury, but by six soldiers, constituting a court martial, and the Supreme Court of the United States could not habeas corpus you out.

   The methods of punishment for crimes and misdemeanors under martial law are entirely within the discretion of the military court. All statutory forms of punishment are null.

   Possibly tho Czar of Russia, or mayhap the President of Nicaragua, has more authority than Adjutant General Elliott, but King George of England and the President are more 1-horse-power rulers compared to Elliott, governor general of 16,000 men, women, and children. His kingdom is the smallest in the world-- fifteen miles long and four miles wide.

   The courthouse is in a tent. The court-martial is in continuous session. Col. C.F. Jolliffe, chief justice, and Lieut. Col. George B. Wallace, judge advocate or prosecutor.

   "We are going to make life safe along the creeks," says Wallace.

   A commission investigating mining conditions in the mines will attempt to solve the problem. It consists of bishop P.J. Donohue, of the Catholic diocese of Wheeling: Capt. S.L. Walker, of the State militia, and Tax Commissioner Blue. Bishop Donohue announced today that not only the guard system but also the living conditions of the miners are to be investigated.

   The strike is now a siege. It depends on who can hold out the longest. The miners are being supported through strike benefits contributed by all the miners in the United States. They can hold out a number of years.

   The mines are standing idle. By decree of the Governor no strike breakers can be imported. The vast properties are producing nothing and are suffering loss through physical depreciation.

   Many mine operatives have volunteered to aid the commission in its investigation. There are nearly sixty-nine operators in the territory, all opposed to martial law. They held that it was not necessary and that the guards were required to protect mine property from irresponsible rioters.

[The Washington Times, Washington [D.C.], Friday Evening, September 6, 1912. Last Edition, Number 7564. Pg. 9]

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