Excerpts from Darrow's Summation in the Haywood Trial


We are here strangers, aliens, if not regarded by you as enemies, to meet an accusation of the murder of a man whom you all know, whom many of you voted for, maybe, whom one of you at least did business with, a man in whose house one juror lived for two years. We are trying this case to a jury that is almost the family of the man who is dead. . . . We are defending these men for what seems to you almost an assault upon your own home, and your own fireside.


Gentlemen, I sometimes think I am dreaming in this case. I sometimes wonder whether this is a case, whether here in Idaho or anywhere in the country, broad and free, a man can be placed on trial and lawyers seriously ask to take away the life of a human being upon the testimony of Harry Orchard. We have the lawyers come here and ask you upon the word of that sort of a man to send this man to the gallows, to make his wife a widow, and his children orphans--on his word. For God's sake, what sort of an honesty exists up here in the state of Idaho that sane men should ask it?  Need I come here from Chicago to defend the honor of your state? A juror who would take away the life of a human being upon testimony like that would place a stain upon the state of his nativity--a stain that all the waters of the great seas could never wash away.  And yet they ask it. You had better let a thousand men go unwhipped of justice, you had better let all the criminals that come to Idaho escape scot free than to have it said that twelve men of Idaho would take away the life of a human being upon testimony like that.

Why, gentlemen, if Harry Orchard were George Washington who had come into a court of justice with his great name behind him, and if he was impeached and contradicted by as many as Harry Orchard has been, George Washington would go out of it disgraced and counted the Ananias of the age.

I am sorry to say it, but it is true, because religious men have killed now and then, they have lied now and then. . . . Of all the miserable claptrap that has been thrown into a jury for the sake of getting it to give some excuse for taking the life of a man, this is the worst. . . . Orchard saves his soul by throwing the burden on Jesus, and he saves his life by dumping it onto Moyer, Haywood and Pettibone. . . . And you twelve men are asked to set your seal of approval on it.

I don't believe that this man [Orchard] was ever really in the employ of anybody. I don't believe he ever had any allegiance to the Mine Owners Association, to the Pinkertons, to the Western Federation of Miners, to his family, to his kindred, to his God, or to anything human or divine. I don't believe he bears any relation to anything that a mysterious and inscrutable Providence has ever created. . . . He was a soldier of fortune, ready to pick up a penny or a dollar or any other sum in any way that was easy . . . to serve the mine owners, to serve the Western Federation, to serve the devil if he got his price, and his price was cheap.

Gentlemen, Hawley doesn't know half as much about religion as I do. If he knew anything whatever about religion he would never tell twelve men that something could be sprinkled upon the head of Harry Orchard and his nature would change in the twinkling of an eye. He is as crazy on religion as he is on other things. You can't do it. He might get a glimpse, he might get an insight, and he may struggle on and on for something higher and better and fall while he reaches, and reach while he falls, and in this way men get religion like they get other things that are good. Let us see what he has got, and then we will see whether it is religion. There are certain qualities which are primal with religion. I undertake to say, gentlemen, that if Harry Orchard has religion now, that I hope I never get it. I want to say to this jury that before Harry Orchard got religion he was bad enough, but it remained to religion to make him totally depraved.

Hawley will picture him as a cherubim with wings growing out from his shoulders and with a halo just above his head, and singing songs with a detective on one side of him and McParland on the other. I don't know yet how Borah will picture him, but everybody will picture him according to how they see him. My picture is not these, none of these. I see what to me is the crowning act of infamy in Harry Orchard's life, an act which throws into darkness every other deed that he ever committed as long as he has lived. And he didn't do this until he had got Christianity or McParlandism, whatever that is. Until he had confessed and been forgiven by Father McParland, he had some spark of manhood still in his breast.


He said to you, gentlemen of the jury, that he would not prosecute this case unless he believed this defendant guilty. Now, why? Is he prosecuting it because he believes him guilty, is that it? Or is he prosecuting it because he may want to put another "ell" on his house and wants some more deficiency warrants with which to do it? Which is it? Has any man a right to make a statement like that? I hope there is not anybody here who cares a fig about what Mr. Hawley thinks about this case. He may be bughouse, and he is if all of his statements are true. Or he is worse. Let me show you what he said and then judge for yourself. We are trying Mr. Hawley. We will try him on an inquest of lunacy. He said to these twelve men, men of fair intelligence and fair learning, that you would be warranted in convicting Bill Haywood if you took Harry Orchard's evidence out of this case. And still he says he is honest. Maybe he is, but if he is honest he is bughouse, and he can have his choice.

Yes, gentlemen, Mr. Hawley has always been a friend of labor unions, when they got their cash to his office first. But when they did not, they had better hunt some other friends. Mr. Hawley is advising the state in this case. He had better stick to the state and let the labor unions be taken care of by someone of their own choice.

. . . and Mr. Hawley, with one of those feeble bluffs, called his name in the courtroom on the forenoon of the last day when they were putting on what they call evidence. And then he got up and asked the court to adjourn because they had run dry of witnesses and said he would put him on in the afternoon. But in the afternoon Mr Borah was at the helm and Mr. Borah forgot. Mr. Borah forgets lots of things; that is his strong suit, one of them, I mean. And Mr. K. C. Sterling came here and went away and went back home and these three women have sworn that he had this infamous thing in his room at least twenty times to their knowledge, and Mr. K. C. Sterling went home without denying it. And yet Hawley says they are perjurers, perjurers. You ought to hang these women, if you could get them, get them back into Idaho. I have no doubt Hawley would go to the legislature and try to get the law changed to hang those three women because they dared testify against Orchard. Now, let me make a suggestion. After I have got all done, Senator Borah is going to talk to you, and then you will hear something. I want Senator Borah to tell you twelve men whether he believes that Mrs. King, Miss King, and Mrs. Fechyew are perjurers, or whether he believes that precious gentleman with the wings sprouting on his shoulders, Harry Orchard, is a liar. Now I want him to say--I don't mean to insinuate for a minute that he is honester than Hawley, but I do think he is slicker. I will just lay a little wager that he won't tell you twelve men that he thinks Mrs. King, Miss King, and Mrs. Fechyew were perjurers.


Let me tell you, gentlemen, if you destroy the labor unions in this country, you destroy liberty when you strike the blow, and you would leave the poor bound and shackled and helpless to do the bidding of the rich . . . It would take this country back . . . to the time when there were masters and slaves.

I don't mean to tell this jury that labor organizations do no wrong. I know them too well for that. They do wrong often, and sometimes brutally; they are sometimes cruel; they are often unjust; they are frequently corrupt. . .But I am here to say that in a great cause these labor organizations, despised and weak and outlawed as they generally are, have stood for the poor, they have stood for the weak, they have stood for every human law that was ever placed upon the statute books. They stood for human life, they stood for the father who was bound down by his task, they stood for the wife, threatened to be taken from the home to work by his side, and they have stood for the little child who was also taken to work in their places--that the rich could grow richer still, and they have fought for the right of the little one, to give him a little of life, a little comfort while he is young. I don't care how many wrongs they committed, I don't care how many crimes these weak, rough, rugged, unlettered men who often know no other power but the brute force of their strong right arm, who find themselves bound and confined and impaired whichever way they turn, who look up and worship the god of might as the only god that they know--I don't care how often they fail, how many brutalities they are guilty of. I know their cause is just.

I hope that the trouble and the strife and the contention has been endured. Through brutality and bloodshed and crime has come the progress of the human race. I know they may be wrong in this battle or that, but in the great, long struggle they are right and they are eternally right, and that they are working for the poor and the weak. They are working to give more liberty to the man, and I want to say to you, gentlemen of the jury, you Idaho farmers removed from the trade unions, removed from the men who work in industrial affairs, I want to say that if it had not been for the trade unions of the world, for the trade unions of England, for the trade unions of Europe, the trade unions of America, you today would be serfs of Europe, instead of free men sitting upon a jury to try one of your peers. The cause of these men is right.


He has fought many a fight, many a fight with the persecutors who are hounding him into this court. He has met them in many a battle in the open field, and he is not a coward. If he is to die, he will die as he has lived, with his face to the foe.

To kill him, gentlemen? I want to speak to you plainly. Mr. Haywood is not my greatest concern. Other men have died before him, other men have been martyrs to a holy cause since the world began. Wherever men have looked upward and onward, forgotten their selfishness, struggled for humanity, worked for the poor and the weak, they have been sacrificed. They have been sacrificed in the prison, on the scaffold, in the flame. They have met their death, and he can meet his if you twelve men say he must. Gentlemen, you short-sighted men of the prosecution, you men of the Mine Owners' Association, you people who would cure hatred with hate, you who think you can crush out the feelings and the hopes and the aspirations of men by tying a noose around his neck, you who are seeking to kill him not because it is Haywood but because he represents a class, don't be so blind, don't be so foolish as to believe you can strangle the Western Federation of Miners when you tie a rope around his neck. Don't be so blind in your madness as to believe that if you make three fresh new graves you will kill the labor movement of the world. I want to say to you, gentlemen, Bill Haywood can't die unless you kill him. You have got to tie the rope. You twelve men of Idaho, the burden will be on you. If at the behest of this mob you should kill Bill Haywood, he is mortal. He will die. But I want to say that a hundred will grab up the banner of labor at the open grave where Haywood lays it down, and in spite of prisons, or scaffolds, or fire, in spite of prosecution or jury, these men of willing hands will carry it on to victory in the end.


Gentlemen, Mr. Hawley has told you that he believes in this case, that he would not ask you to convict unless he believes Haywood was guilty. I tell you, I believe in my case. I believe in it as I believe in my very life, and my belief does not amount, nor his belief does not amount to anything or count. I am not an unprejudiced witness in this case. Nobody knows it better than I. My mind is not unbiased in this great struggle. I am a partisan and a strong partisan at that. For thirty years I have been working to the best of my ability in the cause in which these men have given their toil and risked their lives. For thirty years I have given the best ability that the God has given me. I have given my time, my reputation, my chances--all this to the cause which is the cause of the poor. I may have been unwise, I may have been extravagant in my statements, but this cause has been the strongest devotion of my life, and I want to say to you that never in my life did I feel about a case as I feel about this. Never in my life did I wish anything as I wish the verdict of this jury. And if I live to be a hundred years old, never again in my life will I feel that I am pleading a case like this.


I have known Haywood. I have known him well and I believe in him. I do believe in him. God knows it would be a sore day to me if he should ascend the scaffold; the sun would not shine or the birds would not sing on that day for me. It would be a sad day indeed if any calamity should befall him. I would think of him, I would think of his mother, I would think of his babes, I would think of the great cause that he represents. It would be a sore day for me.

But, gentlemen, he and his mother, his wife and his children are not my chief concern in this case. If you should decree that he must die, ten thousand men will work down in the mines to send a portion of the proceeds of their labor to take care of that widow and those orphan children, and a million people throughout the length and the breadth of the civilized world will send their messages of kindness and good cheer to comfort them in their bereavement. It is not for them I plead.

Other men have died, other men have died in the same cause in which Bill Haywood has risked his life, men strong with devotion, men who love liberty, men who love their fellow men have raised their voices in defense of the poor, in defense of justice, have made their good fight and have met death on the scaffold, on the rack, in the flame and they will meet it again until the world grows old and gray. Bill Haywood is no better than the rest. He can die if die he needs, he can die if this jury decrees it; but, oh, gentlemen, don't think for a moment that if you hang him you will crucify the labor movement of the world.

Don't think that you will kill the hopes and the aspirations and the desires of the weak and the poor, you men, unless you people who are anxious for this blood--are you so blind as to believe that liberty will die when he is dead? Do you think there are no brave hearts and no other strong arms, no other devoted souls who will risk their life in that great cause which has demanded martyrs in every age of this world? There are others, and these others will come to take his place, will come to carry the banner where he could not carry it.

Gentlemen, it is not for him alone that I speak. I speak for the poor, for the weak, for the weary, for that long line of men who in darkness and despair have borne the labors of the human race. The eyes of the world are upon you, upon you twelve men of Idaho tonight. Wherever the English language is spoken, or wherever any foreign tongue known to the civilized world is spoken, men are talking and wondering and dreaming about the verdict of these twelve men that I see before me now. If you kill him your act will be applauded by many. If you should decree Bill Haywood's death, in the great railroad offices of our great cities men will applaud your names. If you decree his death, amongst the spiders of Wall Street will go up paeans of praise for those twelve good men and true who killed Bill Haywood . In every bank in the world, where men hate Haywood because he fights for the poor and against the accursed system upon which the favored live and grow rich and fat--from all those you will receive blessings and unstinted praise.

But if your verdict should be "Not Guilty," there are still those who will reverently bow their heads and thank these twelve men for the life and the character they have saved. Out on the broad prairies where men toil with their hands, out on the wide ocean where men are are tossed and buffeted on the waves, through our mills and factories, and down deep under the earth, thousands of men and of women and children, men who labor, men to suffer, women and children weary with care and toil, these men and these women and these children will kneel tonight and ask their God to guide your judgment. These men and these women and these little children, the poor, the weak, and the suffering of the world will stretch out their hands to this jury, and implore you to save Haywood's life.