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Appeal For $50,000 For I.W.W. Defense

Creator: n/a
Date: June 25, 1918
Publication: The New York Times
Source: Available at selected libraries


The Rev. Percy S. Grant and Professors Dewey, Hays, and Robinson Among Signers.




Plea to Pay Legal Expenses of Accused Leaders Made in "The New Republic."


An appeal for funds to help defray the legal expenses of the members of the I.W.W. on trial in Chicago on Federal charges appears in the current issue of The New Republic. The heading over the appeal is, "Never mind what you think about the I.W.W." The signers of the appeal are Robert W. Bruere, a writer on sociological subjects and author of "On the Trail of the I.W.W."; John Dewey, Professor of Philosophy at Columbia University; John A. Fitch, industrial editor of The Survey; the Rev. Dr. Percy Stickney Grant, rector of the Church of the Ascension; Professor Carlton H. Hayes of Columbia University, Inez Hayes Irwin, author, and wife of Will Irwin; Helen Keller, the gifted blind woman; Professor James Harvey Robinson of the Department of History, Columbia University; Thorstein Veblen of the University of Missouri, George P. West, at one time publicity director of the United States Commission on Industrial Relations, and Walter E. Weyl, a writer on economics and politics and formerly employed by the United States Department of Labor.


Under the heading appears the following, referring to the men on trial:


"They are at least entitled to a fair trial and an open-minded public hearing. That is a primary American right. One hundred and ten of their leaders are now before the Federal Court at Chicago charged with conspiring to obstruct the war. But the trial involves essentially the activities of the I.W.W. as a labor organization.


"The I.W.W. are entitled to the best legal defense they can make. They must bring scores of witnesses long distances. The trial will probably last months.


"The Department of Justice, the court and the jury can be relied upon to deal effectually with any criminal acts that may be disclosed. It is for American liberals to make it financially possible for the defense to present fully the industrial evils underlying the I.W.W. revolt against intolerable conditions of labor.


"Such a trial is of necessity enormously expensive. It will cost over $100,000. Of this, about $50,000 has already been raised from the membership alone. But it is impossible to raise the entire fund from the members. The whole sum needed cannot be secured without the liberal financial support of those Americans who believe in the right of a fair trial, even for the I.W.W. The undersigned therefore appeal to all liberals for financial help."


It was learned yesterday that a principal role in the appeal was played by Roger N. Baldwin, director of the Civil Liberties Bureau of 70 Fifth Avenue, an organization which has had considerable correspondence with Secretary of War Baker with reference to the "conscientious objectors" to war. Mr. Baldwin said that last Winter, a group of men, including Mr. West, Mr. Fitch, John Graham Brooks, and Professor Carlton H. Parker, prepared, in connection with the arrest of the I.W.W. workers, a pamphlet entitled "The Truth About the I.W.W." Mr. Baldwin produced a copy and called attention to the statement that "it is not to be inferred that the editors * * * are in agreement with the principles and methods of the I.W.W."


Subsequently a meeting was held in this city and a fund was collected to defray the expenses of an advertising campaign in behalf of the indicted prisoners.


"Mr. West, Mr. Fitch, and myself then got together and in our private capacities we drew up a letter to about fifteen persons, asking if they cared to allow their names to be used in an appeal to be published for funds for the men on trial," said Mr. Baldwin. "The men whose names appear on the advertisement consented. We expect to carry on the advertising and to extend it to other publications. We believe that, even if these men are members of the I.W.W., they are entitled to a fair trial, and in order to have such a trial they need money with which to summon witnesses great distances."