Worse than the Devil
Anarchists, Clarence Darrow, and Justice in a Time of Terror
Publication Year: 2013
Largely overlooked for almost a century, the compelling story of this case emerges vividly in this meticulously researched book by Dean A. Strang. In its focus on a moment when patriotism, nativism, and terror swept the nation, Worse than the Devil exposes broad concerns that persist even today as the United States continues to struggle with administering criminal justice to newcomers and outsiders.
Published by: University of Wisconsin Press
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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
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List of Illustrations
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Usu ally, Chicago’s Hay mar ket Square comes to mind first when the topic of rad i cals on trial arises or when we ask how jus tice fares in the heated at mos phere of po lit i cal strug gle, fear of foreign-born ag i ta tors, and grief over lives lost. Just maybe, though, events that took place ninety miles north of Chi cago and thirty years after the Hay mar ket tragedy offer an even bet ter mo ment for con sid er ing ...
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A hum bling num ber of peo ple con trib uted to this book in many ways over the years that I worked on it. The staff at the Wis con sin His tor i cal Society’s archives read ing room I relied upon most fre quently. Like wise, the staff at the Mil wau kee County His tor i cal So ci ety was un fail ingly help ful. Can dace Falk and Alice Hall, schol ars and keep ers of the Emma Gold man Papers at the Uni ver sity of Cal i for nia, ...
1. What the Scrubwoman Found
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De tec tive Fred W. Kaiser’s watch stopped at 7:43 on Sat ur day eve ning, No vem ber 24, 1917.1 The bomb, loaded with screws, bolts, and other metal odds and ends in tended spe cifi cally to kill, cost him his life in the same tick of the sec ond hand. Nine other lives stopped just about that With a blind ing flash, every win dow in Milwaukee’s cen tral po lice sta tion on the Oneida Street side erupted onto the street in a jagged shower.2 The clap was so ...
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That week came the fu ner als. Seven took place on Tues day, three on Wednes day. Fred Kai ser and Ed ward Spin dler had a dou ble fu neral the first day. O’Brien was alone. Ste phen Stecker’s fam ily laid him to rest then, too, with po lice of fi cers as pall bear ers. Later that after noon, Paul Weiler and the sundered shreds of Henry Deck ert went. Al bert Tem plin was bur ied Tues day as well, after a sim ple wake at his home.1 His days had dark ened re cently: there ...
3. American Anarchists
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The eleven Ital ian im mi grants ar rested in the after math of the Bay View riot each faced up to thirty years in prison. For mally ac cused of as sault with in tent to mur der, the ten men and one woman also faced a less for mal ac cu sa tion that would af fect their treat ment at every step of their jour ney through the American legal system. In part be cause of the lit er a ture dis cov ered in the club room where some of them had gath ered to hear a po lit i cal lec ture hours ...
4. Doffed Hats and Honored Flags; Buttoned Coats, Pigs, and Rags
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Amer ica’s most prom i nent his to rian of an archism, Paul Av rich, has argued that the dis tur bance in Bay View on Sep tem ber 9, 1917, was the “open ing bat tle” in a war “in which an archists with bombs stood on one side and the au thor ities on the other.”1 He linked the events in Mil wau kee that au tumn, es pe cially the bomb blast, to Mario Buda and Carlo Val din oci, fol low ers of Luigi Gal leani and com pan ions of Ni cola Sacco and Bar tol o meo Van zetti. All ...
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From the start, the main stream news papers la beled the eleven Ital ian de fen dants “an archists,” mostly as if there were no ques tion about it.1 The local ju di ci ary probably viewed them the same way. When these eleven made their in itial ap pear ances in dis trict court, which han dled pre lim i nary mat ters in fel ony cases be fore shift ing de fen dants to mu nic i pal court for trial, the judge set ex traor di nar ily high bail. Bi an chi, Lilli, and Vin cenzo Fra tesi all faced the im pos-...
6. Of Counsel
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The most flam boy ant and pos sibly the most self-important of the law yers in the trial of the eleven ac cused Mil wau kee an archists was pressed for time and dis tracted. William Ben ja min Rubin still was in Buf falo, New York, on Wednes day, No vem ber 28.1 The judge was im pa tient and in sis tent that the trial move for ward. In deed, Bill Rubin in a sense was AWOL: he was not in court the day trial was to begin and had not ar ranged an ad journ ment in ...
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Looking southeast from the intersection of Broadway and Oneida Streets. Milwaukee’s central police station sits on the corner, with the larger, castlelike armory immediately east of it. The November 24, 1917, bomb blast destroyed much of the first floor, especially the room to the right of the front door in this photograph. Neither building stands today, and Oneida Street now is Wells Street. (photograph Sgt. Robert Flood of the Milwaukee Police Department, far left, accompanies former president ...
7. “The Public Mind Has Become Violently Inflamed against All Italians”
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Come Fri day morn ing, the last day of No vem ber, Rubin was in court and on time. Zabel was too, dressed nat tily and preen ing. Frede rick F. Groelle, as sist ing Zabel in his first and only case of note, bus ied him self near Zabel’s side. Ar thur H. Bar telt, an other as sist ant dis trict at tor ney, also was at the pros e cu tion table that day. He would as sist Zabel with the trial too, but mostly out of court. At the de fense table, Tom Leahy sat watch ing Rubin and scan ning ...
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Late the day of sen tenc ing, after he had re turned to the of fice from court, Bill Rubin dic tated a short note to a friend in New York City. “As you know, I lost the Ital ian Case,” he ad mit ted. “With no chance on earth to get jus tice, we did not get it. The bomb ex plo sion ex cited so much ha tred and prej u dice, and to be com pelled to go to trial a couple of days after the bu rial of eleven [sic; the cor rect num ber was nine] po lice men, made the whole thing a fore-...
9. May It Please the Court
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Super fi cially, ap peals in 1918 were not much dif fer ent than they are now. If he wishes to ap peal, the los ing party was and is re spon sible for two main tasks: see ing that the his tory of the case in the trial court—the writ ten plead ings, tes ti mony, and ex hib its that to gether are the “record”—is as sem bled for trans fer to the ap pel late court and writ ing a paper for the ap pel late court—the “brief ”—that ex plains the facts of the case and how the trial court erred. The los ing ...
10. Infernal Machine
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Al though the de ci sion on appeal seemed to most ob serv ers the end of the story—the last event that news papers would bother to cover, for ex am ple—that de ci sion was not the end for the eleven Ital ians or for the law yers and trial judge. The events lead ing to the trial, the trial it self, and the ap peal all would con tinue to shape and de fine their lives and rep u ta tions. The ap peal is not the end of the story ei ther, for any one inter ested in its most fa mous di rect ...
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Page Count: 280
Illustrations: 20 b/w photos, 1 map
Publication Year: 2013