New York Times
NEARING IS INDICTED ON
Pacifist to be Prosecuted Under Espionage Act for Attacks on War Activities.
SOCIALIST SOCIETY ACCUSED
Body of Which Hillquit was Treasurer Indicted for Circulating Nearing’s Writings
Scott Nearing, formerly a professor in the University of Pennsylvania, from which institution he was dismissed by the Board of Trustees, and who since the beginning of the war in Europe had been one of the most prominent “peace at any price” agitators in the United States, was indicted by a Federal Grand Jury yesterday under the Espionage act. He is charged with writing and distributing through the mails a series of articles under the title, “The Great Madness,” in which he denounced the Liberty Loan, the selective draft law, defended Senator La Follette and other Senators who were referred to by President Wilson as “willful,” and made other utterances which the Government alleges tend to create mutiny, disloyalty, and insubordination among the armed forces of the United States.
Another indictment was returned at the same time which charges the American Socialist Society, which circulated Nearing’s articles, with sending non-mailable matter through the mails, the matter being “The Great Madness.” This organization is described as a New York State corporation, and the indictment charges that Nearing delivered his seditious writings to this society for printing, distribution and sale through its agency, which is known as the Rand School of Social Science.
The minutes of the meeting of the organization, which are in possession of the Government, state that the President of the society is B. C. Gruenberg, said to be a public school teacher. I. M. Sacking, a lawyer, of 5 Beekman Street, is the Secretary, and Morris Hillquit, Socialist candidate for Mayor last Fall, is named as Treasurer. Hillquit is said to have resigned a few weeks ago. It was announced that he would appear as counsel for Nearing in all future proceedings. Other members of the society, as indicated by the minutes, are Max Schonberg, a teacher in the Evander Childs High School in the Bronx; A. L. Trachtenberg, who was a Socialist candidate for Alderman in the last election; A. A. Heller, George Cohen, H. Lictenberg, I. M. Rubinow, a man named Berenberg, another named Kobbe, and Miss Nertha H. Mailly, the Executive Secretary of the Rand School.
In the event of his conviction Nearing may be sent to the Federal Penitentiary for twenty years, or fined $10,000, or both. In the case of the corporation, which is indicted, it may be fined $15,000 and its charter cancelled.
The indictments returned yesterday mark the first move through the criminal courts against these agitators. Nearing is the recognized spokesman for this group and he has appeared in the last year in all parts of the country under the auspices of the People’s Council of America.
The document which brought Nearing into the criminal courts is a book of forty-four pages. About 20,000 were printed and 18,— distributed to all parts of the United States. The first of twelve chapters is headed: “Give the Poor Trusts a Chance.” This chapter begins:
The entrance of the United States into the world war on April 6, 1917, was the greatest victory that the American plutocracy has won over the American democracy since the declaration of war with Spain in 1898. The American plutocracy urged the war; shouted for it; demanded it; insisted upon it; and finally got it.
The plutocracy welcomed the war, not because it was a war, but because it meant a chance to get a stronger grip on the United States. * * * The plutocrats were for the war from the beginning. They were for the war from the beginning. They urged preparedness; they demanded national defense; they cried aloud for reprisals on Germany, because the whole thing “looked good” to them. Why? Because it gave them a chance to deliver a knockout blow to American democracy.
In the second chapter, Nearing wrote under the heading “The Defense of the United States,” that the plutocracy of the nation “played upon the primitive emotions of fear and hate,” and aided by the newspapers “spread terror over the land. The campaign,” he continued, “was intense and dramatic. Japanese invasions, Mexican inroads, and a world conquest by Germany were featured in the daily press, in the magazines, on the movie screens, and in public addresses. Depredations, murder and rapine were to be the lot of the American people unless they built battleships and organized armies.”
Attacks the Red Cross
In another chapter, which he entitled “The Patriots,” Nearing referred to the great $100,000,000 Red Cross campaign. Among other things he wrote that “the brigands had turned saints and were conducting a campaign to raise $100,000,000 for the Red Cross,” adding that the “malefactors of great wealth, the predatory business forces, the special privileged few, who had milked the American people for generations, became the prophets and the crusaders, the keepers of the ark of the covenant of American democracy.”
In the chapter on “Armed Neutrality” Nearing denounces England for the blockade and speaks of the “feeble protests” against England and the “uproarious ones” against Germany. “American sentiment,” he continues, “was being shaped deliberately in favor of the Allies from whom American bankers, manufacturers, and traders were making $1,000,000,000 a year of war profits. * * * The situation was critical. American business stood to lose billions. The President hurried to the rescue with the preposterous phrase, ‘armed neutrality,’ and asked Congress for permission to place guns and gunners on American merchantmen. * * * Senator La Follette, who made a thorough study of the question, opposed the bill on the ground that it must lead inevitably to war,” after which Nearing goes on to quote from various of La Follette’s utterances.
If the “American democracy wins its fight with the plutocracy,” Nearing declared that future generations of school children would revere as “patriots and heroes” La Follette and the other “willful” opponents of President Wilson’s war policies.
All through the document the argument is pro-German, as, for instance, in the chapter headed “The Second of April,” in which Nearing declares that the President armed American ships without authority, and that he also acted without authority when he sent Bernstorff, the Ambassador-plotter, out of the country.
Referring to the declaration of war against Germany he said that “like the King-ridden countries of Europe the American people, without any say in the matter, were plunged into the conflict.”
Denounces Liberty Loan.
Speaking of the Liberty Loan the document contains these comforting works for the enemies of the United States:
Some day when all the facts are collected the story of the sale of the Liberty Loan will be told and it will be as hateful, as barbarous, and as brutal as any event since the war contracts of the Spanish-American war.
The Liberty Loan was probably more effective than any other single weapon in the hands of the business world as a club with which to coerce the workers. Heretofore the employer had run his own business as he pleased. Now he was able to go further and tell his workers how they might spend their incomes. The plutocracy did not subscribe, themselves, in any large degree, but they did use every effort to cajole the common people of the United States into subscribing. The business interests of the United States stood together and worked together more solidly on the Liberty Loan than on any other measure within the memory of the present generation. It was a business proposition and a business crowd put it over.
The Liberty Loan was a signal victory for the plutocracy and an equally signal defeat for the democracy. It did more to bulwark the position of the plutocratic despots of the United States than it will ever do for liberty in Europe. The Liberty Loan saddled the immediate payment for the war upon millions of unwilling common people and yoked up the next generation to a war debt over which they had no control.
The Selective Draft Law is referred to in part as follows:
Experience had shown the great armies and navies could not be raised by the volunteer system in a democracy. If the plutocracy was to put over its plan for a great army and navy behind its aggressive economic campaign into Mexico, Central America, and South America, it must have conscription in order to provide the men for the military and naval forces. * * * The Conscription bill paves the way for a military system exactly like that which had been so savagely denounced in Germany. It gave the American plutocracy the beginnings of a big, cheap army. * * * America, after two months of war, had inaugurated what some one has called “the golden age of the drill sergeant” and fastened upon the United States the rudiments of European militarism in its most barbarous aspects.
The fruits of the war madness were ripening. The plutocracy trembled with joy. The people shrank back surprised, terrified.
In conclusion, Nearing wrote that “the people are learning” and that “it is only a question of time before they discover their real enemies in New York and Washington, and then the victory of the American plutocracy will be turned into a sweeping victory for the common people of the United States.”
Nearing surrendered to the authorities shortly after the indictment was returned. He came into Judge Julius M. Mayer’s court flanked on one side by Morris Hillquit and on the other by a man named Lochner, who it was said, is the L. P. Lochner who press-agented and subsequently managed the Ford peace expedition to Europe in December, 1915. Judge Mayer fixed bail in $5,000, and paroled the prisoner in Mr. Hillquit’s custody until tomorrow.
The People’s Council of America issued the following statement on behalf of Nearing last night:
I, an American citizen, have been indicted for exercising my constitutionally guaranteed rights of free speech and free press.
I have made the record, and I am prepared to stand on it.
In all that I have spoken and written, I have tried earnestly to state the truth as I see it. If this is a crime in the United States I am willing to pay the penalty of if, because I know that a jail sentence, imposed on such grounds, will do more to arouse an intelligent spirit of revolt in the American people than a thousand lectures and a library full of books.
A number of use have been saying for some time that liberty was dead in the United States. The plutocrats are now engaged in proving the point for us beyond the possibility of doubt.
I count this a greater honor than a degree from any American University. It means that the plutocrats fear us because the people are listening to what we have to say.
Nearing will probably be arraigned for pleading on Monday.