LETTERS from JAIL - famous examples
What a wonderful progress against wage-slavery and superstition.
From Google's cache of http://www.rain.org/~karpeles/shrcur.html
Letters from the Pen .. Not the ink pen .. but the State Pen!
April 1,2008 -- July 1, 2008
Leon F. Czolgosz - His Confession
Assassin of President McKinley
(September 6th, 1901)
"I Killed President McKinley because I done my duty. I didn't believe one Man should have so much service and another man should have none."
The public so hated this man for what he did to the beloved President that a general mood of depression persisted throughout the country. All of Czolgosz's worldly possessions were burned and sulfuric acid was dumped into his casket.
This confession, hidden in the office of his attorney, was perhaps the only artifact of the assassination, touched by the assassin, that survives.
Henry Wirz - (October 29, 1865)
Commandant of Andersonville Prison
where many Union soldiers were to die from neglect and abuse. Wirz was tried at the end of the war and was the only Confederate to be hung for war crimes. His guilt remains a subject for conjecture to this day.
"You say that I am one of the greatest criminal(s) that ever lived ...worthy of capital punishment, you exhort me to give up all hope of escape from a murderer's doom, and not try any longer to hide ... my guilt, but to confess openly like a man.
You are greatly mistaken ... I am not a criminal ... my hands were never stained with the blood of my fellow man ... I have no guilt to hide ... nothing to confess ... I am innocent."
Galileo Galilei - (May 9, 1637)
Italian Mathematician, Astronomer, Physicist
This letter, marking The Birth of the Science of Mechanics is dated, and discusses the preparation of the diagrams for the Discorsi e Dimostrazioni Matematiche intorno a due nuove scienze...(Dialogue on Two New Sciences,). It was written while under house arrest in his own villa, charged with believing that the earth was not the center of the universe. He was, however, allowed to continue his scientific writings. This letter is one of the last written by Galileo before he became completely blind.
Charles Guiteau - His Confession
Assassin of President Garfield (July 18, 1881)
"I put away all resentments and did my duty to God and the American people....."
"Not a soul in the universe knew of my purpose to remove the President. It was my own conception and execution and whether right or wrong I take the entire responsibility of it."
It is interesting to note the similarity between this confession and that of the assassin of President McKinley: Both refer to the assassination as doing "my duty" !!
Gandhi - (Dec. 12, 1940)
Non-Violence Philosopher and Leader who gained Indepencdence for India
Gandhi's letters from prison were all censored. They were letters of appreciation for gifts that were sent to him. When free, he wrote of civil disobedience, non-violence and the risk of jail
"If the gentleman you name are spinners & khadi wearers, if they believe in the necessity of communal unity & and removal of untouchability in every shape & form,...if they believe that there is an inevitable connection between these things & non-violence,...if you are satisfied that they conform to all these conditions you may let them court imprisonment. ..."
John Brown - (December 2, 1859)
Abolitionist who attempted to promote a slave rebellion but instead caused a war
"I have only time to give you the names of those that I know were killed of my company at Harpers Ferry or that are said to have been killed: Two Thompsons, Two Browns, J. Anderson, J. H. Kagi, Stewart Taylor, A. Hazlett, W. H. Leeman and Three colored men."
John Brown was vastly more important in the anti-slavery movement than the usual dismissal of him today as an unbalanced fanatic would indicate. He saw more clearly than anyone that slavery could not be eradicated except by violent means! When Federal troops overpowered Brown at Harpers Ferry, several of his prominent supporters scurried to cover their tracks and avoid implication in the conspiracy. The old man's brave behavior and subsequent martyrdom stirred feelings in ordinary people to war level.
The letter was written from jail, just prior to his execution.
Napoleon - (April 27, 1814)
Renounces the Throne
On his defeat in 1814, Napoleon was given the island of Elba to be his new empire over which he would have full sovereignty, plus 2,000,000 francs per year for personal expenses. In addition, he could retain his title of Emperor!! However this was not satisfactory to Napoleon ... and he attempted suicide, but failed. Here, on his was to Elba, he renounces his title as Emperor.
". sacrificing my rights "
"for the good and for the interests of my homeland."
EXCOMMUNICATION OF NAPOLEON
by Pope Pius VII - (July 10, 1809)
The authority of almighty God and of the apostles Peter and Paul ... fallen into excommunication....
... issued after the French attack on the Vatican.
The Pope was arrested and imprisoned by Napoleon (on July 6, 1809) and was not released until Napoleon's fall from power.
While he was still fighting the Austrians the French Emperor felt he could no longer tolerate the lack of support showed by Pope Pius VII and he declared the annexation of Rome to the French Empire. The pope reacted by excommunicating Napoleon.
On the night of July 5, 1809 French troops assaulted Palazzo del Quirinale: the papal guards were instructed not to oppose resistance.
The pope was arrested and transferred to France: he always refused to officially set his residence in Paris and for many years he lived in Fontainebleau in a condition close to house arrest.
The French introduced radical reforms: the Napoleonic Code replaced the papal very messy judicial system; the Italian hour was replaced by the European one and the traditional systems of measurements were replaced by the metric system.
The sort of welfare state which existed in Rome and which was based on religious charities was dissolved; conscription was introduced; the education system was entirely redesigned; burial in churches was forbidden.
Pope Pius VII -- To his loyal subjects (July 6, 1809,) - (from our palace on the Quirinal)
"In the anguishes in which we are situated, we shed tears of tenderness..."
"Peter was kept in prison, but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him".
In 1808 Rome was occupied by the French, and on May 17, 1809, Napoleon declared the papal states to be annexed to France. The Papal flag was taken down, and, as a result, Pius VII excommunicated Napoleon. The night of July 5-6, General Radet entered Quirinal and arrested the Pope, giving him two hours to pack; they left at 4:00 a.m.. This letter therefore was written slightly before 4 a.m. on July 6.
Pius was incarcerated at Fontainbleau, remaining there five years until the allied invasion of France in 1814.
Mary Queen of Scots - (1578) -- "I beseech you" "The favorable recommendation and intercession of the King"
Mary Queen of Scots pleads with her brother-in-law, King Henry III of France to intercede with Queen Elizabeth on her behalf in order that she be set free. Henry did. Elizabeth didn't.
Unable to obtain permission for a divorce from the Pope, Henry VIII formed his own "Anglican" Church of England, which would sanction the divorce. This divided England along religious lines. Those supporting the Anglican views included Henry's son the future King Edward VI and daughter, the future Queen Elizabeth I. Those supporting the Catholic views included Henry's daughter the future Queen Mary I (Bloody Mary) and Mary Queen of Scots, the great granddaughter of King Henry VII.
On Henry VIII's death, Edward VI succeeded to the throne. His early demise brought Mary I to power which caused a switch back to Catholicism and much bloodshed resulted. This caused greater antipathy towards Rome and Catholicism so that by the time Mary I died, England was ready to ignore the fact that Elizabeth was illegitimate in the Catholic view, and to pass over the true Catholic heir, Mary Queen of Scots. Indeed, Elizabeth easily seized power and left poor Mary Queen of Scots with only two titles to her name; Queen of Scotland and Queen of France.
Mary Queen of Scots' intrigues in Scotland caused her to seek safety in England, which terrified Elizabeth. Elizabeth confined Mary Queen of Scots under house arrest for almost twenty years, until Elizabeth felt secure enough to cause Mary's execution.
Thomas Wentworth - Earl of Strafford (February 4, 1640)
"Sweet Hartte. It is long since I writt unto you, for I am here in such a trouble as gives me little or noe respett. The charge is now cum inn, and I am now able I prayse god to tell you, that I conceave ther is nothing capitall, and for the rest I knowe at the worste his Maty (Magesty/King Charles I) will pardon all without hurting my fortune, and thenwee shall be happy by gods grace. Therefore comfortt your self for I trust thes cloudes will away, and that wee shall have faire weather afterwardes. Farwell."
One of the saddest events in English history....Strafford was a hardworking, patriotic and honest servant to both his King and to his people. His goal was to satisfy everyone.....but in doing so, one must compromise on each side....and thus make everyone his enemy. He was also the King's greatest supporter and when arrested relied on the King's promise to pardon him of any and all complaints. But the King was shortly convinced that the sacrifice would benefit his position as King.....and ratified Strafford's execution. The mistake was fatal as Charles would soon lose the crown, his life and even the Monarchy. Who knows what would have occurred if his greatest supporter was still at his side?
Sir Walter Raleigh (1552 - 1618) His Final Adventure
also signed by Lady Elizabeth Raleigh, Walter Raleigh Jr.
Upon the death of Queen Elizabeth in 1603, Raleigh was accused of plotting against the new King, James I. He was sentenced to 13 years in the tower prison.
While in prison, Raleigh decided to seek financing for the building and fitting-out the ship Destiny. This ship was to be the flagship of a projected expedition to seize the silver-mines of Guiana and found a British commercial empire in the Spanish Main. He was finally released from the prison tower in March 1616. Raleigh was forced to raise some £ 15,000 of private money...Lady Raleigh contributing £2,500 from the sale of an inherited property*. Walter Raleigh Jr., as hot-headed as his father, captained the Destiny on the voyage, and met a tragic end leading the assault, shouting "Come on, my hearts! This is the mine you must expect! They that look for any other mine are fools!"
*Receipt for £600 "in part of payment of a som for a certeyne tenemet wth th'appurtenances lyinge ... in the countye of Surrey...".
John Dillinger The First "Public Enemy #1" 1924
Today, John Dillinger's name remains among the most storied in the annals of American crime, and for good reason. In the 1930's, Dillinger and his gang began a reign of terror throughout the mid-West, prompting FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover to label him the nation's very first Public Enemy Number One. It was not his crimes alone, however, that defined his legend. But as well, it's the way he so flagrantly flaunted the law. On two separate occasions, when he was low on guns and ammunition, Dillinger and his gang replenished their supplies by robbing a police station.
"Statement of Inmate Upon Arrival at Institution"
"Scarface" Al Capone -- Most Notorious Criminal Nov 5, 1931
The Prohibition Era gave rise to many notorious criminals, but none so infamous as Chicago¹s underworld boss, "Scarface" Al Capone. Capone differed from his fellow bootleggers and racketeers by the duality of his personality, and it was that unique dichotomy which has rendered his name and image as recognizable today as it was some 75 years ago. He was, on the one hand, a brutal and vicious criminal (responsible for the murders of hundreds of men) and one who ruled his nefarious empire with an iron hand.
His Original Prison Inmate Record -- Alfred Dreyfus - (1859-1935)
French army officer who¹s trial for treason deeply marked the political and social history of France.
Written at the very moment of his deportation to Devil's Island.....Pleading for help.
"I have been condemned for the most infamous crime which a soldier could commit and I am innocent!"
This description is also covered in a separate brochure entitled, The Dreyfus affair.
Alfred Dreyfus was born on October 19, 1859. In 1882, he went to the Ecole Polytechnique and entered into a military career. Seven years later, he had attained the rank of captain. In 1893, he was sent to the ministry of war as a member of the general staff.
While there, he fell under suspicion of being the author of a letter, known as the bordereau , which contained evidence of a betrayal of military information to Germany. A month later, Dreyfus was arrested by the military authorities and accused of high treason. The court martial, which heard the case in secret in December 1894, found him guilty and condemned him to public degradation and to deportation for life. He was sent to Devil's Island, Guiana, where he was to spend nearly five years.
Although Dreyfus denied his guilt, public opinion and the French press, led by its extremely anti-Semitic faction, welcomed the verdict and the sentence. Doubts, however, began to grow. Evidence was found that a Major Esterhazy, was engaged in espionage, and it was his handwriting on the bordereau. Bitterly resisted by the anti-Semitic press, the agitation for reconsideration of the case began to attract wider attention. The "Dreyfus case" began to rank as a major political issue.
The affair was complicated by the activities of Esterhazy who suppressed pertinent documents and began forging new ones. When Esterhazy was brought before a court martial he was acquitted. This precipitated an historic event. The novelist, Emile Zola had published several open letters calling for justice. The last of these was published immediately after the acquittal, under the headline "J'Accuse." By the evening of that day more than 200,000 copies had been sold. Zola accused the court martial of acquitting Esterhazy on the orders of the ministry of war. He challenged the authorities to prosecute him. Zola was brought to trial, found guilty, and sentenced to a year's imprisonment. But it was too late, the issue had become a political cause. In August 1899, Dreyfus was brought back from Devil's Island for retrial. It pronounced him guilty, but he was pardoned and the order of degradation canceled. Dreyfus accepted the act of clemency, but reserved the right to do all in his power to establish his innocence. In July 1906, the united appeals court annulled the verdict, Parliament passed a bill reinstating Dreyfus, and on July 22 he was formally reinstated and decorated with the Legion of Honor.