Imágenes de páginas

Resolved by the Senate, That the Secretary of the Senate inform the House of Representatives that the Senate has met and organized by the election (f D. A. Ray. Secretary; James II. Paddock, First Assistant Secretary ; Cyrus D. Kendall, Second Assistant Secretary; Samuel Parker, Third Assistant Secretary: A. J. Alden, Enrolling and Engrossin : Clerk; H.C. Bolland, First Assistant Enrolling and Engrossing Clerk; W. A. Moore, Sorgeant-at-Arns: F. W. Malone, Assistant Sergeant-at-Arms, R. C. Staples, Postmaster; A. W. Kellogg, Assistant Postmaster; and is now ready for the transaction of business.

A message from the Governor, by E. B. Harlan, Private Secretary. Mr. Speaker: I am instructed by the Governor to lay before the House the following communication, viz:


SPRINGFIELD, January 8, 1873. To the Senate and House of Representatires :

By the Constitution, it is made the duty of the Governor, at the commencement of each session, and at the close of his term of office to give to the General Assembly information, by message, of the condition of the State, and also to recommend such measures as he shall deem expedient.

It is an easy and pleasant task for a retiring Governor of the State of Illinois to invite the attention of the General Assembly 10 the evidences of development and progress that mark the condition of the State.

The cities and towns that adorn the shores of the rivers and lakes and dot the prairies are increasing in population and wealth, railroads are in process of construction that will, when completed, connect the remotest and most isolated districts with the centres of commerce. The manufacturing interests have been extended and increased, the farms and orchardsand vineyards were, during the past year, productive, and the means for the supply of the actual wants of the population are more than usually abundant. In all the material elements essential to its future growth and prosperity, the State of Illinois has nothing more to desire.

Nor can it be asserted that the people of the State have been unmindful of their social duties, for public provision for the education of all the children of the State is already made, and will hereafter keep pace with the advancing public wants, while institutions intended for the purposes of advanced education and higher culture are increasing in num. bers, and are widening their fields of usefulness; and although our general system for the care of the poor and permanently helpless classes is not complete, nor yet entirely satisfactory in its methods or results, the people of the State have cheerfully submitted to all taxes imposed upon them for that class of objects, and have gone beyond their representatives in demanding that nothing required by the most enlightened humanity for the relief or maintenance of the objects of public charity shah be left undone.

It is with the most profound satisfaction that I am able to say, that notwithstanding my extensive intercourse with the people of the State during my official term, I have never heard from any person a murmur against any tax actually levied or proposed for the benefit of the afflicted or helpless; and the representatives of the people in the General Assembly, true to the spirit of their constituents, have been always willing to appropriate as much money for the same objects as they could be satisfied would be wisely expended. And with qualifications and exceptions to whicu I will hereafter again refer, the criminal and penal laws are enforced, and peace and order prevails thoughout the State.

In my message to the General Assembly of January 4, 1871, I had occasion to specify a number of instances of violence by mobs, and I regret to be compelled to say, that since that time others, though fewer, outrages, of a similar character, have occurred at different points in the

State. : In some of the cases that have been reported to me, the acts of the mob were done openly and publicly, and in one case, a band of arnied and disguised men assassinated a peaceful citizen at his home, In each of the cases reported to me I offered a reward of one thousand dollars for the apprehension and conviction of the guilty parties.

Perhaps we are not permitted to hope that the State will hereafter be entirely exempted from outbursts of popular passion that will override reason, and justice, and law; nor can it be expected that designing or malignant men will pot be found who will be able to avail themselves of some pretext for organizing and directing the passions of mobs, or who will seize upon occasions of passing frenzy of the public mind and precipitate the commission of crimes; but from evidences afforded me, I am persuaded that the people of all parts of the State are impressed with the conviction, supported by the experience of some localities, that mobs demoralize and deprave the public conscience and promote the commission of crimes. We may therefore hope that examples of mob outrages will be hereafter rare in the history of the State.

From the language of the newspaper press and the reported expressions of citizens in public meetings, the people of the State have been led to apprehend that crime and disorder has increased in the city of Chicago and other large cities of the State. After having given much attention to the facts of the more aggravated offences reported to have been perpetrated in Chicago, as well as to the general condition of the city, I am satisfied that many of the reports that have influenced the pablic belief are exaggerated, and that considering the extraordinary circumstance of the almost total destruction of the city within little more than a year past, and the great influx of population from every quarter, the laws are enforced and order is as well maintained in Chicago as in other great cities in the country. It is true that some startling examples of fraud in commercial circles have occurred in Chicago that are in their influence more disastrous to the morals, the business and the character of the people of the State, than is the aggregate effect of many minor offenses, and the parties implicated in them are still unpunished. And much opposition has been made to the enforcement of the laws relating to the sale of intoxicating liquors, and to keeping open public drinking establishments on the Sabbath, but the commercial frauds referred to seem to be but characteristic of the period, and the controversies in respect to the liquor and Sunday laws can produce no mischief while contined to the use of legal means for the maintenance of real or supposed rights, or for influencing public opinion.

The extensive acceptance of the belief that crimes, especially those of a homicidal character, have increased in frequency, has led to the suggestion of many changes in the law, with a view to a remedy.

The charges most frequently insisted upon may be stated to be: 1st. The abolition of the grand jury system, and the substitution for an indictment of an accusation to be preferred by the law officers of the State. 2d. To take from parties charged with crimes the right to a change of venue. 3d. To disallow challenges to persons upon the ground of an opinion formed upon information obtained from printed publications, or, as some propose, without regard to the source from whence the information is acquired, if the proposed juror will swear that, notwithstanding any opinion he may entertain, he can try the case impartially. 4th. To establish additional restrictions upon the right of accused persons to demand continuances. 5th. To make death the penalty for mur

der; and, 6th. Abolish or greatly restrict the executive authority to grant pardons, and wholly take from that department the power to commute the death penalty to imprisonment for the life of the person convicted, or for any other term.

To those who have such confidence in mere legislation, that they assume that every abuse may be corrected and every evil repressed by laws, and to that other class, ignorant of the origin, history and reason of the institutions and rules and methods of procedure proposed to be abrogated or changed, and who welcome every change in the existing laws as an improvement, all the alterations proposed will be acceptable; but others will remember that the grand jury, one of the "institutions" of our free spirited fathers, and most of the formal and carefully guarded rules of criminal procedure that are now the subject of complaint, were devised to protect the lives and liberties of the people against the aggressions and encroachments of power, and others, like that of confiding the measure of punishment upon convictions for murder to the jury, are the results of the observations of men of the most profound knowledge and the largest experience in the administration of criminal laws. They are parts of a judicious and well settled system, not perfect, but that combines greater advantages for the prompt administration of justice, with the proper guards for the safety of the rights of the citizen, than any that exists in any country or under any form of government.

In view of the necessity that has always been admitted to exist for careful regulations for the protection of individuals, it is painful to witness the mistaken zeal that prompts a portion of the public press and influential public bodies to urge fundamental changes, simply that citizens may be made more defenceless when pursued by the authorities of the law upon accusations of crime. Every change in the criminal laws that deprives parties accused of a means for obtaining an impartial trial, or that proposes to substitute the discretion of a judge or of a State's attorney for fixed and well defined rules of law or settled modes of procedure, is a sacrifice of the safety of the citizen. Happily, except on occasions when the public mind is excited by appeals to popular fears or prejudices, the passions of the American people are not cruel; but who is prepared to say, that when a citizen may be put upon his trial upon a charge that involves his life, in the midst of a community filled with prejudice agains him, without the power to demand of right the removal of his trial to an impartial vicinage, with no right of continuance to await a better state of public sentiment or to obtain evidence, no challenge to his triers upon the ground of opinions formed against him, death the inevitable consequence of conviction, and the Governor without power, even upon the clearest facts, to arrest the bloody sentence, the vindictive prejudices of some community may not demand a victim, and that then a State's attorney may not be found who will consent to accuse, and the judge, upon whose discretion the rights of the citizen depends, yield to public clamor and consent to the sacrifice ?

The "institution" of grand and petit juries is an essential part of the judicial system of a free State.' Theorists who can demonstrate that the rules of a single wise man is better than that of the multitude, and law reformers who would substitute the discretion of a State's attorney or a judge for the deliberations of a grand jury or fixed rules of procedure, alike forget that no method of election has been yet devised that will insure the choice of the wisest for rulers or State's attorneys or judges, nor do they attach enough importance to the fact that in a republic no

system of laws can be devised that will, without endangering the public liberties, be effective for the prevention and punishment of crimes, unless the laws themselves provide for the participation of the people in their administration, and that neither public nor private rights can be secured when they are in any important sense subject to the discretion of any ruler or magistrate.

It seems to me, then, that, while the attention of the General Assembly should be directed to the present state of the criminal laws, and the rules of criminal procedure, with a view to their improvement, nothing should be done to enlarge the discretion of the courts in criminal cases, nor delude the people with the belief that any change that can be made will relieve them from the necessity of giving their own attention to the proper execution of the laws.

It is at once the vice and weakness of wealthy and prosperous communities, that a majority of those who should be the most capable and useful citizens, from purely selfish reasons, prefer to delegate the discharge of their most important public duties to others, and experience has demonstrated that whether the mercenaries who undertake the protection of the public interests, or who are by the indifference of the people allowed to seize control of public affairs, are the hired soldiers of a standing army or the traders in offices, who cajole, neglect and plunder the people, or those who make jury duty a trade, the result is the same: the degradation of the laws, contempt for public justice, and in the end all the securities for the safety of life, liberty and property are destroyed.

I do not feel at liberty to consume much space in the discussion of the change in the law, insisted upon by many, to take from the jury on trials for murder the right to determine whether the party found guilty shall suffer death or be punished by confinement in the penitentiary for any term exceeding tourteen years, and that may extend to the whole of his life, and make the judgment of death the absolute legal consequence of a conviction for murder.

I have no doubt of the right of the State to put persons to death, who by their own deliberate criminal acts make that course necessary for the public safety, nor do I question the existence of the right to in. fliet the death penalty as a punishment for crime; but I am quite as decided in the conviction that that mode of punishment has but little influence to deter from the commission of crime, and that on the other hand it is a worn-out vestige of barbarism, that hardens and depraves

the people.

Deliberate homicide by public authority has much greater influence to weaken respect for human life than the commission of murder by lawless persons, and it is remarkable that the ecclesiastical bodies, and that portion of the so-called religious and the secular press that demand the more frequent infiiction of death by judicial sentence, concede the whole point in dispute, when, impressed with the horrible and depraving influence of public executions, they insist upon the necessity of excluding those from the spectacle who are to be instructed and impressed by the Example. It may be true that there are classes of persons who can only be restrained from the commission of crimes by the fear of death. There may be coinmunities in which the example of the infliction of the death penalty would be productive of benefit, and it may also be true that monsters of crime may sometimes be found whose extermination is demanded, not to vindicate the authority of law, but the dignity of human nature. It would not therefore be judicious for the State to renounce the power to inflict death, but the propriety of the exercise of the power in any instance can best be determined by a jury drawn from the body of the people. And it may be proper for me to make some allusion to the probable influence of the exercise of t, pardoning power by the Governor upon the administration of the criminal laws.

The executive authority to grant pardons, reprieves and commutations, is, under the Constitution, absolute, and to be exercised by him at his discretion, and like all discretionary powers confided to public officers, is extremely liable to abuse.

I have exercised the pardoning power, in proportion to the whole number of convictions in the State, more sparingly than any of my predecessors, and I am satisfied that I have done so in improper cases. But I have had the satisfaction of releasing persons from the Peniten. tiary after they had furnished to me the most unquestionable proof of their innocence of the alleged crimes of which the jury liad found them guilty; I have, by pardon, shortened terms of imprisonment that were certified to me by the judges and juries imposing them to be excessive; and I have in more than one instance interfered for the relief of the poor and ignorant who were the victims of the arts of designing persons.

We know that the blindness of legal justice is but a fable, and that though the laws, in their letter and spirit, are just and humane, and equal, as a practical fact the wealthy and influential do disregard or violate them with a measure of impunity not permitted to the poor

and friendless. We know, too, that the jails into which those, who are accused of the commission of crimes, and are unable to furnish bail, are crowded, are moral pest houses, where vice is taught to the innocent, and the guilty made more depraved. We know that instances are not wanting in which jailers or their subordinates, alone or in conjunction with some of a class of professional men who dishonor the law and disgrace the courts that tolerate their presence, have deprived friendless prisoners of all they possess, and have then delivered them over to a certain conviction, their sentences of imprisonment aggravated and lengthened by the vile character of their counsel, who first robbed and then betrayed them. I have pardoned some of this class of unfortunates upon the ground that if the State cannot protect them it ought to make them the reparation of forgiveness.

No subject is more worthy of the attention of the representatives of an enlightened Christian people than the imperfect provision made by the laws of the State for the protection of the rights of the poor, the ignorant, the inexperienced and the friendless, in the criminal courts. The evil is most apparent in the cities and populous counties of the State. Every year the population of the State is increased by emigrants from all the nations of Europe, and from every State of the Union, who are of every grade of character and every degree of intelligence. Of the thousands that come into the State, inany are ignorant of our language and our laws, and many are upon their arrival poor and often ill, dispirited and inexperienced. In the cities the missionaries of vice are ever active, and its temples are always open, and from their doors none are driven away; to these the inexperienced and unwary are often tempted to resort, or from want of employment the irresolute are inpelled to the commission of crime, or often they are made the dupes

« AnteriorContinuar »