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ence, and such cowardly, infamous and foul editorials have been heralded throughout this country by various newspapers, that I desire to submit to you and to my constituents in South Carolina exactly what I said in the three speeches, to wit, the address on penology, the address on divorce, and the address on the resolution which is quoted below in connection with the three addresses; in order that you and the people of South Carolina may see that there was absolutely nothing said by me on that occasion in reference to lynch law, except what I have said all over South Carolina time and time again. And I have never yet said it in South Carolina that it did not meet with round after round of applause from the best people of my State.
I care nothing for the criticisms of Cubans, mixed-breeds, negroes or negro lovers. However, I want the decent element of South Carolina to see what I said, and to let them pass judgment on it for themselves. Furthermore, I want it to be made a part of the political history of my State, for I am proud of the views I expressed in these speeches, and stand by every word of them, and I am ready and willing to meet any man in this State or in the entire nation, before the people of South Carolina, upon this issue.
Read what I said, and then think as you like about it. I have neither any excuse nor any apologies to make. Very respectfully,
COLE. L. BLEASE,
Richmond, December 28, 1912. His Excellency, Hon. Cole. L. Blease, Governor of South Carolina,
Columbia, S. C.
I enclose bill for my fee in this matter.
L. D. BOOTH.
A distinguished Supreme Court Judge of my State, South Carolina, resigned from the bench and entered the race for Governor to redeem the State from what he saw fit to call "the pardoning Governor." In South Carolina the Governor has a right to pardon, to parole, to reprieve or to commute. There is no power which can stop him, or which can punish him, unless it can be proven that he has been corrupt in the pardons or paroles which he has granted. When I went into the Executive office I found many people in the penitentiary who had served a long term of years for common offenses. Had the system of Colorado, as outlined by Governor Shafroth, been in effect in South Carolina, it would have saved me a great deal of personal trouble, but we have no such system. Very often a poor negro is sent to the penitentiary for a lifetime, or for, say twenty or thirty years. He is sent off to the penitentiary, and in a few years his old mother dies, possibly his old father dies, possibly his brothers and sisters may be taken away, and he is forgotten in the world. Not only is that true with the negro, but also of some of the whites of South Carolina. None to petition; none to hire a lawyer; none to make an appeal for mercy; none to go before the pardoning board and ask them that his case may be considered; but he is left there forgotten, to die in prison. I have no criticism to make of the gentlemen who preceded me in that office, but I do say somebody was very negligent in their manner of treating the prisoners there. Petitions began to come to the office, signed by the people, and the best people, of the community where the offense was committed, or alleged to have been committed. I took the position that I was the servant of the people and under my Constitution and the Constitution of the United States they had a right to petition and they should not be deprived of it, and when a community where a crime had been committed, with the best people, the white people, signing the petition, said that the criminal had been punished enough, I turned him out without regard to criticism.
And then, Mr. Chairman, on the other hand, sometimes petitions would come in for political purposes, signed by my enemies, in order to get a pardon for some criminal who did not deserve pardon, for the purpose of using it against me in the political fight. There is where one must be very careful. I went to the penitentiary myself, all over it, and I blush to say it, my fellow Governors, we have a tuberculosis incubator there, turning out cases of consumption to go back to their families and spread the disease throughout the State. When I went through that tuberculosis incubator, as I call it, I
found men dying at work, making money for people who fattened on the blood and bone and flesh of the poor criminal who had to work or take the lash, because he had no friend to plead for him. took their names and I looked into the history of their cases, and today, I am proud to say, I think the reports will show that I have pardoned or paroled in twenty-two months about 400 people, and I hope by the end of my second term to make it 800.
Now, Mr. Chairman, we have conditions a little different from what was mentioned by the Governor of Connecticut. It is not always the case that the ruffian, the murderer or the blackguard uses the hemp rope. I have known in South Carolina some of the very best men in it to go to the defense of the virtuous womanhood of their State and to lynch the black brute who dared put his hand on the body of a white woman, and I have said it on the stump all over my State that I would never order out the militia and ask the home boys of South Carolina to shoot down their friends and their neighbors to protect a black brute who had assaulted a white woman of our State, and I will never do so. Therefore, in South Carolina, let it be understood that when a negro criminally assaults a white woman, all they want to know is that they have got the right man, and there will be no need of a trial, and there ought not be any need of it in any civilized community. If we can't protect our white women from a black fiend what can we do for our country's civilization and for man's uplift?
Now, Mr. Chairman, I receive communications of this kind. But first, let me say-sometimes Judges make very serious mistakes--Judges are human beings—I will give you an illustration: Here stand two young men in a Court; convicted of the same offense. I have seen it. The day for sentence rolls around. A man walks up and taps on the Judge's private door and he enters; probably it is the lawyer who has defended one of the young men. He says, "Judge, John has been a good fellow all his life; he comes of such and such a good family; make his sentence as light as possible, won't you, on account of his family and prominent connections.” Directly another tap comes on the door and some friend of the same young man enters, and the same plea is repeated, and others come and the same story is told. The other poor fellow has nobody to speak for him. When the hour comes for the passing of the sentence on the two young men (possibly both having committed the same offense, such as assault or battery, with intent to kill), the Judge says, to one: "I have been told that you are a good boy; that you are from a good
family. I hope this will teach you a lesson; the sentence is that you go to the State penitentiary, or the county chain gang for two years. The other one stands up. Nobody has spoken for him. No social glass has passed lips over his confinement; no cigars have changed hands, and his sentence is seven years, or maybe ten, in the penitentiary, or on the county chain gang. I say this is the time when the Governor of the State should step in and see that equal justice is meted out, and then is the time when the pardoning power or the parole system should be used. I have had two instances of this kind to happen in the short time of twenty-two months that I have been Governor. A Judge, who now sits on the Supreme Court bench of my State, wrote this when a petition was being presented for the pardon of a man who had been sentenced for a life term. After the petition has been received it is referred to the Judge; it is then sent to the solicitor who prosecuted the case and then it comes back to the Governor, who may, or may not, refer it to the pardoning board. If it is referred to the pardoning board and they don't recommend the pardon or parole, the Governor can issue the pardon or parole if he chooses to do so. In this particular case, this Judge wrote back this : “I recommend the pardon of this man; because I did not think at the time of his conviction and do not now think that he was convicted by that weight of testimony which was required, to wit: beyond a reasonable doubt." Yet he sat there and committed that man to a life sentence in the State penitentiary, when he admitted himself, over his own signature, that he did not believe that man had been convicted in accordance with the laws of the State of South Carolina. What could you do but turn the prisoner out?
Today there is a man under sentence of death in my Statema negro, it is true—and the Judge who sentenced him is one of the most conscientious men I ever knew; but here is what he wrote the other day: that he did not feel that this prisoner ought to be condemned to death, and he did not think so at the time of his trial, and he respectfully recommended that his sentence be commuted to life imprisonment. Yet, because of the pressure of public opinion, instead of setting aside that verdict, or recommending the jury to bring in a verdict of life imprisonment, he sentenced him to the death chair. What are you going to do? Turn him down? No; save him. And when you do, then the press will come out and say, "Executive Clemency," in big head-lines, followed by the words, "Pardons and Commutations, so many to date.” That is the proudest “So many" I have ever had said of me.
But that, gentlemen, is the system in my State today. The only hope for the prisoner in prison is through the Governor. I passed through the penitentiary the other day. A negro came up and touched his hat and asked the captain of the wardens if he might speak to the Governor. The warden told him he could. The negro said, "Governor, may I speak to you?” I said, “Yes." He said, “Governor, I have been here twenty-two years for stealing a $27 watch.” I said, "What are you talking about?" He said, "Governor, my name is Jim Roberts, and I am from the county of Charleston, and what I tell you is true." I said, “What offense were you convicted of-burglary?" He said, “Yes, sir." I said, “If what you tell me is true, you will eat your Christmas dinner with your folks." I looked into the records and found that what he said was true, and he is going to eat his Christmas dinner at home, if I live.
Another one, a few steps further off, came up, touched his hat, and said, “Captain, may I speak to the Governor?" He said, "Yes." The negro said, "Governor, I have been here eleven years and seven months for stealing $9.” I said, "What were you charged with?" He said, “Robbery from the person.” I found that it was true; that he had been there nearly twelve years for stealing $9. What could I do? Pardon him, of course. Now, gentlemen, that is the kind of cases that come before me. I believe we ought to have a system by which a man can work out his own parole; because, while I do not say it in any vain-glorious spirit, “You don't always strike Governors who are not afraid of the political issue and who won't turn pardons down because of the political clamor.”
In my last campaign for Governor I was fought by all the newspapers in the State of South Carolina, with the exception of three tri-weeklies; was fought by all the corporations, fought by the railroads, fought by the cotton mill owners and other powerful interests, in the bitterest campaign ever waged in the United States. I went on the stump in every one of the forty-four counties of the State of South Carolina and told the people why I issued these pardons, and 75,000 voters told the ex-Supreme Court Judge that he was a statesman without a job and that South Carolina had no need to be relieved of her “pardoning Governor." Yet I was painted to the world, to all of the United States, as one who would be repudiated by a whirlwind of votes.