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question or questions, such person or persons shall be deemed to be in contempt of the authority of said committee, and may be imprisoned upon the order of said committee in the common jail, to be there held until he or they shall comply with the order of the said committee; and, further, that said committee shall have power to administer necessary oaths, and any person who shall, after being sworn before said committee, swear falsely, shall be deemed guilty of perjury, and, upon conviction, shall be punished as provided by law.
A careful reading of the Act will show you that the title properly expresses the powers given and the duties required of the committee, and this committee has not, and cannot have, any other powers save such powers as are delegated to it by the lawmaking body which gave it existence.
COMMITTEE'S ACTS UNLAWFUL. . The committee, when it first took up its duties, although listening to much hearsay testimony and giving much regard to mere rumors, confined its work to matters connected with the State Dispensary, as specified in the law under which the committee was acting; but, later, and when the campaign for the election of State officials was opening up, the committee forgot the authority given to it and assumed to itself powers which it did not have. It began an investigation of dispensary matters not connected with the old State Dispensary. It went to Charleston and attempted to investigate matters connected with the local dispensaries of that county and the enforcement of the present dispensary law. Still later, when the campaign for Governor had begun to wax warm, when the speech I had delivered at Bishopville had been read and was being read by the voters of the State, the commission decided that it had the power not only to investigate all dispensary matters-past, present and future—but it took upon itself, without authority of law, the right, privilege and power to investigate one certain public official and all of this official's conduct, past, present and future—that official is the Governor of South Carolina. The committee not only sought information in regard to my alleged transactions with the dispensary system; it has not only made inquiries as to my conduct as a State Senator several years ago —but it has gone further and has attempted, and is attempting, to examine into my acts as Governor of your State, especially to matters of my approving and vetoing legislation and the matter of granting and refusing to grant pardons, paroles and commutations. Not only has this committee nothing to do with matters of executive clemency, but the General Assembly of this
State, from which this committee was appointed, has nothing to do with the matter of pardons, paroles and commutations. Under the Constitution of this State, these things are left exclusively with the Governor.
Unquestionably, I could convince you, and I believe every lawyer of ability in South Carolina will agree with me, that the manner in which this committee has acted towards me is unlawful-and I could stop this statement with that legal showing. but the question of the jurisdiction of the committee I shall waive, in order that the people of the State may judge as to the motives and purposes of such unlawful investigation which has been undertaken.
About fifteen months ago, information came to me that one T. B. Felder, of Atlanta, Ga., had attempted to bribe certain officials of this State, and that he had endeavored to form a conspiracy to defraud the State and her people. Letters written by this man were placed with me, showing conclusively his guilt. As your Chief Executive, it was my duty, if it were possible for me to do so, to have Felder placed on trial in your Courts. Seeking to carry out the law of the State, I attempted to have Felder arrested. Being a man of some ability, possessed of considerable wealth, connected with certain influences and interests in the State of Georgia, supported by some men in South Carolina who hated me more than they loved their State, being unscrupulous in his methods, knowing that he was guilty of the charges that I had brought against him, and fearing to face an honest South Carolina jury, Felder evaded arrest and has continuously since remained a fugitive from the justice of this State.
Thinking to justify the criminal course he has pursued and was pursuing, at the same time endeavoring to prepare himself to meet the issue if I ever succeeded in placing him in the dock, from his office in Atlanta Felder began to issue vituperation against me and the people of South Carolina who had chosen me to the high office I hold. His filthy slanders were displayed with great glee by the newspaper combination that has been, and is yet, seeking to deprive me of the place of leadership I occupy with the citizens of this State.
THREATS THAT WERE JOKES.
Felder knew, as the whole world knew, that the majority of the members of your General Assembly were opposed to me and
my administration, this opposition mainly due to the fact that Í attempted to stay the hand of that Legislature which was continuously taking from the pockets of the taxpayers of the State their money to bestow it in an extravagant and wasteful manner. This creature threatened loudly to have me impeached, and proclaimed that he would give to that inimical Legislature a "book” revealing what he termed to be the crimes of Governor Blease.” The Legislature met and remained in session for forty days. "Felder's book” became a joke, and those newspaper editors and my other prejudiced political enemies, who were waiting with impatience for me to be driven from the office you entrusted to my care, wore sore expressions on their faces and had to confess that their one-time hero was a liar and a bluffer, and that Governor Blease was an honest and upright official. But the slanderous eruptions from the impure mind, foul mouth and slanderous pen of Tom Felder continued—and he announced that he would appear before the Legislative Committee in the State of South Carolina and give the facts and letters to show that I had had corrupt dealings with the old State Dispensary. This appearance he put off from time to time, his action being sanctioned by the committee, and he has, up to this time, so far as I am informed, not even paid your State a visit.
PLENTY OF MONEY AND SCOUNDRELS.
In the meantime, having determined to make some kind of "showing,” and having been urged on by my enemies, and knowing that he had nothing and could get nothing that would be to my discredit, either as a man or as an official, Felder hit upon the plan of "making a case" against me even if he had to resort to bribery and perjury. He called to his assistance William J. Burns and his associates, who are private detectives and are always on the lookout for the dishonorable task of blackening the good reputation of some honest man or woman and blackmailing even their own employers. This crew of Felder's was put to work in South Carolina; they had instructions to dig back into my past; to trail my footsteps and the footsteps of my relatives and friends; to inquire of every man with whom I had had business as an individual or as an official, in their endeavors to find something wrong or ungentlemanly that I had done, and their instructions went further, that if no wrong could be found, then to make it appear that wrong had been found. Huge sums of money were given these sleuths-Felder himself admitting under oath (if his oath be worth anything) that he gave one of these men at one time the sum of $2,000; and the Atlanta Journal,
as will appear from its morning edition of July 16, is authority for the statement that the “investigations" made by Felder and his detectives have already cost him between $15,000 and $20,000.
THE GALLANT BODYGUARD.
After my speech at Bishopville, when it was seen that the people of South Carolina would re-elect me to the office of Governor, this Felder, the Legislative Committee which was bowing to his every whim, and a number of my political enemies, in their desperation, decided that it would be best to bring to the attention of the people the result of their contemptible and dirty methods and matters. They realized that something had to be done to counteract the strong wave which, from the mountains to the seacoast, was rolling me once more into the leadership of my people. But Felder and his detectives would not come to South Carolina. The excuse of this coward for his refusal to come across the Savannah River was that he feared I would have him killed. This man, who for so long has proclaimed his bravery, with an array of henchmen and thugs to protect him, admitted his fear to come into the peaceable State of South Carolina, even in the open daylight, although he knew, as all of you knew, that I did not attend the meetings of the committee, and that I had not sent and would not send any one to represent me before it. Felder termed all my friends and supporters as assassins and cutthroats; he made no appeal for protection; if he had done so I should gladly have given it to him, and would, with pleasure, have appointed as an escort of honor and bodyguard those brave men, H. B. Carlisle, G. W. Sullivan, J. H. Clifton, F. M. Cary and J. J. Evans, and of this gallant company I would have made W. F. Stevenson (commonly known as "Seaboard Bill") the captain. I am sure that these six men could have protected their friend, "Colonel" Felder, and had they failed in their efforts and had he been assassinated, it would have happened that the proper number of his best friends were present to have become pallbearers.
In the past few days, and sinoe he went before the committee at Augusta, one of Felder's famous detectives, the man who the newspapers say followed a daring kidnapper into the "bad lands” of Dakota, has admitted also that he fears assassination in your State. Some may regret that this daring detective has made this confession, but I, for one, am glad, because it may tend to discourage the custom of the youths of our State to read with joy the daring acts and courage of "Nick Carter."
FELDER CROWD AFRAID.
So the obliging committee of the South Carolina General Assembly, anxious to get "something" that would put me "in a hole," concluded that “if the mountain would not come to Mahomet, Mahomet would go to the mountain," and they leit your fair land and went to Augusta, in a foreign State, at your expense, to the tune of $5 per day each, to sit with wide-open ears and searching eyes, to hear and see such revelations as they hoped would blacken the name of your Governor, although it disgraced their own State. Now, I want to uncloak this committee of Felder's; I want you people to know that, in addition to Felder's fears of coming to your State, because of the bribery charges against him here, he had another cause for not coming; I wish you to know why this committee of South Carolinians, misrepresentatives of the honest citizenship of your State, were willing to trail the dignity of our Commonwealth in the dust at the bidding of a bribe-taker and perjurer, and this is the reason -any testimony given by Felder or any of his henchmen before that committee in the State of Georgia, however false and with out foundation, would not subject the man so swearing to prosecution for perjury. Perjury is a serious crime under the laws of our State; a conviction of it results in imprisonment at hard labor, without the alternative of a fine. Felder knew that he and his hirelings were going to swear to outrageous falsehoods, and the fact of their being falsehoods could be established without question. He knew that a jury of South Carolinians would convict any man proved guilty of falsely swearing away or attenipt ing to swear away the good reputation of an honest man. This vile creature and this committee, a majority of its members being lawyers, knew that Felder and his gang could testify to anything they desired to swear to at Augusta and go free of the punishment for perjury, because that committee, acting under the appointment of a South Carolina body and under South Carolina laws, was not recognized by the laws of the State of Georgia, and that committee could not compel any person to appear before it in Augusta, had no power in that State to punish for contempt, and no power under the laws of Georgia to administer an oath and no power to bring a prosecution in that State for false swearing
I wish to remind you that, according to the Columbia State, Felder was represented at the Augusta hearing by “seven able and prominent lawyers of the State of Georgia." It took not only the South Carolina lawyers who were present as members of that committee, and W. F. Stevenson, of Cheraw (leader of