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such copy; and the court was again adjourned for a few days, to give me an opportunity to overcome the objection. When we again met, I still was without the written copy. I had been fortunate enough to obtain the laws, as printed by authority; but to such evidence the lawyers stoutly objected. The magistrate, however, finally gave it as his opinion that the printed laws were sufficient, but reserved his judgment till next day, and proceeded to another case myself against the Mechanics’ Bank. Lawyer Bradford, the standing attorney, in showing cause why I should not be paid, addressed the court in the following words :
“ Your Honour, the plaintiff seeks to recover five dollars in payment for a bank note, purporting to have been issued by the Mechanics? Bank. Now, your Honour, I hold it to be impossible for any man to prove any bank note to be a genu-ine note. For suppose he goes to the Teller, and the Teller says that it is good; why, Sir, the Teller did not sign the note, and therefore can tell nothing about it. Well, suppose the Cashier says that his signature is to the note, and so it is a genu-ine note. Sir, it is ridiculous to talk in this way; for in this very bank, not long since, there were some forged notes paid as deposits, and it was not until a long time after that this fact was discovered, and then only by accident. If, therefore, the President and the Cashier cannot tell their own writing, how is it possible for anybody else to tell ? But, Sir, suppose they can tell, and it is proved to your satisfaction that the Cashier signed the note, what then? That does not prove it a genu-ine note, because it may have been signed unknown to the President, and the President's signature forged. Well, he may go further and prove, as well, the President's signature; and then, Sir, he has done nothing ; because both of them might have signed it without the knowledge and consent of the Directors. Well, he may prove that they had this authority, and then, Sir, he has to prove that the stockholders did duly and Girly elect and give authority to the Directors to do all these matters and things. Well, next he has to prove that there is a company called the Mechanics? Banking Company,' and that this company, whose attorney I am, is that company, and how will he do that? He brings forward books of laws, which he says are printed by authority of the legislature, and the reason that he assigns for such statement is, that it is written or printed so in the said book. Why, Sir, anything may be printed in a book; there is no way of proving this fact but by producing a written copy, signed by the Secretary of State, and bearing the seal of the Commonwealth, and then his handwriting and the seal could be disputed; but, suppose all this proved, let us see what these printed charters say? Why, Sir, they say that at a certain time a certain number of men applied to the legislature for a charter, and they promised to do certain things previous to its being granted : well, then, he has got to prove that these things were done. In fact, your Honour, there is no end to it, and it is
totally impossible for him to prove the genuineness of the note, and therefore your Honour will
with me that he cannot recover." And, Sir, I should not have recovered, before any other magistrate than Alderman Thompson, who, being a sincerely religious man, though frightened half to death at the banks, durst not decide contrary to his conscience. So I succeeded in every suit I brought.
It is true they harassed me much, and the magistrate required me to produce evidence, as I thought entirely unnecessary; and when I had produced it, and he had recorded all that he asked for, he would, in another suit against the same bank require all these proofs over again. It was necessary to prove the original charters, the revivals and re-charters from time to time; to have a wheelbarrow full of law-books, and it was with the greatest difficulty that I got them ; but I spared neither time nor trouble, having, at first, made up my mind to follow them up until I could bring them to my terms; and, finally, they paid me as much as I wanted, while, in almost every instance, they nonsuited others. The
Public Ledger,' a newspaper of Philadelphia, of August, 1837, gives an account of a suit brought by a poor man who was required, to sustain his claim, to bring forward all the proofs that I have spoken of, and not being able to do it, he was nonsuited and mulcted in the expenses to the amount of two or three dollars. - It is a fact, Sir, and I wish you particularly to bear it in mind, that these
men, who thus sport with the law, are all of them “democrats” of the very first water; all leaders of the dear people; the whole gang
to this “Girard Bank” are democrats. Hay, you see, is å democrat ; and the learned counsel himself would turn his back to no lover of the people that ever watched over their dearest interest. If a suit be brought by a poor man who, for want of knowledge on the subject, could not plead for himself, and the magistrate before whom it was brought was of the “Pure Democratic Party," there would not be a shadow of a chance for the plaintiff. I had long before been convinced that every vile thing was encouraged by the democrats; but the scenes of the days I am speaking of caused me to make up my mind never again to profess democracy. To be sure I always openly disavowed belonging to either of their parties, but still, as you know, I was a democrat, and I was sincere, in my belief, that, under such a form of government, a nation might thrive and be happy; but now I have no such belief; and to prove that I have not changed for light and transitory causes, this and the following letters will, I think, show. Let no man condemn me until he has heard me, and then, as to whether I am right or wrong, by the general verdict I am willing to abide. - tytory
I am, my dear Sir,
ON THE CRUELTY OF THE DISCIPLINE OF THE STATE PRISONS OF
new era men
To the Right Honourable Lord John Russell. MY LORD,
Philadelphia, March 12, 1838. As the Principal Secretary of State for the Home Department of Her Majesty's Government of Great Britain, I take the liberty of addressing this letter, on the system of discipline adopted in the Eastern Penitentiary of Pevnsylvania, to your Lordship.-As a native of England, I am exceedingly anxious for the welfare of my beloved country, and, from a long residence in the United States of North America, having become well acquainted with the miseries which have arisen from the most fallacious form of polity established in that really unhappy country, I feel it my duty to caution my fellow-countrymen, and you as one of their first statesmen, against falling into the most pernicious error of copying the proceedings of the so-called republicans, to whom I have alluded. I am exceedingly sorry to see, my Lord, that my countrymen, and their representatives in Parliament, are very prone to commit this mistake,-a mistake which, if persisted in for any length of time, will inevitably bring ruin upon your country. The Government of the United States of North America has been denominated by one of the
a Model Government.” I think, my Lord, if you will do me the honour to read my work, you will agree with me in thinking, that if it be a model, it is a model to be avoided, not imitated.
But to return to the more immediate subject of this letter, namely, the prison discipline of the Eastern Penitentiary of the State of Pennsylvania.—I have learnt, my lord, with great grief, that Commissioners have been sent out to the United States, to inspect the much-boasted prisons of that country, and that they have made a highly favourable report of the discipline of the Penitentiary I have just mentioned. When I tell your Lordship that the following details of the crimes and cruelties committed in this new Bastile, though taken from official documents, are almost entirely unknown to the self-called free and enlightened citizens of the United States, “ the sovereigns," as they are sometimes denominated, I am sure, my Lord, you must be convinced that the aforesaid Commissioners could have little or no opportunity of forming a correct judgment of the system upon which they have so favourably reported.
Your Lordship will perceive that I have made large extracts from a work called “ A Detailed Statement of the Proceedings of the Committee appointed by the Legislature, for the purpose of Examining
into the Economy and Management of the Eastern Penitentiary, &c. &c." This work was almost immediately upon its publication bought up by the parties whose mal-practices it exposed. I, however, happen to be in possession of a few copies, one of which I will do myself the honour of presenting to your Lordship.
I will now proceed to lay before you a few details relative to the discipline, or rather the tyranny, of this prison; dropping all formality of address, and employing the words and style which I used before I thought of addressing this letter to your Lordship. I am informed that, in the dark age of Philadelphia, some forty or fifty years back, there was but little occasion for punishment, and that the gaol was kept by an old Quaker lady, Mrs. Tweed. She was mild and kind, as her sex and creed would indicate. This gaol was the only one in the city and county: it was situated in Walnut Street, opposite the State Housė; it had sixteen solitary cells, which,” says
the account now lying before me, were used only in emergency.”
". In 1801,”-Ah! about that time the alleviators began to show themselves here, it appears, as well as in England—“ in 1801 a memorial was presented to the legislature, by the Philadelphia Society for Alleviating the Miseries of Public Prisons,” and “ to adopt the mode of punishing criminals by solitary confinement at hard labour." "In 1818 the society presented another petition.” And " in 1821 another memorial was laid before the legislature, signed by William White, Roberts Vaux, and other eminent men, who have laboured unceasingly to promote the happiness of their fellow-beings.”
This petition was successful. The legislature, it seems, by this time were sufficiently tinctured with the alleviating propensities of the new era to turn a kind ear towards the petitioners, and, by an act of March 20th, 1821, authorized the construction of the Eastern Penitentiary on the principles of " separate and solitary confinement at labour.” It was to be built on a grand scale, commensurate with the system of the new philosophy. “A lot," therefore, "containing thirteen acres," was purchased, and appropriated for this important purpose. The cornerstone was laid on the 22nd day of May, 1823, Roberts Vaux presiding over the ceremony.
We are told that “the design and execution of this prison impart a grave, severe, and awful character to the external aspect of the building; and that it resembles a castle of the middle age.
There were three hundred and eleven cells completed in 1835, the rest were nearly complete, which would make, in the whole, six hundred and fifty ! The cost of the building cannot, Mr. Mc Elwee says, be accurately ascertained; the original estimate was 300,000 dollars, the money actually
expended has exceeded the estimate nearly 500,000 dollars, making the cost about 800,000 dollars, and the building not yet finished.”
When a prisoner arrives at this New Bastille, his hair is closely trimmed; he is clothed in the prison dress, a hood is drawn over his face, and he is conducted to his cell; the hood is then taken off, and he is left to the horrors of solitude. But this is not all, for the alleviators have still further improved the art—they have their extrajudicial punishment; No. 3 of which is the “dungeon and excessive deprivation of food.” It is carried out in the following manner, to wit:
“ The prisoner is locked up in total darkness, with nothing but a blanket to cover him, and in some cases he is even deprived of that. No bed is allowed him
he is allowed eight ounces of bread and some water every twenty-four hours. His sufferings are intense ; fears are entertained that, in some instances, the physical and moral man sink under the rigour of this illegal puritive discipline. It is said one man, remarkably active, athletic, and vigorous, was taken out of the dark cell little removed from an idiot, his nervous system unstrung, and in a few months his sorrow and his crimes found a common grave. One convict was kept in this situation for forty-two days ; on the evening of that day one of the keepers was attracted to his cell by repeated knockings at his wicket; on looking into the cell the convict exhibited every symptom of delirium produced by starvation; he was on his knees, his eyes rolling in phrensy, and his frame reduced to a skeleton by the severity of his punishment. On the keeper inquiring why he had knocked, the miserable boy held out his little tin cup, and said, “My father told me to knock to get a little musk.' The keeper, in violation of discipline, gave him some bread, and next morning reported his case to the physician, who entered on his journal, No. 132, 'weak from starvation. Notwithstanding this entry, the prisoner was not released, and, on the second day after, the keeper again reported the case to the physician, who entered on his journal, after having examined the prisoner's health,' suffering from starvation.' He was then released by order of the warden in so emaciated a state that he had to be supported from the dungeon to his cell by two men. The keeper who performed this humane act was subsequently discharged from the Penitentiary for testifying to the truth before the Board of Inspectors.
“No. 4--Is an absolute deprivation of food. It is said one prisoner, named Kyser, No. 66, experienced this deprivation for six successive days !!
“No. 5. Ducking.–This punishment is inflicted by suspending the offender from the yard-wall by the wrists, and drenching him with water, poured on his head from buckets. The degree of the severity of