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If proof were needed that these indictments are in reality a political proceeding, instituted by Mr. Roosevelt against the two leading anti-Republican newspapers in the recent campaign, it would be necessary only to review his conduct during that contest. The articles chiefly complained of appeared in the news columns of The World, between Oct. 3 and Oct. 16. At that time Mr. Roosevelt was the actual manager of the Republican campaign, and had been engaged in violent personal controversies with Mr. Bryan, Gov. Haskell and various other opponents. If he believe that the Panama articles printed in The World and the Indianapolis News were a libel upon the United States Government, or upon himself or Mr. Taft or Mr. Root, or upon anybody else, that was the time to join the issue and submit it to the judgment of the American people at the polls. Yet, although Mr. Roosevelt's political activities were unceasing, never once did he refer to this Panama matter, never a complaint did he make in regard to these articles, never 'did he challenge the Democratic party or its candidates or any of its supporters to meet this issue of criminal libel which he now raises on the eve of his retirement from office.
Even in his letter of Dec. I to William D. Foulke, viciously assailing Delavan Smith for what the Indianapolis News had printed about the Panama affair, Mr. Roosevelt made no charge against The World and made no claim that anybody had been libelled. On the contrary, he was careful to explain that "he would prefer to make no answer whatever in this case." "My plan," he said, "has been to go ahead to do the work and let these people and those like them yell." It was not until The World in its issue of Dec. 8 reproached Mr. Roosevelt for grave inveracities in his attack upon Mr. Smith and Mr. Laffan,' and urged a Congressional investigation to establish the full truth about the Panama Canal pur
1Of the New York Sun.
chase that he raised the question of “a libel upon the United States Government" and announced in a message to Congress his determination to have Mr. Pulitzer "prosecuted for libel by the governmental authorities."
This threat was only one element in the Reign of Terror which Mr. Roosevelt instituted as soon as the election was over. He had already slandered citizens and Congress and the courts. An assault upon the freedom of the press was logically the next step in the gratification of his revenge upon everybody who had dared to interfere with his policies, projects or purposes. And in carrying out his scheme to employ the Government of the United States to punish newspapers which have fearlessly criticised him he has let it be known, in the words of the Tribune's Washington correspondent, that Federal officeholders charged with these proceedings "will earn his gratitude if their efforts are successful."
The formal charges in the indictments bear only a nominal relation to the actual offense which the President seeks to prosecute. The real offense of The World is that for years it has consistently opposed on principle Mr. Roosevelt's jingoism, his militarism, his cowboy methods of administration and his government by denunciation, and has never hesitated to tell the blunt truth about him whenever the public welfare so required.
The real offense of the Indianapolis News is that it refused to support the Republican ticket last fall, thereby costing the Indiana Republicans the Governor, a United States Senator, the State Legislature and several Representatives in Congress in that closely debatable State. Mr. Roosevelt is now abusing his great power as President and prostituting his great authority as President to exploit his political malice. These libel proceedings have no other object than to enable Mr. Roosevelt to employ the machinery of the United States Government to satisfy his personal desire for revenge.
We say this reluctantly, but we say it without qualification, because it is true. And we say further that whatever indictments Mr. Roosevelt may cause to be brought, in however many "distinct and independent jurisdictions,' against The World or against Mr. Pulitzer or against editors of The World, he will not intimidate this newspaper or swerve it in the slightest degree from the performance of its public 'duty.
Mr. Roosevelt is an episode. The World is an institution. Long after Mr. Roosevelt is dead, long after Mr. Pulitzer is dead, long after all the present editors of this paper are dead, The World will still go on as a great independent newspaper, unmuzzled, undaunted and unterrorized.
PLAIN FACTS ABOUT A POLITICAL PERSECUTION
[February 23, 1909]
MR. ROOSEVELT, Mr. Cromwell, Mr. Morgan, Mr. Robinson and Mr. Root are all citizens of New York. The World is published in the City of New York and is fully responsible under all the civil and criminal laws of the State of New York. Yet not one of these nominal complainants in the District of Columbia proceedings has ever made complaint to the District Attorney of New York County against The World, or undertaken any action whatever against it in the jurisdiction in which it is legally responsible for every line which it prints.
Instead, proceedings were instigated by Mr. Roose velt in the courts of the District of Columbia, where the English common law of 1662 is still in force, and before the Federal courts of the Southern District of New York, the claim being made that the act of 1825 relative to the malicious injury of property on Government reservations
can be twisted into a Federal libel law, provided the publication happens to have circulated at West Point or Fort Slocum or in some other reservation. This is further illuminated by the theory advanced by District-Attorney Stimson that the National Government has authority to carry on such prosecutions "in a number of separate and independent jurisdictions"; that is to say, in all the juris'dictions which include the 2,809 Government reservations.
'A HISTORY-MAKING CASE
[June 3, 1909]
AT the request of the United States attorneys the hearing at Indianapolis in the Panama Canal libel suit was adjourned yesterday to Oct. 11. This is the proceeding against the Indianapolis News for having printed that Americans profited by the sale of the Panama Canal to the United States and that part of the $10,000,000 which the United States paid found its way into a syndicate's pockets.
For this an indictment was procured by Mr. Roosevelt, not in Indianapolis, where the paper is printed, and where the offense, if any, was committed, but in Washington, in the District of Columbia, hundreds of miles away. On this indictment the Special Assistant AttorneyGeneral applied to the Federal Judge sitting in Indianapolis for the extradition to Washington of the owner and the editor.
Prior to these publications in the Indianapolis News, The World had printed similar statements for which The World was indicted by Mr. Roosevelt in Washington, although no attempt has yet been made to serve the warrants or to extradite any one connected with The World. The proceedings before Judge Anderson in Indianap
olis involves a great constitutional question-whether the President of the United States or any other man sufficiently powerful to influence the Department of Justice, may procure the forcible removal to Washington of any newspaper proprietor, editor or reporter who lives, works and writes anywhere within the jurisdiction of the United States and whose political criticism happens to circulate in the District of Columbia.
Even in the days of the Alien and Sedition laws any person accused of libelling the Government of the United States or the President or the Congress was entitled to a trial at his home, among the community of his neighbors and associates, where he and his reputation were known. However foreign the Alien and Sedition laws were to American spirit, they did not change the rule since the time of the Magna Charta that the man accused of crime was entitled to be tried by a jury of the vicinage.
An attempt approaching this was made in 1895 when a resident of Washington as a private complainant instituted libel proceedings for the extradition of Mr. Dana, of the New York Sun, which application was refused by Judge Addison Brown, who quoted the language of Judge Cooley:
It would be a singular result of a revolution where one of the grievances complained of was an assertion of a right to send parties abroad for trial if it should be found that an editor may be seized anywhere in the Union and transported by a Federal officer to every territory into which the paper may find its way, to be tried in each in succession for offenses which consisted in a single act not actually committed in any of them.
Judge Brown also said:
Libel as a criminal offense either against the Government or against private persons is not and never has been an offense anywhere triable in the Federal courts of this country.