Saturday, September 24, 2011

"I have not had malice in my heart. I have had love" (Clarence Darrow)

In a couple of recent posts, I had mentioned the new book, Clarence Darrow - Attorney for the Damned by John A. Farrell (2011). I was pleased to see a Darrow book that could take advantage of newly discovered resources and material, some of it available online for viewing. We have discussed before the exceptional website at the University of Minnesota, comprising the Clarence Darrow Digital Collection. Farrell mentions the significant contribution of those and many other resources in his rather lengthy acknowledgments section at the end of the book. You know about acknowledgments—don't you? The usual thank you to publishers, editors, spouses, next door neighbors and the like. In many books, that section is often skipped by the reader (this reader too). However, in non-fiction, historical books of note, I find it worth at least a cursory going over.

Well in this case I was glad I did, as included among the many acknowledgments was the following paragraph (I added the links):

The Idaho State Historical Society has most of the important papers from the Steunenberg case, including transcripts from the Bill Haywood and second Steve Adams trial and the Pinkerton reports to Governor Gooding. The College of Idaho has put selections of the George Crookham papers online, including the Steunenberg family correspondence describing the assassination.”
— Pages 409-410 (Acknowledgements).

Below is an excerpt that I had marked during my recent reading of the book. Darrow has been charged with, and is on trial, for alleged bribery of the McNamara jury:

The courtroom was silent now.

"I know I could have tried the McNamara case, and that a large class of the working people of America would honestly have believed, if these men had been hanged, that they were not guilty," said Darrow. "I could have done this and have saved myself…I could have made more money."

But "if you had hanged these men…you would have settled in the hearts of a great mass of men a hatred so deep, so profound, that it would never die away," he said. "I took responsibility, gentlemen. Maybe I did wrong, but I took it, and the matter was disposed of and the question set at rest…

"I acted out the instincts that were within me. I acted according to the teachings of the parents who reared me, and according to the life I had lived," he said. "But where I got one word of praise, I got a thousand words of blame and I have stood under that for nearly a year…

"I know the mob. In one way I love it, in another way I despise it," he said. "I have been their idol and I have been cast down and trampled beneath their feet…

"No man is judged rightly by his fellow men," said Darrow. "We go here and there, and we think we control our destinies and our lives, but above us and beyond us and around us are unforeseen forces that move us at their will."

After all, Darrow said, finishing softy with a bit of verse, Life is a game of whist. From unknown sources / The cards are shuffled and the hands are dealt. Jurors looked at the floor; two of them were crying. The judge, struggling to contain his own emotions, traced figures with his finger on his desk.

"I have taken the cards as they came; I have played the best I could," said Darrow. "I know my life, I know what I have done. My life has not been perfect; it has been human, too human."

But "I have felt the heartbreaks of every man who lived," he said. "I have tried to help in the world; I have not had malice in my heart. I have had love.”
—From Clarence Darrow Attorney for the Damned by John A. Farrell, pages 262-263.

I am not going to do any more reviewing of Farrell’s book, as I think it was pretty well summed up in the previous post/link to The Defender of the underdog and other reviews are available online. There are of course two chapters of particular interest to those of us that have studied the Steunenberg assassination and Haywood trial—Chapter 8, Industrial Warfare and Chapter 9, Big Bill. I will say however, I enjoyed the read and felt that my sometimes mixed views and emotions related to Darrow are finally reaching a degree of reconciliation and congruence. I was pleased to read a balanced view, without the hype—demonstrating Darrow’s genius in the courtroom, his sometimes moral lapses and an often chaotic and conflicted personal life. He was after all, as he himself indicated, just human—like all of us.

Current Historical read: The War Lovers - Roosevelt, Lodge, Hearst, and the rush to empire, 1898 by Evan Thomas (2010).

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