Comments on Statement of the I.W.W. Defense Committee, June 7, 1918


No. 1: Department of Justice items

It seems to me that these items have nothing to do with the question of mail of the I.W.W. defendants. The confiscation of I.W.W. literature in Butte, Montana, (item No. 3) apparently on orders of the Department of Justice, was an extremely highhanded proceeding but it is very remote and does not seem to be a case for a personal appeal to the President from me in Chicago. Certainly it does not affect the defendants' trial.

Similarly the Seattle arrests are not an occasion for an appeal from me in Chicago when I have no personal knowledge of the circumstances leading to the arrest.

No. 2. Post Office Items.

Item No. 1: This is the only item regarding the Chicago Post Office. But it is not clear from this statement of February 27th, that this was first class mail and in any event a more recent statement is needed. It seems to me undesirable to appeal to the President now about something the Post Master said he did on February 27th. Many other societies have had propaganda letters held up.

Item No. 2: The evidence here does not prove that mail is being held up. One cannot assume that donations will be increased in proportion to an increase in postage. Anyone who has collected money for a cause or an institution knows that there is a natural limit to the number of contributors. As a matter of fact, donations increased fourteen percent during the month of April and the fact that the increase was not larger would certainly be attributed by outsiders to other causes; e.g. the general public temper may have made people hesitant at the present time and increasingly more timid about subscribing to such funds.

Item No. 3: The fact that letters containing checks and money orders are not received does not prove that the post office is confiscating or holding up such letters. E.g. in two cases the letters were to prisoners and may have been confiscated by local sheriffs or jailers. Sheriffs usually do open prisoners' mail and there is certainly no proof that the letters were held by the post office instead of by the local authorities in charge of the jail.

There are three other letters referred to, one of these contained a check sent in care of a hotel in Oklahoma City. The failure to receive this letter may be due to neglect on the part of hotel officials. There are left two other letters, one sent to the sender, Oklahoma, on March 11th, and one to San Francisco, February 27th. The fact that two such letters were not delivered would not be accepted as proof that the post office is holding up mail by any fair-minded person. There remains on the other side the fact that donations amounting to more than $45,000.00 have been received and that these donations increased from $7818.90 in March to $8944.56 in April (a fourteen percent increase). If the post office employees were acting under orders to hold up mail this would hardly be possible.

Item No. 4: The [Pittsburgh] case rests on hearsay evidence. Letters [page 2] are said to be marked "refused" when the "committee is positive that such was not the case". [They] say that affidavits can be furnished but even if I had affidavits, this is not an easy matter to take up from the Chicago end.

There is certainly no clear evidence here that letters containing funds for the I.W.W. defendants in Chicago are being confiscated or held up by the postal authorities here which is the specific point on which I was asked to intervene.