Haymarket Affair Digital Collection

Illinois vs. August Spies et al. trial transcript no. 1
Examination of John B. Greiner (first appearance), 1886 July 13.

Volume G, 355-362, 8 p.
Greiner, John B.
Employee of the Northwestern Railroad.

Examination by Mr. Foster and Mr. Grinnell. Accepted as a juror in the case of Illinois vs. August Spies et al.

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having been duly sworn to answer questions touching his qualifications as a juror deposed and testified as follows:

MR. FOSTER: Where do you live?

A. I live at 70 California Avenue, Humboldt Park.

Q What is your business?

A. I am an employe of the North-Western road. I am in the freight department.

Q How long have you been engaged in that business?

A About 7 years.

Q That is, you are in the office, I suppose?

A. I am in the general freight office, yes.

Q What are your particular duties there?

A. My particular duties are to look after the pool maps.

Q You have heard and read of the Haymarket meeting on the 4th of May last?

A. Yes, sir.

Q Heard of Mr. Degan being killed and other policemen by the explosion of the bomb?

A. Yes, sir.

Q Have you formed an opinion upon the question of the guilt or innocence of the defendants now on trial of that affair?

A. I have formed an opinion based upon newspaper reports, Yes.

Q Is that an opinion as, to the commission of that offense or the connection of the defendants with the offense?

A I do not exactly grasp the distinction that you make.

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Q The distinction is this: whether or not your opinion is that an offense is committed at the Haymarket meeting merely, or whether it is that the defendants are connected with the offense that was committed?

A. Well, it is evident that the defendants are connected with it from their being here, as far as that is concerned.

Q You regard that as being evidence?

A. Well, evidence - well, I dont know exactly. I of course would expect that it connected them or they would not be here.

Q Well, we would infer that somebody thought so, anyhow, or else the whole thing would be a very foolish proceeding. So then the opinion that you have has reference to the guilt or innocence of some of these men, or all of them?

A Certainly.

Q Now, is that opinion one, Mr. Greiner, that would influence your verdict if you should be selected as a juror to try the case, do you believe?

A. I certainly think it would affect it to some extent. I do not see how it could be otherwise.

Q Would it affect it to the extent that you could not listen to the testimony and the charge of the court and render an impartial verdict uninfluenced by the opinion that you have?

A. That is a pretty hard question to answer.

Q Nobody can answer it but you; it is for you. The question is not, would it absolutely, because you do not

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know, but do you now believe that it would?

A. Well, if I was upon the jury it would be my duty of course to abide by the evidence and to ignore everything else. I do not place any particular confidence in what I see in the papers, as far as that is concerned.

Q I know that would be your duty, but men will not always do their duty; sometimes they wont and sometimes they cant. Now, do you think you can - do you believe that you can lay aside your opinion and lay aside all prejudice which exists in your mind and act upon the testimony and that alone, and render a verdict which is absolutely impartial?

A. I think I could do so.

Q You believe you could do so?

A. I think so.

Q Do you know anything about socialists, communists and anarchists?

A. I have never made it any special study.

Q You have a general idea?

A. I have a general idea.

Q Have you a prejudice against those classes?

A Well, please define against what classes. Do you mean organized co-oporative classes?

Q I mean against persons entertaining the views which are advocated and contended for by either socialists, communists or anarchists?

A. Not so long as they confine themselves to legitimate aims and methods.

Q You have no prejudice then against communists, socialists or anarchists provided they do not violate the

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A. No, sir, I cannot say that I have so long as they conform to the law.

Q Has your road been affected by strikes since you have been connected with it?

A. Well, all roads are more or less affected by strikes, but I may say their interest is not particularly mine.

Q Well, I did not ask you, you know whether your interests are affected, but whether the interest of your employer was affected by strikes while you have been in the employ that you at present are?

A There has been no strikes to any extent; I presume there has been a few little misunderstandings.

Q There was quite a little misunderstanding along about the 4th of May to the freight handlers of the North-Western, wasn't there?

A. Yes, sir, there was.

Q That directly was connected with the business of your department?

A. Yes, sir.

Q Have you any objection or prejudice against the organization of laboring men into unions, trades-unions, labor unions?

A. Not so long as they resort to proper means to obtain their ends.

Q You think it is all right for them to organize and to meet and discuss wages and everything of that kind, and quit, if they dont want to work provided that they stop right there?

A. I do not believe in them coercing

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anybody else to quit.

Q Well, I do not either, because that is violating law, when they undertake to do that; but until it comes to that you think their organizations are all right, dont you?

A I dont see any objection to them, No sir.

Q Are you a married man?

A. No, sir, I am single.

Q Your parents have died here?

A. Yes, sir.

Q You live at home?

A. Yes, sir.

Q What business is your father engaged in?

A My father is a printer.

Q What other business have you been engaged in before railroading?

A. Well, I worked a little in newspaper business.

Q As a writer?

A. Not to any extent, yes, sir.

Q Any of the city papers here?

A. No, sir.

Q Where?

A. In Dayton, Ohio.

Q Are you a native of Ohio?

A I was born in Columbus, Ohio.

Q How long have you resides in Illinois?

A I have resided here since March, 1880.

MR. GRINNELL: Mr. Greiner, I will ask you a few questions which I have not asked yet. I will ask them as though you had not answered them at all, because I was not paying close attention when the examination was made.

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Where were you born?

A. I was born in Columbus, Ohio.

Q How old are you?

A. I will be twenty five on the 9th day of this August.

Q Are you married?

A. I am single.

Q When did you leave Columbus - that is, when did you leave it to start out for yourself, to come west or go into any other place or town?

A. Well, I was there for a short period of time, perhaps five or six weeks from May, 1879. I was from there for a period of perhaps five or six weeks in May 1879 and in the official stenographer's office.

Q You were a stenographer, started life as a stenographer?

A Yes, sir.

Q Did you practice your profession in the courts?

A I was an amaneunsis at that time.

Q How long have you lived in Cook County?

A. I think that I came here about the 25 or 27th of March or April, 1880, I forget which.

Q And before coming here where did you live?

A. I was in Cedar Rapids in the general freight department of the B., C., R. & N.

Q In what road?

MR. FOSTER: Burlington, Cedar Rapids & Northern.

MR. GRINNELL: How long were you engaged in railroading in the company there?

A. From the time I left Columbus until I came to Chicago.

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Q Have you given any attention or study to the subject of communion or socialism or anarchism?

A. No especial study, no, sir.

Q You have formed some general opinion?

A. General idea what it is.

Q From general reading?

A. Yes, sir.

Q Newspaper articles - have you read any magazine articles?

A. Upon the subject?

Q Yes. The Century has had some articles on it; the North American Review has had some articles on it, and I guess nearly every magazine in the country.

A I have read some magazines on the subject.

Q Are you a member of any labor organization?

A No, sir. I have never had any occasion.

Q What is it?

A. It never has been any advantage to me to belong to any of them.

Q Well, it does not matter whether it is of advantage or disadvantage. You are not a member of any organization?

A No, sir.

Q Of that character?

A. Well, to understand - I am a member of a co-operative society here in the city, which is to secure its members positions when out of employment, but I do not understand that is what you mean.

Q That is some guarantee company?

A. Well, it is a mutual system. It is a stenographer's co-operative society,

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that is all. It is an employment guild.

Q Is that a city organization?

A Yes, sir.

Q Of office stenographers, or amateur stenographers, not the court stenographers?

A No, sir, not court stenographers.

Q That is, along the younger branch of the profession?

A Yes, sir.

MR. GRINNELL: If the court please, I should prefer to pass upon these gentlemen tomorrow morning. It is now past five o'clock.

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