Haymarket Affair Digital Collection

Illinois vs. August Spies et al. trial transcript no. 1.
Testimony of Luther V. Moulton, 1886 July 19.

Volume I, 275-283, 9 p.
Moulton, Luther V.
Knights of Labor member from Grand Rapids, MI.

Direct examination by Mr. Grinnell. Cross-examination by Captain Black. Testified on behalf of the Prosecution, People of the State of Illinois.

Knights of Labor member from Grand Rapids, MI. Met Spies in February, 1885 at which time Spies discussed with him the Chicago Socialists' plans for revolution. Testified on various topics (page numbers provide a partial guide): weapons and explosives (vol.I 280), socialists and/or socialism (vol.I 276), advocating revolution (vol.I 278), eight-hour movement (vol.I 281), witnesses who were given money by the prosecution or the police (vol.I 282), Knights of Labor (vol.I 275), Spies, August (vol.I 275).

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a witness called on behalf of the people, being first duly sworn, testified as follows:

Direct Examination by

Q What is your name?

A. Luther Moulton.

Q Where do you live?

A. Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Q How long have you lived at Grand Rapids, Michigan?

A About 11 years.

Q What is your business?

A. My business is that of Patent Solicitor and mechanical expert.

Q You were or have been connected with and a prominent officer in the organization known as the Knights Labor, have you not?

A. Yes sir.

Q Do you know August Spies?

A. I have seen a man once that they called August Spies.

Q When?

A. In Grand Rapids, on the 22nd of February, 1885.

Q That is a year ago last February?

A. Yes.

Q The 22nd of February?

A. Yes.

Q Where did you see him?

A. At my house.

Q What time in the day?

A About the middle of the day.

Q With whom did he come?

A. He came with a man living in Grand Rapids, whose name is Tandler.

Q Who were present at the interview?

A. This man

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Tandler and a man by the name of Shook who lives in the house with me and myself and Mr. Spies.

Q Do you know what the occasion of Mr. Spies being in Grand Rapids at that time was?

A. He came there to lecture

Q What was the object or purpose expressed by them of their coming to your house that day?

A. I don't know that they distinctly expressed what they came for.

Q You had previously received a note?

A. I had.

Q Have you got that note?

A. I have not.

Q From whom was it?

A. It was from a man by the name of Martin, also a resident of Grand Rapids.

Q What was the object of their interview with you?

Objected to.

MR. GRINNELL: Begin with the conversation as they came in--the introduction--and state what occurred between you and Spies?

Objected to by counsel for defendants as being too remote, and not connected with this matter, and not covered by the opening statement of State, and exception taken on behalf of all the defendants, and particularly in behalf of the seven others than Mr. Spies.

A Mr. Spies was introduced to me as being a prominent leader in the organization known as the Socialists of Chicago, his purpose there being to lecture.

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MR. BLACK: State what was said?

MR. GRINNELL: Who introduced him, and what did he say in introducing him?

A. Mr. Tandler introduced him and stated he was a prominent man among the socialists of Chicago and was there for the purpose of lecturing, and wished me to become acquainted with him, and requested that I should introduce him at the meeting that was to follow that day. I proceeded to question Mr. Spies at some length in regard to the purposes and objects of the organization that he represented. I cannot undertake to recite this conversation of course. I did not charge my memory with it and made no record of it. The substance of his replies were substantially that the organization was for the purpose of reorganizing society upon a more equitable basis, that the laboring man might have better and a fairer division of the products of his labor. I had heard much of their theories and I questioned him particularly as to how they were to accomplish this result, and I interposed the objection, to draw him out, that the ballot box and the legislation of the country was the proper means to resort to; he expressed no confidence in such methods and expressed the opinion that force and arms was the only way in which the results could be accomplished directly; that they were prepared for such a demonstration.

Q Where?

A In Chicago, and in all the commercial

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centers of the country, that they had a sufficient force already organized in Chicago to take the city, number about 3000; I objected that 3000 would not be sufficient. He said they had superior means of warfare. I then conceded that if they might take the city how would they keep it; he said that they would rapidly gain accessions to their ranks if they were successful. I said where would it come from. He said from the laboring men. I said how could they get the laboring men to join them? He said hold out inducements. I said what inducements. He said they would embrace the opportunity to make the demonstration when laboring men were idle in large numbers; out on strikes and lock-outs and would hold out to them inducements in the shape of means to reduce their wants and employments, which would add to their numbers great strength quite rapidly so they would be able to hold the city. I questioned as to how they would hold the country, and they thought the country would fall in line because they would be able to propigate their numbers rapidly among the country people and satisfy them that they were improving the condition of society. I inquired how they would carry out these results without bloodshed, if there was no danger of killing some one. He thought their might be. That that happened frequently in the case of revolutions. I then inquired if this would not amount to a criminal action which would be actionable and in substance he thought it might be

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if it failed, but if it was a success it would be revolution, and George Washington would have been punished had he failed, and the refore all such things were considered crimes if failures and heroism if successful and thereby they would be able to escape the consequences of punishment if they were successful; they would have to take their chances. That was substantially the result of the investigation. I did not investigate to any great length as to their plan of organization.

MR. GRINNELL: Was anything said in that conversation by Spies as to the means or mode of warfare or of their revolution about armed forces which he said they had in Chicago?

A No deatils in regard to that.

Q Was anything said as to explosives or dynamites?

A I am quite certain the term explosives was used in connection with arms; but nothing very definite, and no extended investigation about tactics and methods.

Q Was anything said there as to how you might or others interested with them might become informed as to their means and form of warfare?

A. I don't recollect any such inquiry.

Q How long did this conversation last?

A. I should say in the vicinity of half an hour.

Q That was at your house?

A. At my house.

Q That was on Sunday the 22nd of February, 1885?

A It was.

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Q Was there anything said at that conversation about the eight hour movement? When it was to culminate or when this revolution was to culminate?

A. There was something said about the 8 hour movement.

Q What was said with reference to that?

A. It was mentioned in connection with the subject of the great number of men likely to be idle and unemployed; and in answer to a question as to when the demonstration was likely to be made which they proposed to make; and he stated substantially that it would probably come at a time when the working men attempted to introduce the 8 hour system of labor.

Q Now, at that time was there anything said about the police or militia that might or could be brought against them in the City of Chicago

A. Nothing further than in general terms, they were prepared to successfully resist and destroy such forces.

Q Did you preside at the meeting that day at which Spies spoke?

A. I did.

Q Did you introduce him?

A. Yes.

Q In his presence did you state anything about the purpose or object of his lecture?

A. I did%

Q Did you take issue with him before the audience and his ideas?

Objected to as leading.

Q Did you speak that day?

A. I did.

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THE COURT: Is that material?

MR. GRINNELL: I don't think it is.

MR. BLACK: We move formally in behalf of all the defendants to exclude this testimony, and particularly in behalf of the seven other defendants than Mr. Spies.

Objection overruled; to which ruling the defendants by their counsel then and there duly excepted.

Cross examination by

Q When did you first communicate this interesting narrative to the representative of the State in this case?

A A few days ago in the city of Grand Rapids.

Q To whom?

A. To Mr. James H. Bonfield.

Q How many days ago?

A. On last Wednesday, I think it was.

Q You were furnished with the means to come from Grand Rapids here for the purpose of testifying?

A. Not by Mr. Bonfield.

Q Were you by anybody?

A. Yes.

Q By whom?

A. By the Grand Rapids Police.

Re-Direct Examination by

Q Do you recognize August Spies here in court as the individual you had the conversation with?

A. I recognize

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him as the individual I had the conversation with.

Q You spoke to the Grand Rapids police about this matter some weeks ago?

A. No sir; they came to me first. The Grand Rapids police inquired of me.

Q Wasn't the discussion you had with Spies published in a paper published at Grand Rapids dated the 23rd of February, 1885?

Objected to as immaterial; objection sustained.

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