#OTD IN 1919 – James Larkin Arrested in New York for “criminal anarchism”.

Irish Labour leader James Larkin is arrested in New York charged with criminal anarchy. The indictment states that “Larkin and his co-defendant Benjamin Gitlow were described in the indictment as “men of intelligence, with considerable experience in public affairs, and all this either from honest fanaticism, gross egotism, venomous class hatred, criminal ambition, conceited ignorance on great subjects, or muddled thought they have perverted into the most dangerous channels. As they stand today, as against the organized government specified in this statute, they are positively dangerous men.” He was sentenced to 5-10 years in jail but was pardoned in 1923.

Larkin’s trial began on 30th January 1920. He decided to defend himself. He denied that he had advocated the overthrow of the Government. However, he admitted that he was part of the long American revolutionary tradition that included Abraham Lincoln, Walt Whitman, Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson. He also quoted Wendell Phillips in his defence: “Government exists to protect the rights of minorities. The loved and the rich need no protection – they have many friends and few enemies.”

MI James larkin 1919 Chicago mugshot

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