Official Blog of Author MICHAEL THOMAS BARRY.
A blog which discusses varied topics that are related to the authors many books. Michael is a columnist for CrimeMagazine.com and a reviewer for the New York Journal of Books.
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Monday, February 17, 2014
America's First Trial of the Century - 1906
On February 17, 1906, union leaders Bill Hayward, Charles
Moyer, and George Pettibone are taken into custody by Idaho authorities and the
Pinkerton Detective Agency. They are put on a special train in Denver, Colorado,
but the officials had no legal right to arrest the three union executives in
Colorado. Idaho had resorted to this strategy in an attempt to bring the union
leaders to justice for the assassination of former governor Frank Steunenberg.
On December 30, 1905, a powerful bomb affixed to Steunenberg's front gate
exploded and killed him as he was returning to his home in Caldwell, Idaho. The
former governor was a target for union miners after his role in breaking a
strike in Coeur d'Alene years earlier.
In order to solve the crime, Idaho called in the
Pinkerton Agency and the country's most famous private detective, James
McParland. He was the man responsible for bringing down the Molly McGuire’s, a
secret Irish society from Pennsylvania's mining district. Through a
combination of trickery and intimidation, McParland got witnesses to implicate Bill
Hayward, Charles Moyer, the president of the Western Federation of Miners, and
others in the plot to kill Steunenberg. However, these men were in Colorado,
where local authorities were friendly to the unions and would not extradite
them. Government officials in Idaho, including the current governor and chief
justice, sanctioned a plan to kidnap Hayward, Moyer, and Pettibone so that they
could be put on trial in Caldwell. Despite the blatant illegality of their
operation, the union leaders lost their appeals in federal court and were
forced to stay in Idaho to be charged with conspiracy to commit murder. Clarence
Darrow, who was one of the country's foremost defender of liberal causes, was
brought in to defend the case. It was the first "Trial of the
Century," drawing national media attention and celebrity attendees. Darrow
made an impassioned 11-hour closing argument that mercilessly attacked the
prosecution witnesses, and the jury acquitted all three men.
Michael Thomas Barry is a columnist for www.crimemagazine.com and is the author
of numerous books that include Murder
and Mayhem 52 Crimes that Shocked Early California, 1849-1949. The book
can be purchased at Amazon through the following link: