Hackney's reply to proposed parole of Morgan Wright
Winfield Daily Courier
NEXT ITEM SHOWS "MORGAN WRIGHT." IN PENCIL AT TOP LEFT. IMMEDIATELY BELOW IS LETTERHEAD OF:
W. P. HACKNEY. JOSEPH T. LAFFERTY.
HACKNEY & LAFFERTY.
June 21, 1911.
Mr. R. E. Heinselman,
Pardon Clerk, Governor's Office,
Replying to yours of June 20th, requesting that I write you how I feel at this time about a parole for Morgan Wright, I have to say that I feel now as I always did.
This man was guilty of one of the most atrocious murders, unprovoked and inexcusable, ever perpetrated in Kansas. He killed one of the best men and best officers the State ever produced, and without the least provocation of any kind or character, and only because that officer, the late lamented Captain H. E. Siverd, was seeking to enforce the Prohibitory Law, and had his pal in charge for a violation thereof.
You say that he has already served as many years as he was years old when sentenced. Is that any reason why he should be paroled? If the law had been carried out then in force, and the Governor had issued the warrant therefor, after his service in the penitentiary one year, he would have been hung, as he ought to have been, and I have not a particle of doubt now, and had none then, that if I had shown the least particle of countenance to mob law he would have been hung then, and had I dreamed that he and his pal, Norton, who was convicted with him, would be able to receive pardons for their crime, I would not only have countenanced the hanging of both of them, but would have assisted in doing it.
Captain Siverd was in the prime of his life; a poor man with a large family, mostly young, dependent upon him for sustenance, and this wretch, without any provocation whatever, brutally shot him down, robbed him of his life, and bereaved a family of their sustenance and support, and then for a Governor, "who gathers flowers from the conservatory of his mind, and with bouquets thus formed scatters them over a maudlin audience," at so much per, who let Norton go free, and now for a Governor, who prates about law and order and its enforcement, and denounces every man who does not believe in prohibition, with all of its boodling and grafting, and official thievery, county and state, to want to turn loose upon an unprotected public this murderer, red-handed, cold-blooded and inexcusable, who committed a murder prompted by defiance of that same Prohibitory Law, and because Captain Siverd was trying to enforce it, to be now turned loose because "Wright is applying for a parole, and some of his friends are active in his behalf," is too much, and the Governor who will do that in this instance is as infamous as the scoundrel, Wright, whom he thus seeks to befriend.
I will permit no man to go farther than I will in forgetfulness of the mistakes of others, but Captain H. H. Siverd's photograph, commemorative of one of the bravest and best men I ever knew, stands in my writing desk before me always, where I can see it every hour that desk is open, challenging my attention to this robber of his life, widower of his wife and the orphanage of his children; it is too much, and he shall never walk out of that penitentiary a free man except over my most earnest protest. That wretch cannot pay for his crime even if he is left in his cell, never to be taken out except to be carried out by the ants through the key hole thereof.
Prate not to me about "he has already served as many years as he was years old when sentenced." What has been his punishment compared to that of the family of his victim, thus robbed by him of his life and fastened upon them their bereavement?
If this community had done its duty, after some of us saved it from the disgrace of mob law, then there would have been a monument to Captain H. H. Siverd in this City commemorative of his devotion to the enforcement of a foolish and impractical law, and the penalty of death he paid by reason thereof. They would have built a monument on the Public Square in this City to him long since.
We hear much in these latter days of "Where is my wandering boy tonight," and yet a little search will find him with our wandering girl tonight. But it is not popular to enforce the laws against fornication and adultery as it is to enforce this law, and hence nothing is done. I have seen men incarcerated in the jail of this county upon conviction for violation of the Prohibitory Liquor law, and not a pamphlet, book, paper or other courtesy shown them in the long months they languished therein, and I have seen red-handed murders—men who robbed others of their lives for filthy lucre—receive at the hands of maudlin women, bouquets of flowers and every attention. I have seen men withoutt charcter and reputation, vicious and rotten, elevated to high positions at the hands of the people because of their professed zeal in the enforcement of this law; robbers, thieves and cut-throats, arson, muder and robbery stalk abroad all over Kansas, but officers who follow such win no glory; but if they are zealous in behalf of this Prohibitory Liquor law, they do, hence catching a man for any crime other than the violation of the Prohibitory Liquor law has become a lost art, seemingly.
With Section 6691 of the Revised Statutes of Kansas, 1909, in force in this state, and which provides, that:
"Any person who counsels, aids or abets in the commission of any offense may be charged, tried and convicted in the same manner as if he were a principal."
Yet men are tried and convicted every day for selling intoxicating liquors to others. They could not do that if the other did not want it, and had the price. How is it that the poor devil who, stimulated by cupidity to violate the law, is punished always where possible, and the man who counseled, aided and abetted him in the commission of that offense is neither arrested, tried, nor convicted? Simply because the poor devil of a bootlegger who sells to the applicant is frowned upon, while the man who bribes him to violate the law is allowed to go scot free, and Captain H. H. Siverd lies mouldering in the grave today because of this misguided, maudlin sentiment.
I mention these things, Mr. Heinselman, because they ought to be said, but most men lack the nerve to say them. I despise political jackrabbits, and weather-vanes, who are everything to all men so they can get their votes, of which, thank God, I am not one, and as long as the Almighty preserves my mentality intact, and in force, I never will be, and if Governor Stubbs dares to parole this scoundrel, he deserves to be shot by one of his like outlaws, the condemnation of which he is indebted to largely for the position he now holds.
This old political harlot, Prohibition, has been the stock in trade in Kansas of as vile a lot of political shysters and fakirs as ever afflicted themselves upon the intelligence of any people, and if Governor Stubbs is big enough to be Governor of this State, he never will lend himself to turning loose upon society this red-handed, cold blooded murderer. I prosecuted him to conviction without money and without price. His friends wanted I should consent that he be permitted to plead guilty of murder in the second degree, and threatened my life and made demonstrations to take it, and undoubtedly would have done so if they had had the nerve, and had not been afraid that I would get some of them in the doing of it, because I would not consent, and insisted upon the full penalty of the law. I did my duty then. Let Governor Stubbs do his duty now, and all other Governors who succeed him do theirs then.
Let's have less professions and a little more performance in that office, and if he and they do that, Morgan Wright will leave the penitentiary of this state for his last great resting place in the tomb. Anything less would be an outrage and travesty upon Justice. He who, without cause or excuse, violates the laws of his state, ought not to complain, neither should his friends, that he be required to pay the full penalty of his offense. Let this man stay where he is. He and his friends ought to thank the Almighty that he is permitted to live, and that is the only favor that I will ever grant him, so far as I am personally concerned.
/S./ W P Hackney