“Prisoner at the bar, have you anything to say, any reason why sentence of death shall not be passed upon you?” A solemn hush fell over the crowded courtroom and every person waited in breathes expectation for the answer to the judge’s question. The judge waited in dignified silence. Not a whisper was heard and the situation had become painfully oppressive, when the prisoner was seen to move. His head was raised, his hands clenched and blood rushed into his pale, careworn face. Suddenly, he rose to his feet and in low but firm and distinct voice, he said: “I have! Your honor, you’ve asked me a question and now I ask, as a last favor on earth, that you won’t interrupt my answer till I’m through. I stand here before this bar, convicted of the willful murder of my wife. Truthful witnesses have testified to to the fact that I was a loafer, a drunkard, a wretch; that I returned from one of my prolonged debauches and fired a fatal shot that killed the wife I had sworn to love and cherish and protect. While I have no remembrance of committing the fearful deed, I have no right to complain or condemn the verdict of the twelve good men who have acted as a jury in the case. For their verdict is in accordance with the evidence given.”
“But may it please the court, I wish to show that I am not alone responsible for the murder of my wife!” This startling settlement created a tremendous sensation. The judge leaned over the desk, the lawyers wheeled around and faced the prisoner, the jurors looked at one another in amazement. The prisoner paused for a few seconds then continued in the same firm voice. “I repeat your honor, I am not the only one guilty of murdering my wife. The judge on this bench, the jury in the box, the lawyers within this bar and most of the witnesses, including the pastor of a church are also guilty before Almighty God and will stand with me before His judgement throne, where we shall all be righteously judged. If It hadn’t of been for the saloons of my town, I never would have became a drunkard, my wife never murdered, I wouldn’t be here ready to be hurled into eternity. Had it not been for these human traps, I would’ve been a sober man, an industrious worker, a tender father and loving husband. But today, my home is destroyed, my wife murdered, my children, God bless them- are cast on the mercy of the world while I am to be hanged by the strong arm of the state. God knows that I tried to reform but as long as the open saloon was in my pathway, my weak and diseased willpower was no match against the fearful, consuming, agonizing appetite for liquor. For one year our town was without a saloon. For one year I was a sober man. For one year my wife and children were happy and my home a paradise. I was one of those who signed remonstrances against reopening the saloons of our town. One half of this jury, the prosecuting attorney of this case and the judge all voted for the saloons. By their votes and influence, the saloons were reopened and they made me what I am.” These impassioned words of the prisoner fell like fire upon the hearts of those present and many of the spectators and some of the lawyers were moved to tears. The judge made motion to stop further speech when the speaker hastily said: “No! No,no! Your Honor! Do not close my lips. I am nearly through. I began my downward career at the saloon bar, legalized and protected by the voters of this town. After the saloons you allowed made me a drunkard and a murderer, I am taken before another bar, the bar of justice and now the power of the law will conduct me to the place of execution and hasten my soul into intercity. I shall appear before another bar- the judgement bar of God and there, you who legalize the traffic, will have to appear with me. Think you the great judge will hold me, the poor, weak, helpless victim of your traffic- alone responsible? Nay I, in my drunken frenzy and irresponsible condition, have murdered one; but you have deliberately voted for the saloons which have murdered thousands and they are in full operation today, with your consent. All of you know in your hearts that these words of mine are not the ravings of an unsound mind. But the truth of the almighty God. You legalized the saloons that made me a drunkard and a murderer and you are guilty with me, before God and man for the murder of my wife. Your honor, I am done. I am now ready to receive my sentence and be led forth to the place of execution. You will close by asking the Lord to have mercy on my soul. I will close by solemnly asking God to open your blind eyes to your own individual responsibility so that you will cease to give your support to this dreadful traffic.”
Please don’t stand at judgement having signed the petition to legalize the sale of alcohol in Lee County- Mike Spencer.