Tim Robbins Performs Eugene V. Debs Canton, Ohio Speech June 1918

  • Posted On : 13/04/2012
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Tim Robbins performed this excerpt of Eugene V. Debs' 1918 speech at a May 2009 performance at the 92Y in New York City, as part of a celebration of the paperback release of A Young People's History of the United States. Here's what Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove wrote about Debs and this speech in their introduction in their book Voices of a People's History of the United States: "One of the most eloquent and uncompromising voices against war was that of Eugene Debs, the railroad union organizer and leader of the Socialist Party. On June 18, 1918, he addressed a mass rally of workers in Ohio, knowing very well that his words could lead, as they did, to his arrest and imprisonment. Speaking to the jury before it began its deliberations, he said: “I have been accused of obstructing the war. I admit it. Gentlemen, I abhor war. I would oppose the war if I stood alone.” He was found guilty by the jury of violating the Espionage Act, which made it a crime to “obstruct the recruitment or enlistment service.” His sentence of ten years was upheld by a unanimous Supreme Court. Here is the speech that led to his arrest, and then his statement to the court before sentencing."

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