Hellraisers Journal: International Socialist Review on Mooney Case: “They Are Building the Gallows”

You ought to be out raising hell.
This is the fighting age.
Put on your fighting clothes.
-Mother Jones

Hellraisers Journal, Tuesday July 3, 1917
San Francisco, California – Report on Tom Mooney Frame-Up

From the International Socialist Review:

Building Gallows Mooney by Minor, ISR, July 1917


IT HAS been proven that Tom Mooney was framed up. We who are interesting ourselves in his case were glad, after our long and terrible struggle, when we were able to offer the public the absolute and unquestioned proof that Mooney’s conviction was the result of perjury bought and paid for. We were glad to be able to silence arguments with actual letters in the handwriting of the chief perjury conspirator, which letters tell in black and white that Mooney’s death is sought by false testimony. We have silenced argument.

Franklin A. Griffin, the judge who pronounced the death sentence upon Mooney, has angrily demanded that Mooney be given another trial, free of perjury. The newspapers which formerly demanded his blood have now ceased to call for Mooney’s death, and two of them are demanding that the disgraceful conviction be undone.

All of California and American Labor has ceased to discuss personal differences and has demanded in one tremendous voice that Mooney, Mrs. Mooney, Billings, Weinberg and Nolan be freed. Every national figure in the labor movement of the United States is active now in behalf of the humble labor unionists in the jail of San Francisco.

Prominent citizens of California have done the same.

The American ambassador to Russia has quieted the turbulent crowds of Petrograd by assuring them that Mooney is not yet hanged.

Chief Justice Angellotti of the California Supreme Court has pronounced the unanimous verdict of that tribunal that the evidence against Oxman, the chief perjurer against Mooney, is overwhelming and that he must stand trial for the felony. Our cause is vindicated. And yet, across the beautiful bay of San Francisco, in the penitentiary yards of San Quentin, they are building a gallows for Tom Mooney.

The attorney-general says that he would like to comply with Judge Griffin’s request that Mooney’s life be not taken until a jury has passed upon the perjury proof,—but there is a technical objection! “The official record of the case does not show any error.” The Oxman letters are “not officially included in the record.”

A man is under sentence of death; the gallows are being built. The proof of his innocence is at hand. Will the man be saved? There is a technical objection. It would violate the official record.

* * *

Rena Mooney it now on trial for her life. The same witnesses are to be used against her as were used against Tom Mooney—and who were then proven perjurers, they are officially recognized as witnesses and have been subpoenaed in the regular form. None of them has been convicted of perjury—not in recent times, at least. If they were perjurers, wouldn’t the official prosecutor (who induced them to give their testimony, by telling them of the reward they would get)—wouldn’t he prosecute them?

So they are still witnesses in the eyes of the law.

Rena Mooney is facing the same prosecutor who said he was going to have F. E. Rigal give testimony against Tom Mooney which he now admits he knew would have been perjury. The prosecutor says that he is going to have Oxman, who wrote the letters soliciting perjury, testify against Rena Mooney.

Every witness who has claimed to implicate Rena Mooney has been either held to answer a perjury conspiracy charge or else proven by the police chief and inspector of Oakland, by several other witnesses, by the police records, by photographs and by THEIR OWN CONFESSION to have lied in the Billings and Tom Mooney trials.

There are no witnesses against Rena Mooney who have not been discredited, unless new ones have since been employed.

Why is Rena Mooney, then, forced to face a murder trial? Because she has been officially indicted. The story upon which she was indicted has long ago been discarded as absurd and admitted to be false. But she was officially indicted.

In the so-called Hall of Justice they are asking men today whether they would be willing to hang Rena Mooney on circumstantial evidence. Those who would be willing are made into a jury and sworn to respect the law and hang Rena Mooney, if the official records warrant it.

* * *

The letters which Oxman wrote to Ed. Rigall are as follows:

Mr. Ed. Rigall,
Grayville Ill.

Dear Ed: has ben a Long time sence I hurd from you I have a chance for you to cum to San Frico as a Expurt Wittness in a very important case you will only hafto anseur 3 & 4 questiones and I will Post you on them you will get milegage and all that a witness can draw Probly 100 in the clearr so if you will come ans me quick in care of this Hotel and I will manage the Balance it is all ok but I need a wittness Let me no if you can come Jan 3 is the dait set for trile Pleas keep this confidential Answer hear

Yours Truly


Dec 18, 1916

Mr. F. E. Rigall
Grayville Il

Dear Ed

Your Telegram Received I will wire you Transportation in Plenty of time allso Expce money will Route you by Chicago Omaha U. P. Ogden S P. to San Frico I thought you can make the Trip and see California and save a letle money As you will Be alowed to collect lOc Per mile from the state which will Be about 200 Besids I can get your Expences and you will only hafto Say you seen me on July 22 in San Frico and that will Be Easey dun. I will try and meet you on the wa out and Tolk it over the state of California will Pay you but I will attend to the Expces The case wont come up untill Jan 3 or 4 1917 so start about 29 off this month

you know that the silent Road is the one and say nuthing to any Body the fewer People no it the Better when you ariv Registure as Evansville Ind little more milege.

Yours Truly


Mrs. J. D. Riggal (mother of Ed. Rigall)

Dear Mrs Rigal

As I am sending Ed Transpertation to morrow 26 it might be that I can use you allso about the 10. if so I can obtain you a ticket that you can see California if you would like the Trip Adrees me care this Hotell tell F. E. to say nuthing untill he see me can probly use a Extry witness Been a long time I dont see you

Yours Truly

* * *

Rigal has given the full story, explaining that Assistant District Attorney Edward A. Cunha, Police Lieutenant Stephen Bunner and Oxman took him to the scene of the crime and there instructed him as to what he was to swear. The officials and Oxman disputed for quite a while about the best time for Rigall to claim to have seen Mooney and the others at the place; they finally decided to make it fifteen or twenty minutes to two, and told Rigall to swear to that. Oxman afterwards swore that it was “fifteen to twenty minutes to two.”

Rigall heard District Attorney Fickert tell Oxman that $16,000 would be split between the “witnesses.” Oxman told Rigall that the money would be apportioned according to which witness gave the strongest testimony. Rigall went with Lieutenant Bunner and Oxman to see Weinberg’s jitney bus and saw the number plate of the automobile taken out and shown to Oxman, for him to write the “memorandum” of its number to use afterwards with such deadly effect on the witness stand. Rigall was told to sit down and study the appearance of the car, so that he could swear that he saw it at the scene of the crime.

* * *

Inspector William H. Smith of the Oakland Police Department is the officer who brought Mrs. Mellie Edeau to the San Francisco jail to see whether she could identify Mooney and Billings. His official report reads as follows:

July 28.—Took Mrs. Sadie Edeau of 4106 Bayo street to San Francisco to see if she could identify Tom Mooney and Warren K. Billings as the men she saw at Market and Steuart streets with suitcases; failed to identify them.

January 31.—Went to San Francisco to see District Attorney Fickert He wanted me to corroborate the testimony of Mrs. Sadie Edeau in the Thomas Mooney bomb case. Could not testify in case. She failed to identify Thomas Mooney or Warren K. Billings, July 28, 1916, the day I took her to the city prison in San Francisco to see them. She told me it was at Steuart and Market street where she saw them and now claims it was at 721 Market street, San Francisco.

* * *

When Inspector Smith refused to corroborate Mrs. Edeau and told Fickert that the woman was perjuring herself, District Attorney replied:

Keep your mouth shut. You would make a good witness for the defense.

Inspector Smith, with Chief Peterson, Attorney Tom O’Connor and Fremont Older, editor of the Bulletin, went to Oakland to ask Mrs. Edeau about her conflicting stories. Mrs. Edeau tried to kill Tom O’Connor with a revolver. Then she admitted that she had first told a vastly different tale from her later testimony and had changed it to fit the state’s case, under the coaching influence of Policeman Draper Hand. Then Mrs. Edeau lapsed into incoherence and said that “her soul told her” the men were guilty when she “looked into the brown eyes of her dear dead husband.”

Thomas Stout, William Burgess and Mrs. Muriel Stewart, fellow employees of Mrs. Edeau, have made affidavit that Mrs. Edeau first told them a different story and later changed it, saying, “What’s the difference, so long as you get paid for it.” But Mrs. Edeau and Oxman are official witnesses against Rena Mooney.

Assistant District Attorney Edward Cunha has at one time begged not to be prosecuted for the Oxman perjury conspiracy. He said, with tears in his eyes, “I know that I’m on the dump heap for the rest of my life, but if you think you’re going to get me in jail you are mistaken.” He also said, “The Oxman-Rigall affair does not bother me as much as the jury situation in the (Tom) Mooney case; that is the situation that troubles my conscience.”

Cunha is now prosecuting Rena Mooney.

Gaetano Malpiede, bailiff in the court, was caught putting a fraudulent juror into Rena Mooney’s jury. He has been discharged after admitting that he wrote the name of Daniel Kelley over that of a real juror and thus got Kelley in as the first man sworn. Malpiede is a bosom friend of Assistant District Attorney Fred Berry.

In the investigation of this affair it was accidentally brought out that despite a court order that the jury personnel be kept secret the slips with the jurymen’s names on them had been stolen overnight and held in the possession of Berry, who had copies made of them for “investigation” purposes. Thus jury tampering has been proven,—fraud against the life of Rena Mooney!

Had such a thing been done by the defense, it would have been cause for a general arrest of all attorneys and friends of Rena Mooney. But the prosecution did it.

Rufus Patterson, admitted gunman for the Chamber of Commerce, who had been convicted of perjury to “frame up” a man in a strike, has been freed from jail in consideration of his writing a letter to District Attorney Fickert stating that Tom Mooney told him he was going to blow up the jail. Patterson confessed that Fickert had dictated the letter to him. Later, Patterson repudiated the confession and Fickert secured his release.

But there will probably be other “witnesses” who can not be caught until after Rena Mooney is hanged.


International Socialist Review Volume 18
(Chicago, Illinois)
July 1917-Feb 1918
ISR July 1917
“They Are Building the Gallows” by Robert Minor

See also:

Tag: Mooney-Billings Case

Mooney-Billings Case

The Mooney-Billings Frame-Up – Louis Adamic


Workers of the World Awaken
Words and Music by Joe Hill

I think the singer here is also the poster: Ariana Eakle. She states that she made up the tune for this version of Joe Hill’s song. I like her plain and simple performance very much.