The Case of Joseph Hillstrom


When a Man gets to Be a “Goat” in Utah There seems No Relief.

The Board of Pardons of the State of Utah met in special session on Saturday, September 18th, to consider the appeal of Joseph Hillstrom for a pardon or commutation of sentence.

Thousands of letters, telegrams and petitions had been received by the board on behalf of the condemned man.

The appeal was made by Judge O. N. Hilton of Denver. Hillstrom closed his address to the board in the following words: “The cause I stand for means more than any human life – much  more than mine.”

The Board of Pardons denied the application for elemeney. Joe Hill was to be shot at sunrise Friday, October 1st, but a stay of execution has been granted to October 16th, through the good offices of the Swedish Consul.

The Statement of “Joe Hill” to the People of Utah.

The main and only fact worth considering, however, is this: I never killed Morrison and do not know a thing about it.

He was, as the records plainly show, killed by some enemy for the sake of revenge, and I have not been in this city long enough to make an enemy. Shortly before my arrest I came down from Park City, where I was working in the mines. Owing to the prominence of Mr. Morrison, there had to be a ‘goat,” and, the undersigned being, as they thought, a friend. less tramp, a Swede and, worst of all, an I. W. W., had no right to live anyway, and was therefore duly selected to be the ‘goat.’

There were men sitting on my jury, the foreman being one of them, who were never subpoenaed for the case. There are errors and perjury that are screaming to high heaven for merey, and I know that I, according to the laws of the land, amentitled to a new trial, and the fact that the Supreme Court does not grant it to me only proves that the beautiful term, ‘equality before the law,’ is merely an empty phrase in Salt Lake City.

Here is what Judge Hilton of Denver, one of the greatest authorities on law, has to say about it: “The decision of the Supreme Court surprised me greatly, but the reason why the verdict was affirmed is, I think, on account of the rotten records made by the lower court.”

This statement shows plainly why the motion for a new trial was denied and there is no explanation necessary. In conclusion, I wish to state that my records are not quite as black as they have been painted.

In spite of all the hideous pictures and all the bad things said and printed about me, I had only been arrested once before in my life, and that was in San Pedro, Cal. At the time of the stevedores’ and dock workers’ strike I was secretary of the strike committee, and I suppose I was a little to active to suit the chief of that burg, so he arrested me and gave me thirty days in the city jail for ‘vagrancy’ -and there you have the full extent of my “criminal record.”

I have always worked hard for a living and paid for everything I got, and my spare time spend by painting pictures, writing songs and composing music.

Now, if the people of the State of Utah want to shoot me without giving me half a chance to state my side of the case, then bring on your firing squads-I am ready for you. I have lived like an artist and I shall die like an artist. Respectfully yours,