Saturday, August 6, 2016

Our Current Record of Rowdyism and Murder.

Little Murders
(From New York Herald, New York, New York, June 19, 1873)

Our Current Record of Rowdyism and Murder.

Four murders signalize the opening of the present week. A sad commentary, truly, on our boasted civilization! Four brutal, inexcusable, fiendish murders are added to the list of deeds of blood that disgrace our criminal calendar. The week opened with an affray between brothers-in-law in a tenement house, during which one of the parties undertook to explain matters to the other with a hatchet. On the same evening a man was fatally stabbed in a drunken affray in a liquor store. After midnight the proprietor of another drinking saloon was desperately wounded by a knife at the hand of a man to whom he refused liquor. But the saddest case of all was the murder of Mrs. Gillen, at the age of eighteen years, by her husband, a worthy representative of the corner loafer class. This last mentioned tragedy is of such an atrocious character that it calls for grave reflection. A beautiful young girl, employed at a store, forms the acquaintance of a good-looking but dissipated young man, whose principal occupation seems to have been loafing. She foolishly consents to marry this wretch, contrary to the wishes of her father, and quickly ascertaining her terrible mistake, leaves her worthless husband and takes refuge with her parents. The husband killed her for this on Sunday night.

We cannot speak too often of this frightful epoch of murder which seems to be now at its zenith in this city. It is useless to argue more on the inefficiency of the law on this subject. When murderers become the especial protégés of the Court and every obstacle is thrown before the wheels of justice we can only wait patiently until such a monstrous outrage to civilization is removed from the statute book. The last session of the State Legislature was spent in purely political schemes, and nothing was done to secure the speedy punishment of assassins. Once in the Tombs the murderer finds numerous advocates, and the plain, unvarnished story of his cowardly crime, when it is place before the jury, becomes a tangled labyrinth of sophistry and irredeemable nonsense. When the jury find him guilty convenient judges and technical errors give him another lease on life. Trial after trial may take place until the public forgets the crime, and the execution takes place when the very object for which it is intended is no longer in the memory of the people.

But in the murder of this girl-wife the pernicious element of corner loaferism comes in to prominence. There is a class of young men—we may call them boys—in this city, whose principal occupation consists of profanity, drunkenness and, occasionally, murder. Unhappily this class is very large, and is constantly increased by willing recruits. Parents are too often to blame for the existence of such wretches, as they make poor attempts to curb nascent depravity. The police willingly, or in despite of themselves, allow a gang of ruffians to fester into crime at every prominent corner. The marriage law is so lax in its provisions that any weak-minded girl may be persuaded into wedding one of these scoundrels. The natural result of such a marriage is shown by Sunday night’s tragedy. The remedy for disgraceful conditions of affairs in society is plain. A criminal law, unencumbered with vexatious delays and miserable subterfuges; stern uncompromising action on the part of the police toward corner loafers, and a more rigid enforcement of the laws should protect the sacred institution of matrimony, will be found efficient checks the present avalanche of murder in this city.

"Our Current Record of Rowdyism and Murder." New York Herald, June 19,1873.


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