Magistrate William McAdoo

In early November 1919, Benjamin Gitlow and James Larkin were arrested and charged with violating the New York State Criminal Anarchy Act for publishing the Left Wing Manifesto. On November 14, 1919 Gitlow and Larkin were brought before Chief City Magistrate William McAdoo. McAdoo examined the Left Wing Manifesto which he found alarming:

"The manifesto itself declares that this is the golden opportunity of the red revolutionists. Is this not a call to action for those who are sworn to uphold the laws of their country? Are we, who are the ministers of the law, to ignore this challenge? Are we to lose ourselves in legal subtleties and nice disquisitions and historical references, and bury our heads in clouds of rhetoric about liberty of speech? Liberty of speech! It is the very breath and soul of every American; it is the essence of our republicanism and we guard it with such jealousy that we have hitherto tolerated its abuse into a license which now threatens our institutions. Are there no limits to liberty of speech? Can these men openly state that they intend to destroy the state, murder whole classes of citizens, rob them of their property, and then escape under the plea of liberty of speech?"