Monday, July 30, 2012

Francis Henry Fackiner: Prolific Postcard Writer, Anti-Teetotaler and Madman

The Detroit Free Press, August 4, 1910

Francis Henry Fackiner was both a mouthpiece for the Lord and against the banning of hard drink. So voracious was his appetite to spread the anti-Prohibitionist word that he sent thousands of postcards and letters to prominent figures and public officials across the Detroit area and nationwide calling them out on the issue.

Having been a heavy drinker the New Jersey transplant found sobriety and the Bible a decade before his writing campaign commenced. In the written Word he found that Jesus embraced the use of wine at his suppers and was also against its prohibition.

What sank Fackiner into legal trouble were his defaming screeds printed on the postcards and -- when sending a missive -- both the envelopes and the letterhead itself. One such example is posted below:

"Criminals--every Prohibitionist is a criminal. Don't take water but prove that you are not. You judge the citizen--man and woman-- to have committed a crime; and thus pass into the penal code; and apply a penal code law to woman. I love so dearly. You are a dirty liar and criminal."

And that was merely the mess of words scrawled upon the envelope! The letter followed in the same incomprehensible vein:

"You are a miserable and dirty liar and infamous criminal; may God have mercy on your soul; In Jesus' Love. Henry Fackiner."

After the expected rash of complaints to the postal inspector he was charged with sending scurrilous messages on the outside of letters (I guess it was acceptable to do so as long as it was contained within a pristine skein!) through the mails and most notably to Justices of the Supreme Court.

Preceding his October 1909 trial he sat about the courtroom for a week proselytizing with whoever would listen. At his hearing he was questioned concerning legal representation and Fackiner told Judge Swan that he didn't need it. Needless to say Swan appointed a lawyer to the defendant's counsel to which Henry responded that the Lord was his attorney. The Judge retorted that he didn't know the Lord was admitted to practice law.

After hearing the testimony that painted Fackiner as mentally deficient, a charge which he vehemently rebuked, the judge allowed the jury the option to find the defendant guilty by insanity, which they did. Following a lengthy legal delay in which the government sought for his removal back to New Jersey in the care of family members, he was sent to Eloise in August of 1910.

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