Loaded and the Tramp Astor and Garvey


Status
Not open for further replies.

Inger Sheil

Member
It's been a while since I've had a chance to go through ET's latest additions, and there are some absolute gems in there that have been uploaded to individual bios, as well as the newest ET research article.

It is remarkable - given the prominance given to Astor in the dramatis personae of the disaster - that incidents such as this have been given so little coverage. That Astor could push the incident as far as he did is suggestive of the power wielded by this Gilded Age figure...that he did not succeed in having this disturbed individual gaoled in a penitentiary is also interesting (although permanent incarceration in the State Asylum for insane criminals can hardly have been much of a reprieve).

There's some wonderful source material in the story - articles and images. Ultimately I was left wondering...how sane and how culpable was this man really?
 
Hi Inger,

who do you mean? Astor or Garvey? :)

The article is certainly very interesting, and it does make me wonder why Astor was so obsessed with the incident. I mean, yes, nobody wants to find a strange person asleep in his/her house, but this 'personal crusade' seems exaggerated.

I've never been interested in Astor (ok, he was rich, but so is Paris Hilton), and always vaguely dislike the man (just as I vaguely dislike Paris Hilton) because everybody makes such a fuss and I don't see why. Senan's article has now given me a reason to dislike Astor.

The one thing I was missing in the article were the date of the various newspaper articles and which papers they were from (All New York Times?). Not only because that's the way I was taught to write research, but also because I would like to know over how long a period this affair stretched and how many people read about it.
 
The information in the article is interesting, giving perhaps another side to Astor — then again maybe not. Nobody is one-dimensional. So just as Astor’s heroic death doesn’t mean he was brave in every aspect of his life, neither do the revelations in this article mean he was uncharitable or heavy-handed his whole life long.

Most people, rich or poor, would be pretty upset about an intruder found sleeping naked in their mother’s house. There could be a number of reasons for prosecuting the man that weren’t brought forth. Some segments of the press loved making sensational stories out of "injustices" (real or perceived) committed by the upper classes, a natural balance to all the articles glorifying the rich.

Astor may or may not have been right in his actions; from what’s been presented he does seem to have jumped the gun. Even so, the incident doesn’t define his character, and there may be more to the story than was released publicly. For instance, the fact that the man was found in a female employee’s bed could indicate something else was amiss.
 
>>Most people, rich or poor, would be pretty upset about an intruder found sleeping naked in their mother’s house.<<

Quite. And in that day and age, an irate homowner was likely to greet any such intruder with a loaded shotgun and some pointed questions. This guy was lucky that Colonel Astor was not inclined to shoot first and ask questions later. A lot of people wouldn't have been so charitable, even today. Since a home intruder can be one very dangerous breed of cat, I can understand why J.J. would have been upset as a matter of general principle.
 
Since a home intruder can be one very dangerous breed of cat, I can understand why J.J. would have been upset as a matter of general principle
Especially if one has a fanatic obsession with that homeowner. Here in Southern California, the maps to the Stars' Homes are still available, but with clearly stated warnings that said locations are private property (from incidents that involved actors Brad Pitt and Sharon Gless, re: intruders, not to mention the attacks on Teresa Saldana and Rebecca Schaeffer).

J.J. Astor obviously had many reasons for pressing the burglary charge, whether or not they were justified.
 
Indeed, being one of the "Rich and The Famous" can tend to make one a very ripe and high profile target. It may well be a popular passtime in the media to portray the indigent as downtrodden victims of "Social Injustice" (And sometimes there's merit to that) but a lot of these people have some serious mental problems and won't hestitate to carve designs in your jugular vein with a meat cleaver because that's what the voices in their heads tell them to do.
 
It seems to me this is a good example of how different people read the same material in very different light. Correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems to me that the different reactions to the case Astor vs. Garvey is perhaps dependant on in which shoes you predominantly slip into: Astor worried about his family, property and staff, or Garvey who wandered, perhaps curious, perhaps drunk, perhaps confused, into somebody else's property and fell asleep there. I (obviously) tend to do the latter.

As I said above, though perhaps I have not expressed myself clearly, I don't think that the incident should be shrugged off. But: What Garvey did was trespassing, not breaking and entering or burglary. As he said himself, if he had wanted to steal something he would have done so. If he was able to wander through the house up to the top floor without being stopped, he would have been able to grab some silverware on the way as well. That he ended up in the room of a female employee seems to have been purely by accident. Garvey had already been fined for disorderly conduct, so Astor pressing charges again is, as mentioned in the article, "a direct violation of the law".

The charge of Garvey being "crazy" also appears only after the affairs has been going on for a while. Additionally, he is described as 'queer' not violently insane, so I think it is a bit of a jump to conclude he was about to cut somebody's throat. Or were you referring to people who stalk celebrities, Michael?

So, yes, it was wrong of Garvey to wander into a stranger's home, the papers may have been delighted to have something to write about J.J. Astor, but I still think that Astor overreacted: Garvey did not steal anything or hurt anybody and was first to be locked up for a year in penitentiary and was then sent to a lunatic asylum for live .

Sorry about this being such a long and rambling post.
 
The thing is, how would anyone in that household know what that guy had in mind? All J.J. knew is that an intruder showed up in one of his beds in his house. My own inclination with any intruder is to let Smith and Wesson give him .357 reasons to get out of my house and stay out.

Don't underestimate the damage that somebody who is drunk and confused can do. Some of these guys may be harmless, but not all of them are. Such people don't feel any pain when they go off and they can be a cast iron deletable B-Word to deal with.

>>...so I think it is a bit of a jump to conclude he was about to cut somebody's throat. Or were you referring to people who stalk celebrities, Michael?<<

I'm speaking in general terms. Garvey may well have been a harmless nutter, but what assurance does anyone have that he'll stay that way?

>>Garvey had already been fined for disorderly conduct, so Astor pressing charges again is, as mentioned in the article, "a direct violation of the law". <<

Mmmmmhmmmmm...double jeopardy. A fair point that one.
 
I completely agree that a person who is drunk and confused can be extremely dangerous. Garvey, by the account presented in the article, was not. It's not even clear whether he was drunk at the point, that was just my conjecture.

Moreover, what Astor was doing was not confronting an intruder in his (or his mother's) house with a shotgun (metaphorically speaking) but chasing after the intruder with said shotgun after he had been evicted and fined for the intrusion.

Last but not least, as far as I know people cannot be locked up because at some stage in the future they may perhaps turn violent. After all, given the right (or rather wrong) circumstances we all have the potential to do so.
 
>>...as far as I know people cannot be locked up because at some stage in the future they may perhaps turn violent.<<

Quite right. They can't be...at least not in some of the western nations. However, people can be locked up (Fer their own pertecshun) if it can be demonstrated to a competant court that they are insane. You'll note from the articles that were cited that Garvey's own lawyer made that claim. Ultimately, that's exactly what happened.
 

Inger Sheil

Member
I'm inclined to agree with you, Moni. I can well understand seeking to prosecute a home intruder, but given that the intent of the intrusion could not be established, and he had already been fined for his trespassing, the pursuit of Garvey certainly seems excessive. Of course, as Randy suggests, there could be mitigating circumstances that we're unaware of. Still, it seems to boil down to Astor's indignation at "The idea of a man being able to enter a house at night and escape with the punishment of two days in prison! Such a state of things is not to be tolerated, and I do not propose that it shall be."

Is anyone else suspicious of George Turner's apparent altruism? Perhaps I'm being unkind, and he really was motivated by the idea that:

This is a persecution. It is a bitter and cruel attempt to punish a man, not that he has been guilty of trespass, but that he has been guilty of trespass on the Astor premises.

The magnitude of the crime is not that he entered another man's house and occupied a bed, but that he had the audacity to enter Mrs Astor's house, open and unguarded though it was... The manifest discrimination here in the execution of the law is enough to make the gorge of an honest man rise with disgust.

The machinery of the law that is now hounding Garvey at the instance of John Jacob Astor would not have entertained the complaint of a tenement house resident similarly aggrieved.

However, it also strikes me that getting this chap out on bail is also a great way to keep the pot boiling on this particular story!

I'm still left wondering how sane Garvey was, and whether claims he was mentally disturbed were true. It's a tragedy of today's big cities that we still see many mentally ill people living on the streets.

Poor Garvey - the idea of spending the rest of your life in a turn of the century asylum for insane criminals chills the blood.
 
>>Is anyone else suspicious of George Turner's apparent altruism?<<

Yes...but then altruism put on public display tends to raise red flags with me anyway. Seems to me that the people who are sincerely altruistic do so without any particular interest in calling attention to it. The ones who call attention to it tend to have an ulterior motive. My bet is that this guy got a lot of useful publicity out of it as a "Champion For The Underdog" that was most useful for his practice.
 
Apropos George Turner's altruism: There is certainly room for doubt whether he paid Garvey's fine just out of the goodness of his heart. However, at first, the person who paid the fine was not named, only in one of the later articles Turner is identified.

The question is now, why and when he was revealed as the donor? Did he reveal it in is own paper? Did somebody else find out? If he had planned it as a publicity stand, wouldn't he have whisked Garvey off to his paper and written an exclusive article about it? Did he do that and it's just not mentioned in Senan's article?

Basically, while I agree that the motives of George Turner ought to be questioned, there isn't enough information to judge how much of his altruism was genuine and how much was not.

"However, people can be locked up (Fer their own pertecshun) if it can be demonstrated to a competant court that they are insane. You'll note from the articles that were cited that Garvey's own lawyer made that claim. Ultimately, that's exactly what happened."

Michael, I see your point. It was Garvey's lawyer who brought up this point in the first place, claiming Garvey was 'not responsible for his actions'. Which does seem an odd thing to do, unless the lawyer thought it would count as extenuating circumstances and actually help his client. I am not sure that necesserily means he was advising the court to lock him up. If he did, he hardly did his client a favour.

Arguably, it could be said that any person who is not responsible for his actions should be locked up, perhaps it was the prelevant thinking at the time. I however think there is a big difference between somebody who chews tobacco while eating and somebody who is criminally insane and a danger to society.

That a policeman advised Garvey's employer to dismiss him otherwise "he would shoot somebody" sounds ominous. But did he mean on purpose or by accident?
 
>>Which does seem an odd thing to do, unless the lawyer thought it would count as extenuating circumstances and actually help his client.<<

My bet is that from the lawyers view, it was about the only way to minimize the damage of an unwinnable situation. Kind of like the lawyers who will plead "Not guilty by reason of insanity" when the prosecution has the suspect dead to rights and it's the only way to avoid a life sentence or a walk to the execution chamber.

It's a very risky stratagy too, since it's a de facto admission that the defendant did the deed but was not responsible for his actions, and it places the burden of proof on the defence.
 
Exactly, bringing in this claim of insanity does make sense if the situation is desperate. But in this case, the possibility of life imprisonment or the death sentence was certainly not on the agenda. Even though I am repeating myself here, Garvey was guilty of trespassing, you could also charge him with unlawful entry and/or attempted burglary, but neither of these charges carry a life sentence or worse.

So what was the lawyer playing at? Didn't he want to try to defend Garvey against the burglary charges (and after all, nothing was stolen), or was he afraid the insanity story would come out anyway and tried to 'control' it by being the first to mention it?
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top