Free Speech and Constitutional Liberty
A U S
C , B ,
O 4, 1901.
WE can undoubtedly provide some additional legal safeguards
against the recurrence of this terrible crime. We can, I suppose,
make the preaching, counseling, or advising the killing of or doing
violence to our National officers, high or low, or those of foreign
countries, an offense against our National law, punishable with
severe penalties. We can, if we think fit, make the conspiring to
accomplish this punishable with death, or any overt act or attempt
to accomplish it punishable with death. We may, perhaps, devise
some additional security against the coming into our ports of criminal
persons known to entertain 
the purposes of carrying out anarchists’ sentiments by overt acts.
I dare say that other protections may be devised.
But we cannot give up free speech
or constitutional liberty because of the danger of a recurrence
of such crimes. We cannot abandon free speech or constitutional
liberty for fear of Guiteau or Czolgosz. We may as well desert our
habitations in our beautiful fields or on the banks of our rivers
and lakes, because science has discovered that the mosquito carries
on his sting a poison fatal to human life. The restraining of free
speech and of the free press, disagreeable as are their excesses,
must come in the main from the individual’s sense of duty, and not
by law. There are already some comforting signs of returning health
in this matter. Yellow journalism is already being rebuked by the
yellowest of yellow journals.
Let it be understood, as a most important
practical lesson for the State, that while political sentiments
and political measures are to be denounced if they seem dangerous
to the State, or contrary to righteousness or justice, or constitutional
liberty, with the most unsparing fearlessness, yet the arrogant
demand of any man to penetrate the in- 
dividual soul of his neighbor, and to judge of his motives or personal
worth by what seems to be the error of his political opinions, is
that presumptuous and arrogant Pharisaism which excited to its sublimest
wrath the gentle spirit of the Saviour of mankind. It was the publican
and not the Pharisee who went back to his house justified rather
than the other. “Judge not that ye be not judged” is the divine
command. And the divine penalty is that “with what judgment ye judge
ye shall be judged.”
You and I are Republicans. You and
I are men of the North. Most of us are Protestants in religion.
We are men of native birth. Yet, if every Republican were to-day
to fall in his place, as William McKinley has fallen, I believe
our countrymen of the other party, in spite of what we deem their
errors, would take the Republic and bear on the flag to liberty
and glory. I believe if every Protestant were to be stricken down
by a lightning stroke that our brethren of the Catholic faith would
still carry on the Republic in the spirit of a true and liberal
freedom. I believe if every man of native birth within our borders
were to die this day, the men of foreign birth, who have come 
here to seek homes and liberty under the shadow of the Republic,
would carry on the Republic in God’s appointed way. I believe if
every man of the North were to die, the new and chastened South,
with the virtues it has cherished from the beginning, of love of
home and love of State and love of freedom, with its courage and
its constancy, would take the country and bear it on to the achievement
of its lofty destiny. The anarchist must slay seventy-five million
Americans before he can slay the Republic.
Of course, there would be mistakes.
Of course, there would be disappointments and grievous errors. Of
course, there would be many things for which the lovers of liberty
would mourn. But America would survive them all, and the Nation
our fathers planted would abide in perennial life.