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Source: The Authentic Life of William McKinley
Source type: book
Document type: book chapter
Document title: “The Assassin and the Anarchists” [chapter 28]
Author(s): McClure, Alexander K.; Morris, Charles
Edition: Memorial edition
Publisher: none given
Place of publication: none given
Year of publication: 1901
Pagination: 438-47 (excerpt below includes only pages 438-42 and 446-47)

McClure, Alexander K., and Charles Morris. “The Assassin and the Anarchists” [chapter 28]. The Authentic Life of William McKinley. Memorial ed. [n.p.]: [n.p.], 1901: pp. 438-47.
excerpt of chapter
Leon Czolgosz (name, pronunciation of); Leon Czolgosz (confession); McKinley assassination (Czolgosz account); McKinley assassination (investigation of conspiracy); Humbert I assassination; anarchism (Chicago, IL).
Named persons
Gaetano Bresci; Leon Czolgosz; James A. Garfield; Emma Goldman; Humbert I; Abraham Lincoln; William McKinley; John Nowak.
The following excerpt comprises two nonconsecutive portions of this chapter (pp. 438-42 and pp. 446-47). Omission of text within the excerpt is denoted with a bracketed indicator (e.g., [omit]).

From title page: The Authentic Life of William McKinley, Our Third Martyr President: Together with a Life Sketch of Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th President of the United States; Also Memorial Tributes by Statesmen, Ministers, Orators and Rulers of All Countries; Profusely Illustrated with Reproductions from Original Photographs, Original Drawings and Special Pictures of the Family by Express Permission from the Owners.

From title page: Introduction and Biography by Alexander K. McClure, Author of the “Life and Times of Abraham Lincoln.”

From title page: The Life and Public Career by Charles Morris, LL.D., Author of the “Life of Queen Victoria.”


The Assassin and the Anarchists [excerpt]

IT is unfortunate that the name of an assassin must be linked with that of his victim, and in that way perpetuated; yet we are sure that whenever mentioned it will be only with reprobation for his conduct and to hold up his name to execration. Such were the names of the assassins of Lincoln and Garfield, and the story of this awful tragedy by which William McKinley was so suddenly taken off brings into prominence another name which will likewise be execrated.
     Czolgosz, the name of the man who shot President McKinley, offers a lingual problem to nine-tenths of those who attempt to pronounce it. It is one of those names which the English alphabet cannot spell phonetically, and which the average English-speaking person stumbles over in trying to express after hearing it spoken by a Russian. Written according to its sound, the name of Czolgosz, or its nearest equivalent, is “Tchollgosch,” or, more broadly speaking, “Schollgosch.”
     The former pronunciation is given by one who is familiar with the varied dialects in Polish Russia, from whence the parents of Leon Czolgosz came to this country.
     “Cz” is represented in the Russian alphabet by a character which is pronounced much the same as though one were suppressing a sneeze—“tch.” The next two letters—“ol”—are pronounced in combination as though written “oll,” and the remaining letters of the name—“gosz”—maybe given the sound of “gosch.”
     Leon Czolgosz, the self-avowed disciple of Emma Goldman and the other radical anarchist leaders, who shot President McKinley, insisted from the very first moment he was taken into custody, [438][439] that he alone was responsible for his crime. He stated that he had talked the matter over in advance in a general way with his friends, but that he was not advised by them, and that there was no plot or conspiracy to take the life of the President in which any one else took a part. He declined to furnish the names of the men with whom he discussed the crime.
     Czolgosz was subjected to six hours of examination and questioning at the hands of the police officials. This lengthy examination proved to be fruitless, save in so far as his own individual fate was concerned, for while he told nothing that would implicate any one else in his crime, he went over the scene at the Temple of Music, when he shot the President, again and again, completing a confession as ample as the law ever exacted. He even went to the extent of illustrating to the officers the manner in which he shot the President, and told with manifest pride how he had deceived the President and his detective protectors with the bandaged hand that held the revolver.


     The following is a statement that the assassin is reported as having made upon his examination before the police of Buffalo:
     “I was born in Detroit nearly twenty-nine years ago. My parents were Russian Poles. They came here forty-two years ago. I got my education in the public schools of Detroit, and then went to Cleveland, where I got work. In Cleveland I read books on socialism and met a great many socialists. I was pretty well known as a socialist in the West. After being in Cleveland several years, I went to Chicago, where I remained several months, after which I went to Newburg, on the outskirts of Cleveland, and went to work in the Newburg wire mills.
     “During the last five years I have had as friends anarchists in Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit and other Western cities, and I suppose I became more or less bitter. Yes, I know I was bitter. I never had much luck at anything, and this preyed upon me. It made me morose and envious, but what started the craze to kill [439][440] was a lecture I heard some little time ago by Emma Goldman. She was in Cleveland, and I and other anarchists went to hear her. She set me on fire.
     “Her doctrine that all rulers should be exterminated was what set me to thinking, so that my head nearly split with the pain. Miss Goldman’s words went right through me, and when I left the lecture, I had made up my mind that I would have to do something heroic for the cause I loved.
     “Eight days ago, while I was in Chicago, I read in a Chicago newspaper of President McKinley’s visit to the Pan-American Exposition at Buffalo. That day I bought a ticket for Buffalo, and got there with a determination to do something, but I did not know just what. I thought of shooting the President, but I had not formed a plan.
     “I went to live at No. 1078 Broadway, which is a saloon and hotel. John Nowak, a Pole, a sort of politician, who has led his people here for years, owns it. I told Nowak that I came to see the fair. He knew nothing about what was setting me crazy. I went to the Exposition grounds a couple of times a day.
     “Not until Tuesday morning did the resolution to shoot the President take a hold of me. It was in my heart; there was no escape for me. I could not have conquered it had my life been at stake. There were thousands of people in town on Tuesday. I heard it was President’s Day. All those people seemed bowing to the great ruler. I made up my mind to kill that ruler. I bought a 32-calibre revolver and loaded it.
     “On Tuesday night I went to the fair grounds, and was near the railroad gate when the Presidential party arrived. I tried to get near him, but the police forced me back. I was close to the President when he got into the grounds, but was afraid to attempt the assassination, because there were so many men in the bodyguard that watched him. I was not afraid of them, or that I would get hurt, but afraid I might be seized and that my chance would be gone forever. [440][441]
     “Well, he went away that time, and I went home. On Wednesday I went to the grounds and stood right near the President, right under him, near the stand from which he spoke.
     “I thought half a dozen times of shooting while he was speaking, but I could not get close enough. I was afraid I might miss; and, then, the great crowd was always jostling, and I was afraid lest my aim fail. I waited until Thursday, and the President got into his carriage again, and a lot of men were about him and formed a cordon that I could not get through. I was tossed about by the crowd, and my spirits were getting pretty low. I was almost hopeless that night as I went home.
     “Yesterday morning I went again to the Exposition grounds. Emma Goldman’s speech was still burning me up. I waited near the central entrance for the President, who was to board his special train from that gate, but the police allowed nobody but the President’s party to pass out while the train waited. So I stayed at the grounds all day waiting.
     “During yesterday I first thought of hiding my pistol under my handkerchief. I was afraid if I had to draw it from my pocket I would be seized by the guards. I got to the Temple of Music the first one, and waited at the spot where the reception was to be held.
     “Then he came—the President—the ruler—and I got in line and trembled and trembled, until I got right up to him, and then I shot him twice through my white handkerchief. I would have fired more, but I was stunned by a blow in the face—a frightful blow that knocked me down—and then everybody jumped on me. I thought I would be killed, and was surprised at the way they treated me.”
     Immediately upon the arrest of the assassin of President McKinley and the news that it was an attempt of anarchists, active and strenuous measures were taken to ferret out the conspiracy, if there were any, and to arrest the conspirators. Immediately, in Chicago, Ill., Paterson, N. J., and other large cities, the police [441][442] located suspicious characters and those affiliated with anarchistic organizations. In Chicago nine men were arrested and lodged in jail upon very strong suspicion that they had criminal knowledge at least of the crime. Emma Goldman, whom the assassin had named as the author of writings and speeches by which he was inflamed, was also arrested and held to answer to the charge of inciting to murder, but was later discharged for lack of evidence.



     From the closing of the Haymarket case until the present day anarchists in Chicago remained in a dormant state, although at times they asserted themselves. Up to the time of the assassination of King Humbert of Italy the anarchists all over the world had been working for the building up of their organization. They had expended their efforts in making converts, in educating leaders, and had given not a little attention to training up children in the disbelief in law, order and religion. Chicago was the [446][447] great meeting-place of the anarchists, and supplied the literature that went out to the world.
     The assassination of King Humbert, July, 1900, was the most fiendish act of the anarchists up to that time after the Haymarket riot. Bresci, who committed the deed, was from Paterson, N. J., yet he was not unknown to the anarchists in Chicago, and it is suspected that funds were raised there to send him to Italy to murder the ruler of that country.
     The plot said to have been discovered for the killing of the heads of five governments seems to have originated in Chicago. Czolgosz, the assassin of President McKinley, was believed to have been in Chicago only a short time before he committed the deed. In jail in Chicago there were lodged nine anarchists accused of being conspirators with him; and it was there that Emma Goldman lectured and was afterward captured. Chicago is the city where The Fire Brand, the official organ of the anarchists, is published. From Chicago have emanated teachings that have fairly set the world afire. It has been the scene of the greatest anarchistic demonstration and wholesale murder in history. And when the police of the whole country and the United States Secret Service were working to place the guilt for the murder of President McKinley, Chicago again proved to be a hotbed of anarchistic sentiment.



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