Publication information
Source: Public Papers of Benjamin B. Odell, Jr.
Source type: government document
Document type: annual message, state governor
Document title: “Annual Message”
Author(s): Odell, Benjamin B., Jr.
Volume number: 2
Publisher: J. B. Lyon
Place of publication: Albany, New York
Year of publication: 1907
Pagination: 3-50 (excerpt below includes only pages 17-18)

Odell, Benjamin B., Jr. “Annual Message.” Public Papers of Benjamin B. Odell, Jr. Vol. 2. Albany: J. B. Lyon, 1907: pp. 3-50.
annual messages (Governor Odell, New York); the press (freedom of); anarchism (government response); anarchism (laws against); anarchism (legal penalties).
Named persons
William McKinley.
Despite the attribution of authorship of this document herein to Odell, readers should be aware that such attribution is based solely on his status as the “speaking voice” of the document rather than proof that he actually composed the text.

From title page: Public Papers of Benjamin B. Odell, Jr., Governor, for 1902.


Annual Message [excerpt]



     The untimely death of our President and the anger of our people against teachings which have no place in our form of government have suggested various methods of dealing both with the press and incendiary utterances. The freedom of the press should be preserved inviolate, because upon it depends the strength of our institutions. Any restriction which in the hands of the unscrupulous could be used for personal or partisan effect, or which might in any way interfere with the constitutional prerogative of expressing approval or disapproval, would be a serious blow to our country. The people can be safely entrusted to rebuke in the most positive manner all unreasonable attacks upon either our institutions or public men. Those whose utterances have a tendency to incite to disorder or murder should be punished. The acts of [17][18] both newspapers and individuals should be directly chargeable to them, and such amendments to the laws as may be necessary to reach all offenders, either through a more expeditious trial or by broadening their scope, would seem to be warranted and justified and are recommended.
     The dignity with which our people met the awful responsibility of dealing with the assassin of President McKinley and the speedy punishment meted out to him, but evidences our respect for the law. While perhaps the blow which was aimed by this anarchistic fiend against our institutions renders it imperative that our punishment for attempts at murder should be the more severe, it is difficult to see how we can reach the case except by a general amendment to the code. An attempt at murder, so far as the person making such an assault is concerned, only lacks the actual death of his victim to make his crime complete, and the punishment should therefore be dependent, not alone upon the actual effect but upon the intent. The aim of our laws is both to repress crime and to make its commission a terror to evil doers. It is apparent therefore that the violent attack upon the life of any citizen with the intent to kill should have a greater maximum penalty than is now provided. If the assassin of our late President had been called upon to face a charge for attempt to murder, the sentence could not have exceeded ten years with a commutation of about three years for good behavior. In my opinion this maximum should be extended so as to make the law read not more than twenty-five years. This would permit the court to exercise a discretion and would be more effective than the penalty now imposed.



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