Publication information
view printer-friendly version
Source: Alienist and Neurologist
Source type: journal
Document type: article
Document title: “Leon F. Czolgosz: A Descriptive Analysis on the Basis of the Bertillon System of Identification”
Author(s): Drahms, August
Date of publication: January 1902
Volume number: 23
Issue number: 1
Pagination: 53-57

Drahms, August. “Leon F. Czolgosz: A Descriptive Analysis on the Basis of the Bertillon System of Identification.” Alienist and Neurologist Jan. 1902 v23n1: pp. 53-57.
full text
Leon Czolgosz (medical examination: Bertillon measurements); Leon Czolgosz (physiognomical examination); Leon Czolgosz; Leon Czolgosz (mental health).
Named persons
Moriz Benedikt [misspelled below]; Petrus Camper; Leon Czolgosz; Hermann von Hölder; Cesare Lombroso; Léonce Manouvrier; William McKinley; Salvatore Ottolenghi; Armand de Quatrefages de Bréau [misspelled below]; Edward H. Rulloff [misspelled below].
The article, as it originally appears in the journal, seems to be missing text at the beginning of page 54. The omission is represented below by a bracketed question mark.

The identity of Hallam (below) cannot be determined.

From page 53: By Rev. August Drahms, San Quentin, Cal., Chaplain of State Penitentiary.

Image courtesy of Google Books.


Leon F. Czolgosz: A Descriptive Analysis on the Basis of
the Bertillon System of Identification

THE Bertillon system of criminal identification furnishes us with tolerably accurate measurements of the cranial and physical configuration of Leon F. Czolgosz, the assassin of President McKinley, which, in the absence of more specific anatomical criteria gives us a fairly satisfactory idea from external indicia of the internal man—at least as far as such criteria can go. The endorsements upon the identification card and his photograph, are given in detail below:

     Height of body, 1 metre, 71.8 m. (Continental Method) [53][54] [?] 5 feet, 75/8 inches). Outstretched arms, 1 metre, 19 m. Trunk, 90.9 m. Length of foot, 26.1 m.; middle finger, 11.7 m.; little finger, 9.1 m. Length of forearm, 47.3 m. Weight, 138 pounds. Build, medium; hair, brown; eyes, blue. Cranial configuration—Head length, 19.7 m.; head width, 15.6 m. Length of ear, 6.4 m.
     Foremost in the degree of importance with reference to external conformation as indicative of the criminal characterization stands cranial asymmetry, whose peculiarities however, present themselves to some extent to the post mortem alone and hence lie outside the scope of the present paper. Broadly stated, it may be said the cephalic index as a generic classification into the three orders of the—dolichocephalic, (smaller than 77); mesocephalic (ranging from 77.7 to 79.9) and brachycephalic (from 80 to 90) together with their sub-heads, represent the several cranial forms that give us prevailing orders, from which taking 100 as the longitudinal base line, and 80 for mean breadth, the above variations are formulated. The oceanic races, with the Esquimo and Afrancoid head are usually taken as illustrative of the dolichocephalic; while the Mongolian (Tartar), 88+ and the Indian 80+, represent the round-headed (brachycephalic); the mesocephalic, or medium, standing for the Caucasian or head of civilization.
     The brachycephalic head is designated predominantly the criminal head. Thus, the Cephalic Index in revelation of criminalistic tendencies gave out of 394 thieves 74 dolichocephali, 129 mesocephali and 191 brachycephali; among homicides, 21 were dolichocephali, 31 mesocephali and 54 brachycephali; out of 92 sexual offenders 18 were dolichocephali, 30 mesocephali and 38 brachycephali, and out of 54 swindlers, 19 were dolichocephali, 15 mesocephali and 30 brachycephali. Out of 697 criminal heads from the Bertillon system as furnished by this prison (San Quentin), I found out of 44 murderers (26 executed) the average cephalic index gave us 83.51 (brachycephalic); 120 robbers, cephalic index 80.52 (brachycephalic); 250 recidivists (pronounced criminals—2nd offenders) 79.05 cephalic index 80.42 (brachycephalic), and 32 erotics (sexual offenders) (meso- [54][55] cephalic) thus apparently graduating from mesocephalic into brachycephalic in proportion to the relatively pronounced criminalistic tendency, the cephalic index of the homocidally [sic] inclined being larger than that of the recidivist by a fraction over 3 mm. To the brachycephalic belong all the lower order of races, such as the Mongolian (88+ pure brachycephalic) and the American Indian (80+). The cephalic index of Czolgosz is 83.4—well advanced under the brachycephalic type. A frontal view (without possessing actual measurements) would place the architectural form of the skull (without regard to lateral view) within the type designated as the “pyramidal (Prichard) skull,” or technically termed “oxycephalic” (sugar loaf), a form which Dr. Von Hölder attributes to the contemporaneous premature closing of the sutures at the expense of width, and which is designated by Lombroso as the ideal criminal head, his tables crediting 7.5 per cent. of criminals with this form of cranial structure as against 2 per cent. of normals. Benedict attributes it to a defective organization. As has been well said this form of skull tends to a peculiarly satanic appearance of the head. The anterior and posterior portions do not present these features however in so marked degree. It is quite marked from a frontal view of the head of the assassin.
     The facial angle (usually employed to determine the relative superiority of the frontal over the posterior brain mass) as determined by the angle formed by the intersection of a base line running horizontally from the base of the nose, through the opening of the ear and a line drawn perpendicularly from the glubella [sic] to the front of the upper jaw, in this case marks no deviation from that usually accredited to the Caucasian (according to Camper) 80 as against the American Indian, 73°, and the African 70°. The peculiar inclination of the head in the photograph renders accuracy difficult. The immense preponderance of the medium occipitalic and cerebec region is manifest, a marked characteristic of the criminal skull and indicative of undue thickness of the occipital fossa which Lombroso associates with the pronounced criminal. It is taken in [55][56] connection with the retreating forehead and exaggerated superciliary ridges, the latter quite marked in this case, and which may be exaggerated by the unusually coarse and heavy eyebrows. Orbital capacity (another ensignia of the criminal) is large. The zygomatic process and corresponding width of face is extremely marked. It is likewise the ethnic distinction of the American Indian, the Tartar, the Esquimo, and indeed all primitive races. A most remarkable asymmetry, however, is presented in the three-fold division measuring from the roots of the hair on the forehead to glabella; from the latter point to the base of the nose, and from that point to the apex of the chin, all of which in the symmetrical face should be equal—in this instance the lower division exceeding the first by nearly once again its length, and the second division by a considerable fraction. This is indicative of a correspondingly large or prognathic sub-maxillary or lower jaw, with a corresponding breadth of face from the angles. This is the characteristic of the Oceanic, African and Esquimo races, as well as the criminal ensignia. Manouvrier accredited the average Parisian jaw with about 80 grammes, murderers, about 94 grammes. Large jaws obtain in normals at the rate of about 29 per cent., in criminals 37 per cent. Qutrefuges assigned the cause to atavistic tendencies. The Gorilla is prognathic, with a facial angle of about 61°. The African, ditto, facial angle, 70°. The chin in this subject is somewhat retreating. Ear large and voluminous, though symmetrical. Lombroso accredits large ears to recalcitrants at the rate of 28 per cent. as against 6 per cent. normals. Out of 600 criminals and 200 normals, Ottolenghi found 20 per cent. of the latter and 39 per cent. of the former possessed large ears.
     Psychologically, the mental and moral phenomena that usually make up the characterization of pronounced malefactors are all present. The absence of all noble sentiments of morality and humanity, (or, if such be present their subversion at the dictates of a perverted theory or retaliatory passion), the lack of all sense of responsibility, the absence of remorse after the commission of the offense [56][57] and of the real heinousness of the same before committal, an instinctively self-sought criminalistic environment together with false notions of right make up the psychological equipment of all great offenders.
     The characterization of Czolgosz may be summed up as a whole in the words: Immature, primitive, atavistic. His personality was unmistakable. The moral potentialities of his character only awaited the touch of opportunity to bring into action. He was a predestined criminal—a mental and moral degenerate whose etiology is lost in the intricate and insoluble mysteries that characterize nature’s moods under the sway of hereditary law and reversion to type.
     In attestation of the harmony and completeness of the physiological and anatomical make-up of the above, a post-mortem should reveal (a) an unduly thick cranium, especially in the region of the occiput, and the superciliary ridges; (b) an excess of Wormian (floating) bones; (c) possibly imperfectly closed sutures, or (d) the closing of the sagittal suture making the cranium narrow and high (pyramidal); (e) brain, light: (f) few and shallow convolutions; (g) thinness of pia mater; (h) the existence of confluent fissures in the brain. There may however be marked deviations from these as is the case in nearly all such instances; post-mortems in France, for instance, giving the worst class of criminals a weight of 55 to 60 ounces, Ruloff 59 ounces, Hallam 52 ounces, etc., as against the normal brain weight of 49 ounces. A consistent criminal, physiologically as well as psychologically, is the exception not the rule. The ideal is rarely realized in fact.



top of page