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Source: American Journal of Insanity
Source type: journal
Document type: article
Document title: “The Trial, Execution, Autopsy and Mental Status of Leon F. Czolgosz, Alias Fred Nieman, the Assassin of President McKinley”
Author(s): MacDonald, Carlos F.
Date of publication: January 1902
Volume number: 58
Issue number: 3
Pagination: 369-86
 
Citation
MacDonald, Carlos F. “The Trial, Execution, Autopsy and Mental Status of Leon F. Czolgosz, Alias Fred Nieman, the Assassin of President McKinley.” American Journal of Insanity Jan. 1902 v58n3: pp. 369-86.
 
Transcription
full text
 
Keywords
Leon Czolgosz (mental health); Leon Czolgosz (trial); Leon Czolgosz (trial: criticism); Leon Czolgosz (execution); Leon Czolgosz (last words); Leon Czolgosz (autopsy); Leon Czolgosz (psychiatric examination); Leon Czolgosz (as anarchist).
 
Named persons
William S. Bull; Floyd S. Crego; Leon Czolgosz; Joseph Fowler; John Gerin; Emma Goldman; John P. Gray; Frederick Haller; Arthur W. Hurd; Loran L. Lewis; William McKinley; Adelbert Moot; Thomas Penney [misspelled below]; James W. Putnam; Isaac Ray; Edward A. Spitzka; Edward C. Spitzka [in notes]; Robert C. Titus; Truman C. White.
 
Notes
Two footnotes originally appeared in this article. Asterisks (*) are included in the text below to indicate where these footnotes were placed. The first of the two asterisks appears on the top of page 381, in the midst of the first sentence (before the first new paragraph); the second appears immediately prior to the beginning of the blocked quotation on page 383. These asterisks refer, respectively, to the following:
  • The term “disease” as here used is not intended to imply the existence in Czolgosz of disease in a medical sense, i. e., of any pathological state whatever.
  • “The Mental Status of Czolgosz and Assassins Generally.” By E. C. Spitzka, M. D.,—The Medical Critic, Nov., 1901.
“By Carlos F. MacDonald, A. M., M. D., of New York, Professor of Mental Diseases and Medical Jurisprudence in the University and Bellevue Hospital Medical College; Ex-President of the New York State Commission in Lunacy.”
 
Document

 

The Trial, Execution, Autopsy and Mental Status of Leon F. Czolgosz,
Alias Fred Nieman, the Assassin of President McKinley

     The terrible shock which the assassination of President McKinley by Leon F. Czolgosz at Buffalo, New York, on September 6, 1901, imparted to the entire civilized world, and which naturally engendered in the public mind a mingled feeling of horror, vindictiveness and revenge,—a feeling which was exceeded only by the profound sense of sorrow and depression which took possession of the people when a few days later it was realized that despite the highest efforts of surgical and medical skill a fatal result to the distinguished victim was inevitable,—naturally suggested, both to the lay and medico-legal mind, the need of inquiry as to the mental status and responsibility of the perpetrator of so repulsive and atrocious an act. Moreover, there are many persons who are disposed to hold that the enormity of such a crime is in itself sufficient evidence to warrant the opinion of the existence of insanity, merely because it seems [369][370] to them inconsistent with the principles of ordinary rational conduct, even though aside from the act itself there be nothing in the entire life and conduct of the individual that is suggestive of mental disease. On the other hand, there are many who, in view of the magnitude of the crime, would oppose the granting of exemption from the ordinary consequences of capital offences even though the offender were a raving maniac. Suffice it to say that the position taken by such persons, in either case, is untenable and would be an untrustworthy test of responsibility as regards the ends of justice, whether viewed from a legal or a medical standpoint.
     It need scarcely be said that the question as to whether or not a certain act is the offspring of mental disease, cannot always with safety be determined by the act itself, but must be determined by all the attendant circumstances leading up to and surrounding the act.
     “An act of violence,” says Ray, “must not be attributed to insanity merely because to a person of high culture and correct morals, it seems inexplicable on the ordinary principles of human conduct.”
     According to the Code of Criminal Procedure of the State of New York, Section 21, the legal test of mental unsoundness, as applied to criminal cases, is based on the assumption that insanity is a question of law to be determined by the court, and that the question of responsibility in mental disease hinges upon a knowledge of right and wrong as to the particular act at the time it was committed; whereas medical science holds that insanity, in its relation to crime, is always a question of fact to be determined like any other fact in evidence, aided of course, in such case, by the interpretation of expert opinion evidence, and that whenever its presence can be so determined, the accused should be absolved from responsibility, irrespective of the form or degree of his mental disease or the nature of the act committed. “All that medical science has to do in any such case,” says Dr. John P. Gray, “is to say whether the deed springs from disease or not. If it does not, the man is responsible, however ghastly, seemingly purposeless or vindictive the act may be.” In other words, medical science holds that the whole question of responsibility should rest upon the presence or ab- [370][371] sence of mental disease, and not upon a knowledge of right and wrong as regards the nature and consequences of the act in question, and that that which in fact is a condition of mental disease cannot in law be a condition of mental health. The question to be determined then, in the case of Czolgosz, from the legal standpoint, as embodied in the Code of Criminal Procedure of the State of New York, was: When he shot the President did he know the nature and quality of the act he was doing, and that the act was wrong? If this question could be determined in the affirmative, then he was responsible under the law and punishable for the offense which he committed, even though he was medically insane, so to speak.
     On the other hand, the question to be determined from the standpoint of medical science was: Was Czolgosz at the time he committed the act a victim of mental disease or mental unsoundness? If so, according to the dictum of medical science, he was not responsible and hence not punishable for the act he committed. These are the sole questions upon which the guilt or innocence of the accused must rest, whether in the eyes of the law or in the judgment of medical science, and it follows logically that if he were guilty of crime owing to the absence of mental disease, he was equally guilty within the intent and meaning of the statute. Such being the case the subject of the responsibility of the accused resolves itself into a question of health or disease—sanity or insanity. Hence the application of the legal test may be dismissed from further consideration here and we may proceed to consider the question of his responsibility from a medical point of view.


THE TRIAL.

     The trial of Czolgosz, which took place in the city of Buffalo, N. Y., on September 23-4, 1901, Hon. Truman C. White, Presiding Justice, was neither attended by delay “nor harassed by the trivial technicalities of the law.” The “machinery of justice” moved so smoothly and so rapidly that the jury was procured, the case tried and a verdict of guilty rendered within a period of two court days with sessions from 10 to 12 o’clock in the forenoons and 2 to 4 o’clock in the afternoons, the time actually occupied, being eight and a half hours in all. The [371][372] proceedings were marked by no melo-dramatic or sensational episodes or unseemly wrangle among counsel; while the fact that, under the extraordinary circumstances, the trial was not anticipated or interrupted by any riotous demonstration against the prisoner—any attempt at mob or lynch law—when he appeared in public, affords striking proof of the respect for law and order which prevails in the community where the trial was held. Czolgosz was brought into court closely guarded by a double cordon of police and handcuffed to an officer on either side. He was neatly dressed and cleanly in appearance, his face clean-shaven and hair neatly combed.
     The preparation and trial of the case on the part of the people by the Hon. Thomas Penny, District Attorney, and his assistant, Mr. Haller, was well nigh faultless. Shortly after his arrest the District Attorney procured from Czolgosz a statement several pages in length which was taken down in longhand, in narrative form, each page of which he signed after himself making corrections and revisions as to matters which he claimed the reporter had misapprehended. This statement gave in detail facts concerning his premeditations and preparations for the crime, also his movements for some time prior, and up to the time of the shooting. The District Attorney also within a few hours after the crime was committed, proceeded to put the prisoner under the observation of local experts in mental disease, namely, Drs. Joseph Fowler, Police Surgeon, Floyd S. Crego and James W. Putnam. These physicians had free access to him, down to and during the trial—covering a period of nearly three weeks, during which they examined him repeatedly and made a careful study of his case with reference to his mental condition. The District Attorney also permitted the experts on either side to confer together freely, and allowed those for the defense to have free access to all facts and information relative to the case in his possession—a proceeding which in effect was equivalent to the appointment of a commission of five experts—three for the prosecution, and two for the defense—to determine the prisoner’s mental condition. This course on the part of the District Attorney, marks a new departure in the methods of getting expert evidence in criminal trials where the question of mental responsibility is involved, which is to be [372][373] highly commended as a practical measure tending to eliminate much superfluous testimony and at the same time to minimize the danger of contradictory expert opinions.
     In view of the great importance of the case, it is regrettable that no experts were called to testify on the trial as to the prisoner’s mental condition in order that it might appear on the record of the trial, that his mental state was inquired into and determined by competent authority. Had the experts on either side been given the opportunity of thus stating officially their unanimous conclusion, together with the grounds on which it was based and the methods by which it was reached, it would have left in the public mind no room for doubt as to its absolute correctness and that it had been arrived at only by the rules of professional conduct governing the examination of such cases.
     The attorneys assigned by the court to the defendant, at the request of the Bar Association of Erie County, were ex-judges Loran L. Lewis and Robert C. Titus, both prominent lawyers and highly respected citizens of Buffalo. For obvious reasons these gentlemen were reluctant to undertake what they regarded as a most distasteful task, and consented to do so only from a high sense of duty to the public, at the urgent solicitation of the President—Hon. Adelbert Moot— and other prominent members of the Bar Association, on Saturday, September 21—preceding the trial, which began on Monday, the 23rd.
     Respecting the defense, it appears that substantially no preparation was made beyond a fruitless effort of counsel to confer with the prisoner and the examinations made of him at their request by Dr. Hurd and the writer with reference to his mental condition, and a verbal statement by them to counsel of their conclusion that he was not insane. It also appears that no plea was entered by the attorneys for the defense, but Czolgosz, speaking for the first time in court, entered a plea of guilty to the indictment, which plea the court promptly rejected and directed that one of not guilty be entered on the record for the defendant.
     Each juror on qualifying said, in answer to the usual question, that he had formed an opinion as to the guilt of the prisoner, but that his opinion could be removed by reasonable evidence [373][374] tending to show that the defendant was innocent. And yet, to one accustomed to being in court and observing jurors when qualifying it was difficult to void the impression that each of the jurors in this case held a mental reservation to convict the prisoner. Had Czolgosz been on trial for the murder of a common citizen, instead of the President, it is safe to say that not one of the jury as completed would have been accepted by the defense, and instead of getting a jury in approximately one hour and a half, that feature of the trial alone would probably have occupied several days.
     Having in view the nature and importance of the case, the fact that no testimony was offered on the defendant’s behalf and that practically no defense was made, beyond a perfunctory examination of jurors and a mild cross-examination of some of the people’s witnesses, which was limited to efforts to elicit information respecting the President’s condition during his illness and of his body after death, and a summing up by one of the counsel—Judge Lewis—which consisted mainly of an apology for appearing as counsel for the defendant and a touching eulogy of his distinguished victim, renders the case, in this respect, a unique one in the annals of criminal jurisprudence.
     The jury retired for deliberation about 4 P. M., and returned in less than half an hour with a verdict of guilty of murder in the first degree. Czolgosz heard the verdict of the jury standing and without appreciable display of emotion. Several of the jurors were interviewed after the trial, and were reported to have said that the jury was in favor of conviction unanimously from the first and could have rendered a verdict without leaving their seats, but deemed it best to make a pretense of deliberation “for appearance sake.” Czolgosz was remanded to jail for two days and on Thursday, September 26, was sentenced to be executed by electricity at Auburn Prison, in the week beginning October 28, 1901.
     When Czolgosz returned to his cell after his conviction he ate a hearty supper and soon thereafter went to bed and slept continuously until midnight, when the guard was changed, when he awoke for a few minutes, and then slept again until 6 A. M., when he arose and took a short walk in the cell corridor, after which he made a careful toilet, and at 7.30 partook of a [374][375] hearty breakfast. He talked freely, as usual, on ordinary topics, but maintained his usual silence respecting his crime and would not talk of the trial or the verdict. On Thursday, September 26th, he was removed from the Buffalo jail to the State Prison at Auburn, N. Y., where he was confined in a “death cell” until his execution took place.


THE EXECUTION.

     Czolgosz was executed by electricity on the morning of October 29, 1901. The official witnesses, consisting of the Superintendent of State Prisons, and other prominent New York State officials, several physicians, three representatives of the respective press associations, Mr. Spitzka and others and the official physicians—Dr. John Gerin, Prison Physician, and myself—having been assembled in the execution room and having received the usual admonition from the Warden as to maintenance of order during the execution, the prisoner was conducted to the room a few minutes after 7 A. M. Every precaution was taken by the Warden, who had immediate charge of the execution, to minimize the opportunity for notoriety or sensationalism on the part of the prisoner as well as to insure that his taking off should be effected in an orderly and dignified manner.
     As Czolgosz entered the room he appeared calm and self-possessed, his head was erect and his face bore an expression of defiant determination. The guards, one on either side, quietly and quickly guided him to the fatal chair, the binding straps were rapidly adjusted to his arms, legs and body, and the head and leg electrodes were quickly placed in situ and connected with the wire which was to transmit the lethal current through his body. These preliminaries occupied about one minute. Czolgosz offered no resistance whatever, but during the preparations addressed himself to the witnesses in a clear distinct voice in the following significant language: “I killed the President because he was the enemy of the good people—the good working people. I am not sorry for my crime. I am sorry I could not see my father.” At this moment, everything being in readiness, the Warden signalled the official electrician in charge of the switch, who immediately turned the lever which closed the circuit and shot the deadly current through the crim- [375][376] inal’s body, which was instantly thrown into a state of tonic spasm involving apparently every fibre of the entire muscular system. At the same time, consciousness, sensation and motion were apparently absolutely abolished.
     Two electrical contacts were made, occupying in all one minute and five seconds. In the first contact the electromotive pressure was maintained at 1800 volts for seven seconds, then reduced to 300 volts for twenty-three seconds, increased to 1800 volts for four seconds and again reduced to 300 volts for twenty-six seconds—one minute in all—when the contact was broken. The second contact, which was made at the instance of the writer as a precautionary measure, but which was probably unnecessary, was maintained at 1800 volts for five seconds. That conscious life was absolutely destroyed the instant the first contact was made, was conceded by all of the medical witnesses present; also that organic life was abolished within a few seconds thereafter.
     Czolgosz was pronounced dead by the attending physicians and several of the other physicians present, after personal examination, in four minutes from the time he entered the room; one minute of this period, as already stated, was occupied in the preliminary preparations, one minute and five seconds in the electrical contacts, and the remainder of the time in examinations by the physicians to determine the fact of death.


THE AUTOPSY.

     The autopsy was made by Mr. Edward A. Spitzka under the direction of the official physicians—Dr. Gerin and myself. The examination occupied about four and a half hours and embraced a most careful, gross examination of all the viscera, attention being especially directed to the brain and its meninges. The accompanying masterly description of the post-mortem findings and especially of the condition and anatomical structure of the brain by Mr. Spitzka, leaves nothing to be said here upon this point beyond the fact that the autopsy revealed no evidence whatever of disease or deformity of any of the bodily organs, including the brain, which was normal in size, shape, weight and appearance and was well developed in all respects,—a conclusion which was concurred in by all of the physicians present, several of whom had witnessed the execution. [376][377]
     In deference to the expressed wish of the relatives of Czolgosz, and for reasons of a sentimental nature on the part of the State authorities, the Prison Warden declined positively to allow any portion of the body to be removed from the Prison. Consequently, and regrettably, it was impossible for the examiners to retain honorable possession of any portion of the brain for microscopic examination and study. Accurate measurements, however, of the head and its appendages, of the face and of the exterior of the skull, together with detail anatomical drawings and descriptions of the brain were made; also plaster moulds of the head from which a cast was subsequently made and photographs of the same—full face and profile—taken. These measurements, together with plates of the drawings and photographs are presented in Mr. Spitzka’s report of the autopsy.
     In view of its great importance both to medical science and to medical jurisprudence, the writer regards it as fortunate that the State was able to secure the services of so able a brain anatomist and skilled operator and draughtsman as Mr. Spitzka, to make the post-mortem examination.


THE MENTAL STATUS.

     On Thursday, September 19, 1901, I received a telegram requesting me to meet Mr. Adelbert Moot, President of the Erie County Bar Association, in Buffalo, New York, on the following morning. On my arrival in Buffalo the next day Mr. Moot informed me that he had sent for me for the purpose of requesting me to inquire into the mental condition of Leon F. Czolgosz, confined in the Buffalo jail under indictment for the murder of President McKinley, and whose trial was to begin on the following Monday. Mr. Moot further stated in substance that three local experts had already examined the prisoner for the District Attorney, but in view of the enormity of the offence and the fact that there obviously could be no legitimate defense other than insanity, it was deemed important, in the interests of justice, that his mental condition should be investigated by other experts acting in behalf of the defence, or at least independently of the prosecution to the end that the prisoner should be accorded every legal right, there being no desire to convict him if [377][378] he were not mentally responsible, and that I had been selected for this responsible duty. With a deep sense of the responsibility involved, I consented to act, provided it should be distinctly understood that I was not there as a partisan expert in behalf of either side, but simply in a professional capacity to aid in determining the real mental state of the prisoner, and provided further that my selection would be acceptable to the eminent counsel whom the Bar Association had selected for the defence, should they decide to accept that duty, a matter which was then undecided. On the following morning—Saturday—Mr. Moot informed me that the gentlemen referred to had consented to act and invited me to meet them in conference, which I did, and which resulted in their requesting me to proceed at once to examine into the prisoner’s mental condition and to report my conclusion to them as soon as I had reached one. They also assented readily to my proposal to invite Dr. Arthur W. Hurd to become associated with me professionally in the case, Dr. Hurd being Superintendent of the Buffalo State Hospital for the Insane and a competent alienist of large experience in mental diseases. It was also agreed that we should be allowed to confer freely with the District Attorney and with the experts for the people, after completing our personal examination of the prisoner. Being unable to establish communication with Dr. Hurd before evening of that day, and in view of the short time intervening before the trial, I decided to make a preliminary examination of Czolgosz alone, and did so that afternoon, in the District Attorney’s office, first disclosing to him my identity and the object of my interview and informing him of his legal right to decline to answer any question I might ask him.
     I examined him again on the following day—Sunday—in the jail jointly with Dr. Hurd, and in the presence of one of his guards who was questioned at length, respecting his observations, of him in the jail, as to his habits of eating, sleeping, talking, reading, etc. We subsequently interviewed the District Attorney and the Superintendent of Police, General Bull, who gave us all the facts and information in their possession respecting the case. The statement which Czolgosz made to the District Attorney shortly after his arrest throws much light on his mental condition on the day of the crime, but that official [378][379] deemed it his duty to refuse to allow me to publish it. We also conferred at length with the people’s experts—Drs. Fowler, Crego and Putnam—who stated to us separately and in detail their observations and examinations of him. We also observed him carefully in the court room throughout the trial.
     After our examination of Czolgosz, on Sunday, we reached the conclusion, independently of each other, that he was sane and we so informed his counsel, on Monday morning before the trial began.
     It should be said that owing to the limited time—two days—at our disposal prior to the trial and the fact that his family relatives resided in a distant state and were not accessible for interrogation, we were unable to obtain a history of his heredity beyond what he himself gave us.
     Czolgosz, as he appeared at the time of my examinations of him at Buffalo, may be described as a well nourished, rather good looking, mild mannered young man with a pleasant facial expression; features, regular; face, smooth shaven and symmetrical; mouth and ears well formed and symmetrical; teeth, none missing, but in poor condition from neglect; tongue, clean; palate, fauces and uvula, normal in appearance; eyes, blue and normal in expression; pupils, equal in size and normally responsive to light and accommodation; hair, light brown and slightly curly; stature, medium—five feet seven and a half inches—and weight—estimated—about 140 pounds. The extremities were in all respects normal. The external genitals were normal, excepting two small, flat, unindurated cicatrices on the mucous surface of the prepuce, probably the result of previous chancroids, although he denied having had venereal disease other than gonorrhœa. There were no signs of specific nodes or periosteal tenderness over the usual sites of these lesions, nor was there any evidence upon the head or body of traumatism, excepting a slight deviation of the nose due to a blow which he received at the time of the assassination, and a superficial, perpendicular cicatrix on the left face which he said was the result of a slight injury he received when working in a barbed wire factory. There were no tremors or twitchings of the facial muscles, tongue or hands. The pulse and temperature and skin were normal, as also were the special senses, knee reflexes, [379][380] coordinating power and the sensory and motor functions. Finally, a careful inspection of the entire visible body failed to reveal the presence of any of the so-called stigmata of degeneration. The almost perfectly symmetrical development—especially of the head and face—is a noteworthy feature in Czolgosz’ case, although had deviations been found the fact would have had little weight as tending to show mental disease or degeneracy, as marked asymmetries, both cranial and facial, are frequently observed in persons who are quite sane and above the average in mental capacity.
     In answer to questions he stated, in substance, that he was born in Detroit, Michigan, of Polish parents; that he was twenty-eight years of age, unmarried and a laborer by occupation; that he was a Romanist, originally, but had abandoned that faith several years ago because he no longer believed in it; that he attended the common schools as a boy and had learned to read and write; that he had used beer and tobacco, but not to excess; that he had done various kinds of unskilled labor such as farming, factorying, etc.; that his mother was dead and his father, one brother and a married sister were living; that so far as he knew there was no insanity in his family, and that he had not suffered any serious illness or injury during his life time; that he had never been subject to fits, spasms or vertigo; that he usually ate and slept well, and that his bowels were always regular. He admitted having had sexual intercourse with women, but denied masturbation or other unnatural practices.
     Careful inquiry failed to elicit any evidence of delusion, hallucination or illusion. When questioned as to the existence of enemies, persecutions or conspiracies against him, he replied in the negative. He evinced no appearance of morbid mental depression, morbid mental exaltation, or of mental weakness or loss of mind; nor did he display any indication of morbid suspicion, vanity or conceit, or claim that he was “inspired” or had “a mission to perform,” or that he was subject to any uncontrollable impulse. In fact, as regards the existence of evidences of mental disease or defect, the result of the examinations was entirely negative. On the contrary, everything in his history as shown by his conduct and declarations, points to [380][381] the existence in him of the social disease,* Anarchy, of which he was a victim.
     My last examination of Czolgosz was made jointly with Dr. Gerin, physician of Auburn Prison, the evening before his execution. This examination revealed nothing either in his mental or physical condition which tended to alter the opinion I gave to his counsel at the time of his trial, namely, that he was sane—an opinion, which was concurred in by all of the official experts on either side, namely, Drs. Fowler, Crego and Putnam, for the people, and Dr. Hurd and myself for the defense, also by Dr. Gerin, the only other physician who examined him. Furthermore, the prisoner’s manner, appearance and declarations in the execution room, together with the post-mortem findings, corroborated most conclusively the original opinion as to sanity,—while his dying declarations that he killed the President because he regarded him as “an enemy of the good people—the good working people,” and that he was not sorry for his crime,—all tend to stamp him as an Anarchist. In fact, his bearing and conduct from the time of the commission of the crime to his execution were entirely consistent with the teachings and creed of Anarchy. Moreover, neither the three careful personal examinations which I made of him—one alone, one with Dr. Hurd and one with Dr. Gerin—the measurements of his body by the Bertillon system nor the post-mortem findings disclosed the slightest evidence of mental disease, defect or degeneracy. This opinion is confirmed by the people’s experts who repeatedly examined him and observed him from time to time, from the day of the assassination to the close of the trial, and by Dr. Gerin, the physician of Auburn Prison, who observed him carefully during the four weeks that he was in that institution awaiting execution. Dr. Gerin has had exceptional opportunity for the study of criminals, both sane and insane, in his capacity as Prison Physician and, previously, as Assistant Physician at the State Hospital for the Criminal Insane.
     If Czolgosz was a victim of mental disease the question would [381][382] naturally arise as to what form of that disorder he was suffering from. If, in answer to this question, we undertake to make a diagnosis by exclusion, we find the following results: There was absolutely no evidence of insane delusion, hallucination or illusion. There was none of the morbid mental exaltation or expansiveness of ideas that would suggest mania in any form, none of the morbid mental gloom and despondency of melancholia, none of the mental weakness of dementia, none of the conjoined mental or motor symptoms that are characteristic of paresis, nor was there anything in his manner, conduct or declarations that would suggest the morbid vanity and egotism, the persecutory ideas or the transformation of personality which usually characterize paranoia or systematized delusional insanity. In fact, at no time during the period from his arrest to the time of his execution, did he exhibit any of the mannerisms, boastful display, etc., or claim to have a “divine inspiration” or “a mission,” or make any complaint or suggestion of personal wrongs and persecutions which are so characteristic of paranoiacs; nor did he, during his trial, or subsequently, evince any indication of satisfaction or delight at being the central figure of the occasion and the observed of all the observers which he was; nor was there any attempt on Czolgosz’ part to simulate mental disease. The refusal to talk with his counsel was perfectly consistent with the views which he expressed to the District Attorney soon after his arrest, namely, that he did not believe in law and that he wanted no counsel. He did however, converse with others, namely, the District Attorney from time to time before his trial, also with his guards at the Buffalo jail, with whom he frequently walked in the corridor fronting his cell for an hour or two at a time, conversing with them intelligently the while and making his wants as to bathing, toilet, tobacco, etc., known in a natural manner. He also conversed freely with the people’s experts in their earlier examinations of him, and talked, though not so freely, with Dr. Hurd and myself, and when on arraignment for trial and formally asked to plead he promptly arose from his chair and answered in a clear voice, “guilty.” He also responded promptly when directed by the clerk of the court to “stand up and look upon the juror” as each of the jurors was sworn, and resumed his seat in each instance [382][383] at the proper time. Beyond this he remained mute while in the court room, and yet to any one who observed him closely it was apparent that he was fully aware of, and attentive to the proceedings.
     A recent writer—an eminent alienist—discussing the mental state of Czolgosz says:*

     “We can perceive no indications of mental disease in Czolgosz, and were the absurdity of his statements and acts to be a criterion of mental unsoundness we should have to establish a new category of insanity for the reception of the various groups of anarchists—not to mention other terrorists.

*        *        *        *        *        *        *        *        *        *        *

     We deem it an error to regard Czolgosz’s mutism in court when called on to plead and before his counsel as an attempt to simulate insanity. This conduct is in line with his rôle expressed in the theatrical declaration: ‘I am an Anarchist and have done my duty.’ As it was his ‘duty’ to slay the President, it is his duty to go to death with his lips sealed, and with this intent, first the plea of guilty and his conduct are perfectly consistent. He shows no reluctance to converse on matters disconnected from the crime, nor even on matters connected therewith provided they do not touch its preparations and thus betray his associates.”

     Aside from his reticence to his counsel there was nothing in Czolgosz’ manner, appearance or declarations that was indicative of insanity or of simulating. His reticence toward his counsel, as already intimated, was entirely consistent with his expressed disbelief in government and in law, and his declaration that he shot the President with a clear knowledge of the nature and consequences of the act; and while he pleaded guilty in court and also proclaimed when he went to his death his reason for committing the crime, and declared that he was not sorry therefor, in a manner which clearly implied that he regarded the act as a justifiable one, he did not claim that it was not a crime on his part as paranoiacs usually do, nor did he in any way indicate that he regarded himself a victim of conspiracy or persecution. On the contrary, he declared—to the people’s experts—that he fully understood what he did when he shot the President and was willing to take the consequences, that “I [383][384] know what will happen to me—if the President dies I will be hung.” Justice White, commenting on Czolgosz’ plea of “guilty” when arraigned for trial—a plea which could not be accepted under the common law—said: “The prisoner’s plea of guilty indicates that he himself anticipates no escape from the penalty which the law prescribes for a crime of the character alleged in the indictment.” Again Czolgosz said: “I done my duty, I don’t believe in voting; it is against my principles. I am an Anarchist.” He further said that he had been an ardent student of the doctrine of Anarchy and had attended many “circles” where these subjects were discussed. He had attended a meeting of Anarchists about six weeks ago and also in July; had met and talked with an Anarchist in Chicago about ten days ago; that he belonged to a “circle” in Cleveland which had no name. They called themselves Anarchists. That he went to Cleveland “on no particular business” the Friday before the assassination. He had been in Buffalo for two or three weeks prior to going to Cleveland. “I planned to kill the President three or four days ago, after I came to Buffalo”—from Cleveland—“I don’t believe in the Republican form of government and I don’t believe we should have any rulers. I had that idea when I shot the President and that is why I was there.”
     In explanation of his abandonment of his religious faith and his rejection of the services of a priest, Czolgosz said the night before his execution, “I would like the American people to know that I had no use for priests. My family are all Catholics and used to go to church until the hard times of 1893. We had been taught by the priests that if we would pray God would help us along, but it did no good; it didn’t help us and we stopped going to church at that time.” He also said at this interview: “McKinley was going around the country shouting prosperity when there was no prosperity for the poor man. I am not afraid to die. We all have to die sometime.”
     It may be said that Czolgosz’ belief which he expressed as he went to his death, that the President “was an enemy of the good working people” was a delusion, and such it undoubtedly was in the broadest sense of that term; that is, it was a false belief, but it was in no sense an insane delusion or false belief [384][385] due to disease of the brain. On the contrary, it was a political delusion, so to speak,—a false belief founded on ignorance, faulty education and warped—not diseased—reason and judgment,—the false belief which dominates the politico-social sect to which he belonged and of which he was a zealot, who in common with his kind believes that all forms of government are wrong and unnecessary—a body of mal-contents whose teachings oppose all government and who advocate the use of violence to destroy the existing social and civil order of things. By his own admissions, Czolgosz was a devout Anarchist and a firm believer in the principles of “Free Society” as taught by Emma Goldman—of whom he was an ardent admirer—and others. These were the beliefs which furnished the motives for the murderous deed.
     That Czolgosz was an Anarchist and actuated in his crime by the motives which spring from the teachings of that sect, are clearly shown by: 1. His declarations after his arrest, namely, that he did not believe in any form of government or law and that all rulers were tyrants who ought to be put down. 2. His admissions to the District Attorney that he was a member of anarchistic societies or circles, and had frequently attended the meetings of the same; also that he had been influenced in his views by the “lectures” of Emma Goldman; and that when apprehended anarchistic literature was found on his person, and 3. The recognition and commendation which he has received at the hands of Anarchists at their meetings both in this country and abroad since his death, several of these societies having openly recognized him as such and lauded his action.
     The Anarchists’ creed teaches that when one of their number is selected to do a certain deed, he is to proceed about it quietly and in his own way, taking no one into his confidence; that, having accomplished the deed, if apprehended he shall not admit his connection with any other members of the circle; that, if convicted and sentenced to die he shall go to his death with out revealing his connection with others, resting secure in the belief that he will be ever regarded by his associates as a martyr and a hero who died in the discharge of a noble duty. The course and conduct of Czolgosz from the beginning down to his death are entirely in keeping with this creed. And finally the [385][386] cool and courageous manner in which he met his death, and the fact that from the day of his arrest until he died, he never uttered a word that could be used against his accomplices,—if he had any,—and that he died—as Anarchists who suffer the death penalty always die—without uttering a word that would tend to incriminate any of his co-conspirators, tend to stamp him as an Anarchist.
     In conclusion, the writer having viewed the case in all its aspects, with due regard to the bearing and significance of every fact and circumstance relative thereto that was accessible to him, records his opinion unqualifiedly that Leon F. Czolgosz on September 6, 1901, when he assassinated President McKinley, was in all respects a sane man—both legally and medically—and fully responsible for his act.

 

 


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