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Source: American Lawyer
Source type: journal
Document type: public address
Document title: “Anarchy”
Author(s): Colt, Le Baron Bradford
Date of publication: April 1902
Volume number: 10
Issue number: 4
Pagination: 148-54

 
Citation
Colt, Le Baron Bradford. “Anarchy.” American Lawyer Apr. 1902 v10n4: pp. 148-54.
 
Transcription
full text
 
Keywords
Le Baron Bradford Colt (public addresses); McKinley assassination (personal response); presidential assassination; assassinations (comparison); assassinations (history); presidential assassinations (comparison); rulers (protection); presidents (protection); assassination (preventative measures); presidential assassination (laws against); anarchism (personal response); assassins (mental health); anarchism (laws against, impracticality of); anarchism; anarchism (dealing with); McKinley assassination (government response); anarchism (government response); anarchism (laws against); anarchism (legal penalties).
 
Named persons
Albert; Mikhail Bakunin [variant spelling below]; James G. Blaine; John Wilkes Booth; Gaetano Bresci; Marie François Sadi Carnot; Walter Channing; Leon Czolgosz; Elizabeth; Elizabeth I; James A. Garfield; Charles J. Guiteau; Henry IV (France); George F. Hoar; Humbert I; Andrew Jackson; Peter Kropotkin [variant spelling below]; Richard Lawrence; Abraham Lincoln; Cesare Lombroso; William McKinley; Pierre-Joseph Proudhon; Emmanuel Régis; August Spies; Victoria [misspelled once below]; George Washington; William I.
 
Notes
From page 148: An Address Delivered before the Annual Meeting of the New Hampshire Bar Association on March 3, 1902.

From page 148: By Hon. Le Baron B. Colt, Presiding Justice United States Circuit Court of Appeals.
 
Document

 

Anarchy

     A solemn and imperative duty has fallen upon the country; the protection of the President of the United States. The subject is of the gravest public concern, and of peculiar interest to our profession.
     It is a startling commentary on our vaunted intelligence, progress and security, that we are unable to guard the life of one individual in this country, and he the most honored and best beloved. With millions of men, as our recent experience revealed, ready to rise at a mement’s [sic] warning in defense of the Republic; with boundless resources; with armies and navies and all the appliances of modern warfare at our command; fearing not, in our conscious strength, the attack of any foreign foe; standing proud, erect, and invincible before the world; we still see our Chief Magistrate shot down with the same ease that a highwayman would shoot down a defenseless traveler on the public way. Something must be wrong somewhere.
     There is no conceivable crime so atrocious as the causeless murder of the chosen ruler of a free people. Such crimes rise infinitely higher than crimes against the individual. They are crimes against humanity, civilization, and the country’s life; against society, law and liberty. They are a blot upon free institutions, a stain upon the flag. They undermine the happiness and well being of the people. They lower our standing and character in the opinion of mankind. They are blows aimed at the presidency and self-government; the town meeting, the state and the nation; at all our institutions, and everything that finds expression in the words “Our Country.”
     Has our fancied security indeed proved a dream and a delusion? Has our boasted liberty become the liberty of assassination? Is this the end of the struggles, the sacrifices, the aspirations of the long, weary, and bloody march of mankind to this fair land of freedom?
     The record is appalling. In thirty-seven years three presidents have been assassinated, an average of one assassination every twelve years. The world will surely hesitate to imitate our example of a true democracy if this record be long continued. The history of Europe for a thousand years furnishes no parallel. To find one we must go back to the military usurpers of ancient Rome.
     During these comparatively few years, the assassinations of our chief magistrates have equalled [sic], if not exceeded, those of the rulers of England since the Norman conquest in 1066, and of France during the last ten centuries. No king of England has been assassinated for more than four hundred years, and but one ruler of France in nearly three centuries.
     During the life of the federal government, a period of one hundred and thirteen years, no ruler of England, Germany or Spain has suffered death by violence. France, Italy and Austria have each escaped with a single victim, while Russia records but two instances.
     This comparison becomes the more amazing when we consider that tyrannicide, regicide and religious [148][149] fanaticism were among the principal causes which have led to the assassination of European rulers, and that these causes have not existed here. Nor is this striking contrast to be explained by reference to latter-day anarchism, for, at most, only one of the four attemps [sic] upon the lives of our presidents can be traced to that cause.
     This country stands arraigned before the judgment seat of civilized nations to account, if possible, for these tragedies and to atone for them by the adoption of the best remedial measures which can be devised. We know that complete immunity from this form of assassination is impossible, but the risk should be reduced to a minimum. There must at least be an abatement in the frequency in these national crimes.
     We can no longer plead in justification our supreme faith in a free people and democratic institutions as a shield against such attacks, nor our belief that no one could be found to strike down the citizen chosen by the will of the people to administer their own laws by acting for a short time as their chief magistrate. Nor can we plead that we could comprehend the assassination of the Czar of Russia because he was the state, or the assassination of the King of Italy because he was born king, or the assassination of any ruler where justice was denied the people and irreparable political and social grievances existed; but that it was impossible for us to imagine how any human being should wish to murder Lincoln, or Garfield or McKinley, who sprang from the people, whose lives were consecrated to their happiness and well being, and who died “holy victims sacrificed on the altar of liberty.” We must now acknowledge our experience has shown that the freest government, administered by the most exalted characters, is not exempt from this form of assassination.
     Nor can we insist upon the violence of party spirit inherent in a democracy as the cause, and cite as examples Athens, Venice and Florence, because party struggles will not account for the frequency of these catastrophes; and further, our political institutions and social conditions are quite unlike those of any ancient or medieval republic.
     Nor will it do to urge too strongly in defense the inadequacy of our laws, either punitive or preventive, because it appears that the would-be assassin of President Jackson was speedily tried by a jury and found to be insane; that the assassin of President Lincoln was quickly traced to his hiding place and shot to death while resisting arrest; that the assassin of President Garfield was tried, convicted, and executed; and that the murderer of President McKinley met quick retributive justice under the law. So, likewise, with respect to preventive legislation, it may be that a volume of such laws would have no deterrent effect upon the insane Lawrence, or the conspirator Booth, or the unbalanced Guiteau; and, if the recent diagnosis of Czolgosz’s condition betrue [sic], it is doubtful, at least, to what extent any laws would have operated to prevent this attempt.
     We may perhaps as a people be forgiven for the murder of Lincoln—the offspring of the violent passions born of civil war; and we may find an historical parallel in the murder of William of Orange, or Henry IV. of France; but the recorded annals of mankind will be searched in vain to find a parallel to the murders of Garfield and McKinley. In the unavoidable dangers incident to the high office of President, it would not have been surprising if one of our chief magistrate [sic] had met a violent death; but the gravity of the charge against this country, and the apparently inexplicable thing, is the frequency of the crime under existing circumstances.
     It would not have seemed extraordinary if one of our Presidents had died by the hand of a conspirator, an insane person, or an anarchist, but what is astounding, and seemingly unaccountable, is that Lincoln, Garfield and McKinley should all have been assassinated within forty years.
     The phenomenon must be accounted for in some way. There must be a cause lying hidden somewhere. Let us contrast the successful and the unsuccessful attempts upon the lives of our chief magistrates with the successful and unsuccessful attempts upon the lives of foreign rulers, and see if some light is not thrown upon the subject. For if it should turn out to be true that the attempts to kill our chief magistrates have been far less frequent than the attempts to kill the rulers of other civilized nations, and that our trouble is owing to the success of the attempts, and not to their number, we are on the road to the discovery of the true cause of the anomalous situation of this country respecting these political crimes.
     From 1789 to 1902, there have been four attempts to assassinate the Presidents of the United States, as compared with ten attempts to assassinate the rulers of England (exclusive of four minor assaults); seventeen attempts to assassinate the rulers of France; ten attempts to assassinate the rulers of Russia. And since 1850, five attempts to assassinate the rulers of Germany (Prussia); six attempts to assassinate the rulers of Spain; four attempts to assassinate the rulers of Italy; and three attempts to assassinate the rulers of Austria. This list is without doubt incomplete. Moreover it does not include many plots and conspiracies which were discovered before consummation. The comparatively large number of recorded attempts in England and France may be due to the effort to suppress the publication of such events in some countries.
     This comparison discloses this astounding result: Of the four attempts upon the lives of the Presidents, three have been successful, or 75 per cent.; of the ten attempts upon the lives of English rulers, none have been successful; of the seventeen attempts upon the lives of the rulers of France, only one has been successful, or about 6 per cent.; of the ten attempts upon the rulers of Russia but two have been successful, or 20 per cent.; and since 1850, of the five attempts upon the rulers of Germany (Prussia), none has been successful; of the four attempts upon the rulers of Italy, only one has been successful; and of the three attempts upon the rulers of Austria, but one has been successful.
     Limiting this comparison to the attempts since 1860, we find three attempts upon the lives of the Presidents, as compared with two attempts upon the lives of the rulers of England; five attempts upon the lives of the rulers of France; eight attempts upon the lives of the rulers of Russia; three attempts upon the lives of the rulers of Germany; four attempts upon the lives of the rulers of Spain; three attempts upon the lives of the rulers of Italy; and two attempts upon the lives of the rulers of Austria. The comparatively small number of attempts in England during these years may be in part due to the almost absolute seclusion of Queen Victora after the death of Prince Albert.
     This comparison gives the following result: Since 1860, all of the attempts upon the lives of the Presidents of the United States were successful; the two [149][150] attempts upon the lives of English rulers were unsuccessful; of the five attempts upon the rulers of France, only one was successful; of the three attempts upon the rulers of Germany, none were successful; of the eight attempts upon the rulers of Russia, only one was successful; of the three attempts upon the rulers of Italy, only one was successful; of the four attempts upon the rulers of Spain, none was successful; and of the two attempts upon the rulers of Austria, but one was successful.
     Limiting this comparison to the attempts by anarchists, in which the country is now deeply concerned, we find in the past forty years only one such attempt upon the life of the President, as compared with three attempts upon the rulers of France, six attempts upon the rulers of Russia, one attempt upon the rulers of Germany, two attempts upon the rulers of Italy, and one attempt upon the rulers of Austria. The result of these attempts was as follows: The single attempt in this country was successful; the single attempt in Austria was also successful; the single attempt in Germany was unsuccessful; of the three attempts in France, but one was successful; of the six attempts in Russia, only one was successful; and of the two attempts in Italy, but one was successful.
     To summarize: Of the four attempts to assassinate the Presidents of the United States since the foundation of the government in 1789, three have been successful or 75 per cent.; of the fifty-five attempts to assassinate the rulers of Europe in the countries above mentioned since 1789, only five have been successful, or about 9 per cent. Since 1860, of the three attempts to assassinate the Presidents of the United States, three have been successful, or 100 per cent.; of the thirty-seven attempts to assassinate the rulers of Europe in the countries above mentioned, only four have been successful, or 15 per cent. The single attempt by anarchists to assassinate the President of the United States has been successful; and of the thirteen attempts to assassinate the rulers of European countries above mentioned, only four have been successful, or 30 per cent.
     In this comparison between the attempts in this country and in European countries, it should be remembered that the personal protection afforded European rulers undoubtedly prevented many attacks which otherwise would have occurred. The circumstance that a ruler is openly guarded has a marked deterrent effect upon assaults of this nature. It is safe, perhaps, to say the life of no one of the European rulers above mentioned, excepting possibly that of England, under the existing political and social conditions in his country, would be safe for a single year if he exposed himself in the same degree as the President of the United States.
     This wide difference between the success and failure of the attempts upon the lives of the rulers in this country and in Europe, can be accounted for only upon the theory of the absence of safeguards surrounding the president, and his consequent exposure to attack. Had the would-be assassins of England’s rulers since Washington took his seat, accomplished their object with the same ease as in this country, in all human probability the number of victims would have been more than double the number of our martyred Presidents; and in France the number would have been four times as great. Had the number of assassinations in England, in proportion to the attempts, been the same as in this country, the number of victims would have been seven; while in France the number would have been twelve. This demonstrates that the difference between our country and other countries lies in the fatality of the attempts, and not in the number. Not only does the United States favorably compare with England and France in respect of these attempts at assassination, but in point of fact there have been more than double the number of attempts in England and more than four times the number of attempts in France, since the organization of the federal government. It follows that this country would have been comparatively free from these tragedies, if reasonable precautions had been taken to protect the person of the President, and that it is not so vital to guard against attempts at assassination as to prevent such attempts from proving fatal, by the exercise of reasonable care on the part of the President himself, and by affording him proper means of protection.
     Following this line of inquiry into some of the details of the four attempts upon the lives of our chief magistrates, it will be found that three were successful owing to the absence of reasonable safeguards, and that the fourth would have been equally fatal had not the weapons missed fire [sic] from some almost miraculous cause.
     The would-be assassin of President Jackson was permitted to approach within a few feet of his person, and deliberately attempt to discharge two pistols; the assassin of President Lincoln entered the theatre box where the President was sitting, quietly barred the door behind him, and held his weapon within a few few [sic] inches of the head of his victim; the assassin of President Garfield approached from behind to within a few feet of his person, fired one shot, and then, unmolested, took deliberate aim and discharged the fatal bullet; and the assassin of President McKinley held his pistol at the President’s breast.
     Had the portico of the capitol been properly watched as the President passed along, the would-be slayer of Jackson, who for some time had been walking about unnoticed, would have been apprehended; had the entrance box in Ford’s theatre been protected against intruders, Lincoln would not have been shot; had there been some person on watch to observe the approach of Guiteau as the President and Mr. Blaine walked unattended through the waiting room of the railway station on that fatal July morning, Garfield would not have been stricken down; and had not the custom prevailed of the President, on all public occasions, freely shaking hands with large crowds of people, or had such handshaking been conducted under proper regulations and precautions, McKinley would have been alive to-day.
     These considerations strongly confirm the view that the number and frequency of our national tragedies is not owing to the prevalence of a spirit of assassination, but springs from our over-confidence and want of caution, and that the most effective remedy lies in keeping, as far as possible, suspicious persons at a safe distance from the President.
     If the real cause of these oft repeated catastrophies [sic] be traced to this source, the situation must be recognized and met by the exercise of the same intelligence, common sense, and sound judgment which has ever characterized the American people in dealing with grave public matters.
     The sentimental notion that, because we are a democracy, and the people have been accustomed, freely and on all occasions, to meet their chief magistrate, and that to impair this time-honored custom would be unrepublican, and savor of royalty, must not [150][151] stand in the way where the life of the President is at stake.
     If the universal experience of other civilized peoples, confirmed by our recent history, teaches that the safety of the head of the State is dependent upon surrounding his person with proper safeguards, it is folly for this country to ignore this fact on the imaginary ground that we are a chosen people, and an exception to all ordinary laws.
     The conditions which might have rendered it reasonably safe for the President to mingle openly with the people in the early days of the Republic are changed, and we must adapt ourselves to the new environment. There is a great difference between a sparsely settled country consisting largely of agricultural communities, with slow and difficult means of communication, and a country inhabited by many millions of people of different nationalities, with the railway, the telegraph and the telephone, and the conflicting social forces of the latter part of the nineteenth century. In a few days, his coming having been freely advertised, the President may now travel from ocean to ocean, and come in contact with a third of the population of the country; and the same facilities for the annihilation of space and time are afforded the would-be assassin. “New occasions teach new duties; time makes ancient good uncouth.”
     The bill recently reported to the United States Senate from the judiciary committee by Senator Hoar is certainly a movement in the right direction. By Section 7 of the bill, “The Secretary of War is authorized and directed to select and detail from the regular army a sufficient number of officers and men to guard and protect the person of the President of the United States without any unnecessary display.” If this provision should be supplemented by the appropriation of a sum of money to be at the disposal of the President for the purpose of securing additional police protection, it would be a further aid.
     It is said that the president of the French Republic does not attend public meetings, speak from the platforms of railway cars, move around in an approachable and conspicuous way at fairs and expositions, or hold open levees for the shaking of hands.
     As supplementary to the above legislation, if the President should exercise, so far as practicable, the same precautions, the risk would be still further reduced. The visible guard surrounding the President of itself would have a tendency to prevent these attacks. It is a somewhat significant fact in this connection that no assault has ever been attempted upon the President of [sic] the White House, where reasonable precautions are taken.
     The situation does not demand that our chief magistrate shall travel from place to place with the military pomp of some European rulers, or with the gorgeous pageantry of Queen Elizabeth; but it does demand that he shall be accompanied by reasonable safeguards, appropriate to the simplicity and dignity of republican institutions.
     Since the death of President McKinley the thoughts of the people and of Congress have been mostly occupied in the consideration of measures for the prevention of these attempts, rather than in the means for guarding against their fatality. The difficulty of preventing attempts through legislation, except in the particular already mentioned, is that the subject, in a large measure, lies beyond the control of laws. When we consider the class of persons who commonly make these assaults, it will be found that the laws have little deterrent effect upon them. Let us take, for illustration, this country and England.
     Of the ten attacks upon the lives of English rulers, since 1789, four were by persons pronounced insane, three by persons unknown who fired from a distance; and two of the remaining three, from the nature of the assaults, were seemingly by persons acting under the impulse of some imaginary wrong. In the case of the six assaults on Queen Victoria, three were manifestly by insane persons, and it is questionable if more than one out of the six was a person of sound mind.
     In this country we find that the would-be assassin of President Jackson was pronounced hopelessly insane by a jury after five minutes’ deliberation; that the assassin of President Garfield is universally admitted to have had an unbalanced mind; and that the medical world is now divided on the subject of the sanity of the slayer of President McKinley. The conclusion reached by Dr. Channing after careful investigation of this person’s life, habits and antecedents raises a strong doubt, at least, respecting his mental condition. Dr. Channing’s diagnosis indicates mental impairment which assumed the form of delusions; the exciting causes of the act being the reading of anarchistic literature and attending anarchistic meetings. The assassin of President Lincoln alone forms an exception to the general type of persons who committed these assaults. In that instance the attack was the result of a political conspiracy.
     We find, then, that in England these assaults have been largely mad attempts; and that in this country there have been two mad attempts, one in the nature of a mad attempt inspired by anarchistic teachings, and one the outgrowth of political strife. It is plain that no laws would have checked the insane Lawrence, who imagined he had been wrongfully deprived of the crown of England; or the conspirator Booth; or the unhinged Guiteau, who, brooding over his failure to obtain office, because possessed of a mad desire to become the cynosure of all eyes; or the morbid Czolgosz incited by anarchistic teachings, unless possibly our laws had prevented anarchism from crossing the Atlantic.
     Fundamentally, this form of assassination is the result of environment. The disease is too deep-seated for legislative cure. We are confronted with two associated causes which cannot be eradicated; the social and industrial conditions of modern society, and the unbalanced mind—the extremes of wealth, power, ease and lavish luxury on the one hand, and poverty, ignorance, misery and the struggle for existence on the other, in a society which also contains the diseased brain, the dethroned reason, homicidal mania; the victim of delusion of imaginary wrongs to himself, his class, or his nationality; the would-be suicide who thinks if he kills a ruler monuments will be erected to his memory; the degenerate, the fanatic, and the criminal. So long as these social conditions exist we shall not be free from attempts to assassinate our chief magistrate.
     But we may still ask will not some general remedial legislation by Congress help the situation? With respect to mad attempts, which are the most common, or attempts resulting from political conspiracy, it is doubtful if additional legislation, other than that which concerns the personal protection of the President, would prove in any considerable degree effective.
     We have had but one attempt in the nature of a political conspiracy, which arose under exceptional circumstances; and it may be said that we are reason- [151][152] ably safe, for the present, from any attempt of this character. There never was a time in the history of this or any other country when the affections of the people for their government and their chief magistrate were so strong and all-pervading. Grave and perilous political questions like slavery and the right of secession no longer rouse the violent passions of the people and divide the country into hostile camps.
     We must not, however, place too much confidence in the continuation of the existing state of affairs. The danger of a disputed succession to the presidency, such as existed in 1876, cannot be ignored. This is a danger inherent in our electoral system, and it is the weak spot in our federal form of government.
     Nor must we overlook the possible consequences of a conflict between labor and capital under present industrial methods. It is an economic law that periods of general financial depression occur about every twenty-five years; and if the situation during one of these crises should be aggravated by a shortage of crops, it might produce conditions which lead to political conspiracies. But no such situation seems near at hand; and we may rest reasonably secure against attacks upon the life of the President springing from any such cause.
     The assassinations which have startled the world during the past ten years have been by anarchists, and the most universally beloved President in our history has fallen a victim. This great sorrow still overshadows the country, and the people are waiting, hoping, praying, that Congress will in some way shield the nation from such tragedies in the future. It is a most difficult crisis to meet. We have already pointed out that the field of effective legislation on this subject is limited; at the same time such laws as we believe will prove beneficial should be speedily enacted.
     The present danger is not so much from anarchistic conspiracies hatched by any of the known groups of anarchists as from some morbid individual who feels that he must become the executioner of anarchy—the most dangerous criminal known to history.
     It is fifteen years since August Spies and others were executed. Had any of the groups of Chicago anarchists, in revenge for their death, planned to assassinate the President, many opportunities would not have been wanting. President Carnot, Empress Elizabeth and King Humbert have all been assassinated by some member of a group of Italian anarchists. A branch of this group is located in Paterson, N. J., and Bresci went from there on his mission to kill the king of Italy. Had this group included among its intended victims the President of the United States, the accomplishment of that purpose would have been an easy task.
     It is undoubtedly true that free institutions afford some measure of protection against these attacks, and that they have been mainly directed against the rulers of European countries, owing to the different political and social conditions. But still, our recent experience has taught that the freest government is not exempt from this danger, and that we must guard against it in every possible way. It is also true that the wisdom of extreme repressive measures is doubtful. The experience of Spain and other countries has shown that drastic legislation has always been followed by renewed attempts of a more deadly and violent kind.
     The type of anarchists who seek to enforce their doctrine by assassination discloses difficulties in the way of meeting the situation by laws. These individuals may be classed in the same category with those who make what are known as “mad attempts” upon the head of the state. According to Regis, they are the typical regicides or magnicides who have existed from remote antiquity. They are fanatics with minds tainted by insanity, eccentricity, epilepsy and suicidal impulse. We are not here referring to the revolutionary anarchists as a body, but to the particular type who execute these deeds of violence and death. Professor Lombroso, of the University of Turin, as the result of his researches, finds that a large number of this particular type of anarchists are madmen and criminals. Some who had attempted assassination were epileptics; others were victims of alcoholism; others were indirect suicides, rejoicing at the opportunity of being put to death for the murder of a ruler; others were partially demented, imagined themselves persecuted, and were carried away by a violent impulse for assassination. In no case have they been known to have had accomplices. They “are almost always alone in concealing, preparing and accomplishing their deeds, being unwilling to have any one share with them the merits and honors.”
     It is hard to reach this type of anarchist by legislation. He is not easily discovered in the country, nor easily kept out. It is said that the leader of an Italian group of revolutionary anarchists travels from country to country at will.
     The exciting causes which lead to assassination by this type of anarchist, are anarchistic books, pamphlets, papers, and attendance upon gatherings of revolutionary anarchists. Although we have now reached a field where legislation may help, a moment’s consideration will show the difficulties that are encountered.
     Anarchy, or anarchism, is a broad term. There is philosophical anarchism and revolutionary anarchism; and there are philosophic anarchists, revolutionary anarchists, and the anarchists of terror.
     Philosophical anarchism, which is beyond legislative control, is a theory of social life based upon an ethical view of human relations. It is the philosopher’s dream of a perfect state of society composed of perfect human beings. It signifies that if everybody did what was right there would be no need of government. It is “individualism run mad.” Its falsity is based upon the assumed premise of the perfection of humanity. Many thinkers believe it is the goal which society should strive to reach, and which eventually will be attained. In a purely ethical sense, some of our greatest philosophers may be classed as anarchists.
     Anarchy is the antithesis of government. It denies the utility of all government. It calls for a state of absolute individual liberty and equality. “All institutions—economic, ethical, religious, or political—that in any sense circumscribe or limit the equality, freedom, and liberty of men as individual units are, therefore, an evil to be eradicated. Free democratic governments are no better than despotic monarchies.” It ascribes all the evils of society to law and government. As some reformers attribute social evils to ignorance, or other causes, the anarchist attributes them to government; and proposes “the abolition of all law, government, and authority, as a universal panacea.”
     If the writers on anarchism limited their language to the legitimate discussion of their theory of society, the State could not well complain; but such is not the fact. In Proudhon, Bakounine, Kropotkine, and other writers, are found thoughts and expressions which incite to violence, and which provoke the writings and pamphlets of the radical revolutionary anarchists. We [152][153] may cite a few examples of their teachings and maxims.
     “Governments are the scourge of God.”
     “Property is robbery.”
     “Theft is the recovery by violence from the rich of that which the rich have taken by violence from the poor.”
     “Appropriation by force must be the anarchists’ prelude to the wholesale insurrection which they will sooner or later enact.”
     “Law has no title to the respect of men. Born of violence and superstition, and established in the interests of the consumer, priest and rich exploiter, it must be utterly destroyed on the day when the people desire to break their chains.”
     “No more laws! No more judges! Liberty, equality, and practical human sympathy are the only effectual barriers we can oppose to the anti-social instincts of certain among us.”
     Such ideas taken up by the extreme revolutionary anarchists lead to the expression of such sentiments as the following:
     “Our only hope is in earnest, organized action. Burn, kill, and destroy until we force the autocrats to turn. We have lost hope in God, hope in humanity, and hope in the world at large. Let every man do his duty. This is a time when the workingman will either become a slave or a master. Choose between the two, and choose at once. Let us give no quarter, and ask none; only let us stand by each other, and each man at his post. If we must die, let us die like men, and not slaves.”
     By a process of evolution, we are conducted step by step from the theory of anarchy through anarchistic literature to revolutionary anarchy and its literature of violence, and thence to the anarchy of terrorism and its executioner, the typical regicide.
     Although anarchistic literature is in our public libraries, and anarchists are with us, there can be no question of the power of the State to forbid the publication and circulation of writings calculated to incite to violence and murder, and to forbid the assemblage of persons for the purpose of instigating and advising violence and murder. The constitutional right of free speech cannot here be invoked. Free speech is a no more sacred right than self-protection. Free speech does not mean the right to take, or to incite the taking of the life, property, or reputation of another.
     All personal rights are reciprocal and mutually binding, and are enjoyed upon the condition of respecting the enjoyment of the same rights by others; and the purpose of the law is the enforcement of the mutual obligations. Without invoking the broader and more elastic rule that free speech may be restrained respecting acts which are inimical to the peace, good order, and morals of a community, its restriction here rests upon the fundamental doctrine of personal rights and obligations.
     Revolutionary anarchists should be prohibited by severe penal laws from uttering, writing, or publishing language threatening, advising, or instigating the killing of the President, or advising or instigating another to kill the President, or conspiring with others to kill the President.
     The comprehensive and carefully drawn bill of Senator Hoar, from which we have already cited one provision, covers this whole branch of the subject. It punishes with death any person who within the jurisdiction of the United States, shall willfully kill or cause the death of the President or vice-president of the United States, or any officer thereof upon whom the powers and duties of the President may devolve, or who shall willfully cause the death of the sovereign or chief magistrate of any foreign country; and the same penalty is inflicted upon any person who shall attempt to commit either of these offenses. It punishes by a term of imprisonment not exceeding ten years any person who, within the jurisdiction of the United States, shall instigate, advise, or counsel the killing of the President or vice-president of the United States, of any officer thereof upon whom the powers and duties of the President may devolve, or shall conspire with any other person to accomplish the same, or who shall instigate, advise, or counsel the killing of the sovereign or chief ruler of any foreign country, or shall conspire with any other person to accomplish the same. It punishes by imprisonment not exceeding ten years any person who shall, within the jurisdiction of the United States, by spoken words, or by written or printed words, uttered or published, threaten to kill or advise or instigate another to kill the President or vice-president of the United States, or any officer thereof upon whom the powers and duties of the President may devolve. It further provides that any person who has conspired as aforesaid may be indicted and convicted, separately, although the other party or parties to the conspiracy are not indicted or convicted; and that any person who shall willfully and knowingly aid in the escape from punishment of any person guilty of any of the above offenses shall be deemed an accomplice after the fact, and shall be punished as if a principal, although the other party or parties to the offense shall not be indicted or convicted.
     It will be observed that this bill includes not only the President but the vice-president and other persons in the line of succession to that high office, as well as the heads of foreign states. These additional provisions are important and necessary. The comity of nations and civilization forbid [sic] that this country should become the vantage ground for conspiracies to kill foreign rulers. We should prevent by law, so far as possible, assassins taking up their abode in this country mainly for the purpose of crossing the Atlantic at a convenient and opportune time to assassinate a foreign ruler.
     Although no person who has attempted to assassinate the President of the United States has escaped justice, our present federal laws are manifestly defective and inadequate in that they make no provision for the punishment of persons who kill or attempt to kill the chief magistrate. Had President McKinley been shot in Rhode Island or Maine, or in any other State where capital punishment has been abolished, the punishment of the assassin would have been limited to imprisonment for life. Had the assault on the President not proved fatal, the maximum penalty for his would-be murderer, under the laws of New York, would have been but ten years.
     There is no doubt of the power of Congress, under the Constitution, to make laws for the protection of foreign rulers and ambassadors, because this subject comes within the law of nations. But the power of Congress to enact laws for the protection of the President has been questioned. Time will not permit an entry into this field of discussion. The question has never been passed upon by the Supreme Court. It may be claimed, with a good deal of confidence, that the limitation of this power to other officers of the government when engaged in the duties of their office, does not apply to the President of the United States or other persons in the line of succession. The protec- [153][154] tion of the President is a distinct question far more vital and fundamental than the protection of other government officers.
     The Constitution vests the executive power in the the [sic] President and gives Congress the power to make all laws necessary for the carrying into execution the powers vested by the Constitution in the government. Every government has the inherent power of self-preservation. The Supreme Court has often said that the government was endowed with all the powers necessary for its own preservation. To strike down the President is to strike down the executive head of the government—the person charged at all times with the execution of the laws. With the possible exception of treason, the assassination of the President is the highest known crime against the United States; and the power of Congress to pass laws for the punishment of crimes against the United States has always been recognized and exercised.
     In addition to Senator Hoar’s bill some further protection may be afforded in more liberal extradition treaties, which possibly should cover an international police surveillance of the class of revolutionary anarchists who instigate and advise assassination.
     The opinion expressed by some that the present situation justifies the passage of very stringent laws respecting immigration and naturalization, I do not entertain. It is doubtful if such laws would accomplish the purpose designed and reach the revolutionary anarchists. Anarchy can only be stamped out finally through the influence of education. Although most of the anarchists in this country are aliens or of alien descent, it is a fact worthy of mention that with the exception of the hopelessly insane Lawrence, no alien or naturalized person has ever raised his hand against the President of the United States.
     The whole question of the protection of the life of the President is one of the elimination of chances. This investigation has led me to conclude that the primary thing is to safeguard the President’s person, and that this should be supplemented by legislation along the lines considered.
     Among the reasons for thankfulness for this invitation to address the New Hampshire Bar Association, is the opportunity it has afforded for some examination into the causes of the strikingly anomalous situation of the country concerning the assassinations of its chief magistrates. I cannot express the gratification which I have derived in satisfying my own mind that the principal cause is largely owing to carelessness and neglect, and does not lie deeper in the character of our people or government.
     No! The liberty of this country is not the liberty of assassination. Our dream of self-government has not proved a delusion. The struggles and sacrifices of mankind have not been in vain. The nation still remains the home of freedom, law and justice.
     Each of these terrible tragedies has only added strength and unity to the republic. The world has never witnessed such a tribute of love for a ruler or devotion to a government, as when the martyred McKinley was laid at rest amid the hush of traffic and industry, and the nation, in silent prayer, stood like a statue upon whose brow was beating the soft, pure light of liberty.
     This country presents to-day as fair a picture of government and society as ever met the eye of man; a picture full of human comfort, happiness and well-being. There are spots on the surface like the spots on the surface of the sun, and there always will be so long as society is composed of imperfect humanity.
     We have erected a state majestic in its proportions, with liberty at its base—the most powerful political system ever known, combining the freedom of the individual and the community with the strength of a mighty empire. We have tried to secure the prosperity and welfare of the whole people, including all races and nationalities who have sought these shores. Political equality we have realized, but equality of well-being and of human satisfaction we have not attained. The great and irreversible laws of nature that wealth is the product of labor and sacrifice, and that men are born with unequal capacity and energy, oppose their insuperable barriers to such an accomplishment. But through divine charity we see the light which shall dispel this darkness. Indeed, the consummation seems near at hand as we behold genius through human sympathy, bestowing upon mankind the fruits of the talents derived from God.

 

 


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