Publication information

American Lawyer
Source type: journal
Document type: editorial
Document title: “The Crime of Anarchy”
Author(s): anonymous
Date of publication: October-November 1901
Volume number: 9
Issue number: 10
Pagination: 513

“The Crime of Anarchy.” American Lawyer Oct.-Nov. 1901 v9n10: p. 513.
full text
anarchism (dealing with); anarchism (laws against); anarchism (legal penalties); penal colonies (anarchists).
Named persons
John G. Carlisle; Leon Czolgosz; Emma Goldman; William McKinley; Johann Most.

The Crime of Anarchy

     The dastardly assassination of President McKinley brings vividly before us the problem of the anarchist. The argument that after all a prominent Government official is only a single person and should be safeguarded by law with no greater measures of protection than is supplied to his fellow citizens is a fallacy of the most apparent kind. The assassination of such an individual affects not only himself, but the entire community which he represents. His death may bring about a panic of alarming magnitude. It is only due to the intense stability of our Republican institutions that such a panic was averted in the present instance. Under more unsettled conditions the sudden death of a country’s chief official, be he King, Emperor, or Czar, might perchance lead to a revolution.
     The true fault lies in the fact that our criminal law is radically wrong. It proceeds on a theory wholly untenable in logic or in science. It considers that we are all endowed with an equal power of resistence, certain anti-social tendencies to our passions, and to inherited criminal propensities which are necessarily inherent in a portion, unfortunately large, of the community. On such an individual as Czolgosz, punishment can have practically no effect. His ethical perceptions are obliterated. Spiritually he is an imbecile. His execution will not deter in the slightest degree any other individual of his type from the commission of a precisely similar crime. Far better, we think, to provide a more effective preventative in the shape of a stringent enforcement of the immigration laws, the repression of anarchistic literature and speeches, the breaking up of “Red” societies and the deportation of their members. This festering sore in our body politic calls for and should receive drastic treatment.
     It is to be noted that the leaders of the movement, such as Goldman and Most, are very careful to refrain from commission of acts of violence. They confine their efforts to the selection of some poor half-witted fool in whom secretly they instill their fell doctrines, and who they fashion into a tool fitted for their purpose. This country should join the International League Against Anarchy. It is not going too far to say that we should fix upon an uninhabited island in the Philippines to which those who hold such destructive tenets should be deported. The latter have no reason to complain. Their doctrines rest upon the belief that every man is a law unto himself. Hence they cannot appeal to law for they have repudiated all law and admit only the power of superior force.
     The true measure to be resorted to is rather the slow one of extirpation. The advocates of Anarchy must be regarded as public enemies under a law to be passed by Congress and under which deportation could be provided for. As the Philippine Islands are now a portion of the United States, the erection of a prison in one of the archipelago and the removal thereto of the dangerous doctrinaries is governed by the same principle which permits the confining of offenders against the National laws within any of the Federal jails.
     It only remains to add that in 1894 an act was prepared by John Carlisle, then Secretary of the Treasury, which struck directly at the root of the evil by prohibiting the assemblage of persons preaching and entertaining views inimical to the institution of government in general. This failed of passage, however, because Congress that year was entirely taken up with the discussion of the Tariff bill.