Source: Albany Law Journal
Source type: journal
Document type: editorial column
Document title: “Current Topics”
Date of publication: October 1901
Volume number: 63
Issue number: 10
Pagination: 377-80 (excerpt below includes only pages 377-78)
“Current Topics.” Albany Law Journal Oct. 1901 v63n10: pp. 377-80.
Current Topics [excerpt]
The bullet of the assassin, Czolgosz,
at Buffalo, on the 6th of September, aimed at the heart of the nation’s chief
executive, came like a lightning-bolt from a clear sky. It awoke the nation
from a sense of fancied security based upon our more than generous treatment
of all who come to our shores from other lands. It gave startling proof that
republics no less than monarchies, democracies no less than despotisms, the
land of the free no less than the government of tyranny and oppression, will
sooner or later be the victim of these indolent, conscienceless, vindictive
and unspeakably brutal wretches who seem to see nothing in industry, right living
and frugality but an opportunity for them to divide and despoil, who see nothing
in honest accumulations of wealth but organized crime; that in these Anarchists
whom we have foolishly permitted to enter this country for years unchecked,
we have been nursing nests of vipers who have now turned upon their protector
and buried their deadly fangs in its heart. That the ruler selected by them
for assassination was singularly pure and conscientious, a ruler who by his
high motives and earnest, God-fearing desire to do the right as he was permitted
to see it, was singularly beloved of all the people, irrespective of party lines,
as few of our presidents have been since the lamented Lincoln, makes the wanton
sacrifice of his noble life all the more despicable.
The wretch who, under the guise of friendship, at a public reception, extended one hand while in the other he held an instrument of death, is now pretty well known to have been but a chosen agent in the hands of a band of conspirators who cherish respect neither for God or man, crack-brained agitators and degenerates nurtured in the old world and spewn upon our shores to breed their like, and plot the ruin and downfall of their benefactors.
No great crime such as that at Buffalo can be committed without bringing some compensative advantages, without teaching lessons to disregard which would be almost as great a crime as was the original. Naturally, inevitably there has been much ill-considered, foolish talk and not a few ill-digested plans for the nation’s succor from this impending danger, both on the part of newspapers and individuals, but out of the many plans for suppressing anarchy before it succeeds in destroying the best and freest government on earth, surely something will come that will be effective. First of all, will be the punishment of the assassin; then the ruthless hunting down and prosecution of his co-conspirators, advisers and sympathizers and the stamping out of anarchy wherever it shall rear its hated head. That congress will act speedily in the direction of making any attempt upon the life of the president or those in the line of succession to the presidency, treason, punishable by death, seems to be reasonably certain as one outcome of the Buffalo crime. One or two other things may be put down as absolutely certain: That self-protection is a first law of nations as well as of individuals; that those who seek to lodge in the minds of the ignorant, unfortunate and desperate, the notion that government is a monster to be slain in its personal representative, instead of reformed by the intelligent, unselfish efforts of the people themselves, will not be permitted to remain in this country outside of the prisons; that this land of freedom, this refuge of the oppressed and downtrodden of Europe, is not to be or to become an asylum for assassins; that those who boast openly that they are banded together for the “removal” of all rulers in order that they may loaf and loot, will themselves be rigidly and ruthlessly “removed.” That there is no right  of so-called “free speech” involved in the question is clearly apparent, for no one but an anarchist is likely to claim that the right of free speech as guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States and of the different States, was ever intended or will be permitted to comprehend the right to preach destruction of government and murder of government’s chosen representatives.
The frank and noble utterance of President Roosevelt, at the very first opportunity, to the effect that it should be his aim to continue absolutely unbroken the policy of President McKinley for the peace and prosperity of our beloved country, has done much to restore confidence in the minds of those who had begun to harbor doubts as to the course of the new executive. It is proof that there will be no radical change in the conduct and management of domestic affairs; that to him the country can look in perfect confidence for a careful, wise, patriotic, conservative course of action. In spite of what his enemies have said of him, it cannot be denied that Theodore Roosevelt possesses many conspicuous qualifications for the exalted place to which he has now been so unexpectedly called. His absolute integrity and fearlessness, his keen, clear judgment of men and measures, his implacable hatred of chicanery and dishonesty, and his remarkable literary attainments—surely these are worth something in a man called to exercise the powers of chief executive of the nation. Throughout his remarkable rise in politics, he has constantly shown a broadening of mind and a sobering of judgment under high responsibilities, and a growing conservatism and caution that promise well for the future of the country under his guidance. He begins his arduous and exacting duties with the general confidence of his fellow citizens, a confidence which we believe his administration will fairly and fully justify.