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Source: Canada Law Journal
Source type: journal
Document type: editorial
Document title: “Anarchy and Its Victim”
Author(s): anonymous
Date of publication: 1 October 1901
Volume number: 37
Issue number: 18
Pagination: 678-80

“Anarchy and Its Victim.” Canada Law Journal 1 Oct. 1901 v37n18: pp. 678-80.
full text
anarchism (international response); McKinley assassination (international response); William McKinley; anarchism (dealing with); freedom of speech (restrictions on); anarchism (laws against); presidents (protection).
Named persons
Marie François Sadi Carnot; Elizabeth; Humbert I; Abraham Lincoln; William McKinley.


Anarchy and Its Victim

     The civilized world stands aghast at the crowning exhibition of the spirit of lawlessness abroad to-day. Though the governments of Europe are now more or less free and responsive to the will of the people, the one that claims the greatest advance in this respect was the one selected by the anarchists for their most recent attack upon law and order. It is noteworthy, moreover, that the last selected victim of the hateful malice of these miscreants was a man who personally could not have been obnoxious to their misguided and distorted views. He was, moreover, the free choice of a free people and moved freely and without fear amongst those who had selected him as the representative head of their nation. On the 6th inst. the dastardly attack upon Wm. McKinley, President of the United States, was made. On Saturday the 14th inst. he passed away. Whilst his loss is mourned by his people as a national calamity and as the loss of a beloved personal friend, the heartfelt sympathy of other nations and notably (and properly so) that of Great Britain and this Dominion has gone out in full measure to his family, his friends and his fellow citizens. In public and in private life he lived without reproach. As a constitutional ruler he will take a high place. A great man in many ways, he had risen from a humble position—schoolmaster, soldier, lawyer—to be the head of a great nation. Deservedly popular and respected and growing daily in the esteem of his people, the last days of his life told of a man even greater than his record. In his words of pleading for his murderer, his brave patient endurance, and his resignation to the Divine will, he breathed the spirit of his Master, whom he loved and sought to serve. [678][679]
     Shocking as the assassination of Mr. McKinley was to the moral sense of all right-minded men, it is the utter senselessness of the crime that makes it especially striking and deplorable, for this cruel murder cannot of course bring the votaries of social disintegration one step nearer their goal, but must necessarily work in the opposite direction. The slaying of men in sovereign place is no rare thing in history, but until the fell era of anarchism came upon the stage of human action, it was possible to find some motive more or less plausible on the part of the assassin. M. Carnot, the Empress Elizabeth, King Humbert and Mr. McKinley were the victims of ignorant and deluded social theorists, who used as their tools weak-minded men tutored into irresponsibility by the suasions of demagogues who were the real murderers. The end to be aimed at therefore in the direction of repression and suppression should be, as far as may be, to strike at the roots of the evil. Of these there are many.


     One of them is the right of free speech run riot. There must be a curtailment of the license hitherto allowed to anarchist orators and a pestilent press. It should be made a criminal offence to counsel the employment of force to achieve the ends of any social propagandism, or to attempt to bring the institutions of government into contempt and disfavour or to weaken the hands of the government and the machinery at their disposal, whether civil or military, in the suppression of lawlessness. The country should not be obliged to wait until a bomb has been thrown or a murder committed. The proposal for legislation in the curtailment of what has been called the right of free speech will grate upon the ears of many in the United States, but as that country is now entering on the brotherhood of nations in unexpected ways, and to an extent unthought of by its citizens a few years ago, they will find a necessity to do many things which they never expected to do, and at one time said they never would do. They will doubtless see also the necessity for the Federal authority to pass a law punishing with death any attempt upon the life of the chief magistrate of the nation. The constitution of the United States (Art. III., s. 3) provides that “treason against the United States shall consist only in levying war against them or in adhering to their enemies, giving aid and comfort.” It has been supposed by [679][680] some that the English common law of treason may have a place in American jurisprudence, but however that may be, many will maintain that the spirit of the common law of England in this direction is a right that remains to a free people. There can be no doubt, however, that it is quite competent for Congress to enact such a criminal law as has been indicated. The necessity for this in the present condition of things across the border is quite evident. It might be wise also not to permit the plea of irresponsibility, except upon the condition that invoking it should entail imprisonment for life in a lunatic asylum. One thing is evident, and that is that in view of the murder of three of its Presidents since the election of Lincoln, the great Republic in spite of its national traditions in the past, be they wise or otherwise, must follow the example of European monarchies in encircling its chief magistrate with safeguards against violence similar to those which the countries of the old world have been compelled to adopt. The welfare of the nation, as well as the dictates of humanity, demand it.



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