Publication information
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Source: Law Times
Source type: journal
Document type: letter
Document title: “Our American Letter”
Author(s): Davenport, James Pierpont
Date of publication: 12 October 1901
Volume number: 111
Issue number: 3054
Pagination: 515-17 (excerpt below includes only pages 515-16)

Davenport, James Pierpont. “Our American Letter.” Law Times 12 Oct. 1901 v111n3054: pp. 515-17.
McKinley assassination (government response); William McKinley (death: government response); Leon Czolgosz (trial: compared with Guiteau trial); Theodore Roosevelt.
Named persons
Leon Czolgosz; James A. Garfield; Charles J. Guiteau; William McKinley; Theodore Roosevelt.


Our American Letter [excerpt]


New York, Sept. 24.     

THE universal grief and horror at the assassination of President McKinley were manifested in the courts by a general suspension of business on the day when the news became generally known. Without any concerted action by the judges, the whole calendar of causes was in some cases adjourned, and few trials were had in the days succeeding the assault upon the President. On the day of his funeral none of the courts were open. The busiest season of the lawyer’s year had not yet begun, and the suspension of occupation was almost unprecedented. One of the most impressive acts of respect was the adjournment of the Ohio courts for several days, and the attendance of the Circuit Court judges from all parts of the State at the funeral services at Canton. The annual convention of the Ohio judges was in session a few days before the funeral, and resolutions were passed that the whole body of judges assemble at Canton and show their respect to their fellow member of the Ohio Bar, who had become the beloved President of the United States.
     The trial of the President’s murderer was in striking contrast with that of the murderer of President Garfield twenty years ago. Czolgosz refused to select counsel, and the lawyers assigned to him were among the most eminent members of the Buffalo Bar. The murderer acknowledged his guilt, but under the laws of the State of New York conviction cannot be had upon the plea of guilty when the punishment is capital. The counsel simply took pains to see that all the forms of law were complied with, and that no improper evidence was admitted. A few short sessions of the court, in which everything was carried on with the greatest dignity, sufficed to convict the assassin. The trial of Guiteau, the assassin of President Garfield, on the other hand, was marked by a lack of dignity on the part of the defendant’s counsel at some stages of the proceedings, and the appearance and conduct of the defendant were such as to render the proceedings even more painful than was essential from the character of the case. The result of the trial in either case was [515][516] inevitable, and the quick and orderly manner in which the later trial was conducted showed a marked advance in judicial procedure.
     President McKinley was the last of a long line of lawyer-Presidents. President Roosevelt is the first President in over twenty years who has not been an active member of the Bar. Mr. Roosevelt was a student of law, but never practised that profession.



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