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Source: Philadelphia Medical Journal
Source type: journal
Document type: public address
Document title: “Political Assassinations in Some of Their Relations to Psychiatry and Legal Medicine”
Author(s): Mills, Charles K.
Date of publication: 26 October 1901
Volume number: 8
Issue number: 17
Pagination: 688-92

 
Citation
Mills, Charles K. “Political Assassinations in Some of Their Relations to Psychiatry and Legal Medicine.” Philadelphia Medical Journal 26 Oct. 1901 v8n17: pp. 688-92.
 
Transcription
full text
 
Keywords
assassinations (comparison); assassins; assassins (mental health); presidential assassinations (comparison); Charles J. Guiteau; McKinley assassination; Leon Czolgosz; Leon Czolgosz (mental health); McKinley assassination (personal response); assassination (preventative measures).
 
Named persons
Alexander II; Jacob Johan Anckarström [misspelled once below; first and middle name reversed below; variant spelling of middle name below]; Michele Angiolillo [identified as Michel Angino Golli below]; Levin August Theophil Bennigsen [misspelled below]; James G. Blaine; Napoléon Bonaparte; John Wilkes Booth; Charles-Ferdinand de Bourbon [identified as Duc de Berry below]; Gaetano Bresci [misspelled once below]; Antonio Cánovas del Castillo; Marie François Sadi Carnot; Sante Geronimo Caserio [identified as Cesare Giovanni Santo below]; Catherine II; Charles X; Jacques Clément [misspelled once below]; Boston Corbett; Charlotte Corday; Leon Czolgosz; Jacques-Louis David; Charles F. Folsom; James A. Garfield; Charles J. Guiteau; Gustav III [variant spelling below]; Henry III (France); Henry IV (France); Holofernes; Humbert I; Judith; Richard von Krafft-Ebing; Abraham Lincoln; Cesare Lombroso; Louis XVIII; Louis-Pierre Louvel; Luigi Luccheni [misspelled below]; Jean-Paul Marat; Marie-Antoinette; Henry Maudsley; William McKinley; Petr Alekseevich Pahlen; Paul I; Peter III; James W. Putnam; François Ravaillac; Maximilien François de Robespierre; Paul Topinard; Fedor Petrovich Uvarov [identified as Uwarow below]; Walter M. Van Kirk [in notes].
 
Notes
Click here to view the item by James W. Putnam referred to below.

The address (below) includes the following footnote. Click on the asterisk preceding the footnote to navigate to its location in the text (p. 691):
* Extracted from the Wien. Med. Blaetter, Nos. 48-49, 1892, [in?] the Rev. Ins. and Nervous [Dis.?], March and June, 1893.
“Address at the Atlantic City Academy of Medicine, Oct. 11, 1901. I am indebted to Mr. Walter M. Van Kirk for valuable assistance in collecting data for this paper” (p. 688).

“By Charles K. Mills, M. D., of Philadelphia. Professor of Mental Diseases and of Medical Jurisprudence in the University of Pennsylvania” (p. 688).
 
Document

 

Political Assassinations in Some of Their Relations to Psychiatry and Legal Medicine

     The assassination of President McKinley has caused horror and alarm throughout the civilized world. It has also awakened widespread interest in the subject of politcal [sic] assassinations, of which we have had so many examples during the last decade—in Spain, France, Italy and the Orient. This interest cannot be regarded as merely morbid. In the community at large it is founded on the interest which everyone who is lawabiding has in the protection of human life and property and in the preservation of government and of society. At the root of the general concern is the doctrine of self-preservation, the first law of nature. To the student of medicine, of law, and of history, the subject of political assassination has a true scientific interest. It leads him to consider the criteria of mental soundness, the workings of the unbalanced mind, the springs of human motives and the character of the times in which the assassinations occur. Every such assassination is a terrible historical episode, and one inclination, born of the wish for enlightenment, is to turn to history for the annals and to legal medicine for the analyses of similar crimes.
     Although it has been the incitement to the choice of my subject, this paper will not be concerned chiefly or even largely with the assassination of President McKinley; nor shall I take up at any length the study of the assassin Czolgosz. This event will be used only as one of many, the article being based on a brief and perhaps too hasty study of about fifteen historical cases, beginning with the assassination of Heny [sic] III. of France by Jacques Clément in 1589.
     A glance at the historical cases used in the preparation of this paper shows that the assassins can be conveniently divided into four classes: (1) sane conspirators, (2) assassins clearly recognizable as insane, (3) degenerates who are not insane, and (4) degenerates of doubtful sanity.
     Among sane assassins, however depraved, may be classed the Orloffs and their confederates, who in 1762 brought about the death of Peter III. of Russia for the usurper Catharine. It is generally believed that the actual assassins were members of the Orloff family. In the same category should be placed the assassintion [sic] of Paul I. of Russia in 1801. It is supposed that he was assassinated by Count Pahlen, General Beningsen, Uwarow, or other nobles. The obscurity as to his real assassin results from the fact that he came to his death in a darkened room during a quarrel. A conspiracy was formed by the above-mentioned noblemen and many others, to put an end to the capricious despotism of Paul. It was at first intended only to urge his abdication, but during an argument with Paul his ungovernable temper precipitated a hand to hand struggle, during which the lamp went out, and when it was relighted the Emperor was found to have been strangled. No punishment was inflicted. Gustavus III. of Sweden also lost his life probably at the hands of a sane conspirator, although a man of erratic character and violent passions. Gustavus was assassinated in 1792 by John Jacob Anckerström, an ex-captain of the Swedish army, who had conspired with others against the crown because of the King’s efforts to curtail the power of the nobles and of the Senate. He shot the King with a pistol loaded with broken bullets. John Wilkes Booth should also be ranked among sane conspirators and assassins. The assassination of President Lincoln in 1865 was the result of a conspiracy of which Booth was the moving spirit. Booth might perhaps be classed as an alcoholic degenerate, having inherited a craving for alcohol which showed itself in periodical outbreaks; or he might, like his father, be regarded as an erratic dramatic genius, but nothing in his life history or in his crime compels the diagnosis of insanity. Alexander II. of Russia was assassinated in 1881 by a band of Nihilists. They were undoubtedly conspirators, but little is known as to their mental status. They were presumably sane, although some of them not improbably belonged to the degenerate class to which a large number of the violent among the revolutionaries of all countries can be relegated.
     Among assassins whom I would class as clearly insane are Ravaillac, Louvel and Guiteau. Henry IV., the greatest of the Bourbons, was assassinated in 1610 by Ravaillac, by stabbing. What is known of Ravaillac makes for the diagnosis of insanity. It is said that in his youth he became a notary’s clerk, and later tried school teaching and other pursuits. Imprisonment for debt brought on sickness and delusions. He was subject to attacks of mental excitement. Shortly after his release from prison he joined the order of Feuillants, and afterwards that of the Jesuits. Louis Pierre Louvel in 1820 assassinated the Duc de Berry, son of Charles X. and heir to the French throne. Louvel in his childhood and youth was an invalid, but was docile and good tempered; as he grew older he became morose, taciturn, eccentric, melancholiac and the victim of fixed ideas. His mind became possessed with the idea that the Bourbons were the destroyers of France, and that it was his duty to exterminate them. He was a saddler, and at one time was in the service of the chief saddler of Napoleon at Elba. He followed the Emperor to Waterloo, and after Napoleon’s fall was in the service of Louis XVIII. Besides his monomania regarding the Bourbons, a number of facts indicate his eccentricity or insanity. At one period of his life his only pleasure was in singing hymns in the temple of the Theophilanthropists.
     Charles Jules Guiteau, who assassinated President Garfield in 1881, was insane, an opinion which I expressed before his trial and which I have continued to hold. It is justified by a study of his life history, by his conduct after the assassination, and by the results of the autopsy and microscopical examination of his brain. I have not here the space to [688][689] review in any detail the case of Guiteau, which abounds in interest both from the standpoint of psychiatry and of medical jurisprudence. Krafft-Ebing ranks Guiteau among his illustrations of paranoia politica. He certainly belonged to the type of insanity which is now generally designated as paranoia. My own view is that which was also held by Folsom, that he was a paranoiac, probably in the first stages of general paresis, a not unrecorded combination.
     At the age of nineteen he left school and entered the Oneida Community, where he remained for five years, then left for a few months and subsequently returned and remained for another year, at the end of which time he withdrew from the community, and went to New York, where he contemplated the establishment of a daily journal to be called the Theocrat. In a letter to his father, written in 1865, speaking of his project for the establishment of a Theocratic Press, which was to provide the whole country with daily religious instruction, he claimed that he was in the employ of Jesus Christ and Company. The same letter abounded in similar insane extravagances. He studied law, was admitted to the bar, and practiced in a pettifogging way in New York and Chicago. He married, and afterward committed adultery to procure a divorce. In 1874 he entered a ridiculous suit for one hundred thousand dollars against the New York Herald. In 1875 he had a project for reviving the Inter-Ocean, a bankrupt Chicago paper, of which he was to be the editor. In 1875, apparently in a moment of maniacal excitement, he raised an axe to strike his sister. A physician at this time said that he was insane, and advised that he be taken to an insane asylum. He afterwards traveled about the country delivering trashy lectures, maintaining that he was a great evangelist. In 1879 he published a book of lectures called “Truth, a Companion to the Bible.” In the Presidential campaign of 1880 he wrote a speech which he once delivered in part. After the election of Garfield he began to put in important claims for office. He first applied for the position of Minister to Austria, and subsequently for that of Consul-General to Paris. He urged his claims in the most absurd manner, both by letter and in person, upon President Garfield and Secretary Blaine. According to his own way of putting the matter, he now “conceived the idea of removing the President.”
     The conduct of Guiteau, both during his trial and on the scaffold, was consistent with the idea of insanity. I was present at his execution, and shall never forget the dramatic scene presented when this man stood with the noose ready to be placed around his neck upon the scaffold: how he chanted the foolish rhymes of his own creation, “I am going to the Lordy,” until, overcome with emotion, he wept and swayed to and fro like the leading character in a religious meeting characterized chiefly by excitement; and how in the speech which he was allowed to prepare and deliver, he posed as a hero and a martyr. I was present also at the autopsy of Guiteau, which was made a few hours after his death. The appearance presented by his cerebral convexity was similar to that which is sometimes seen in general paresis. The pia presented an opaque appearance, which disappeared in part as the fluid oozed away. The convolutions were probably somewhat atrophied, and it will be remembered that subsequent microscopical examination of blocks of brain tissue were made independently in different cities, and the report on each was to the effect that the brain was decidedly diseased. Many gyral and fissural abnormalities were noted in the gross examination of the brain.
     Our third and fourth classes of assassins—degenerates not insane and degenerates doubtfully sane, may be considered together. Glancing backward in our historical review, a word might be said about Jacques Clement, the assassin in 1589, of Henry III. of France. He was a fanatic, probably a degenerate, and may have been mentally unbalanced, as history shows that his health had become disordered by his bad habits. Others, probably degenerate on the evidence at command, although the data are meagre and not satisfactory in some instances, are the assassins of Marat, of Carnot, of Canovas, the Premier of Spain, of the Empress of Austria, and of King Humbert.
     Marat was assassinated in 1793 by Marie Anne Charlotte Corday. She stabbed him in the heart while he was taking a bath, it is said, as a treatment for syphilis. On her trial she admitted and justified her deed. She was of noble family, of great beauty, and bore a striking resemblance to Marie Antoinette. It is said that the idea of slaying either Robespierre or Marat came to her while posing for the artist David as Judith preparing to slay Holofernes. At the beginning of the Revolution she became infected with revolutionary ideas, but at the outbreak of the Reign of Terror she was overcome with horror at the acts of the Jacobins. Lombroso, after a rapid inspection of the skull of Charlotte Corday, affirmed the presence of an extraordinary number of anomalies, an opinion which he holds is confirmed not only by the monograph of Topinard, the anthropologist, but also by photographs of her skull. Lombroso gives in detail the result of his investigation of what he regards as striking cranial anomalies, among a large number of these being the enormous size of the orbital cavities, especially the right, which is lower than the left, as is the whole right side of the face.
     President Carnot, of France, was assassinated in 1894 by Cesare Giovanni Santo, an Italian baker. Santo in appearance was brutal and degenerate, and the alleged cause of his crime was the refusal of the President to pardon certain anarchists. Senor Canovas, Premier of Spain, was assassinated in 1897 by shooting, by Michel Angino Golli. Golli is said to have come of an honest family, but was himself a fanatical anarchist. He served for a time as a soldier, but his military record was bad; he was indifferent and disobedient, and was sent for three years’ service in the disciplinary battalion. The Empress of Austria was assassinated by stabbing with a file at Geneva, Switzerland, by Luigi Lucchoni. He was an anarchist who boasted of his hatred of the rich and of those in power. While in prison he addressed a letter to a Milan newspaper in which he expressed a fear lest he be mistaken by Professor Lombroso for a degenerate. King Humbert of Italy [689][690] was shot in Monza, Italy, by Gaetano Bressi, an Italian silkweaver, who was living just previous to his crime at Paterson, New Jersey. He is said to have been of moody temperament.
     The crime of Czolgosz is so recent as scarcely to need a recital in detail. He shot President McKinley in two places, one of the wounds eventually proving fatal. He carried the weapon concealed beneath a handkerchief, which was wrapped around it and his hand. It has been suggested in some quarters that this seemed to point to an accessory or accessories. Czolgosz, however, consistently denied that he had accessories, and it was quite possible for him to have made use of the handkerchief in the manner in which he did, without any assistance. It is not improbable that he got the idea of concealing the pistol from the published accounts of the manner in which Santo killed President Carnot. Santo wrapped his knife in a copy of the Parisian paper, the Figaro, and the police, it is said, believed that he had in his hand a petition which he wished to present to the President, and thus allowed him to gain access to the President’s carriage.
     With regard both to the mental and physical condition of Czolgosz little has been published. The alienists by whom he was examined, however, united in pronouncing him sane, and no evidence has been adduced to the contrary. The brief statement of one of these alienists, Dr. James W. Putnam, of Buffalo, in The Philadelphia Medical Journal of October 19, 1901, records him as a young man of twenty-eight, with a former history of good health and steady habits; educated in the public schools until fifteen; at intervals a wireworker, blacksmith’s helper and farm hand; thrifty in that he had saved $400 in six years; a voter at the age of twenty-one, and about this age a convert to anarchism, and a disbeliever, according to his own avowment, in religion, government, law, God and marriage. At his examination he said that he killed the President because it was his duty, and that he was glad that he had done it. Dr. Putnam states that Czolgosz did not at any time sham insanity; that although he refused to discuss his crime with his lawyers, he did discuss it with others; that in conversation and appearance he is more intelligent than the average Polish laborer; and that physical examination showed his pulse 82, temperature 98½°, tongue clean, skin clear, patellar reflexes normal and heart normal—a record so far as it goes of excellent health. Certainly we have no evidence in anything that has been published that Czolgosz is insane, nor according to the meagre accounts of him does he present any special signs of degeneracy which separate him from sane men and women of his class. Whether those who hold views such as he has proclaimed regarding the individual and society are entirely normal may be regarded by many as doubtful, but according to the rules applied in a study of the question of sanity or insanity in such cases, with the evidence before us, his insanity cannot be admitted. He probably belongs, however, to the class of degenerates.
     Let us delay here for a moment to discuss briefly degeneracy and insanity in the relations to the class of criminals under consideration. Degeneracy and insanity are by no means interchangeable terms: the degenerate are not all insane, nor are all the insane degenerate. Degeneration as Maudsley puts it is the undoing of a kind, and the term is now often used to indicate a change from a higher to a lower kind, a process of dissolution. The degenerate is the one who has been reduced or relegated to a type lower than the standard normal individual. Degeneracy is generally regarded as shown by certain bodily landmarks called stigmata, as difference in stature or in the length of limb; irregularities of the skull and face; deformities of the palate, ear, genitals or other parts. On the mental side the evidences of degeneracy are “general want of harmony between volition and instincts; instability; excess or deficiency of the emotional sensibility; obtuseness; slow mental development; defective mental development; defects of speech; all stages of mental weakness down to idiocy.” The landmarks of degeneracy may be present in the normal or even in those of high intelligence, but they occur in a large percentage of the idiotic, insane and criminal. Insanity, however, is not to be determined merely by a study of the indications of degeneracy. The diagnosis of insanity should be made by a study of the psychial state, and the mental symptoms presented by the subject of the investigation. In order to be classed as a degenerate in the technical sense, one whose degeneracy places him below a generally accepted normal standard, it is not necessary simply that the physical landmarks of degeneracy be present, but in addition the individual must present satisfactory evidences of psychical aberration and dissolution. Degeneracy, in other words, is relative, and the term should not be used with too wide an application when discussing questions of insanity and criminality. Not a few of the political assassins, whose crimes have startled the world, are degenerates in the fullest meaning of the word as used by Lombroso, and some of them may be classed as both degenerate and insane; while others should not fall in the latter category.
     Youthful degenerates later in life not infrequently become instances of easily recognizable insanity with systematized delusions; still later passing into forms of dementia. Our attention is fixed by the immature years of the assassins here considered, and of many other historical cases. Jacques Clément was twenty-five years old, Ravaillac thirty-two, Anckarström thirty-one, Charlotte Corday twenty-five, Wilkes Booth twenty-seven, Santo about twenty-one, Golli thirty-three, Lucchoni twenty-five, Bresci thirty-one and Czolgosz twenty-eight. Louvel had reached thirty-seven years and Guiteau forty-two, and in both of these cases the insanity was well defined.
     Sanity and insanity like degeneracy are also relative terms. At the one end of a series is the individual with the highest grade of mental development and health, at the other end is the idiot; between these extremes are all degrees of mental health and degeneracy. For the purposes of the law, and even at times for those of medicine, it is necessary to make an arbitrary line on one side of which are placed the sane and on the other side the insane. When to draw this line is determined simply by an application of the data of psychiatry to each individual case. The marks of degeneracy are [690][691] not without value in arriving at a decision as to sanity or insanity, but it is necessary that they should be used and interpreted by one who has the requirements and acumen to make a correct interpretation.
     Assassins clearly recognizable as insane frequently are to be classed under the type of insanity now commonly designated paranoia. This variety of insanity is known by various names: as monomania and primary delusional insanity. In its fully fledged form it is an easily recognized mental disease with a method of development, a course and a termination familiar to every alienist, but it is not part of my present design to discuss paranoia at length. Prominent among its clinical features are in its period of development a tendency to self-analysis, obsessions and morbid impulses, and as the disease becomes more fully organized, delusions of suspicion and persecution and false ideas of self-importance, these appearing successively, or it may be hand in hand. The dangerous delusion that the paranoiac has a mission, social, religious or other, frequently comes into the foreground. The transformation and exaltation of the paranoiac’s personality is associated with the idea that he and others are the victims of persecution. Instead of paranoiacs with well systematized delusions and other manifestations constituting a familiar clinical picture, in every community are to be found degenerates, more out of institutions than in them, who are perhaps best described as paranoiacs in the making. These form a large proportion of the cranks and crack-brained of popular speech. They are in reality weaklings, but owing to their egotism and self-assertion they often impress others as they are themselves impressed with ideas of their virtue or valor.
     Krafft-Ebing has well described many of these cases in his chapter on paranoia politica. In history as well as at the present time, he says, we meet with many who, dissatisfied with the social conditions surrounding them, feel themselves called upon to reform the world, or at least to supplant the old with something new. The main difference between the real genius and the pseudo-genius is that the genius has not only the mental organization to see the defects of his sourroundings [sic], but also the mental force to expand his ideas for its betterment in a logical and useful way. The pseudo-genius, whose mental development is one-sided, resembles the genius in the originality of his views and his power of induction. In the expansion of these ideas, however, he becomes irrational and eccentric. The clinical manifestations of this disease present an infinite variety. In many the intellectual force is slight and their mental product of such a nature as to bear the stamp of crankiness and not of genius. If esthetic and ethical defects coexist, their ideas are often a priori monstrous or immoral. In many cases, however, the mental development is brilliant, though one-sided, and then the danger is imminent that the thoughtless crowd accepts the single brilliant thought as a new gospel. Very many of these abnormal subjects remain throughout life theoretical reformers and leaders of new movements, but this is but the prodrome of a severe and incurable mental state, paranoia expansiva. Such individuals easily lose the remnant of their mental stability under the suggestive influence of others or of troublous times. Then they are impelled to carry their ideas into execution and become leaders of riots or founders of new parties or sects. The stage of incubation is long, often reaching back to early youth. A dreamy fantastic behavior, a tendency to build air castles of future greatness, great self-consciousness with seclusion from the vulgar herd, premonition of a great mission in life and brooding over inventions or social problems are related in the early history of these cases. Frequently neuroses as epilepsy and hysteria are to be noted. The forensic importance of this class is indeed great, as they often do not stop at words or michief [sic] making, but keep on to deeds such as attempts to murder those in power, mistaking the representatives of a system for the system itself.*
     Was Czolgosz one of a band of active conspirators? Had he associates and accessories? He has avowed himself an anarchist, but he has also, at least up to the time of the writing of this article, continued to insist that he acted on his own initiative; that he was not in a plot with others, and that the method was his own, as is also the responsibility for the crime. Probably the truth about this matter will never be known, although some contributions to the discussion may be forthcoming in the future in the shape of insane confessions and sane accusations. While some facts seem on superficial examination to point to accessories, on the whole I think it is probable that the man was alone in his crime, so far at least as direct intrigue and assistance are concerned. Even if it is admitted that he was not a member of any organization of conspirators to take the life of the President, he may have been the unconscious dupe of other conspirators with this aim. With regard to several of the historical cases here cited, it has been frequently asserted that the assassins were the unconscious dupes rather than the conscious agents of others. Jacques Clément is supposed to have been influenced by Spain, or by members of the League. It has also been asserted that the Jesuits took advantage of the unbalanced mind of Ravaillac to instigate him indirectly to the assassination of Henry of Navarre, formerly the leader of the Huguenots, and who was, as the assassin may have been led to believe, still the enemy of the Catholic Church. Ravaillac, however, in spite of tortures inflicted upon him, refused to confess that others were involved with him in the crime. Foolish efforts were made to have Louvel confess that he was the tool of England, but in spite of repeated application of torture he scoffed at the idea and denied having had any accomplices or instigators. It is probable that while Czolgosz’s inspiration to commit the crime came from the study of anarchy and in part from listening to anarchistic speeches, that he was not directly in conspiracy with individual anarchists. The astute and cunning conspirators who are found in anarchistic and other circles are usually able to pick out from those who attend their coteries or who perhaps hang on the outskirts of their movements, the type of man who will be most likely incited to deeds of violence by their teachings. It [691][692] is only necessary to let events take their course, to allow the seed sown a little time to ripen. I do not of course believe that the insistent and persistent denial by an assassin that he has accomplices should be taken as evidence that this is the case. My conclusions are reached by a different process, from a study of the assassin himself and of known facts regarding those with whom he is supposed to be acting.
     No possible doubt can exist that in some cases the assassins of recent years included in our list have actively conspired with others and have both predetermined and prearranged the crimes. This was true of the Russian Nihilists who killed Alexander II, and of the assassins of King Humbert and of Senor Canovas. It may have been true of the assassins of Carnot and the Austrian Empress; these two assassins, like Czolgosz, were avowed anarchists, but may have acted in part on their own initiative. In my enumeration of sane conspirators I have already included the assassins of Gustavus III of Sweden, of Peter III and Paul I of Russia, and of President Lincoln.
     A word might be said here with regard to the subject of insanity and conspiracy. Because a man is a degenerate, or even insane in the full sense, it does not follow, as many seem to suppose, that he is not capable of taking part in a conspiracy. Well planned, and unfortunately in some instances well executed conspiracies, have been formed by the insane inmates of asylumns [sic]; and many of the half insane degenerates take as naturally to conspiracy as the normal man does to open enterprise.
     What should be done with political assassins? Let us glance at what has been done with some of them in the past. When Jacques Clément stabbed Henry III in the abdomen, the King instantly wrenched the knife from his body and struck his assassin in the face with the bloody weapon, and a moment later the attendants and guards fell upon the assassin, who died pierced by twenty sword thrusts. Ravaillac, after a speedy but formal trial, was torn to pieces by horses. Anckarström was flogged on three successive days and then beheaded. Charlotte Corday, Louvel and Santo were guillotined. The assassins of Peter III and Paul I were protected and some of them even rewarded by the legatees of the crimes. Booth was shot to death by Boston Corbett, one of the soldiers engaged in his pursuit. Of the Nihilists who killed Alexander II of Russia one was blown to pieces by the same bomb that killed the Czar, and five others were hanged two days later. Guiteau was hanged after a prolonged and tedious trial. Golli was executed, probably by garroting. Lucchoni was imprisoned for life, as according to the laws of the Swiss canton in which the crime was committed the death penalty could not be inflicted. Bresci was imprisoned for life, but soon committed suicide. A few days after the publication of this article Czolgosz will be electrocuted.
     Some seem to favor the infliction of punishments that rival those of pestmedieval [sic] times; others cry out for execution without even the form of trial, and still others after the form but not the substance of a trial. Just punishment should be inflicted, but it should be done by due process of law. Whenever possible, efforts should be made to reach those who are the real instigators of the crimes. It is probable, however, that in the case of the insane and degenerate the infliction of the death penalty does not always lead to the results which are hoped for in the protection of society. Krafft-Ebing says of the political paranoiacs that they do not fear death, as it stamps them as martyrs in the eyes of their followers, and he holds that the true punishment for them is the asylum. If the asylum means a place in which they can be safely confined for the rest of their lives, this opinion is for the insane correct. I have seen two men of the class referred to by Krafft-Ebing hanged, and have had interviews with others a short time before their execution. In all cases they have shown an indifference to death, and in some have looked to the scaffold as a place where they could pose as heroes and martyrs. The great publicity which is given to the details of execution certainly does much harm.
     What should be done to prevent a recurrence of political assassinations? This, it will be seen, is quite a different question from that of what shall be done with assassins. One meets everywhere those who have ready methods of solving the problem. One newspaper contributor, for instance, suggests that the anarchists, whether assassins or not, be collected together on an island and be allowed to fight out their ideas as to individual rights until they exterminate each other. Something perhaps might be done as regards the prevention of individual attempts by a system of international policing, something by a careful guard over immigration. It is the proud boast of this country that it is an asylum for the oppressed of all nations, but this does not mean that it should be the dumping ground for the depraved and degenerate, the vicious and criminal. Liberty to think, to speak and to print is one of our greatest boons, but this should not mean license to incite to violence the immature, the degenerate and the insane. After all, permanent relief can only come through a study of the causes and cure of crime, through the spread of right principles, and through the elevation of the masses.

 

 


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