Publication information
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Source: Philadelphia Medical Journal
Source type: journal
Document type: report
Document title: “Official Report of the Experts for the People in the Case of the People vs—Leon F. Czolgosz”
Author(s): Fowler, Joseph; Crego, Floyd S.; Putnam, James W.
Date of publication: 9 November 1901
Volume number: 8
Issue number: 19
Pagination: 778-79

Fowler, Joseph, Floyd S. Crego, and James W. Putnam. “Official Report of the Experts for the People in the Case of the People vs—Leon F. Czolgosz.” Philadelphia Medical Journal 9 Nov. 1901 v8n19: pp. 778-79.
full text
McKinley assassination (investigation: Buffalo, NY); Leon Czolgosz (mental health); Leon Czolgosz (psychiatric examination); Leon Czolgosz; Leon Czolgosz (confession); McKinley assassination (Czolgosz account); Leon Czolgosz (as anarchist); Leon Czolgosz (connection with anarchists).
Named persons
William S. Bull; Floyd S. Crego; Leon Czolgosz; Joseph Fowler; Emma Goldman; William McKinley; Thomas Penney; James W. Putnam.
From page 778: By Joseph Fowler, M. D., of Buffalo, N. Y.; Floyd S. Crego, M. D., Professor of Insanity and Brain Diseases in University of Buffalo; and James W. Putnam, M. D., Professor of Nervous Diseases in University of Buffalo, N. Y.


Official Report of the Experts for the People in the Case of the
People vs—Leon F. Czolgosz

September 28, 1901.     

Hon. Thomas Penney,
               District Attorney, Erie County, N. Y.
     Complying with your request to examine into the mental condition of Leon F. Czolgosz and report to you the result of our findings, we respectfully submit the following:
     In conducting the examinations of the prisoner, we eliminated all bias and personal revenge, which so revolting a crime might suggest, to reach a just conclusion as to his mental state.
     The early opportunity afforded us to examine Czolgosz, such examinations beginning but a few hours after the commission of the crime, while he was still uninformed of the fate of his victim, or had time to meditate upon the enormity of his act, aided us materially in our work.
     As will be seen from our report, the prisoner answered questions unhesitatingly during the first three examinations.
     After this he became more cautious and less communicative when interrogated as to the crime. From September 10th until after his trial he never volunteered any information to the examiners, and answered only in monosylables [sic], except to his guards, to whom he talked freely.
     Leon F. Czolgosz is 28 years old, born of Polish parents, at Detroit, Mich., single, five feet 7 5/8 inches high, weighs 136 pounds, general appearance that of a person in good health, complexion fair, pulse and temperature normal, tongue clean, skin moist and in excellent condition. Pupils normal and react to light, reflexes normal, never had serious illness. He had a common school education, reads and writes well. Does not drink to excess, although drinks beer about every day, uses tobacco moderately, eats well, bowels regular. Shape of his head normal as shown by the diagram obtained by General Bull, Superintendent of Police, with a hatter’s impress.
     The face is symmetrical, one eyebrow was apparently asymmetrical, and elevated, as it had been cut some years ago by a wire while he was working in a wire factory. There was also a small scar on left cheek due to slight injury while at work.
     At our first interview, held September 7th, he made the following statements during a lengthy examination by all three examiners: “I don’t believe in the Republican form of government, and I don’t believe we should have any rulers. It is right to kill them. I had that idea when I shot the President, and that is why I was there. I planned killing the President three or four days ago after I came to Buffalo. Something I read in the Free Society suggested the idea. I thought it would be a good thing for the country to kill the President. When I got to the grounds I waited for the President to go into the Temple. I did not see him go in, but someone told me he had gone in. My gun was in my right pocket with a handkerchief over it. I put my hand in my pocket after I got in the door; took out my gun, and wrapped the handkerchief over my hand. I carried it that way in the row until I got to the President; no one saw me do it. I did not shake hands with him. When I shot him, I fully intended to kill him. I shot twice. I don’t know if I would have shot again. I did not want to shoot him at the Falls; it was my plan from the beginning to shoot him at the Temple. I read in the paper that he would have a public reception. I know other men who believe what I do, that it would be a good thing to kill the President and to have no rulers. I have heard that at the meetings in public halls. I heard quite a lot of people talk like that. Emma Goldman was the last one I heard. She said she did not believe in government nor in rulers. She said a good deal more. I don’t remember all she said. My family does not believe as I do. I paid $4.50 for my gun. After I shot twice they knocked me down and trampled on me. Somebody hit me in the face. I said to the officer that brought me down “I done my duty[.]” I don’t believe in voting; it is against my principles. I am an Anarchist. I don’t believe in marriage. I believe in free love. I fully understood what I was doing when I shot the President. I realized that I was sacrificing my life. I am willing to take the consequences. I have always been a good worker. I worked in a wire mill, and could always do as much work as the next man. I saved three or four foundred [sic] dollars in five or six years. I know what will happen to me,—if the President dies I will be hung. I want to say to be published—‘I killed President McKinley because I done my duty.’ I don’t believe in one man having so much service, and another man should have none.”
     On the second day’s examination we covered about the same ground as on the previous day in order to test his memory and to compare his statements. We found his memory perfect and his statements almost identical. On this examination we gained some further information, that for many months he had been an ardent student of the false doctrines of Anarchy; that he had attended many circles where these subjects were discussed. He related how a friend of his had broken away from the circle because he had changed his views and did not agree with him and the others in their radical ideas of government. He had heard Emma Goldman lecture, and had also heard lectures on free love by an exponent of that doctrine. He had left the Church five years ago because, as he said, “he didn’t like their style.” He had attended a meeting of Anarchists about six weeks ago, and also in July. Had met a man in Chicago about ten days ago who was an Anarchist, and had talked with him. The Friday before the commission of this crime, he had spent in Cleveland, leaving Buffalo, where he had been for two or three weeks, and going to Cleveland. Said he had no particular business in Cleveland. “Just went there to look around and buy a paper.”
     The circle he belonged to had no name. They called themselves Anarchists. At every meeting they elected a Chairman and usually it was one man (mentions name). “He was a sort of spokesman for the crowd. This friend of mine who left the circle, I don’t think much of. I don’t like a man who changes around like he did. I like a man to have a fixed purpose, and one who sticks to his belief. [In?] this circle we discussed Presidents, and that they were no good, but didn’t say they must be killed; just said they were no good.” During this examination the prisoner was very indignant because his clothing was soiled at the time of his arrest, and he had not had an opportunity to care for his clothing and person as he wished. He refused to demonstrate again how he covered his weapon with a handkerchief because his was soiled and bloody. When given a clean one he showed at once the method of concealing the weapon, and how he held it. His desire to keep himself tidy, demonstrated that he was not careless in dress and appearance, as are most insane persons. He requested clean clothing, and as he had a small amount of money, a shirt and two handkerchiefs were purchased for him with it. When they were brought in the change was shown him. He instantly turned to the officer and said, “How it [sic] that? Don’t I get more change?[”] The cost of the articles was told him, and he said, “Oh, that’s all right then.” Said he would have slept well last night but for the noise of people walking about. He had heard several drunken people brought into the station at night. Said he felt no remorse for the crime which he had committed. Said he supposed he would be punished, but every man had a chance on a trial: that perhaps he wouldn’t be punished so badly after all. His pulse on this occasion was 72; temperature normal; not nervous or excited.
     On September 9th we observed a marked change in his readiness to answer questions. Many of the questions asked he refused to answer. He denied that he had killed the President or that he meant to kill him. Seemed more on his guard, and refused to admit that he shot the President. He persisted in this course until nearly the close of the interview, and until we told him that it was too late for him to deny statements that he had made to us. He then said, “I am glad I did it.”
     At all subsequent interviews he declined to discuss the [778][779] crime in any of its details with us, but would talk about his general condition, his meals, his sleep, and how much he walked in the corridor of the jail, or upon any other subject not relating to the crime. From the daily reports filed with us we note that he talked freely; that his appetite was good; that he enjoyed his walks which he took in the corridor of the jail. He told his guards he would not talk with his lawyers because he did not believe in them, and did not want them.
     In conclusion, as a result of the frequent examinations of Czolgosz, of the reports of his watchers during his confinement in the jail, of his behavior in court during the trial, and at the time he received his sentence, we conclude that he was sane at the time he planned the murder, when he shot the President, and when he was on trial. We come to this conclusion from the history of his life as it came from him. He had been sober, industrious, and law-abiding; till he was twenty-one years of age, he was as others in his class, a believer in the Government of this country and of the religion of his fathers. After he cast his first vote he made the acquaintance of Anarchistic leaders who invited him to their meetings. He was a good listener, and in a short time he adopted their theories. He was consistent in his adherence to Anarchy. He did not believe in Government, therefore he refused to vote. He did not believe in marriage, because he did not believe in law. He killed the President because he was a ruler, and Czolgosz believed as he was taught that all rulers were tyrants; that to kill a ruler would benefit the people. He refused a lawyer because he did not believe in law, lawyers or Courts.
     We come to the conclusion that in the holding of these views Czolgosz was sane, because these opinions were formed gradually under the influence of Anarchistic leaders and propagandists. In Czolgosz they found a willing and intelligent tool; one who had the courage of his convictions, regardless of personal consequences. We believe that his statement, “I killed the President because I done my duty,” was not the expression of an insane delusion for several reasons. The most careful questioning failed to discover any hallucinations of sight or hearing. He had received no special command; he did not believe he had been especially chosen to do the deed. He always spoke of his motive for the crime as duty; he always referred to the Anarchists’ belief that the killing of rulers was a duty. He never claimed the idea of killing the President was original with him, but the method of accomplishing his purpose was his, and that he did it alone. He is not a case of paranoia, because he has not systematized delusions reverting to self, and because he is in exceptionally good condition, and has an unbroken record of good health. His capacity for labor has always been good, and equal to that of his fellows. These facts all tend to prove that the man has an unimpaired mind. He has false beliefs, the result of false teaching and not the result of disease. He is not to be classed as a degenerate, because we do not find the stigmata of degeneration; his skull is symmetrical; his ears do not protrude, nor are they of abnormal size, and his palate not highly arched. Psychically he has not a history of cruelty, or of perverted tastes and habits. He is the product of Anarchy, sane and responsible.

    Signed, JOSEPH FOWLER, M. D.


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