Source: Coming Nation
Source type: magazine
Document type: editorial column
Document title: “Comment on Things Doing”
Author(s): Russell, Charles Edward
Date of publication: 2 November 1912
Volume number: none
Issue number: 112
Series: new series
|Russell, Charles Edward. “Comment on Things Doing.” Coming Nation 2 Nov. 1912 n112 (new series): pp. 3-4.|
|Hearst newspapers (role in the assassination); McKinley assassination (public response).|
|Arthur Brisbane; Leon Czolgosz; William Randolph Hearst; William McKinley; Frederick Burr Opper; John F. Schrank.|
Comment on Things Doing [excerpt]
A BIT OF HISTORY
FOR the benefit of those of a persistently blithesome view of Capitalism in
the United States, here are a few facts that may be deemed pertinent on the
At the time Czolgosz shot President McKinley the power in this country that the Capitalists most hated and feared was the power of William Randolph Hearst. He has since seen fit to join hands with his former deadly foes, but there is no doubt that their detestation of him was then both savage and sincere.
The assassination of the president gave them what they believed was their opportunity to destroy Hearst. The Hearst papers had printed some cartoons ridiculing McKinley and some foolish editorials by Brisbane that might be construed as personal attacks. Mr. McKinley himself was so far from resenting these things that he used to laugh about them, and sent to Opper for the original drawing of one of the cartoons. But the scheme of the Capitalists was to create the belief that the assassin had been inflamed and instigated by these attacks and to throw the responsibility for the murder upon Hearst.
It happened that, united as to the main object, they were divided as to the best means. Some believed that Hearst could be indicted  as accessory before the fact, convicted and hanged, and secured the opinion of a very eminent authority that such a plan was perfectly feasible. Others thought the best way was to create such a frenzy of public indignation that Hearst would be lynched.
To this end the story was prepared and widely circulated that copies of a Hearst paper containing some of the McKinley cartoons had been found in the pocket of Czolgosz and more in his lodgings. Some of the same journals that are now asserting that Schrank is a Socialist helped them to spread the other lie. The Catholic priest that had been Czolgosz’s confessor was approached and offers were made to him of great sums of money for himself or for his church if he would say that Czolgosz had told him of reading a Hearst paper. The priest indignantly spurned the proposal. Desperate efforts were made to find some alleged friend or acquaintance of the assassin that would make a similar statement. Some were reported, but were promptly run down and proved to be mythical.
All the time the kept press continued to print the most inflammatory appeals to prejudice and passion. At one time a mob was organized in Brooklyn with the avowed purpose of marching to Manhattan and hanging Hearst, but being composed only of shifty criminals and hired thugs its courage gave out before it had reached the bridge.
And yet all the time Czolgosz was an absolute maniac with a badly diseased brain. He was not even an Anarchist. He was merely insane. The mental examination before his trial indicated this and the autopsy after he had been put to death gave additional ground for the conclusion.
Nothing but the failure of the American people to be as hysterical and hare-brained as the Capitalists believed them to be prevented his mad and terrible deed from being followed by others still more bloody. The purpose of the Capitalists was there and would be there again under similar conditions.