As might have been expected, the
meeting of congress was a signal for the presentation of petitions,
bills, and resolutions dealing with the question of anarchy. Almost
every suggestion ever made in the general discussion of the problem
may be found in this group of proposed measures, ranging from the
exclusion of avowed anarchists and such persons as advocate the
overthrow of all governments, to the making of attempts upon the
executive and those in the line of succession, treason, a measure
which needs a constitutional amendment.
The most ingenious suggestion, however
(though it is not original), is that of the venerable Senator Hoar
of Massachusetts, which would rid not only the United States, but
every nation in the civilized world, of anarchy and anarchists,
so far as they could be identified and brought to book. Senator
Hoar would establish an “Anarchy Island,” and make an international
agreement for the deportation thereto of all those duly convicted
of one or more of the offenses to be known as anarchism. His scheme
does not include the government of that island. The exiled anarchists
would be left alone, to do anything they willed, but their escape
would be prevented by rigid patrolling of the island.
It is clear that this is rather fantastic.
In the first place, the United States could not consistently act
as jailer for other governments, whose notion of anarchy might be
radically wrong and unjust, and which might exile to the island
men and women of merely liberal ideas. In the second place, the
administration of justice in other countries may be defective, and
the innocent might be convicted on flimsy or illegal evidence of
alleged anarchistic offenses. The United States could not assume
responsibility for the methods of despotic and arbitrary governments.
Whether an “anarchy island” will be
set aside for the American anarchists is also extremely doubtful.
The difficulties and obstacles in the way of a remedy at once effective,
expedient, and consonant with American principles of political organization
are not overlooked by the more conservative congressmen. Hence the
comprehensive resolution offered by Senator Vest of Missouri, instructing
the committee on the judiciary to inquire into the subject in all
its aspects, and report a constitutional method of dealing therewith.
The resolution specifies the questions to be answered: The principal
ones are as follows:
Has congress the constitutional power to legislate 
for the punishment of anarchists who assassinate or attempt
to assassinate the president of the United States, and if not,
whether it is expedient to amend the federal constitution to
enable congress so to legislate. Whether it is necessary to
empower congress to prevent the teachings of anarchists that
all governments should be destroyed, and the chief rulers of
such governments assassinated. Whether it is necessary that
congress shall have power to punish persons belonging to anarchical
associations. Whether it is necessary to confer upon congress
the power to establish a penal colony where persons convicted
of anarchy shall be confined during life.
While the senate has thus provided
for a preliminary inquiry, the house has followed a different method.
All the anti-anarchy measures were referred to the committee on
the judiciary, and a bill was prepared by that body comprising the
leading ideas of the various proposals. It is very drastic. A fatal
assault upon the president or any one in the line of the presidential
succession is to be punishable with death. If the assault is not
fatal, the penalty is to be imprisonment for from ten to fifty years.
Aiding or abetting such assault is also to be punishable with death
in case of fatal results, and any advocacy or propaganda of such
assaults shall be deemed equal to direct aiding or abetting. An
alien who shall advocate anarchy shall be summarily apprehended,
and upon conviction imprisoned for from one to five years and then
deported. Advocacy of force in overthrowing the government shall
be punishable by imprisonment for from one to five years. No anarchist
shall be admitted to citizenship, and no anarchist shall be permitted
to enter the United States.
This bill will be carefully considered
and perhaps modified in important particulars.