Leon F. Czolgosz
Who was Leon Czolgosz? Was he a
governmentalist or a free man? Was he a State Socialist or an Anarchist?
Let us see. He was not allowed to
make a public statement before electrocution, and since then we
have had but the silence of the tomb. He has been put down as an
Anarchist, but there is no evidence to prove that statement. If
it were true it would stand to his credit, for it takes brains to
be an Anarchist and understand the philosophy of Anarchism.
Czolgosz was an American, the son
of Polish parents who came to this country over forty years ago
and lived for many years in Cleveland, Ohio; he worked as a wire
drawer in the wire mills in Newburg from 1893 to 1897, during which
time his father ran a saloon on Tod street [sic], over which there
was a room where a Polish section of the Socialist Labor Party held
its weekly meetings. Leon Czolgosz joined that section, and became
an active member of the party. He agitated both in English and Polish;
he distributed literature where he worked, and thru this made a
number of enemies among his fellow workers.
Several German workmen, partly owing
to Leon’s radical views and partly on account of the difficulty
of pronouncing his name, nicknamed him “Niemand,” a Ger- 
man word which means . This name
he finally assumed, and soon became popularly known as Leon Niemand.
Leon had a large heart and loved humanity.
He keenly felt the injustice which the government in social and
public life imposed upon him. He saw the cause of the unequal politico-economic
struggle for a miserable existence, and eventually sacrificed his
own life, taking with him as he thought the boldest servant of the
Leon Czolgosz belonged to the English
section of the Socialist Labor Party before and after it split into
the kangaroo and kickapoo factions.
It was reported that he had attended
a lecture delivered by Emma Goldman at Cleveland upon “Modern Phases
of Anarchism.” The meeting was large and represented all shades
of opinion, and a half dozen secret service detectives and regular
police were present. The lecture was purely educational, heartily
applauded, and in no instance appealed to force.
May 19, 1901, Leon Czolgosz sought
the acquaintance of several members of Liberty Association after
its session, introducing himself as “Leon Niemand.”
When asked about his political principles,
he said that he was a Socialist, and that he had affiliated with
the Socialist Labor Party up to a half a year ago; since then he
had worked on his brother’s farm in Bedford. When asked why he did
not remain with his party, he replied that it was due to the split
of the party into two hostile political organizations, and also
that as a student seeking information he had become tried of mud-slinging
and personal abuse. As to whether he had ever read any Anarchist
literature he answered “no.”
He was then given a book to read containing
the speeches of the eight Chicago martyrs, as delivered in open
court during their trial in Chicago in 1886.
Czolgosz then asked us whether Cleveland
Anarchists were secretly organized or held any secret meetings.
We told him no, and that all our meetings were public, because secrecy
was no part of Anarchy. His question and actions created a suspicion
in the minds of his new acquaintances.
When he returned the book, he said
he had not read it for lack of time; suspicion now grew stronger
and he was finally looked upon as a spy. Several weeks after this,
it was ascertained thru a former party friend of his that Niemand
was not his real name.
Several weeks before the assassination,
Czolgosz went to Chicago; where thru similar behavior as here, he
was also suspected as a spy. A week before the Buffalo tragedy,
published a pen picture concerning this man “Niemand,” cautioning
all comrades against him.
This is a true statement concerning
Leon Czolgosz in his relation to the State Socialists on the one
hand and the Anarchists on the other.
It can be proven by quite a number
in this city that he was a State Socialist, and not an Anarchist,
which shows that the blow struck at Buffalo was the deed of a governmentalist.
Why, then, was Czolgosz classed as an Anarchist?
Czolgosz was a self-confessed State
Socialist; but no party is responsible for the act of an individual.
Even State Socialists can afford to
stand by the truth, and let men fall where they may, for men may
change or die, but principles never. Anarchists are not so unfair
as to hold the Socialists collectively responsible for the act of
Leon Czolgosz, which was the act of an individual. This article
would not have been written but for the misrepresentation in speeches
delivered immediately after McKinley’s assassination by prominent
Socialist leaders, published in book form and distributed broadcast
in order to prejudice the public mind against Anarchy. Truth may
be crushed for a while, but it will prevail and chickens will come
home to roost.
Anarchists believe in dealing fairly
with all progressive minds; they have no bone to pick with simon-pure
Socialism, but we are sorry to say that the Socialist leaders in
this city and the Socialist party press of this country, have proven
themselves liars, cowards, and traitors to one of their own number;
to one whom they sought to educate against a cruel system of economic
slavery; to a man who fought and suffered side by side with them;
a man who could no longer stand the strain of further exploitation,
but with such a power of will in his struggle against the oppressors
of the people, which have but few parallels in history.