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Publication information
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Source: Free Society
Source type: magazine
Document type: article
Document title: “Suicides and Martyrs”
Author(s): Tichenor, Harry M.
Date of publication: 15 June 1902
Volume number: 9
Issue number: 24
Pagination: 6

Tichenor, Harry M. “Suicides and Martyrs.” Free Society 15 June 1902 v9n24: p. 6.
full text
Sela Paine Harrison; Harry M. Tichenor; Sela Paine Harrison (death); Harry M. Tichenor (public statements); Leon Czolgosz (compared with Sela Paine Harrison); McKinley assassination (personal response).
Named persons
Gaetano Bresci; Leon Czolgosz; Sela Paine Harrison; Jesus Christ; Malachi.


Suicides and Martyrs

     A shadow crept into my life the past few weeks.
     It came, and has gone; and yet the memory that will remain is more vivid than the shadow.
     The name of the shadow was Sela Paine Harrison.
     His home—but he had no home—I will call it, therefore, his “starting place,” was Tampa, Florida.
     He was what the world calls a common laborer, and he was a wanderer.
     He was past fifty years of age, sick in body and sicker still in soul.
     He was a slave—a wage slave—who had discovered his slavery—rare event among slaves!—and the discovery had become an awful burden. And yet he had worked at day labor nearly up to the last, and had never begged a cent.
     Poor fellow! he [sic] scarcely weighed a hundred pounds, and the master class, you know, have little use for weak slaves. So it was hard for him to find work any longer, even at a pittance a day. He came to my home—pardon again, I have no home, I am only, able by hard knocks, to rent a shelter, so I will call it “where I and my dear ones stay”—he came to where I stay, because he had heard I was a radical, and he, in his broken down old age, had become a radical himself.
     To know him was to pity him. It brings tears to my eyes to think of him. He was a typical man of sorrows, and he was very meek withal. Without strength to work any longer at hard labor, he was attempting to eke out an existence canvassing for a book—a medical work. He also wore an Appeal to Reason button and took subscriptions for Socialist papers. He was eager to read radical literature, and I supplied him to the best of my ability. His face fairly illumined as he read FREE SOCIETY.
     I told him I was poor myself, or I would gladly provide for his few wants, but even with my poverty I told him not to go hungry, that there were a few of us in this locality with souls large enough not to let him suffer. His reply was that he “had money,” and that when it was gone he “had a place to go to.”
     I will never forget the look on his wan face when he tried to smile and assured me that he had “a place to go to” when his money was gone.


     On Saturday afternoon, May 20 last, he came to my home—I mean to the shelter I pay rent for—and told me he was going away, and left me a memento to remember him by. That night, at a lodging house in this town of Winfield, Kansas, he took two ounces of laudanum—and went to the place he had to go when his money was gone.
     There was no other place for him. I had more than half guessed the “place” before he went thereto.
     On the Sunday following his death I, in company with a friend or two, looked for the last time upon his lifeless form. And thus I spoke to those with me:
     “Suppose,” said I, “a fiercer strain of blood had flowed thru [sic] the veins of poor Harrison—a more rebellious strain than marks the meek and resigned face that lies before us, would you wonder then at a deed like that of a Bresci or a Czolgosz? What care the capitalist class, the rulers, at a suicide like this, that makes no violent protest, but meekly succumbs to the master’s tyranny? Such things as this have happened every day in every clime for ages—and Cæsar only laughs. But once a Czolgosz, with fiercer blood in his veins, dies and dies with an awful protest against the master class, and all plutocracy trembles! I do not uphold assassination, I only ask you if you are so blind that you do not see that it would have taken but a little of sterner stuff to have changed the suicide Harrison into the regicide Czolgosz?”


     As for myself, I uphold neither assassination of the master nor the self. To me, non-resistance is the greatest force conceivable. But I cannot be blind to cause and effect, nor refuse to admit that a desperation of which I, fortunately, have not been forced to taste, can create a Harrison—or a Czolgosz.


     I believe in non-resistance. I believe in the kingdom of heaven—the up-lifted society—wherein “ye shall take no worry of the morrow, of what ye shall eat or what ye shall drink, or wherewithal ye shall be clothed,” but because all men do not believe in it, because one half the men (when I speak of men I refer to the race, male and female) do not believe in it, because one quarter nor one third the men believe in it, I look for hell to pop, and that not very far away. Armageddon will be fought, and fought to a finish. And the slaves will win. Otherwise evolution is a lie.


     Man, when he destroys his master and acknowledges his own brotherhood, is absolutely divine. And the evolution from the monkey to the Republican party is just as wonderful as the evolution to the free society that shall deify the race.


     Gods! Man is a god, and just as figures are the expression of mathematics, so Man is the expression of the Soul of the universe! Man, kingless and priestless and free, with Love dominating every action of his life, is the sum total of evolution, the companion of the stars.


     And the kings must go. The masters of every class, kind, and description must go. With Malachi, the old Hebrew seer, I exclaim, “The day cometh, that shall burn as an oven, and all the proud . . . shall be stubble; and the day that cometh shall burn them up.” Then the people will live. And the martyrs—Jesus, and Harrison, and poor Czolgosz—will be glorified, and the monument at Waldheim will be a sacred place.



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