Publication information
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Source: Free Society
Source type: magazine
Document type: article
Document title: “Was Czolgosz Insane?”
Author(s): Tyler, Wat
Date of publication: 16 February 1902
Volume number: 9
Issue number: 7
Pagination: 2-3

Tyler, Wat. “Was Czolgosz Insane?” Free Society 16 Feb. 1902 v9n7: pp. 2-3.
full text
Leon Czolgosz (mental health); Walter Channing; L. Vernon Briggs; Leon Czolgosz; Leon Czolgosz (as anarchist); McKinley assassination (public response: criticism).
Named persons
L. Vernon Briggs; Walter Channing; Leon Czolgosz; Waldeck Czolgosz; Emmanuel Régis; Theodore Roosevelt.
Click here to view Abraham Isaak, Jr.’s response to this article in the 9 Mar. 1902 issue of Free Society.

Click here to view Kate Austin’s response to this article in the 9 Mar. 1902 issue of Free Society.


Was Czolgosz Insane?

     That the crime of Czolgosz was primarily of psychological interest rather than of political significance, the outcome of purely personal idiosyncracy [sic] and not of any doctrine or propaganda has just been positively demonstrated by the only impartial and scientific investigation of the whole case that has yet been attempted. At the instance of Dr. Channing of Brookline, Mass., Dr. L. V. Briggs of Boston visited the home of Czolgosz, his family, former associates, and examined all the evidence relating to his habits and general mental condition with all the painstaking thoroness [sic] that the scientific mind could suggest. The facts collected and conclusions reached were made the subject of an address by Dr. Channing on January 28, before a body of medical experts.
     Some sixty persons in Cleveland, Buffalo, Auburn prison, and elsewhere were interviewed by Dr. Briggs, whose purpose was to exclude unauthentic newspaper reports and obtain data from original sources. Czolgosz appears to have had a taste for reading. Said Waldeck, his brother, “Leon liked best to read Peruna Almanack because he said it always told him his lucky days.” In March, Leon became restless and in July began his trips to the city. Just before Leon went away from the farm he told Waldeck that he had to get away. “Why?” asked the brother. Leon anwered [sic], “I cannot stand it any longer.”
     His friends told of him that he would brush flies away but never kill any. He was never jolly, would not talk to strangers, and would sit alone all day reading, sleeping or thinking. He was abnormally suspicious. For years he not only refused to eat with the others, but prepared his food for himself. This, says Dr. Channing is the case with people affected with hallucinations of persecution.
     In summing up his conclusions, Dr. Channing presented them in the following form:

     1. The history of Czolgosz for several years before the assassination throws more light than we have hitherto had on his mental condition. [2][3]
     2. This indicates a considerable degree of mental impairment, probably amounting to actual disease.
     3. He appears to have been the subject of insane delusions, which were systematized and continued to the day of his death.
     4. The assassination was probably the result and logical culmination of these delusions.
     5. He read Anarchistic literature and went to Anarchistic meetings while his delusions were evolving.
     6. There is no proof that Anarchy was the source of these delusions.
     7. The extent of his intercourse with Anarchists is unknown, but careful investigation in places where he lived leads us to believe that it has been much exaggerated.
     8. His actions from the time of the assassination to the time of his execution were consistent with what they had been before, and not inconsistent with insanity.
     9. In many respects he presents a striking example of the typical regicide or magnicide as described by Regis.
     10. There is nothing in the post-mortem examination to negative a diagnosis of insanity.
     11. After weighing all the evidence from all sources that has come to my attention, I am inclined to the conclusion that it furnishes more grounds for diagnosis of insanity than for the diagnosis of sanity.

     Dr. Briggs corroborated Dr. Channing’s statements and said that the law had every opportunity of going into the history of the assassin. There was no proof of his being an Anarchist beyond his own statements.
     In printing this report, the Boston Herald in an editorial accepts the above view of the case. Indeed it goes farther and says that this was its own view presented just after the occurrence at Buffalo.
     If these conclusions are correct they show how uncalled for was the attitude of some Anarchists in tacitly accepting Czolgosz at his own estimate and treating the assassination as of political or sociological significances [sic], which it clearly did not possess. Dr. Channing’s view also takes all the wind out of Teddy’s blustering sails and ought to bury the anti-Anarchist bills of congressional busybodies in a cloud of ever-lasting ridicule.



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