Source: Gunton’s Magazine
Source type: magazine
Document type: editorial
Document title: “An Appalling Menace”
Date of publication: October 1901
Volume number: 21
Issue number: 4
|“An Appalling Menace.” Gunton’s Magazine Oct. 1901 v21n4: pp. 291-92.|
|McKinley assassination (personal response); presidential assassinations (comparison); anarchism (personal response).|
|Leon Czolgosz; James A. Garfield; Abraham Lincoln; William McKinley.|
An Appalling Menace
For the third time in our history a president has been murdered
during his term of office. Apart from the elements of tragic horror, which at
such a time permit little sense of degree or idea of comparison, it is certain
that the assassination of neither Lincoln nor Garfield was so charged with profound
menace as this deliberate and dastardly blow struck by the hand of anarchy.
Lincoln fell a victim to the spirit of revenge. At most, his martyrdom had nothing
of more dangerous significance in it than the echoes of a conflict permanently
closed. It did not spring from any movement that was threatening the future
of the country; indeed, it did not even represent a unanimous southern sentiment.
As for the shooting of Garfield, it represented nothing more serious than local
But the murder of President McKinley is altogether a different matter. It was the carefully planned act of a determined and thoroughly organized body of professed enemies of society. The crime was committed in cold blood, with deliberate malice aforethought, by men who rejoice in the act and regard it as only one blow in a far-reaching scheme of murderous assault on the instruments and agents of government, and through them upon government itself, wherever it exists. The people have realized this, and with a deepening sense of its direful meaning, from the moment when it was  known that the president’s assailant was an agent of the anarchist propaganda. The consciousness of it has intensified popular indignation and profound concern throughout the nation, and it is well that this is the case. The deed done at Buffalo calls for altogether more comprehensive action than the mere trial and execution of Czolgosz. That can neither retrieve the past nor even satisfy the sense of justice. The murderer is the merest pawn in the game, and in destroying his worthless life the community takes nothing of value and secures no additional protection. The anarchists will not be in the least daunted by Czolgosz’s fate; they will glory in it and plan fresh assaults; so that the one thing of crucial importance now does not relate to the past, it is to safeguard the future.