Source type: magazine
Document type: editorial
Document title: “The Assassin’s Deed”
Date of publication: 12 September 1901
Volume number: 53
Issue number: 2754
|“The Assassin’s Deed.” Independent 12 Sept. 1901 v53n2754: pp. 2186-87.
|anarchism; Leon Czolgosz; yellow journalism (role in the assassination).
|Emma Goldman; Marcus Hanna; William McKinley; Justus Schwab [variant first name below].
The Assassin’s Deed
Sympathy for the suffering President is matched with bitter indignation toward the assassin, and yet, while the heart keeps hot, the head must keep cool.
There are some eighty million people  in the United States. Perhaps there are eighty people who are dangerous anarchistic cranks. They are mostly foreigners, or of foreign parentage, who have learned, under tyranny, to hate all government, and who not only believe there should be no rule of law, but who can be persuaded themselves to avenge the people by slaying the ruler. They are atheists, having no fear of God or a future life, and are swallowed up by the conceit of their own folly, and think they make themselves heroes for all the ages if they sacrifice their own lives to slay the tyrants of the world. They are very few, but they are very dangerous. Their insignificance gives them the protection of obscurity, while the destinction [sic] of their victims raises them to world-wide notoriety of fame. Against their bullet or dagger no President, no Emperor, no Czar is safe.
This particular assassin declares that he has learned his doctrine from the lectures of a pestilent woman named Emma Goldman. We do not doubt that there are several little companies of these anarchistic assassins in this country which fire the passions of weak men, or even plot murders of rulers and choose by lot the man who shall do the deed. This wretch may not have been chosen by them to do this deed, but he was inspired by them to make his assault on the nation’s organic law. In this case the unworthy rebel against law was protected by law from just such violence as he attempted against our Chief Executive. There were those who would have killed him on the spot, as he tried to kill the President. But we must hold to law even in defense of those who deny law.
Behind these little groups of anarchists, the John Schwabs and the Emma Goldmans, behind the Paterson or Chicago or Detroit conspirators, stand those other infamous slanderers of the Government and rulers that make it their business and trade to inflame the public mind. We refer to a large class of utterly irresponsible yellow newspapers which are constantly slandering, by type and caricature, our President and other officials. President McKinley is an honest, conscientious man, who tries to do his duty; and those who dislike his policy ought to honor his office. But we have seen, in papers which this week are full of his praise and of denunciations of the assassin, day after day, pictures which represent him as an insignificant, monkey-like dwarf, submissively led by an obese, dollar-marked figure representing the trusts or Senator Hanna. We have all seen those pictures and have read the editorials that match them. But they are all of the same criminal character as the speeches of Emma Goldman. To them we must look for the accursed inspiration that struck down the President. They are not to be laughed at, not to be taken lightly, but with indignation. We doubt not that Senator Hanna is in the same danger of assassination as was President McKinley, and if he should be shot it will be these yellow journals that are to blame. But what care they? The murder of a President sells editions.
But what we shall do with the anarchists is a further question.