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Source: Literary Digest
Source type: magazine
Document type: article
Document title: “The Foreign Press on the Assassination”
Author(s): anonymous
Date of publication: 5 October 1901
Volume number: 23
Issue number: 14
Pagination: 409-10

“The Foreign Press on the Assassination.” Literary Digest 5 Oct. 1901 v23n14: pp. 409-10.
full text
McKinley assassination (international response); McKinley assassination (quotations about); McKinley assassination (international response: socialists); Roland de Marès (public statements); William McKinley (quotations about); anarchism (international response).
Named persons
James A. Garfield; James Keir Hardie; Henry IV (France); Humbert I; Abraham Lincoln; Roland de Marès; William McKinley; George Washington.


The Foreign Press on the Assassination

EUROPEAN comment on the assassination of President McKinley is directed chiefly to the uselessness of such a deed to bring about the result sought by the assassin and to suggestions as to new methods for combating anarchistic propaganda.
     French journals see in the crime a warning to France to adopt more stringent laws with regard to anarchists. It was even more senseless and brutal than the striking down of the innocent Empress of Austria, declares the Journal des Débats (Paris). It admits of no more definite classification than to say that it was the deed of an anarchist. In the opinion of the Gaulois, the crime demonstrates the “powerlessness of institutions to restrain the revolt of men tortured by madness, conceit, poverty, ambition, vanity, vengeance, folly, or hatred.” The Socialist organ, the Petite République, calls the crime “odious and futile,” and the Lanterne, also Socialist in sympathies, observes: “We hope that the murderous bullet which struck President McKinley was not fired by a man of the people, who, in shooting it, may have broken with his own hands the instrument of liberty which constitutes his right as it does his strength.” Roland de Marés, writing in the Independance Belge (Brussels), declares that the crime arouses the most vehement indignation throughout the civilized world. Every sane man, he continues, will deplore such a political crime from the standpoint of reason and sense:

     “The death of one man, no matter how exalted his station, never put an end to a régime, and the sole effect of political assassination is and always will be to call forth bitter and perhaps intemperate acts of retaliation. It gives established orders a new and excellent opportunity to justify their existence, and permits them to take all sorts of severe measures, ostensibly for the defense of society, but often, alas, for the subversion of justice and liberty. All history has demonstrated the absurdity as well as the infamy of political assassination, and, from the day upon which Henry IV. of France was murdered to the hour of the killing of Humbert of Italy, the world has witnessed each attack only solidify the opposition and deepen the horror at such deeds. It is a stupid barbarian who imagines that the poniard which kills the man kills also the idea he stands for, and who believes that the cause of justice and truth is advanced by blood and massacre.”

     The Kölnische Zeitung declares that the sympathy felt by Germans for the President’s family and the American people is only the more sincere because, in spite of all the criticism which was provoked by his policy, “he guided the destinies of his country with undeniable integrity and with an indefatigable sense of duty. . . . The cowardly crime at Buffalo is regarded with unspeakable horror throughout the German empire.” Europe believes McKinley to have been quite as much of a martyr as Lincoln and Garfield, declares the Nieuws van den Dag (Amsterdam), and looks upon his taking off as even more of a crime against nations, as there was no apparent cause for it. The Italian press contains articles eulogistic of the President’s character. The Messaggero, the Popolo Romano, and the Tribuna (Rome) compare the assassination of McKinley with that of King Humbert, and all these journals declare that America must cooperate with Europe in suppressing anarchist propaganda. The Aftonbladet (Stockholm) believes that imperialism and the trusts must bear the odium of the crime.
     The Spanish press comments sympathetically. Altho President McKinley wrought great injury to Spain, says the Correspondencia (Madrid), we do not deny his statesmanlike qualities and deplore the crime of which he has been the victim. The Liberal also declares that Spain does not permit the memory of the war to interfere with her horror and regret at the deed of the assassin. Several Madrid journals publish long editorials pointing to the term of the dead President as the beginning of an era of decline for the United States. He had no scruples about the spoliation of Spain, says the Imparcial. “It is too soon yet to judge his personality, still more to judge his policy, but perhaps soon the United States may see in this President the commencement of her decline.” The Heraldo, while severely condemning the assassination, censures the entire policy of the dead President. The patriarchal institutions founded by Washington, it says, no longer prevail:

     “The United States has learned to oppress peoples. In the midst of the grief felt throughout the world at the crime of which a great citizen, the President of the republic, has been the victim, nobody can fail to think of the wars which he has promoted, the evils he has caused, and the innumerable mothers who mourn their sons in consequence of his imperialistic ambitions and his policy of expansion.”

     The crime shows that something is wrong in the United States, says the Epoca. Will the Americans find and remedy it?
     The Discusion (Havana), in an editorial in mourning type, declares that Cuba will never forget William McKinley. Whatever his Government may have done since the Spanish war, it was his hand which, on April 19, 1898, signed the solemn declaration rescuing Cuba from Spain and giving her independence.
     The Journal de St. Petersbourg, which is usually the mouthpiece of the imperial Russian Government, praises President McKinley for his “uniformly dignified and moderate foreign policy,” and hopes that the United States will not permit the “dastardly act of these internal barbarians, the anarchists,” to interfere with the pursuance of this policy. The Novoye Vremya (St. Petersburg) says that the attempt on the President’s life is regarded with particular aversion in Russia, “where the esteem for the American republic is as deep as the respect for its President.”
     The deep sympathy for the American people in their sorrow is as spontaneous and sincere in England, declares The Spectator (London), as that which came from the United States when Britain’s Queen died. “We may feel for foreign nations at times of national sorrow or anxiety. We feel with the Americans as a man feels with those of his own house and blood.” Nothing, says The Daily News (London), can persuade us to regard the United States as a foreign country, or the people who speak our language and read our literature as aliens from the mother-country:

     “This feeling of kinship is none the less real because we are not accustomed to parade it; but we should miss the point of what is, after all, a national demonstration of sympathy if we did not see in it the ties of a common race and a common tongue, and argue from it a closer drawing together of the two countries as time goes on. . . . There is something in the career of a great American that touches a peculiar chord in the English heart. It must be that we feel the thrill of the old sap, and like to think that these men, with their rugged qualities, the hard struggle of their youth, the unassisted career in which sheer force of character, and nothing else, carries them to the front, are signs of the grit of the British stock.”

     President McKinley’s Administration, this London journal believes, marks the parting of the ways for the United States. It says:

     “President McKinley’s last speech sounded the note of commercial empire with which his name has come to be associated, tho it seemed to hint at some modification of the tariff in its purely protective aspect. He was the first President to expound the imperial idea to the American people, and to lead them on the path of adventure, which branches off abruptly from the old ways of American policy. The idea has played havoc with the old lines of party in America, as it has done here. It has enlisted on its side the power of wealth, and its glamour has had its influence on a great mass of the electors for the time being, tho the [409][410] best men and the clearest thinkers of the country stand apart. Territorial aggrandizement, the hankering after new markets, the passion for cockering up industries by artificial methods, this is the conception of polity which has taken the place of the old American ideal. . . . America is confronted to-day with a state of things that undoubtedly makes for anarchy; and all her statesmanship and public spirit are wanted for the task of extricating the community from a common danger. We do not say that the body of organized discontent is commensurate with the power of organized capital, which is growing every day, until it has reached proportions that have never been touched by any other country in the history of the world. But every student of American affairs is aware that the growth of trusts, associated as they are with the exercise of irresponsible power over the laborer and the consumer, is a grave danger to the community. The policy with which Mr. McKinley was identified, a policy which made the state the abettor of the trust system, and organized not so much industry as monopoly on a basis of tariffs, is one that to English eyes, at any rate, seems not only incompatible with the interests of the Commonwealth, but a perpetual challenge to those interests.”

     The St. James’s Gazette (London) enumerates the victims of political assassination during the past ten years, and says: “No members of the human race since the world began have been further removed from the category of ‘tyrants’ than those we have named.”
     The Gazette severely condemns the newspaper notoriety given the deed and the personal description of the assassin. It says that “it is difficult to see how any person could very well be more advertised, flattered, cursed, and talked about in general than this human beast in the Buffalo jail,” and “naturally other human beasts become anxious to undergo the same experience.”
     The Pall Mall Gazette (London), while “not wishing to give the slightest annoyance to the American people when the sympathy of the whole world is turning toward them,” can not forget that “the murder plots of the Clan-na-Gael, directed, not against the heads of the state, but against our innocent fellow countrymen, women, and children, were hatched in the cities of the United States with impunity.”
     The assassination, observes The Speaker (London), recalls the commonplace that “the chance maniacs whom we rather rashly call ‘anarchists’ attack those whose fall can by no possibility affect the society at which they aim.”

     “William McKinley is in nothing the man whose removal could affect the life of his country. No part of politics—not even the shades of difference within his own party—would be touched by his death. He has originated no national movement, he has counseled no particular domestic policy, he has conceived no plans. He is the honest and laborious servant of one political force.”

     Socialists all over the world, declares The Clarion (London), an organ of the Socialist movement, “will deplore the attack upon President McKinley, because they recognize that he is no more to be blamed for existing social evils than any other product of the system, and because their ears are always keenly sensitive to the groans of suffering in every quarter. They recognize in President McKinley a victim to a mad and iniquitous system, and they pity him and his relatives precisely as they pity the other victims whose agonies are reported in the same week’s paper.” Commenting on the fact that Socialists are bracketed with anarchists in the denunciation of the press throughout the world, The Clarion says:

     “Enlightened men are beginning to understand that Socialism stands for love not for hatred, for cooperation not for strife, for fellowship and not assassination. It begins to dawn . . . . that there is a difference between enlightened altruists who are spending their energies in trying to build up brotherhood upon earth, and those warped, unhappy sons of long-suffering nationalities—Italians, Poles, and Russians—who periodically demonstrate the demoralizing effect of centuries of oppression by futile blind revenges which stagger civilization.”

     Few Social-Democrats, says Justice (London), perhaps the most representative of British Socialist organs, will dispute the folly and uselessness from any point of view of the shooting of President McKinley. There is, however, one thing, continues Justice, which affords us some real satisfaction, and that is its demonstration of the futility of the efforts of the powers that be to stamp out anarchism by police measures concocted at intergovernmental conferences such as that at Rome.

     “These measures, dictated by craven fear and panic, are a serious menace to liberty all the world over. After every ‘attempt’ of this kind a mad howl goes forth from the reptile section of the press for increased police tyranny and supervision. Now we see how much good it all is. The Rome Conference decided to extradite political refugees holding anarchist opinions, and this has been done in Switzerland. President McKinley was surrounded by twenty-five private detectives, besides extra posses of police, whenever he appeared in public—et voilà!

     The Labor Leader, of Glasgow, Keir Hardie’s paper, says:

     “We Socialists can have nothing but abhorrence for such an atrocity. It is a blunder as well as a crime. It retards our work. It is opposed to that slow but sure progress along constitutional and well-marked lines, pursued with an intelligent persistency, which is the only safeguard of permanency.”

     The Canadian press is very outspoken in its expressions of sympathy. The Evening Telegram (Toronto) declares that while “differences in form of government in national aim and ideals and flags are the shallows which murmur between Canada and the United States in the days of peace and prosperity, the deep heart of Canada is wounded by the blow which brings sorrow to a kindred nation.” The Globe (Toronto) compliments the Buffalo police authorities for protecting the assassin from the fury of the populace, for, it says, no matter what his crime, to lynch him would be to resort to anarchy to avenge anarchy. The Herald (Montreal) declares that the crime will bring home to Americans the fact that they are now “bearing the Old World’s burden.”

     “Immigration to America has been the safety-valve of Europe. It has provided a solution for problems that have pressed upon states. Those who were proved incompetents in the stifling civilizations, who had nothing left but their brute strength, and were from day to day in presence of the need of using it, passed out by thousands from the places where their presence would have been a menace to Europe. Fortunately, the ampler scope for such energies as they possessed tended to at once raise them, by clearly perceptible stages, from the abyss in which they were. But the process, which still goes on, was not conducted without ample evidence that if they left their environment behind them they brought their characters along. The increase in the number of murders and assaults, the spread of vicious immorality, the taint that has been left upon the life of the largest American cities, all bear witness to the transplantation of Old-World perils. . . . The brute populations of Europe, ground down by law, by privilege, by taxation, by conscription, by denial of education, of political freedom, and of facilities for intercommunication and interchange of the products of labor, are the index of the price humanity pays for these blunders. The lesson of the assassination is that America is helping to bear the cost.”

Translations made for THE LITERARY DIGEST.



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