Publication information

Source: Life
Source type: magazine
Document type: editorial
Document title: none
Author(s): anonymous
Date of publication:
10 October 1901
Volume number: 38
Issue number: 988
Pagination: 284

[untitled]. Life 10 Oct. 1901 v38n988: p. 284.
full text
McKinley assassination (personal response).
Named persons
Judas; William McKinley.


THE man who killed President McKinley has had a fair and decent trial, and we are likely to hear very little more about him, except that in about three weeks the announcement will be made that he is dead. The most interesting thing that has been made public about him was that on his way to Auburn he said he was sorry for what he had done, and when he got to the prison gate he collapsed entirely, and had to be dragged in. Poor wretch! Why did such a creature commit a crime so unutterably disproportionate to his capacity? If we had the lively sense of the existence of a personal devil that some of our forebears had, we would say that Satan, finding his mind undefended, had entered into it and directed and controlled the creature’s action. That would account for everything. But we don’t take the Devil seriously any more, and being prone to regard him as hardly more than a figure of speech, we can’t make any serious use of him in our reasoning. It is a pity on many accounts that we have so impoverished our mental resources. Recounting the inception of a momentous crime, a writer still familiar to the readers of Christendom begins: “Then entered Satan into Judas, surnamed Iscariot.” With all the enlightenment that we think we possess, we have not got much ahead of that method of statement. Since the murder was done on September sixth there has been a strong and reasonable desire to bring responsibility for it home to some one adequately amenable to correction. That desire has led to activity on the part of the police, to a good deal of miscellaneous recrimination not clearly warranted by facts, and to some sharp pursuit of evil-doers that will do no harm whether it has special justification or not. But, so far, as a whole the desire has been baffled; search for special motive and direct instigation has failed, and the Bible words describe as well as any words of ours the mental process that led up to assassination.