Source: Lucifer, the Light-Bearer
Source type: magazine
Document type: editorial
Document title: “Another National Tragedy”
Author(s): Harman, Moses
Date of publication: 14 September 1901
Volume number: 5
Issue number: 35
Series: third series
|Harman, Moses. “Another National Tragedy.” Lucifer, the Light-Bearer 14 Sept. 1901 v5n35 (3rd series): p. 284.|
|McKinley assassination (public response: criticism); McKinley assassination (personal response); presidential assassinations (comparison); McKinley assassination (investigation of conspiracy: Chicago, IL); anarchists (Chicago, IL: incarceration).|
|Abraham; John Wilkes Booth; Leon Czolgosz [misspelled below]; James A. Garfield; Emma Goldman; Charles J. Guiteau; Isaac; Abraham Lincoln; William McKinley.|
The date of publication provided by the magazine is September 14, E. M. 301.
Whole No. 882.
Alternate magazine title: Lucifer, the Lightbearer.
Another National Tragedy
“Anger is a short madness,” saith the ancient
proverb. Madness means
At this writing the American people—the great majority of them, are insane—insane with rage and thirst for revenge; hence I regard it as time wasted to attempt to reason with the average man or woman. I am glad to know, however, that there are a few, women as well as men, who do not lose their heads when the crowd goes mad. To these, the comparative few, I would say a word or two only, as the time of going to press is near.
Some of us have lived long enough to remember more than one national tragedy, similar to the one that occurred the other day at the Pan-American Exposition. One of these was the assassination of Abraham Lincoln by Wilkes Booth. This tragedy came as the climax to, or the legitimate result of, the far greater national tragedy which had begun four years before, at the firing on Fort Sumpter [sic].
During all these four years the American nation had been , crazy drunk, so to speak—drunk with the blood of the slain in battle and with the tears of the widows and orphans of the slain in battle or the prisoners starved to death in military stockades; and now the killing of the nation’s president served to intensify the national madness many-fold. Goaded on by fear and hate, deeds were done that must forever cause a pang of regret to the heart, if not a blush of shame to the cheek, of every one calling himself an American.
Not satisfied with the killing of the assassin himself—under the savage code of “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth[,] a life for a life,” four persons were hanged as aiders and abetters of the assassination, among these a woman—after the real danger crisis had passed and after men’s passion had ample time to cool.
Twenty years after the beginning of the great national tragedy the last act of which was the spectacular killing of the nation’s chief executive, came the shooting of James A. Garfield by Chas. Guiteau. Differing in some respects from the first Presidential assassination there were many points of resemblance. It was politics mainly that caused the civil war and the consequent assa[s]sination of Lincoln, and it was politics mainly that caused the killing of Garfield. The feud between the two opposing factions of the Republican party was intensely bitter. Believing himself divinely commissioned to save the Republican party and through it to save the nation from ruin, the half-demented Guiteau “removed” the president as the surest way to save the party and the nation, and under the law of revenge, , was in turn executed—hanged by the neck till he was dead; his flesh scraped from his bones and his skeleton kept for exhibition to morbid curiosity-hunters.
As in the case of Lincoln the shooting of Garfield caused the greatest consternation and alarm. Men looked into each other’s faces only to [s]ee terror and rage pictured there. At first the cry was, “A plot, a plot! an atheistic, communistic plot to destroy our Christian Republic.” But this theory was soon abandoned when it became clearly established that Guiteau was a Republican of the Republicans, a “stalwart of the stalwarts,” a Chri[s]tian of the Christians—an unusually devout believer in the Bible, the whole Bible, including the lesson of Abraham offering up his son Isaac. If he had inspirers and accomplices the less said about the better for the Bible and for Republicani[s]m. And hence this poor half-crazed victim of bad heredity and of superstitious training was left, or compelled, to be the scape-goat for his Christian and Republican inspirers.
And now again, just twenty years after the slaying of Garfield the nation is shocked, crazed, from center to circumference by another spectacular attempt to assassinate its chief ruler, by another apparently half-demented victim of bad heredity and perhaps still worse training or environment. As in the cases previously cited, the leaders of public opinion, civil and religious, are moving heaven and earth to establish the fact of —a plot to kill all rulers and overthrow by violence the present social and political system or systems. The would-be assassin Czolgoscz, is reported to have declared himself an “Anarchist,” that he has quite lately become such, having been in[s]pired or converted to that political (or unpolitical) belief by hearing a lecture in Cleveland, Ohio, by Emma Goldman, and that in consequence of such conver[s]ion he decided to kill President McKinley.
Having learned from long ob[s]ervation, the wholly unreliable character of reports by the popular press, when treating of Anarchism and Anarchists, I close for this week by saying that twelve persons, including the editor of “Free Society” and his family, were arrested in Chicago, the evening following the wounding of President McKinley, and that they are still held in close confinement, no bail being allowed, awaiting further developments a[s] to possible complicity with Czolgo[s]cz—except the three women mentioned elsewhere as having been released. Emma Goldman was arre[s]ted yesterday (Sept. 10.) in Chicago and i[s] being held on a like charge of conspiracy to commit murder, which charge she strenuously denies.
Of course we need not say that the shooting of President McKinley is wholly condemned by this office, as the suicidal act of a madman.