Source: Mother Earth
Source type: magazine
Document type: letter to the editor
Document title: “In Justice to Leon Szolgosz” [sic]
Author(s): Goldman, Emma
Date of publication: October 1909
Volume number: 4
Issue number: 8
|Goldman, Emma. “In Justice to Leon Szolgosz” [sic]. Mother Earth Oct. 1909 v4n8: pp. 239-41.|
|McKinley assassination (personal response); Leon Czolgosz (connection with anarchists); Emma Goldman; McKinley assassination (personal response: criticism); McKinley assassination (investigation of conspiracy).|
|Leon Czolgosz; Emma Goldman; T. T. H.; Jesus Christ; William McKinley; Thomas Paine; Oscar Wilde.|
In Justice to Leon Szolgosz [sic]
EP L :
In the issue of your paper of the 6th instant,
there appeared the following letter:
“Sir:—The fact that the assassin of William McKinley, under oath, swore that he attributed his act of crime to the utterances of Emma Goldman, is ground enough for preventing her speaking here. T. T. H.”
Among decent people it is customary to ignore any printed accusation that is not signed in full.
However, I ask the courtesy of your paper, not for my defense, but for the benefit of your readers who, I take it, believe in hearing both sides.
T. T. H. states that the “assassin of William McKinley swore under oath that he attributes his act of crime to the utterance of Emma Goldman.” It requires but little logic to see that T. T. H. speaks from hearsay and not from knowledge.
If the “assassin” had given any such sworn testimony, would not the authorities have confronted him with me, and would that not have been sufficient evidence, espe-  cially at that moment of popular frenzy, to hold me for trial, nay, even to send me to prison?
For the enlightenment of T. T. H. permit me to say that the State of New York employed 200 detectives and spent $30,000 to connect me with the “assassin.” Evidently, they were leaving nothing undone to get sufficient evidence. Is it reasonable, then, to assume that sworn testimony, such as is referred to in the letter of T. T. H., would have been allowed to pass?
In justice to that victim of economic iniquity and social ignorance, Leon Czolgosz, I wish to state once for all, that he made no such statement, under oath or otherwise, nor had he ever claimed to be an Anarchist.
Leon Czolgosz made one statement when he was placed in the electric chair, and the good Christian Brothers, in their great Christian love attempted to draw a confession from their helpless victim.
They told him that Emma Goldman had denounced him as a worthless beggar, or something to that effect. “It makes no difference what she says, she knew nothing of the act,” was the “assassin’s” reply.
As to what else that boy may or may not have said, only his warders and the prison walls know.
Warders, in the sublime words of Oscar Wilde, “must set a lock upon their lips, and make their face a mask,” and again,
“Every prison that men build for men,
Is built with bricks of shame
And bound with bars, lest Christ should see
How men their brothers maim.”
No, the “[a]ssassin” has made no statements,
nor could there be found even circumstantial evidence to connect me in any way.
Besides, I absolutely deny that utterances, no matter how incendiary, have ever induced any one to commit violence. Two conditions are necessary for such acts: First, a great social wrong that is undermining the liberties of a people. Secondly, a deep, sensitive social or individual psychology, incapable of enduring that wrong. Where these factors are lacking, one might preach violence from every housetop without the slightest result. On the other hand, where social conditions  outrage every sense of justice, violent acts are their natural results.
This brings me to the most vital point. Not Anarchism, the philosophy of social peace and harmony, nor Emma Goldman’s speeches are responsible for the act of the “assassin” of William McKinley, but people like T. T. H., like those who are attempting to throttle free speech. In fact, all those who are maintaining and supporting a system which, as Thomas Paine said, “Sends old age to the workhouse and youth to the gallows.”
No doubt T. T. H. means well, but he has much to learn. I suggest that he attend the Free Speech Meeting, Friday night, at the Labor Lyceum. He might learn there what liberty really means.
Philadelphia, Oct. 7th, 1909.