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Source: Nation
Source type: magazine
Document type: letter to the editor
Document title: “Special Punishment for Presidential Assassination”
Author(s): Stewart, Freeman
Date of publication: 5 December 1901
Volume number: 73
Issue number: 1901
Pagination: 433

Stewart, Freeman. “Special Punishment for Presidential Assassination.” Nation 5 Dec. 1901 v73n1901: p. 433.
full text
presidential assassination (legal penalties).
Named persons
John K. Richards; Freeman Stewart.


Special Punishment for Presidential Assassination


     RESPECTED FRIEND: The argument of Solicitor-General Richards, in his recent speech in Philadelphia, to prove that especial laws for the punishment of Anarchical attempts on our Presidents would be Constitutional, gives us a foretaste of the discussion of this matter by the ensuing Congress. It seems to me that the first question to be decided is, not whether such laws are Constitutional, but whether they are expedient. If such laws are inexpedient, all argument to prove that they are Constitutional is not only entirely gratuitous, but also inexpedient. It is a well-recognized fact that this crime is not likely to be committed—as an Anarchical crime at least—except by persons whose unbalanced and morbid minds are so inflamed by the spectacular features of the act that the legal punishment is rather an incentive than a deterrent. This plainly indicates the impropriety of investing the crime with avoidable spectacular features peculiar to itself. Our safety lies in the fact that our system of government renders the murder of the President utterly without even a plausible Anarchic excuse, because it is absolutely abortive and nugatory as an attack on governmental institutions. This is the obvious lesson of the late assassination, that needs to be particularly emphasized. But it seems that many of the leaders of our people are themselves so befogged by the spectacular features which distraught nerves and a vivid imagination may attribute to the case, that they are determined to exaggerate the merits of the crime from the Anarchistic point of view.




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