Publication information
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Source: Outlook
Source type: magazine
Document type: editorial
Document title: “The Assailant”
Author(s): anonymous
Date of publication: 14 September 1901
Volume number: 69
Issue number: 2
Pagination: 96-97

“The Assailant.” Outlook 14 Sept. 1901 v69n2: pp. 96-97.
full text
Leon Czolgosz; Emma Goldman (impact on Czolgosz); presidential assassination (legal jurisdiction).
Named persons
Leon Czolgosz; Emma Goldman; Johann Most.


The Assailant

The young man who committed this atrocious and murderous assault had no personal grievance. He at first gave his name as Frank Neeman, later as Leon F. Czolgosz. He is of Polish descent, but of American birth. His mother, who, with other relatives, seems strangely callous at the infamous notoriety of her son, declares that he has always been considered of weak intellect, but the care with which his scheme was planned and carried out indicate sanity and intelligence. He is regarded by the physicians and police authorities as in full possession of his wits and as morally and mentally responsible. The sole inciting reason for his crime, he says, is his belief in Anarchism and his wish to do something to prove his devotion to “the cause.” He flatly denies having had any aid or instigation further than the violent diatribes of such Anarchistic agitators as Emma Goldman, whom he particularly names. This Goldman woman is an ignorant, voluble, raving lecturer, whose addresses counsel violence in reckless but general terms, and she is regarded by theoretical Anarchists, and even by such men as John Most, as voicing nothing but her own vicious desire for notoriety. Czolgosz listened to Emma Goldman and read Anarchistic papers in Western cities; he has lived in Detroit, Chicago, and Cleveland, and his relations with Anarchist societies in these places are being fully investigated. The authorities seem to believe in the existence of a plot, but it may be pointed out that the greatest danger from “force Anarchists” is the diabolical cunning which puts in place of the old-fashioned plots and conspiracies the incitement to the individual Anarchist to “do a deed” entirely on his own initiative and without consultation with others. As the crime was committed in New York State, Czolgosz will not be tried by a Federal Court, but by the courts of the State, which provide a punishment of ten years’ imprisonment at hard labor for an unsuccessful attempt to murder, while the United States statute only provides for three years’ imprisonment. The suggestion has been made that it may well be worth while to place under Federal law the protection of the President and the punishment of an assailant, without regard to where the President may [96][97] happen to be when an assault takes place. An offense of this kind is an offense against the whole people, and it would be most consonant with the dignity of the Nation that trial and punishment should be had before a Federal court, rather than be left to possible prejudice and conceivable stupidity of a local court in perhaps some outlying and not fully settled part of the land. If such a law were to be adopted it might rightly increase the sentence for attempts at murder, which now under the Federal statute seems inadequate. Czolgosz is twenty-eight years of age, a Russian Pole; his parents came here forty years ago; he attended school in Detroit; he has been a workman in wire-mills; some accounts say he has kept a saloon. He asserts repeatedly that Emma Goldman preached that all rulers should be exterminated, that her words “burned me up,” and that his deed was the direct effect of the words. If this is so, it seems to many that the Goldman woman has made herself liable to the law as an inciter of assassination, even though she did not urge the murder of an individual by name.



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