Publication information

Truth Seeker
Source type: magazine
Document type: editorial
Document title: “The Assassination”
Author(s): anonymous
Date of publication: 21 September 1901
Volume number: 28
Issue number: 38
Pagination: 596

“The Assassination.” Truth Seeker 21 Sept. 1901 v28n38: p. 596.
full text
McKinley assassination (personal response); William McKinley (presidential character); McKinley assassination (government response: criticism); anarchism (laws against, impracticality of).
Named persons
Abraham; Leon Czolgosz; Charles F. Freeman; William McKinley.

The Assassination

     The nation is in the shadow of a great sorrow and a great crime. President McKinley was a good officer of the government and carried out the policy of his party with fidelity and intelligence, and at the same time moderately. So far as the representative of a party with distinct principles can be, he was the President of the whole people. That he entered upon some projects and courses that a large part of the people disapproved was the fault of his party rather than of the man. Personally he was above reproach, and his tender affection for his wife and his blameless life endeared him to the people as a man, whatever they thought of his political actions. The cowardly attack upon him aroused instant resentment from every manly man, and the assassin himself could not have complained had the people taken instant revenge. He appealed to deadly weapons, and if he could reason that he had the right to use them, he must admit that others possess the same right. His crime is a most dastardly one against the man and unforgivable. Against the President, as the representative of the people, it was foolish, useless, and treasonable. Our government will never be reformed by murder. We have the best government ever yet devised by man. The men who laid the foundation of it were Infidels, and protected liberty of the person and the mind by all the devices they could conceive. That religionists have worked injustice under it is the fault of the persons elected to office rather than that of the principles upon which our government is built. All citizens possess the power of helping to choose our officers, and the remedy for any evils existing is at the ballot box, not by resort to murder. The act of Czolgosz was infamous.
     One of the most regrettable consequences of this madman’s act will be the enactment of repressive laws, proper enough to protect our representatives, but which will almost surely be used to work injustice upon innocent people. There will be an endeavor “to stamp out anarchy,” and freedom of speech will be curtailed. The effect of speech upon the human mind is incomprehensible. A devout religionist may be so affected by the exhortations of a revivalist that he will go home and imitate Abraham, as Freeman did in Pocassett [sic], Mass., some years ago. A law which will reach a Goldman or a Most for the act of some egotist follower would reach the revivalist and the religion he taught. The line would have to be drawn by the jurors trying the case, and it can easily be seen how the gravest injustice could be done. The liberties secured for us by the apostles of freedom will be curtailed because of the act of a liberty-crazed degenerate, a beast and savage. It is an awful price to pay for making our country an asylum for the victims of European despotism; but the human race must work out its destiny through such struggles and difficulties. For the savage who has assassinated our liberties as well as our representative there is but one deserved fate, the death for himself he so cruelly inflicted on another. But for our institutions, what shall come under the reaction produced by his act? There is the danger.
     These laws will be useless, for they will have no terror for such men as Czolgosz, who knew the penalty of his act would be death, yet deliberately committed the crime. As one journal puts it, our laws are made for men, and are neither understood nor feared by wild beasts. The ones to suffer under them will be those who never harbored a thought of committing crime. In dealing with such persons as Czolgosz, animated by none of the motives of civilized men, says the journal referred to, the laws that such men have made for their own governance are evidently up a blind alley and beating vainly against a stone wall. They are impotent because they cannot reach wills that have put themselves outside the pale of humanity and cannot be persuaded to come within it.