Czolgosz and God
(The following comments were made
just after Czolgosz’s indictment, and I think they still hold good.—O.
The attorneys for Czolgosz, I understand,
propose to interpose the plea of insanity. Now, I think this proposed
plea is a mistake. It certainly is wrong. If a crime has been committed,
the indictment is not sweeping enough—others high in authority should
have been included. I said “if a crime has been committed.” It may
be that no crime has been committed. If what President McKinley
said in his bed is true, then most certainly no crime has been committed.
The President and the ministers agree
that the killing was the “will of God,” that it was “God’s way,”
and that “we must bow submissively to his will.” And I wish to rise
up and ask, if it was “God’s will,” or “God’s way,” and that “way”
“was all right,” how can Czolgosz be guilty of a crime?
To make Czolgosz guilty of a crime
you must make God guilty of a crime. Is it a crime to obey “God’s
will”—to follow along “his way?” [sic]
The ministers of the gospel all agree,
I believe, that it is not a crime, not even wrong, to obey the will
of God. If so, why should Czolgosz be charged with wrong-doing?
If Czolgosz is to be charged with wrong-doing, then certainly God
is to be charged, too, and the indictment should include God. It
is not fair to indict Czolgosz and let God go—that is if it is true,
as President McKinley and the ministers say, that it “was God’s
way,” and that “we must bow submissive to his will.”
The defense, as I have heard, is to
be insanity. As I have said, that is all wrong, unless it is to
be admitted that he who had it done, or by whose will it was done,
is insane, too.
Either God and Czolgosz were both
insane when McKinley was shot, and the plot back of the shooting
was the plot of a couple of lunatics, or else God and Czolgosz were
not insane, and the plot to kill McKinley was all right. This conclusion
is so fairly drawn and so straightly drawn that I do not see how
the most astute doctor of divinity can reason around it.
If God and Czolgosz were not insane
when they plotted to kill President McKinley, and God is all-wise
and just, then it is all wrong to punish Czolgosz, or even try him
at all. They should not have even put him under indictment, because
to indict him was to indict the wisdom and goodness and justice
of God. The defense the attorneys should make is not, therefore,
insanity, but justification—justifiable homicide by a decree of
Czolgosz should show, and his lawyers
should show, that it was the act of God—that the accused was simply
the instrument in the hands of Almighty God in the killing of McKinley,
that he was not insane at all. In other words, they should show
that he was the right hand of God, or rather God himself—Czolgosz
being their authority; and there is plenty of evidence to that effect.
His attorneys should show that, instead
of lying under the charge of murder, he should go free, and not
only free, but should be treated with especial consideration and
honor, for he is justly entitled to them, having been chosen as
the instrument in the hands of Almighty God in bringing President
McKinley into “the Master’s presence.” The President said himself
that he wanted to be nearer God, and it certainly would be unreasonable
and unjust to punish the man God sent to bring him home.
They could well show that it would
be not only an outrage, but a veritable swindle on justice, to sing
praises to God and pray praises to him for bringing McKinley nearer
to “Him,” and then turn round [sic] and punish the man God selected
to fetch him home. Yes, sir, it is unreasonable.
To honor God and disgrace Czolgosz
is not right if it was God’s will to have the killing done, and
President McKinley and the preachers agree that it was God’s will
to have it done, or it would not have been done.
Yes, indeed, the lawyers will make
a mistake in setting up the pretext of insanity. That plea is a
reflection on Czolgosz. It stigmatizes his mind. It practically
makes him out a nobody. The other plea would glorify him and make
him the equal of Abraham and others who obeyed God’s will; and there
is no doubt that he obeyed God’s will. The lawyers can not only
quote President McKinley himself, who said that it was “God’s will,”
but about all the prayers that have gone up to the “throne of grace”
since the hour of the shooting, as authority on which to ask for
No, indeed, it won’t do to honor the
king, as it were, and then kill his duly accredited agent. To do
that is a good deal like killing the bearer of a flag of truce and
then expecting to have the kindly favor of him who sent it.
By all means let the lawyers plead
the facts and the law in the case, as outlined by the prayers and
songs and sermons. If they will do this, they certainly will be
able to “clear” Czolgosz.
My own private opinion is that God
was mistaken in having McKinley killed. I think he did wrong. He
should have let him alone. While I am not a Republican, and have
not been for a good many years, yet I will be candid enough to say
that in many things McKinley has done very well—almost as well as
I could have done myself. And so I say God should have let him alone.
If I had been able to give God any
advice on the subject, I would have said: “Don’t kill McKinley for
not being an anarchist; rebuke him for being in this age of the
world a whisky-man; that is, for allowing this business to flourish
in the army and navy, and to go on without his presidential protest
in the country, and at a time, too, when all science has pronounced