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Publication information
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Source: Baltimore Morning Herald
Source type: newspaper
Document type: editorial
Document title: “An Inappropriate Speech”
Author(s): anonymous
City of publication: Baltimore, Maryland
Date of publication: 26 September 1901
Volume number: none
Issue number: 8332
Pagination: 6

 
Citation
“An Inappropriate Speech.” Baltimore Morning Herald 26 Sept. 1901 n8332: p. 6.
 
Transcription
full text
 
Keywords
Leon Czolgosz (legal defense); Leon Czolgosz (trial: criticism); Loran L. Lewis; Robert C. Titus; lawlessness (mob rule).
 
Named persons
Leon Czolgosz; Loran L. Lewis; William McKinley; Robert C. Titus.
 
Document

 

An Inappropriate Speech

THE speech of Judge Lewis before the jury in the Czolgosz case was a remarkable exhibition of bad taste, but it was not unexpected. The hesitation of Judge Titus to accept the appointment of the court gave an indication that the two gentlemen selected as Czolgosz’s counsel were paying more attention to criticisms regarding their connection with the case than was to be expected of men of reputable standing in their profession. They sought with painful solicitude to escape criticism that was not worth noticing; they succeeded in inviting criticism that has much greater foundation.
     When the time came for a presentation of the defense of the assassin Czolgosz to the jury it was incumbent upon his counsel to say what could be said in his defense, and stop there. If nothing could have been said, silence would have been more dignified and more in keeping with the duties of the occasion than a lengthy address on other topics, nominally delivered to the jury, but in reality intended for the general public. It was, in brief, an elaborate and needless defense of the counsel and a symposium on lynch law instead of a defense of the prisoner.
     Granting the logic of every word that was said, the time and place of its saying were altogether inappropriate. Buffalo is to be congratulated on the fact that mob law did not reign at the moment when the nation’s chief was stricken down, and the police officials are entitled to all credit for their capable efforts in the direction of maintaining order under the circumstances. But the jury trying Czolgosz was not impaneled to pass upon any question regarding the evils of lynch law, nor was it called upon to decide the propriety of counsel appearing to defend Czolgosz—propriety that is unquestioned by all right-thinking citizens.
     There was another element in the speech that cannot be passed over. In citing instances of lynch law, Judge Lewis laid stress upon deplorable occurrences in the South. Without pausing to think that in sparsely settled communities the difficulty of combating the mob spirit may be much greater than in a well-regulated city he impliedly placed in odious comparison certain events occurring in other sections and the respect for the law that prevailed in his own town.
     Here is a distinct and culpable revival of the sectionalism which the late Chief Executive did so much to allay and bury. It need not be feared, however, that the ideals of McKinley will be endangered by the narrowness of Judge Lewis. The latter will be soon forgotten. Chance gave him an opportunity to utter words that millions peruse, but he has apparently used that chance to his own detraction.

 

 


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