Publication information
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Source: Chicago Daily Tribune
Source type: newspaper
Document type: article
Document title: “Dr. Moyer, Alienist, Thinks Czolgosz Sane; No Mental Defect or Degeneracy in Face”
Author(s): Moyer, Harold N.
City of publication: Chicago, Illinois
Date of publication: 9 September 1901
Volume number: 60
Issue number: 252
Part/Section: 1
Pagination: 2

Moyer, Harold N. “Dr. Moyer, Alienist, Thinks Czolgosz Sane; No Mental Defect or Degeneracy in Face.” Chicago Daily Tribune 9 Sept. 1901 v60n252: part 1, p. 2.
full text
Leon Czolgosz (physiognomical examination); Leon Czolgosz (mental health); assassinations (comparison); presidential assassinations (comparison).
Named persons
Leon Czolgosz; James A. Garfield; Charles J. Guiteau; Carter H. Harrison, Sr.; William McKinley; Harold N. Moyer; Patrick Eugene Prendergast.
In the original source the author’s content is introduced with the following editorial paragraph: “The Tribune yesterday submitted to Dr. Harold N. Moyer, the Chicago alienist, a photograph of Leon Czolgosz, President McKinley’s assailant, and asked the expert to study it and prepare a statement as to any indications of insanity or degeneracy found in the Anarchist’s features. Dr. Moyer’s statement follows[.]”

“By Harold N. Moyer, M. D.”


Dr. Moyer, Alienist, Thinks Czolgosz Sane; No Mental Defect or Degeneracy in Face

     The photograph that is available for examination is a reproduction of a finished picture which has probably been retouched, and it is possible that the art of the photographer may have obliterated some of the important features.
     The face and head, taken as a whole, make a decidedly pleasing impression. At first glance they would not be taken as belonging to a degenerate, but it is to be borne in mind that any photograph taken full front may be devoid of some distinctive characteristics which would be found in the original. There are certain prominences of the jaw and irregularities in the profile which would not show in a full front view. Hence and opinion based on an examination such as is afforded by a study of this picture may be at best only tentative.


     The forehead is of medium height, the hair line coming rather well down. The nose is straight. The eyes are moderately deep set, and a line running from the inner to the outer angle of each eyelid is exactly at right angles with the long axis of the face. The nose may possibly be deformed when seen upon profile.
     The mouth is the best feature of the face. The lips are curved, both upper and lower, and the groove extending from the septum of the nose to the upper lip is well formed.
     The chin is well formed, and is what would probably be called a “weak chin.”
     The projection of the of the jaws, which is of such great importance in estimating degeneracy, cannot be estimated because the picture is a full front view.
     The ears are well formed and do not set out from the head, but the details of their formation cannot be described from the photograph. Their size corresponds with the general facial development. They are not over large or under sized.
     The general outline of the head, the pose of the shoulders and neck, indicate, so far as the upper portion of the body is concerned, a well formed individual. It is, however, to be remembered that the photograph was taken while the individual was posing under the direction of a photographer, and hence may not represent a characteristic attitude. One of the characteristic signs of a degenerate is want of symmetry between the two sides of the head and face. So far as one can judge from this photograph there is no want of symmetry. But the amplification is not great, and with minute measurements it is easy to be at fault in this particular. The left side of the face is in shadow, hence it appears smaller, but it may not really be so.


     The individual would not be classed among degenerates from a study of his photograph alone, nor does he present any characteristic signs of an insane person. As a rule, the insane may be classified by a study of their pictures. The main types of insanity have a certain expression in common that would enable one to roughly group them. This would be true of a majority of cases, but there are many insane individuals who present nothing in their features characteristic of insanity.


     Naturally a study of this individual’s face recalls some of the great criminals that have gone before—notably Prendergast, who assassinated Mayor Harrison of Chicago, and Guiteau, who assassinated President Garfield.
     Both of these individuals are now regarded by those who make a close study of these subjects as insane. These propositions were denied at the time, and there was much expert testimony—apparently conflicting—in both of these cases.
     Prendergast assassinated Mayor Harrison as a result of his failure to receive an appointment for which he was in no way fitted and for which he had not been considered. The mere receiving of his application was sufficient, in his distorted mind, to create an impression that he was in some way entitled to recognition.
     The killing of President Garfield had the same basic elements, plus considerable general excitement growing out of party controversies at the time.
     In each case—those of Mayor Harrison and President Garfield—there was a motive, but it was of a sort that could only have moved a mind incapable of reasoning correctly. We are not now saying that in each case the mental defect was of a sort that should absolve the individuals of responsibility for their crimes, but we do say that to class them as normal persons, capable of reasoning correctly, means failure to recognize the most obvious of mental defects.
     In this latest attempt at assassination there is no personal motive, so far as is now known. The President bore no personal relation—even in the slightest degree—to this individual, and he reasoned as correctly as most of his class reason—namely: that the taking of the life of the President was a furtherance of the anarchistic propaganda. Judging this man by his surroundings and the influences which have been brought to bear upon him, it was a sane act, though the attempt being ever so foolish from the standpoint of the ordinary law-abiding citizen. It was a crime the outgrowth of adequate causes, and not a distortion of an inadequate motive by an insane mind.



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