Source: Chicago Sunday Tribune
Source type: newspaper
Document type: article
Document title: “Confession of the Assassin; His Almost Toy Pistol”
City of publication: Chicago, Illinois
Date of publication: 8 September 1901
Volume number: 60
Issue number: 251
|“Confession of the Assassin; His Almost Toy Pistol.” Chicago Sunday Tribune 8 Sept. 1901 v60n251: part 1, p. 4.|
|Leon Czolgosz (confession); McKinley assassination (Czolgosz account).|
|Gaetano Bresci; Leon Czolgosz; Emma Goldman; Humbert I; William McKinley; John Nowak; Thomas Penney [misspelled below].|
|This article is accompanied on the same page by a photograph of a gun and single bullet. The photograph is captioned “Type of Pistol and Bullet Used by Czolgosz” and includes the following text: “The pistol used by the would-be assassin was of the double derringer variety, with two barrels, one for each bullet. Czolgosz’s weapon was of the thirty-two caliber size. Had the caliber been larger or had the pistol been of a kind holding more than two bullets the President probably would have been killed on the spot.”|
Confession of the Assassin; His Almost Toy Pistol
Buffalo, N. Y., Sept. 7.—The statement of Leon
Czolgosz made to the police, transcribed and signed by the prisoner, is as follows:
“I was born in Detroit nearly twenty-nine years ago. My parents were Russian Poles. They came here forty-two years ago. I got my education in the public schools of Detroit and then went to Cleveland, where I got work. In Cleveland I read books on socialism and met a great many Socialists. I was pretty well known as a Socialist in the West. After being in Cleveland for several years I went to Chicago, where I remained seven months, after which I went to Newburg, on the outskirt of Cleveland, and went to work in the Newburg wire mills.
Hears Emma Goldman Lecture.
“During the last five years I have had as friends
Anarchists in Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, and other Western cities, and I suppose
I became more or less bitter. Yes, I know I was bitter. I never had much luck
at anything and this preyed upon me. It made me morose and envious, but what
started the craze to kill was a lecture I heard some little time ago by Emma
Goldman. She was in Cleveland and I and other Anarchists went to hear her. She
set me on fire.
“Her doctrine that all rulers should be exterminated was what set me to thinking so that my head nearly split with the pain. Miss Goldman’s words went right through me and when I left the lecture I had made up my mind that I would have to do something heroic for the cause I loved.
Goes to Buffalo from Chicago.
“Eight days ago, while I was in Chicago, I read
in a Chicago newspaper of President McKinley’s visit to the Pan-American Exposition
at Buffalo. That day I bought a ticket for Buffalo and got here with the determination
to do something, but I did not know just what. I thought of shooting the President,
but I had not formed a plan.
“I went to live at 1078 Broadway, which is a saloon and hotel. John Nowak, a Pole, a sort of politician, who has led his people here for years, owns it. I told Nowak that I came to see the fair. He knew nothing about what was setting me crazy. I went to the exposition grounds a couple of times a day.
“Not until Tuesday morning did the resolution to shoot the President take a hold of me. It was in my heart; there was no escape for me. I could not have conquered it had my life been at stake. There were thousands of people in town on Tuesday. I heard it was President’s day. All these people seemed bowing to the great ruler. I made up my mind to kill that ruler. I bought a 32-caliber revolver and loaded it.
“On Tuesday night I went to the fair grounds and was near the railroad gate when the Presidential party arrived. I tried to get near him, but the police forced me back. They forced everybody back so that the great ruler could pass. I was close to the President when he got into the grounds, but was afraid to attempt the assassination because there were so many men in the bodyguard that watched him. I was not afraid of them or that I should get hurt, but afraid I might be seized and that my chance would be gone forever.
“Well, he went away that time and I went home. On Wednesday I went to the grounds and stood right near the President, right under him near the stand from which he spoke.
Wanted to Shoot during Speech.
“I thought half a dozen times of shooting while
he was speaking, but I could not get close enough. I was afraid I might miss,
and then the great crowd was always jostling, and I was afraid lest my aim fail.
I waited on Wednesday, and the President got into his carriage again, and a
lot of men were about him and formed a cordon that I could not get through.
I was tossed about by the crowd, and my spirits were getting pretty low. I was
almost hopeless that night as I went home.
“Yesterday morning I went again to the exposition grounds. Emma Goldman’s speech was still burning me up. I waited near the central entrance for the President, who was to board his special train from that gate, but the police allowed nobody but the President’s party to pass where the train waited, so I staid [sic] at the grounds all day waiting.
Carries Pistol in His Hand.
“During yesterday I first thought of hiding
my pistol under my handkerchief. I was afraid if I had to draw it from my pocket
I would be seen and seized by the guards. I got to the Temple of Music the first
one and waited at the spot where the reception was to be held.
“Then he came, the President—the ruler—and I got in line and trembled and trembled until I got right up to him, and then I shot him twice, through my white handkerchief. I would have fired more, but I was stunned by a blow in the face—a frightful blow that knocked me down—and then everybody jumped on me. I thought I would be killed and was surprised the way they treated me.”
Intended to Kill President.
Czolgosz ended his story in utter exhaustion.
When he had about concluded he was asked: “Did you really mean to kill the President?”
“I did,” was the reply.
“What was your motive, what good could it do you?” he was asked.
“I am an Anarchist. I am a disciple of Emma Goldman. Her words set me on fire,” he replied, with not the slightest tremor.
“I deny that I have had an accomplice at any time,” Czolgosz told District Attorney Penny. “I don’t regret my act, because I was doing what I could for the great cause. I am not connected with the Paterson group or with those Anarchists who sent Bresci to Italy to kill Humbert. I had no confidants; no one to help me. I was alone absolutely.”