The President Shot
DEED COMMITTED BY A DISCIPLE OF EMMA GOLDMAN.
Chief Magistrate Holding His Own in the Grim Struggle with Death—Story
of the Assassination—Statement of the Would-Be Assassin.
Latest.—Dr. McBurney says that the
President will be able to resume duties in six weeks.
Buffalo, Sept. 10.—President McKinley,
the nation’s Chief Executive, lies prostrate, suffering the pangs
inflicted by the bullets of a cowardly assassin, while his life
hangs in the balance.
It was on the Pan-American grounds
in the great Temple of Music while the President was holding a public
reception that the cowardly attack was made, with what success time
alone can tell.
After the daily organ recitals in
the Temple of Music the dastardly attempt was made. Planned with
all the diabolical ingenuity and finesse of which anarchy and nihilism
are capable, the would-be assassin carried out the work without
a hitch, and, should his designs fail and the President survive,
only to Providence can be attributed that beneficent result.
The President, though well guarded
by United States Secret Service detectives, was fully exposed to
such as attack as occurred. He stood at the edge of the raised dais
on which stands the great pipe organ, at the east side of the magnificent
structure. Throngs of people crowded in at the various entrances,
to gaze upon their well beloved Executive, perchance to clasp his
hand, and then fight their way out in the good natured mob that
every minute swelled and multiplied at the points of ingress and
egress to the building. The President was in a cheerful mood, and
was enjoying to the full the hearty evidences of a goodwill which
everywhere met his gaze. Upon his right stood John G. Milburn, of
Buffalo, president of the Pan-American Exposition, chatting with
the President and introducing to him especially persons of note
who approached. Upon the President’s left stood Mr. Cortelyou.
It was shortly after 4 P. M. when
one of the throng which surrounded the presidential party, a medium
sized man of ordinary appearance and plainly dressed in black, approached
as if to greet the President.
Both Secretary Cortelyou and President
Milburn noticed that the man’s hand was swathed in a bandage or
handkerchief. Reports of bystanders differ as to which hand. He
worked his way amid the stream of people up to the edge of the dais,
until he was within two feet of the President.
President McKinley smiled, bowed and
extended his hand in that spirit of geniality the American people
so well know, when suddenly the sharp crack of a revolver rang out
loud and clear above the hum of voices, the shuffling of myriad
feet and the vibrating waves of applause that ever and anon swept
here and there over the assemblage.
There was an instant of almost complete
silence, like the hush that follows a clap of thunder or the momentary
stillness that ensues after the explosion of a bombshell. The President
stood stock still, a look of hesitancy, almost of bewilderment,
on his face. Then he retreated a step, while a pallor began to steal
over his features. The multitude, only partially aware that something
terrible had happened, paused in the silence of surprise, while
necks were craned and all eyes turned as one toward the rostrum,
where a great tragedy was being enacted.
Then came a commotion.
With the leap of a tiger three men threw themselves forward as with
one impulse and sprang toward the would-be assassin. Two of them
were United States Secret Service men, who were on the watch, and
whose duty it was to guard against just such a calamity as had here
befallen the President and the nation. The third was a bystander,
a negro, who had only an instant before grasped in his dusky palm
the hand of the President.
As one man the trio hurled themselves
on the President’s assailant. In a twinkling he was borne to the
ground, his weapon was wrested from his grasp and strong arms pinioned
Then the vast multitude which thronged
the edifice began to come to a realizing sense of the awfulness
of the scene of which they had been unwilling witnesses.
The would-be assassin whose name is
Leon Czolgosz had fired two shots, one of which entered the abdomen
and the other the right breast. The President was at once removed
to the emergency hospital where the bullet in the breast was extracted.
Later he was removed to the home of John G. Milburn, where the surgeons
pronounced his condition favorable.
Czolgosz was attacked by a crowd about
the scene of the shooting and narrowly escaped lynching. He was
rescued with difficulty by the police and taken to the station house.
He said he had been selected to kill the President. The police reserve
was called out to guard the station house.
Only words of cheer come from the
chamber of the illustrious invalid. The physicians are more outspokenly
encouraging in their opinions of the President’s condition. They
practically agree that the danger from peritonitis has passed, and
that with the expiration of every hour the apprehension of other
dangerous complications lessens. The danger point, they say, has
by no means been passed, but as yet no untoward symptoms have shown
themselves, and should the case continue to progress as it is doing
now, the peril of a fatal conclusion should be over within a week.
The atmosphere about the Milburn mansion
is distinctly more cheerful, and it is even joyful. The tension
has sensibly relaxed. The cabinet officers and close friends of
the President in Buffalo, now express decided confidence in the
outcome, and some of them are so optimistic that they have placed
a short limit upon their stay in that city. Vice-President Roosevelt
said he would not leave until he has absolute assurance that the
President would recover, but he expects to leave now. It is somewhat
significant of the prevailing confidence that the President’s sister
and nieces have left for their homes.
Leon Czolgosz, taciturn
and violent of temper from boyhood, is the son of thrifty and hard-working
parents, and is one of nine children—seven boys and two girls. The
family has lived in and near Cleveland for the last sixteen years.
The father married for a second time.
Leon was born in Michigan and spent
his early life in Alpena. He was about thirteen years old when the
family moved to Cleveland. The family were strict in religious observances,
but the records do not show that young Czolgosz was baptized.
He was not very bright, and as he
grew older his disposition to be sullen, brooding, increased. He
had frequent rows with his brothers.
“He was a morose sort of a fellow,
not at all sociable,” said one of his brothers. “He would not eat
his meals with the family half the time. Sometimes I used to think
he was not sociable because we would rather he kept away from us,
for he was pretty gabby with other people.”
He drifted away from home, went to
Indiana and Illinois and fell in with Anarchists, whose teachings
he readily absorbed. Several years ago he was employed in a Newburg
mill. He is a member of Forest City Castle Lodge No. 22. of the
Golden Eagle. His former associates in the mill describe him as
a quiet-acting man, but he was known to have a most violent temper.
He was a strong infidel as well as a red-hot Anarchist.
The deed which Emma Goldman nurtured
into scarlet bloom was growing slowly. Czolgosz was a member of
the “Sila” Socialist club, which met at Tod and Third streets until
it disbanded three years ago. Sila means force. After that organization
went to pieces Czolgosz joined other Anarchist societies the names
of which are not known to the police.
When told of the shooting his father
said: “He ought to be hanged. There is no excuse for such a crime.”
The would-be assassin
in telling about his life, said that five years ago he left Cleveland
and went to Chicago. He admitted he knew a number of Anarchists
in Chicago but would not tell their names. He remained in Chicago
nine months, then returned to Cleveland and worked in the wire mills
at Newburg, a suburb of Cleveland. From time to time he said he
went to Chicago, Detroit and other Western cities as an Anarchist
and visited Anarchists. He admitted he knew Emma Goldman and expressed
great admiration for her doctrines. He heard her lecture three times.
The last time was about three weeks ago.
“She set me on fire,” he said. “Her
doctrine that all rulers should be exterminated 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 made up my
mind that I would have to do something heroic for the cause I loved.”
He went back to his lodging from the
lecture with fever in his brain. His mind was filled with the terrible
preaching of this woman. The doctrine that rulers had no right to
live was burned into his soul. He awoke in the morning with the
lecture of Emma Goldman running through his mind.
A few days afterward he read in a
Chicago paper that President McKinley was to visit the Pan-American
Exposition and remain in Buffalo for several days. The lecture of
Emma Goldman and the projected visit of the President to Buffalo
were linked in his every thought. He left for Buffalo eight days
ago, but at that time the plot to kill the President had not crystalized.
On Tuesday, the day of the President’s
arrival, Czolgosz had made up his mind. He determined to shoot the
President. After many repeated efforts to reach the President’s
side he at last was given the opportunity on Friday, with the result
that the Chief Executive lingers between life and death.
When asked by the District Attorney
if he meant to kill the President, he replied:
“What was the motive that induced
you to commit this crime?”
“I am a disciple of Emma Goldman,”
Charles McBurney, the famous New York
surgeon who had been summoned in consultation, after a thorough
examination, said he had not found a single unfavorable symptom,
and that the President’s condition was satisfactory to all the physicians
present. This joyful bit of news was sent out beyond the blue-coated
picket lines on Sunday to gladden the hearts of the silent throng
Here are the doctrines
of Emma Goldman, as shown by her public speeches and writings, which
Czolgosz says caused him to try to assassinate President McKinley:
“You want bread. No one will give
it to you. If you do not get it on your own demand, take it by force.
Prepare yourselves. The capitalists have prepared themselves with
the police, who are armed with pistols and clubs. You can defend
yourselves with sticks and stones if attacked. If you take bread
alone it will not help you much. Take everything.
“March to the palaces of the capitalists
and demand your rights, and if they are not given to you take them
by force. You will be attacked by the militia and the police. You
must be prepared to defend yourselves.
“The law will not fill your empty
stomachs. The laws are made for the rich and not for the poor.—(Extracts
from speech made at Union Square labor meeting on August 21, 1893,
for which Emma Goldman was sent to the Blackwell’s Island Penitentiary
for a year.)
“When I die I would rather go to hell
than to heaven. All tyrants go to heaven.
“They tell us that by despatching
one tyrant we will not change society; that another tyrant will
take his place. Yes, that is true; and another hero will come up
to meet every such new tyrant. Wherever there is a Caesar there
must be a Brutus.
“I am against all laws.
“I do not believe in God.
“I do not think any church has ever
done anything for the poor.
“My definition of anarchy is this:
Anarchism is the establishment of a system without government of
any kind and a perfect liberty to every individual to enjoy his
or her life and to cultivate abilities as well as attain the highest
“The marriage relation is a sham.”