Source: Madison County Times
Source type: newspaper
Document type: article
Document title: “The President Shot”
City of publication: Chittenango, New York
Date of publication: 13 September 1901
Volume number: 32
Issue number: 7
|“The President Shot.” Madison County Times 13 Sept. 1901 v32n7: p. .|
|McKinley assassination; William McKinley (medical condition); Leon Czolgosz; Czolgosz family (public statements); Paul Czolgosz (public statements); McKinley assassination (Czolgosz account); Emma Goldman (philosophy).|
|Marcus Junius Brutus; Julius Caesar; George B. Cortelyou; Leon Czolgosz; Emma Goldman; Charles McBurney; William McKinley; John G. Milburn; Theodore Roosevelt.|
|The article is accompanied on the same page by an illustration of McKinley.|
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 him down.
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,” he replied.
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 gathered there.
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 knowledge.
“The marriage relation is a sham.”