The Assassin Makes a Full Confession
For Three Days Czolgosz Had Planned the Attack.
Inspired to the Deed by Hearing Emma Goldman Talk—Says She Set Him
Thinking until His “Head Nearly Split with Pain.”
CHICAGO, Sept. 7.—A dispatch from
Buffalo says that 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 several months, after
which I went to Newburg, on the outskirts of Cleveland, and went
to work in the Newburg wire mills.
“‘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.
“‘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 1,078 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 those people seemed
bowing to the great ruler. I made up my mind to kill that ruler.
I bought a 32-calibre revolver and loaded it.
BEGAN TO LIE IN WAIT.
“‘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
“‘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 until 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 out while the train waited.
So I staid [sic] at the grounds all day waiting.
“‘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 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
“Czolgosz ended his story in utter
exhaustion. When he had concluded, he was asked:
“‘Did you really mean to kill the
“‘I did,’ was the cold-blooded reply.
“‘What was your motive. What good
could it do?’ 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 Penney. ‘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.’”
Special to The New York Times.
BUFFALO, Sept. 7.—The only bit of
information in connection with the crime gleaned by the local police
to-day is, that Czolgosz bought the weapon with which he 
shot the President in a hardware store in this city. It was a cheap
revolver of 32-calibre. The clerk who sold it to him was shown his
picture. He said that he thought he recognized Czolgosz’s face.
He was then taken to the jail, and positively identified Czolgosz
as a man to whom he had sold the pistol three days ago.
What purports to be a full copy of
the assassin’s confession is being generally published here, but
it is not genuine. The text of the confession, which covers twelve
pages of typewritten manuscript, is kept secret, under instructions
from the Federal authorities. All that is essential in the confession
is made public by District Attorney Penney.
The prisoner was born in Detroit twenty-eight
years ago. His parents were Russian Poles, who came to this country
about forty years ago. He received some education in the common
schools of Detroit. For a while he worked in Cleveland. While there
he became interested in the Socialist movement, read quantities
of Socialist literature, and was soon prominently known as a Socialist
in the West.
Several years ago he left Cleveland
and went to Chicago, where he lived for several months. Then he
returned to Cleveland and procured employment in the wire mills
in Newburg, a suburb of Cleveland. During the last few years he
has gained quite a reputation in Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, and
other Western cities as an Anarchist of the most bitter type.
Some days ago he attended a lecture
given by Emma Goldman in Cleveland. Her doctrine that all rulers
should be exterminated was accepted by him. He went away from the
lecture determined to do something heroic for the cause. A little
over a week ago while in Chicago he read in a Chicago paper of the
intended visit of President McKinley to the Pan-American Exposition.
A day or two later he bought a ticket for Buffalo. He came to this
city with a half-formed purpose. The idea that he might have an
opportunity to assassinate the President was in his mind, but the
plot had not taken definite form.
He was one of the first in the Temple
of Music, where the public reception was held on Tuesday. He fell
into line with the rest of the people, and when his turn came to
shake hands with the Chief Executive of the Nation, he fired two
shots with the muzzle of the revolver close to the President’s body.
He says he would have fired more,
but for the fact that some one struck him a frightful blow.
Czolgosz at no time expressed any
regret for his act. If he regretted anything it was the fact that
his attempt to kill the President apparently had failed. He positively
denied that he had any accomplices or confidants. He said that he
had conceived the plot to murder alone, and that he was the agent
of no organization. He also declared he was in no way connected
with the Anarchists whose agent, Bresci, assassinated King Humbert
While he is now kept in such strict
seclusion, much concerning him can be learned from the special officers
who have been detailed to watch him in a basement dungeon in the
Franklin Street Station. Although his age is given as twenty-eight,
he looks much younger, and is much the type of young man who can
be found by the thousand working in the sweatshops of New York.
He does not look particularly vicious. In fact his face has little
He is very vain. When he was landed
behind prison bars last night his first thoughts were concerning
his personal appearance as the result of the mauling he had received
from the hands of the mob. His nose and face had been cut and the
blood ran down over his torn clothing. When he asked for anything
it was for permission to wash and for clean clothes. He was not
excited, even while they were extorting the confession from him.
On the contrary, he told them all he cared to very coolly and with
When the authorities were through
with him and took him back to his dungeon, he went to sleep. To-day,
after being permitted to wash up and put on some clean clothes,
he behaved like a man who had no concern for himself. Once he asked
to see some newspapers, and when that was denied him, he stretched
himself out on a bench and went to sleep. Several times Secret Service
officers went to him and tried to draw him into conversation in
the hope of learning something about him and his associates, but
he simply shrugged his shoulders and said he had told all he had
A good deal of criticism is heard
here against the special guard from the Seacoast Artillery and from
the special Exposition detective force, which was supposed to guard
the President during his stay here. Surprise has been expressed
that a man of Czolgosz’s appearance was allowed to approach the
President holding a handkerchief in his hand in such a manner as
he would have had to to conceal a revolver. Those who are in charge
of the special guard meet this criticism by saying that nearly everybody
in the crowd which poured into the Temple of Music to see the President
was carrying some sort of a lunch box or parcel, and that consequently
they noticed nothing peculiar in Czolgosz’s appearance.
Czolgosz says that he talked over
in advance in a general way with his friends, but that he was not
advised by them, and that there was no plot or conspiracy to take
the life of the President in which any one else had a part.
He declines to furnish the names of
the men with whom he discussed the crime of Friday, but the police
believe they will yet learn them, and that when they do they will
have exposed the Anarchistic plot of which they are confident the
prisoner was the final murderous agent.
QUESTIONING THE PRISONER.
He submitted to six hours of examination
and questioning at the hands of officials to-day and was tired out
when they led him back to his cell and locked him up for the night.
He was in the hands of a group of
shrewd examiners, and they set trap upon trap to snare him, but
the effort to break him down failed. The police say that in the
end, when he comes to a true appreciation of his position, he will
break down and confess fully. In reviewing his confession, he made
open avowal of his belief in Anarchy, and said that he had merely
done his duty as he saw it.
In addition to the examination to
which the prisoner was submitted, local and Federal detectives spent
the day in scouring the city for some trace of possible confederates.
They took up the trail of the prisoner from the day of his arrival
and partially completed an outline of his movements up to the commission
of the crime. They did not succeed in connecting him with any of
the Socialists who make their home here, and by nightfall had almost
abandoned the theory that he was assisted by any one here. They
also showed an inclination to give up the belief that a confederate
preceded the prisoner in the reception line leading up to the President,
but work along that line had not been abandoned.
The general theory now held by the
detectives is that a circle of Czolgosz’s associates plotted the
murder of President McKinley, and that he was picked by lot or induced
by persuasion to carry out finally the conspiracy. They say that
he lacks the shrewdness to have planned and executed the crime as
he did. The police said to-night that they had made no other arrests,
and had none in contemplation. It is evident that they have not
made much progress toward the establishment of their theory with
material evidence, and that their chief reliance at present is on
a confession from the prisoner.
Czolgosz’s trail has been taken up
in Cleveland, and it is expected that the inquiry there will let
in some valuable light as to his companions and possible fellow-conspirators.
Apart from the fact that the local
police have Czolgosz locked up in a station house here, they have
little or nothing to do with the work of ascertaining what instigated
the assassin to commit his terrible crime and what confederates,
if any, he had in planning it. The War Department and the Secret
Service Bureau have practically taken that work out of their hands,
and the investigation in this city and elsewhere is now under Federal
District Attorney Penney spent hours
searching for a law to cover the case. He finally satisfied himself
that there was no such law, and that Czolgosz would have to be prosecuted
under the State law like any other criminal who had committed an
ordinary assault with a murderous weapon upon an ordinary citizen.
He decided that he would not arraign the man on any charge at this
time, not even to the extent of simply having him remanded. Czolgosz
is held to-day without any charge resting against him.
KEPT IN CLOSE SECLUSION.
At the same time the local authorities
are giving very full head to the advice of the Secretary of War
and the Washington authorities in the matter of the treatment of
the prisoner. Early in the day, before they knew that it was against
the wishes of the Federal authorities, they permitted the prisoner
to be photographed for the benefit of the newspapers, and even permitted
him to be seen. That was all stopped after the wishes of the National
authorities were known.
While many stories are current here
in which it is asserted that the Secret Service officers have established
a connection between Czolgosz and Anarchist brutes in other cities,
there is no suggestion that anything has been gleaned to show that
he had any confederates in this city. Those who were unfortunate
enough to know him during his three days’ stay here, and who were
at first under some suspicion, have succeeded in clearing themselves.
Superintendent of Police Bull and
District Attorney Penney declined to discuss their second interview
with Czolgosz, or to indicate in any way the progress made in the
police investigation. They did admit, however, that the prisoner
had again talked freely of his crime, and that he had insisted that
he alone had planned and executed it.
It is known that the attention of
the detectives is devoted to the Socialistic circle at Cleveland,
to which the accused belongs. It is also regarded as certain that
every man known to have been connected with that organization will
be placed under arrest.
Czolgosz was confronted by several
witnesses at the office of the Superintendent of Police, but except
in the case of Walter Nowak, who knew him in Cleveland, nothing
was learned as to developments of the conference. The prisoner lost
much of his self-possession during the visit to the office of the
Superintendent of Police, and one of the officers who guarded him
said afterward that he lapsed into a preoccupied state of mind and
appeared rather dazed. While he was in the room of the Superintendent
his revolver was brought in by Capt. Wiser.
Detective Frank Koehler brought Walter
Nowak to Police Headquarters this morning. He is a cigar dealer,
and also a Polish newspaper man of Chicago. He says he knows Czolgosz
well, and corroborates the statement that the latter was inspired
to his cowardly act by Emma Goldman.
“I knew him in Cleveland,” said Nowak.
“He belonged to several secret societies, and one of them was Anarchistic.
I think the idea of assassination had been turning in his mind for
some time, as that sort of business is what is taught in the society
to which he belongs. He is well known in Cleveland, Chicago, and
other Western cities, where he has talked his doctrine.”
Nowak, who is a short, plump man,
with an iron-gray mustache, and an intelligent face, has been here
for some time seeing the exposition. He has been staying on Broadway,
near Fillmore Avenue, not far from where Czolgosz was boarding,
but declares he has not seen the assassin during his visit here.
When taken into the room where Czolgosz
was being examined, after glancing at the prisoner, Nowak said he
knew him in Cleveland two years ago. At that time Nowak was a reporter
on a foreign newspaper, and in common with him and a number of his
countrymen Czolgosz formed a social organization that later developed
into a Socialistic club. Nowak withdrew from it. He stated that
he remembered some of the radical resolutions adopted by the club
and brought to him for use in his paper.
He had always found it necessary to
alter them materially to make them proper material for publication.
He said that Czolgosz was without sufficient intelligence to plan
such a crime as the prisoner had been guilty of.
SNUBBED BY FORMER FRIEND.
After coming from the room where
the conference was held Nowak said that Czolgosz advanced toward
him with extended hand, but he refused to grasp it, saying: “Scoundrel!
Why did you commit this devilish plot? It was not you.”
“I did,” replied Czolgosz. “I did.
I originated the plan. It was my plan. It was my crime.”
Director General Buchanan and Secret
Service Agent Foster called at Police Headquarters shortly after
12 o’clock and were closeted for some time with Superintendent Bull
and District Attorney Penny. When they left it was announced that
Secretary of War Root had through them made a request for complete
secrecy in connection with the investigation of the crime. The District
“In order that the people shall not
be unduly and improperly excited, Secretary Root has asked that
this matter be treated as quietly as possible. The making of a hero
of this man with certain classes or the bitter condemnation of him
will tend to disturb the people, and Mr. Root’s idea is to curb
that. We will, therefore, not make public the confession made by
the prisoner, nor will we permit any one other than officials or
witnesses to see the man. We fully appreciate the force of the suggestion
by Mr. Root, and will do all we can to carry it out. There is always
an inclination to overplay a man of the character of the prisoner,
and we will do what we can to check it in this case. I cannot say
when the prisoner will be arraigned. I imagine that we will take
no formal action against him until the result of the President’s
wounds is known.”