He Saw the Assassin
CHARLES E. THORNTON RETURNS FROM BUFFALO EXPOSITION.
He Was Just Outside the Temple of Music When President McKinley
THE EXCITEMENT WAS INTENSE
ALL THE ANGER-STIRRED CROWD NEEDED WAS A LEADER.
The Assassin Had a Narrow Escape from Instant Vengeance—Buffalo
Charles E. Thornton,
of 1216 Broadway, returned from Buffalo last evening with his family,
and told an interesting story to a Journal reporter of the intense
excitement that prevailed on the Pan-American Exposition grounds
just after the dastardly attempt on the President’s life. “I arrived
in Buffalo from New York Friday morning, and went to the exposition
grounds with my family,” said Mr. Thornton. “We spent some time
inspecting the exhibits in the variou[s] buildings, and shortly
after 3 o’clock started toward the Temple of Music in order to hear
the immense pipe organ. As we neared the building the President’s
party was approaching, the mounted police clearing the way to the
“The crowd increased in numbers, and
it was several minutes before I could get near the door. I was just
about to enter when the sharp report of a revolver startled the
crowd. We all stood in breathless expectancy, awaiting developments.
The crowd in the building was hurriedly rushed through the doors
to the outside and the doors were closed. No one made a loud announcement
that the President had been shot, but, as if by magic, the word
was passed to the thousands who were gathered near the building.
“The excitement was
intense. The regulars cleared the building and the marines rushed
to the scene to control the crowd. They formed a line and gradually
forced the excited multitude away from the building. When the crowd
had been pressed back a s[a]fe distance from the Temple of Music
ropes w[e]re stretched to prevent the people from surging forward.
It was necessary for the marines to fire several shots into the
air in order to impress the people with the necessity of not crowding
toward the building.
“When the would-be a[s]sassin was
hurried from the building to a patrol wagon his face was pale and
he looked as if he was laboring under intense excitement. The men
in the front ranks of the crowd stood with fists clenched and eyes
staring at the Anarchist while a murmur pa[ss]ed among them ‘Let’s
lynch him.’ Others were in favor of even tearing his heart out,
and had there been a man in the crowd asserted himself as a leader
just at that time all the police, regular soldiers, marines, guards
and detectives in the exposition grounds could not have prevented
the crowd from lynching the Anarchist. All the crowd needed to speedily
end the villain’s life was a leader. Czolgosz’s face was covered
with blood as the result of the contact with the secret service
men directly after he shot the President.
“After the President was removed to
the hospital and the prisoner taken to the police station, business
at the exposition grounds was suspended. Groups of men could be
seen everywhere discussing the horrible tragedy in low tones. A
great gloom spread over the exposition crowd and the entire city
of Buffalo. Sorrow and regret were mingled with a feeling of revenge
on the assassin.
CROWDS IN THE STREETS.
“I left the grounds
before 5 o’clock and started towards the city. As we neared the
central part of the city the crowds in the streets were so great
that the cars had to be stopped. Excited men and women hurried along
the thoroughfares to the newspaper and telegraph offices, where
bulletins were displayed. Although nearly every one expressed himself
that the coward who sought the life of the President should be summarily
dealt with, yet there was no open outbreak.
“I do not believe that there was sufficient
protection afforded the President. Of course, he had always been
opposed to having a guard, as he believed that no one would seek
his life, but still there should have been more precaution taken
to protect him from just such Anarchists or cranks as the man who
shot him on Friday. When he approached the Temple of Music in his
carriage it would have been an easy matter for a man inclined as
was Czolgosz to have fired at him. He entered the building and there
were two secret-service men [s]tationed near him, yet the Anarchist
was allowed to approach and shoot the President. The act is deplorable
and it is out of the question to censure the men who were there
to protect the chief magistrate. There should have been more secret-service
men in the building.
“When I was on the car riding to the
city from the exposition grounds I informed a workingman sitting
near me of the shooting. He was greatly shocked, and said that while
he had been a Democrat all his life he would willingly give $1,000,
all the money he had, if he could have prevented the deed. Other
men expressed themselves in the same manner. I stopped in Cleveland
on my way home for a few minutes, and the people of that city are
as greatly grieved as the citizens of Canton, the President’s home.”