Source: St. John Daily Sun
Source type: newspaper
Document type: editorial
Document title: “The Lesson for Canada”
City of publication: St. John, Canada
Date of publication: 9 September 1901
Volume number: 24
Issue number: 216
|“The Lesson for Canada.” St. John Daily Sun 9 Sept. 1901 v24n216: p. 4.|
|McKinley assassination (international response); anarchism (international response); anarchism (Chicago, IL); McKinley assassination (religious response: criticism); anarchism (compared with lynching); lawlessness (mob rule).|
|Alexander II; John Peter Altgeld; Samuel Fielden; Humbert I.|
The Lesson for Canada
Canadians may be tempted at this
time to ind[u]lge in reflections of their own immunity from such crimes as that
committed on Friday at Buffalo. We may indeed have cause to be thankful that
the doctrine of the anarchist has not as yet been proclaimed in this land, and
that in this country the sanctity of human life has been maintained by law and
public opinion. It is not known that the Dominion harbors even one professed
anarchist who would commend the murder of men in authority. If there are such
persons in this country, and if they should use such language in regard to the
Buffalo crime as was openly used in Paterson after King Humbert was killed,
they would be arrested and their career as encouragers of crime would come to
an end. But while we hope that Canada is free from these dangerous classes,
it is well not to be boastful. The road is open and no country can know when
its turn may come. At least, however, we can resolve that the promoters and
open advocates of these crimes in other lands shall have no pa[r]t or lot with
It is not many years since attempts to murder Old World rulers were attributed in the United States to the natural unrest of the downtrodden masses. American freedom was prescribed as the antidote for all these evils. For many years the American Republic has been the refuge of criminals guilty of the class of murders which the perpetrators called political offences. Even yet an advocate of murder in Ireland is frequently applauded in public in Chicago and other cities. There are organizations in the United States, which disfellowship their fellow members in this country, because the Canadian Irish societies do not [co]ndone acts of lawlessness and crimes of violence. Aiders of the Invincibl[es;] comrades and well wishers of the murderer of Czar A[le]xander; associates and applauders of the man who slew King Humbert, have been too long tolerated in the United States. They have been considered good [e]nough to find employment with respectable workmen in factories and other industries.
Nor is this the first time when these evil disposed people have turned their hand against the country which too generously gave them protection. In 1886 a band of Chicago anarchists took advantage of certain labor troubles. When the police undertook to disperse a meeting to which one Fielden was making an incendiary speech a bomb was thrown among the police and the anarchists afterwards fired on the force, of whom seven were killed or died of their wounds, while over fifty more were injured. Seven leaders of the society which planned this act were convicted. Four were hanged and one committed suicide. The sentences of the other two were commuted, and Governor Altgeld kindly pardoned them at a time of political stress. Since then great tolerance has been shown toward the advocates of assassination, and now they have been heard from again in their adopted country.
The experience of the United States should teach us Canadians not to be self-righteous, or to boast of our freedom from these “political offences.” Rather let it be understood that this country shall not be made a rendezvous or hiding place for men who are bad citizens of other lands. There is no security in the belief we have that this is a free country, where every man has his fair chance to live. This counts for nothing with the enemies of all governments and the sworn foes of law and order. Let us be modest in our claim of superiority but resolute in our determination that Canada shall not be a dumping ground for a class of actual or prospective criminals from any country. As one of the city clergymen said yesterday, it is better to have a small increase of population than to welcome such immigrants as these.
Let us hope also that in this country no such words shall be heard as those reported to have been spoken in a conspicuous pulpit in the United States yesterday. The lawlessness shown in the horrible lynchings, so frequently reported from the south, is of another type from that of the Buffalo criminal. But it is equally a defiance of law and order, in some cases equally a crime against humanity, and nearly always more cruel and barbarous as well as more cowardly than the assault on the president. To burn an unconvicted and untried negro at the stake is murder and anarchy, and the slaughter on the spot of the wretched assassin at Buffalo would have been an act of anarchy if not murder. When men who stood around and saw the foul deed were able out of respect for law to restrain themselves from committing any serious act of violence, a minister of the gospel with two days to think it over might well have refrained from giving encouragement to lawlessness anywhere.