Assassin Has No Moral Sense
Sullen, Perverse and Hateful as a Child.
SEEMS TO FEEL ONLY FEAR
PRISON DOCTOR SAYS HE MAY AGAIN COLLAPSE.
Says He Repents His Crime Now, but That Is Only Because of the
Dreadful Consequences That Have Befallen Himself.
AUBURN, N. Y., Oct. 5.—It is with
the greatest difficulty that even the guards who watch the every
movement of the cowardly assassin of President McKinley can induce
him to speak.
All day long he lies on his cot in
the house of death from which he will emerge in 30 days to pay the
penalty of his crime. His nerve is entirely gone.
Since his warm reception at the hands
of the mob at the gates of the prison he has been paralyzed with
fear. He crouches in the furthest corner of his cell and comes reluctantly
when he is called to the door, as if in fear of a renewal of the
Physically he has been pronounced
in good condition by the prison physician, Dr. Gerin. The physician
made another examination of him today. The assassin appeared to
be afraid of the doctor, but submitted.
Dr. Gerin reported at the conclusion
of the examination that the assassin was in good health, but that
mentally he was at a point bordering on hysteria and was likely
to collapse again at any minute.
The guards who will spend their entire
time watching him will see to it that he does not attempt any harm
One of them enters his cell every
half hour and looks him over. If he is awake he shrinks from them
without an attempt to conceal his fear. They do not expect that
he will attempt any violence to himself, mainly because of his cowardly
Is without Moral Sense.
To them, as to others
who have studied him at close range, he appears to be utterly without
moral sense or gratitude. He receives every attention with sullenness.
He has said he is sorry that he shot the President, and has admitted
that his crime was a mistake. But he is not really sorry for anybody
except himself. He only repents his crime because of the terrible
consequences to himself.
No one could witness his panic-stricken
collapse of last week without accepting the predictions of his guards
that he will be dragged, shrieking, to the death chair.
As he was towed into the yawning mouth
of the prison at 3 o’clock yesterday morning he appeared to be suffering
from epilepsy, but was the epilepsy of personal fear.
Viewed at close range as he was by
the correspondent of the Post-Dispatch he appears to be a strange
creature of moods, a dreamy, uncanny sort of individual in whom
the quality of imagination has been abnormally developed.
There is in his manner of speech and
slow, awkward grasp of the questions asked him nothing to suggest
the educated fanatical reformer who has come to regard society as
his enemy by reason of individual wrongs or because of a mistaken,
unselfish desire to better the conditions of others that have been
His selection of words is poor. One
sentence he employed several times during the journey from Buffalo
was indicative of his reflection of the terror that filled his craven
“I hope I don’t do anything that will
make me ashamed for myself,” he said.
He meant that he hoped he would be
able to meet death as becomes anarchists—fearlessly and with the
courage born of sincere conviction.
His Education Is but Meager.
That his education has
been of the most meager sort is shown by every sentence he utters.
That he has never been a student of social conditions that would
have necessitated extensive reading was manifest when an attempt
was made to have him describe the sort of books or periodicals from
which he gained the inspiration to commit a crime that he supposed
would remedy a condition he himself could not outline in the crudest
“I read some newspapers,” he replied
to a question, “but not much. They were Polish papers.”
“Did you read any books?”
“Yes, I read books sometimes.”
“What were they?”
“Oh, I don’t know the names of them.”
“Did you read any English newspapers?”
“Yes, I read ’em sometimes.”
“What were they?”
“Oh, the papers in Cleveland and Buffalo.
I can read good. I never saw a New York newspaper.”
Persistent urging to tell the names
of the books he had read, or the names of the authors of them, elicited
Concerning his own family he was just
as uncommunicative, except in the case of his brother Waldeck, who
called on him at the Buffalo prison the day before he was sentenced
to death. The only real show of emotion he made was in speaking
of this brother.
“I hope they don’t think he had nothing
to do with it,” he said.
As Sullen as a Bad Boy.
The life history of
the assassin, as outlined by his brother and sister, who came to
Buffalo to bid him farewell, is that of a strange boy of perverted
ideas. His nature was always sullen. None of the members of the
family pretended to understand him. He evinced a singular dislike
for women. He would not eat at the same table with his stepmother.
He had many quarrels with her. As a young boy he would not participate
in the diversions of games of boyhood or associate with other boys.
He was not a good pupil and remained away from school. He was of
a complaining, secretive nature.
When he grew toward manhood and went
with the family from Detroit to Orange, in Ohio, near Cleveland,
he used to wander from the farm. It was his custom to leave the
farmhouse long before the rest of the family was awake and go with
a fishing pole to a stream a mile away. He usually took food with
him from the scant family larder. Several times he took the family
He remained away all day, coming home
in a sullen mood, rarely speaking to any member of the family and
never to his stepmother.
He received the punishment of his
father with dogged resistance. All the other children were afraid
of him. The family was abjectly poor. At 13 he was put to work in
a wire mill and the family moved to Cleveland. His wages were small—those
of a “water boy.”
He made no pretense of helping the
family until his father compelled him to contribute to the joint
expenses. This he did unwillingly. When he earned more money he
never increased his contribution.
But he did not spend money on himself
nor anyone else. He concealed his money. He did not intrust it to
savings banks not to the building and loan association in which
his other brothers held shares. None of the family know what he
did with his money.
He saved $250 by the time he was 21.
His brothers induced him to buy a share in the farm at Orange, but
he did so with ill grace, demanding a full fourth.
Was Shiftless in His Habits.
He was shiftless in
his habits. He cared nothing for good clothes, but was very vain
about his hair, which is now a rich auburn, turning to bronze as
the light shifts upon it. He liked “loud” neckties, but paid as
little for them as possible. He rarely associated with his fellow-workers
in the wire mill, but spent much of his time in roaming about the
streets of Cleveland at night.
Sometimes he remained away from home
several nights at a time. He did not tell the members of the family
where he had spent his time. He complained about his money in the
As far as his parents and brothers
and sisters knew, he did not squander his earnings. They knew that
he was never generous with them—never gave them presents.
His first exhibition of an interest
in anarchy was about five years ago, when he was 23 years old. He
did not talk much about it at home. His brothers read the Polish
newspapers, which frequently contained articles on socialism and
anarchy. He declared his belief in the doctrine of equality and
force when these articles were read to him in pretty much this manner:
“That’s right; that’s right. I believe
But he never attempted to inflict
his views on the other members of the family. He entertained a rather
contemptuous view for their humble beliefs. He did not confide in
He first appeared at an anarchist
meeting in 1896 at a hall on Superior street in Cleveland. He went
there many times, always at night. He did not attempt to take an
active part in the speeches or discussions.
The promoters of these meetings did
not regard him seriously. They thought he was attracted more by
curiosity than by any sincere belief in their teachings. Sometimes
he remained away from the meetings for weeks at a time. He came
in sullenly, ill-dressed, and usually sat in moody silence during
Applauded Radical Views.
Sometimes he would show
his satisfaction at the more radical speeches by saying:
“That’s right; that’s right! I believe
Sometimes he would talk with the speakers
after they had left the hall, but they did most of the talking.
He indorsed their rabid views.
His irregular appearances at the anarchist
meetings continued over a period of three years. All this time he
continued the same moody figure at home. It is not known that he
ever saw or heard Emma Goldman more than once.
Last spring—the date is rather uncertain—he
demanded the money he had put in the farm—$250. He was given $50
at first. He threw up his place in the wire mill and went to Chicago.
He mixed up with the cult that makes money by printing and dissemination
of anarchistic newspapers. He tried to join the Free Society, and
gave as a reference the Sila Society of Cleveland.
He was suspected by the Chicago Reds.
They thought he was a spy and did not encourage his visits, and
he returned to Cleveland.
It was then that he heard Emma Goldman.
He seemed to be deeply impressed by her address, which, according
to the Cleveland police with whom the Post-Dispatch correspondent
talked, was of the most rabid kind.
If the assurances of the Cleveland
police are correct Miss Goldman not only suggested the use of force
as a corrective for the supposed evils of society, but argued that
it was the duty of young men not to marry.
The wretch that killed President McKinley
seemed to construe her ravings in the most literal sense. He disappeared
He turned up in Chicago and sought
Miss Goldman. She probably told the truth about his coming to the
house of the Isaaks, where she was staying, and accompanying her
to the railway station. Nor is there any evidence to disprove her
assertion that she never saw him again.
When he returned to Cleveland after
meeting her it was to demand more of his money. One of his brothers
consented to buy out his interest on the installment plan. He received
more than $100 in five weeks.
He went to Buffalo and fraternized
with the people in the foreign district. None of them knew anything
about him. They thought he was a laborer out of work. They knew
him as an anarchist, but paid no particular attention to him. He
did not spend much time with them, but went to live at West Seneca,
a suburb of Buffalo. The people there with whom he lodged knew nothing
He disappeared after receiving a money
order for $10 from his brother on account of the farm at Orange.
He went to Cleveland to demand more.
He got it—either $30 or $40—and left again.
The next heard from him by the family
was that he had killed the President. He himself told the Post-Dispatch
correspondent that he had not decided to do it “until about one
day before he done it,” though it had been in his “mind for several