Source: Southern Mercury
Source type: newspaper
Document type: editorial
Document title: “What the Black Journals Have Done”
City of publication: Dallas, Texas
Date of publication: 20 February 1902
Volume number: 22
Issue number: 8
|“What the Black Journals Have Done.” Southern Mercury 20 Feb. 1902 v22n8: p. 9.|
|Leon Czolgosz; Leon Czolgosz (mental health); Leon Czolgosz (execution: personal response); anarchism (government response: criticism).|
|Otto von Bismarck; L. Vernon Briggs; Walter Channing [misspelled once below]; Leon Czolgosz; Waldeck Czolgosz; Emmanuel Régis; Victoria.|
What the Black Journals Have Done
Now that the wild terror excited
by the pirate press about anarchism has subsided and sober second thought has
resumed its sway, the intelligent public, the public that does not swallow the
editorials of the big dailies, the thinking public, have settled down on two
propositions which they believe to be true: 1. That Czolgosz, though he declared
himself an anarchist, did not belong to any association of anarchists nor had
he ever been recognized by anarchists as one of their number. 2. That he was
At the instance of Dr. Canning of Brookline, Mass., Dr. L. V. Briggs of Boston visited the home of Czolgosz, his family, former associates, and examined all the evidence relating to his habits and general mental condition with all the painstaking thoroughness that the scientific mind could suggest. The facts collected and conclusions reached were made the subject of an address by Dr. Channing on January 28, before a body of medical experts.
Some sixty persons in Cleveland, Buffalo, Auburn prison, and elsewhere were interviewed by Dr. Briggs, whose purpose was to exclude unauthentic newspaper reports and obtain data from original sources.
Czolgosz appears to have had a taste for reading. Said Waldeck, his brother, “Leon liked best to read the Peruna Almanack, because he said it always told his his [sic] lucky days.” In March, Leon became restless, and in July began his trips to the city. Just before Leon went away from the farm he told Waldeck that he had to go away. “Why?” asked the brother. Leon answered, “I can not stand it any longer.”
His friends told of him that he would brush flies away but never kill any. He was never jolly, would not talk to strangers, and would sit alone all day reading, sleeping or thinking. He was abnormally suspicious. For years he not only refused to eat with the others, but prepared his food for himself. This, says Dr. Channing, is the case with people affected with hallucinations of persecution.
In summing up his conclusions, Dr. Channing presented them in the following form:
1. The history of Czolgosz for several years before the assassination throws more light than we have hitherto had on his mental condition.
2. This indicates a considerable degree of mental impairment, probably amounting to actual disease.
3. He appears to have been the subject of insane delusions, which were systematized and continued to the day of his death.
4. The assassination was probably the result and logical culmination of these delusions.
5. He read anarchistic literature and went to anarchistic meetings while his delusions were evolving.
6. There is no proof that anarchy was the source of these delusions.
7. The extent of his intercourse with anarchists is unknown, but careful investigation in places where he lived leads us to believe that is [sic] has been much exaggerated.
8. His actions from the time of the assassination to the time of his execution were consistent with what they had been before, and not inconsistent with insanity.
9. In many respects he represents a striking example of the typical regicide or magnicide as described by Regis.
10. There is nothing in the post-mortem examination to negative a diagnosis of insanity.
11. After weighing all the evidence from all sources that has come to my attention, I am inclined to the conclusion that it furnishes more grounds for diagnosis of insanity than for the diagnosis of sanity.
Dr. Briggs corroborated Dr. Channing’s statements and said that the law had every opportunity of going into the history of the assassin. There was no proof of his being an anarchist beyond his own statements.
The conclusions above presented are purely scientific, and, as such, are totally destitute of any sensational or partizan [sic] admixture. We call special attention to 6 and 7.
Now what have the black journals done? To accomplish their diabolical purposes of destroying a hated rival and paving the way for subversion of our republican government, they worked up the public to such a pitch of frenzy, that the wretched victim of an insane delusion was railroaded to death by a farcical trial, in which his attorney betrayed him, and in which judge and jury lacked the manhood to stand for the laws of the land and the legal rights of the accused against the torrent of popular fury, which the black journals had evoked.
So far as Czolgosz was personally concerned, it was better for him to die than to pine to death in the padded cell of a madhouse. And your red-handed king-killers, how they rejoice over his execution and in coming into possession of another martyr and hero! He is made a new saint in their calendar, whom their children are taught to revere, and whose last words they treasure up as a sacred heritage.
Not in Europe would a man be executed for the killing or the attempted killing of a king, if even a plausible pretext of insanity could be found to prevent it. It is only in those cases where deliberation and conspiracy, where a deeply laid plan and a consistent course of action on that plan shut out all possibility of supposed insanity that the assassin has been put to death. Of the numerous attempts upon the life of Queen Victoria no one has ever been executed. The good sense of the English people will not admit, unless absolutely impossible to believe otherwise, that a sane man would kill a sovereign who had done him no injury. The same is true with regard to the assault made upon the Prince of Wales and the Emperor of Germany, Bismarck and others.
By all means let the killer of a king or President be put to death if found sane and guilty after a fair and impartial trial. We have no sympathy with the maudlin sentiment that would substitute educational methods for gallows ropes in the case of cold-blooded murderers. Society must protect itself. The wolves must be killed. In such cases, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, and a life for a life must still be the law.
But there must be policy in the graduation of punishment. It is true that punishment is founded upon the basic principle of justice and retribution. This is natural law. But civilized society adds to this a new element, the element of policy. Hence, the rule should be that the protection of society being the end aimed at in punishment, punishments should be so ordered as to best subserve this end.
Now in the case of Czolgosz, suppose he were today the occupant of a solitary cell in the awful precincts of an insane asylum, would anybody be glorifying his name and memory? Not one. Instead of receiving glory, he would be the object of pity, and his deplorable situation would be a warning to all to avoid his footsteps, instead of his being made, as he now is, a saint and a hero.
What has already been done cannot be recalled. But the foregoing remarks are not inopportune. There is a bill before Congress to punish anarchism. Already a bill has been introduced in the Legislature of New York to make it death to attempt to kill the Governor of the State. Now it has never entered the mind of the wildest anarchist to want to kill a governor. What will be the effect of the bill if passed? It will be an official declaration that the governor of a State is a man whom anarchists would naturally single out for death on account of his important official position. Men who have never dreamed of such a thing before will now add the governors of States to the high personages they would like to see destroyed. Heretofore governors have been as safe as the humblest citizen of the land. Of them it could never have been said: “Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.” Let the States pass such bills, and governors will be no safer than kings and Presidents from the hands of murderous fanatics.
It must be borne in mind that the anarchy bills offered in Congress are not offered in good faith. Their object is not the prevention of anarchism, but the promotion of imperialism by investing the President with royal prerogatives and by the suppression of freedom of speech and of the press in the United States, as it is already thoroughly crushed in the tyrant-ridden Philippines.