Publication information
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Source: Southland Times
Source type: newspaper
Document type: editorial
Document title: “The Attempt on Mr McKinley”
Author(s): anonymous
City of publication: Invercargill, New Zealand
Date of publication: 13 September 1901
Volume number: none
Issue number: 15044
Pagination: 2

“The Attempt on Mr McKinley.” Southland Times 13 Sept. 1901 n15044: p. 2.
full text
McKinley assassination (international response); anarchism (international response); freedom of speech (restrictions on).
Named persons
Leon Czolgosz; James A. Garfield; Emma Goldman; Abraham Lincoln; William McKinley; John G. Milburn [misspelled below].


The Attempt on Mr McKinley

ALTHOUGH it can not be said that Mr McKinley is out of danger there is very good ground for hoping that the outrage which startled the world on Saturday is not going to have a fatal issue. The medical men who are attending the wounded President of the American Republic are not yet able to give a final verdict, but they hold out hope that Mr McKinley’s life will be spared, and by the end of the week they will be able, we trust, to say definitely that that hope will be realised. The whole world is praying that the President may win through and be restored to health and strength, and resume his position at the head of the American nation. But the final issue, whatever it may be, cannot in the judgment of decent men either mitigate or aggravate the crime which has been committed against society by this Anarchist. The whole enormity of the offence, so far as the world is concerned, was present in the attempt, and whether the fell design of the Anarchist be consummated or not, the nature of the crime of which Czolgosz has been guilty cannot be hanged. The central fact which has arrested the attention and shocked the feelings of human society, is that one of those beings who are called Anarchists has attempted to take the life of the President of a great Republic. The Anarchist is a terrible problem at any time in any place, but there is something particularly appalling about this deed. When a Nihilist throws a bomb in Russia, or an Anarchist thrusts a dagger in France, the world is moved to intimidation, but is not surprised. The conditions which obtain in those countries are peculiar, and discontented and desperate men are expected to commit desperate deeds at times. But when an Anarchist aims at the life of the President of the United States the world is shocked and startled. Of course the Anarchist is the avowed enemy of every form of Government, of law and order wherever they exist, and therefore every head of a Government—monarch, or president, or emperor—is the subject of his hatred and vengeance. The President of the United States is in the same category, from the Anarchist’s point of view, as the Czar of Russia. Both represent the fountains of law with irresistible force behind it. They represent government and government is what the Anarchist is sworn to overthrow; but government in the United States is very different from Continental government. It was Continental government that called the Anarchist into existence, and in the Continental soil he has flourished; but he has not hitherto appeared to find a congenial home in freer and more enlightened countries, such as Great Britain and America. Two Presidents of the United States—Lincoln and Garfield—have fallen by the hand of the assassin; but the motives for those crimes were radically different from that which animated Czolgosz. This man aimed at the form of government which the American nation has elected to live under. He shot President McKinley because he did not like a republic; and his dislike of republican government was apparently nursed into being by Anarchist addresses of a woman by name Miss Goldman. It is a curious condition of mind into which the Anarchist deludes himself, and it is not easy for sane men to understand how anybody but a maniac could be persuaded that he has a mission to murder the heads of organised society, the representatives of law and order in whatever form they may exist. But the state of mind of the Anarchist, with its singular negative and destructive ideas, is not the question to which America, and every other Government, must address itself. The question that America will have to consider is, whether its freedom is not too large and generous; whether it is not dangerous to the safety of the State to permit Anarchist propaganda to proceed without check. Liberty of speech and ideas is a lofty ideal, which has a fascination for the radical British mind; but it is questionable whether a liberty which permits the Anarchist to instil his poison into weak minds is not inconsistent with public safety. That is the question which we should think America will attempt to answer before very long, and probably the freedom which has hitherto been extended to all men will be narrowed and restricted. In the meantime it is satisfactory to observe that America intends to punish Czolgosz in a rational way. It will not make his trial and punishment a sensation, nor will it elevate him into a position of notoriety and enable him to pose, perhaps, as a martyr for his cause, by engaging in a crusade against Anarchists and all persons suspected of fostering the doctrines of Anarchy. It will enforce the law as against an ordinary criminal, and if the interpretation put upon the law by Mr Millburn be correct, as most people hope, it is not only Czolgosz, who may be no more than a tool, but those who incited him to the crime that will have to pay the penalty of their crime. The resolution passed by the House of Representatives yesterday was framed in the right spirit, and it stands as a testimony that society intends to live under the law, and that it will not tolerate for a moment the creeds and deeds of the Anarchist. Such resolutions passed in every part of the civilised world will show that society refuses to allow justification to the lawlessness of anarchy; that it regards the means of anarchy with horror, and that it is determined to use all the power which organisation can give it to stamp out the detestable principles which go by the name Anarchy. The revulsion of feeling produced by the attempt upon Mr McKinley’s life has been so strong and universal that the dastardly outrage committed by this instrument of Anarchists may result in good. The invasion of the United States by the Anarchist may perhaps be fatal to Anarchy, and if that should be so an incalculable benefit will have been reaped by the world.



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