unimpeachable authority it was stated yesterday that all the alienists
have agreed, Drs. MacDonald, Hamilton, Hurd, Crego, Putnam and Fowler,
that Czolgosz is sane and that he was fully responsible mentally
for his acts when he committed the crime and since.
September 24, 1901
questions of his sanity were never brought up in the trial, a number of
respected physicians interviewed Czolgosz in the days immediately following
the shooting of president McKinley. Among them were Drs. Floyd S. Crego,
Joseph Fowler and J.W. Putnam. While a year later Dr. Walter Channing,
an alienist and Professor of Mental diseases at Tufts Medical School,
would describe Czogolsz as being in "a physical and mental state
of sickliness,"1 those physicians who examined
the assassin prior to his trial made the following statements in their
come to the conclusion that in the holding of these views Czolgosz
was sane, because these opinions were formed gradually under the
influence of anarchistic leaders and propagandists. In Czolgosz
they found a willing and intelligent tool; one who had the courage
of his convictions, regardless of personal consequences. We believe
that his statement, 'I killed the President because I done my duty,'
was not the expression of an insane delusion for several reasons.
The most careful questioning failed to discover any hallucinations
of sight or hearing. He had received no special command; he did
not believe he had been especially chosen to do the deed. He always
spoke as his motive for the crime as duty; he always referred to
the anarchist belief that the killing of rulers was a duty. He never
claimed the idea of killing the President was original with him,
but the method of accomplishing his purpose was his, and that he
did it alone. He is not a case of Paranoia, because he has not systematised
delusions reverting to self, and because he is in exceptionally
good condition, and has an unbroken record of god health. His capacity
for labor has always been good, and equal to that of his fellows.
These facts all tend to prove that the man has an unimpaired mind.
He has false beliefs, the result of false teaching and not the result
of disease. He is not to be classed as a denegerate, because we
do not find the stigmata of degeneration; his skull is symmetrical;
his ears do not protrude, nor are they of abnormal size, and his
palate not highly arched. Psychically he has not a history of cruelty,
or of perverted tastes and habits. He is the product of anarchy,
sane and responsible."
From a report summarized in the Buffalo
Commercial, Nov. 2, 1901.2
Floyd D. Crego,
James W. Putnam,
Anarchy Rather Than Insanity
appears that the prevailing opinion among specialists was that Czolgosz
was a victim of anarchy, a "social disease," rather than any
kind of mental illness. Dr. Carlos F. MacDonald, professor of mental diseases
and medical jurisprudence in the University-Bellevue Medical College of
the City of New York had been called in by Czolgosz's counsel to determine
the defendant's mental condition from both a medical and legal standpoint.
While MacDonald did not testify, defense counsel Titus stated that the
doctor had found Czolgosz to be sane.3
his execution, another examination was made to address the sanity of the
Czolgosz. On January 3, 1902, the Associated Press reported that an exhaustive
report, including the details of the autopsy, was given in the New
York Medical Journal for January 4th :
report embodies the result of much careful investigation by Dr.
Carlos F. MacDonald and Edward A. Spitzka of [New York City.]
question which these investigators set themselves to answer was:
"When Czolgosz shot the President, did he know the nature and
quality of the act he was doing, and that the act was wrong?"
This was from the legal viewpoint. From the viewpoint
of medical science the question that framed itself was: "Was
Czolgosz at the time he committed the act a victim of mental disease
or mental unsoundness?"
The reply to these questions, which at the same
time embodies the entire history of the case from the trial of the
criminal to his execution and the disposal of his body, takes up
nearly twelve pages in the journal-and divested of all technicalities,
is to the effect that Czolgosz was sane and responsible under the
law and punishable for the offense, though everything in his history,
according to the medical experts, pointed to the existence in him
of the social disease, anarchy, of which he was a victim.4
Even the Phrenologists speak.
an interesting aside, even phrenologists and physiognometrists attempted
to evaluate Czolgosz's mental condition. Upon viewing a newspaper photograph
of Czolgosz, George W. Nightingale wrote that "
from the shape
of his head, I conclude that to a great degree he is a coward. He would
lack the quality of self-defense. The end of his chin denotes that it
is that of a deep plotter and a man that could not be trusted, but a man
not easily led by others. The crime he committed has been given great
thought, which covered a considerable space of time."5
This countered the idea that the assassin was influenced by the anarchy
movement and Emma Goldman and was thus dismissed by police.
Broughton Brandenburg wrote a detailed account of his evaluation of Czolgosz,
which appeared in Buffalo
Courier, November 17, 1901. The full text of this article is
available in both .pdf
and .html formats.
Wesley Johns, The Man Who Shot McKinley, South Brunswick, N.J.
: A. S. Barnes and Co., Inc., 1970, p. 39.
See the article "Czolgosz Report" which summarizes the physicians'
report made public after Czolgosz's execution. Full text is available
in .pdf or .html.
"Czolgosz Examined." Buffalo
Express, September 22, 1901. Full text is available in .pdf
This Associated Press story was printed in the Buffalo
Express, January 4, 1902. Full text is available in .pdf
5. "Czolgosz's Face is That of a Hardened criminal,
Says Physiognomist." Buffalo Courier, September 18, 1901. Full text
available in .html.
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