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John Flammang SCHRANK

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 


The Attempted Assassination of Ex-President Theodore Roosevelt
 
Classification: Attempted assassination
Characteristics: He claimed to have shot Roosevelt as a warning to other third termers and that it was the ghost of William McKinley that told him to perform the act
Number of victims: 0
Date of attempted murder: October 14, 1912
Date of arrest: Same day
Date of birth: 1876
Victim profile: Theodore Roosevelt (United States ex-President)
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA
Status: Found insane. Sentenced to the Central State Mental Hospital in Waupun, Wisconsin, in 1914. He remained there for 29 more years, until his death from natural causes in 1943
 
 

 
 

CHAPTER XVI.

FINDING OF THE ALIENISTS.

We find that John Schrank came to New York at the age of 12, and lived with his uncle and aunt as foster parents, who kept a saloon at 370 East Tenth street, New York City.

Before coming to this country he had 5 years of the public schools of his native village in Bavaria, and after arrival in this country his only schooling was such as he could obtain at night schools in New York during 3 or 4 years.

Up to this time no peculiarity had been observed in him, from any evidence available. We note the fact that he was most especially interested in history and government, as illustrated by political writings and by the Bible. He speaks frequently of his very great admiration for the character of George Washington.

At 15 or 16 years of age he became greatly interested in poetry. This perhaps corresponds to the period of development at which eccentricities are wont to appear.

He represents that in the saloon in which he worked he was chiefly engaged in supplying beer to residents of neighboring tenements; that there was no gambling or other immoral conduct practiced or encouraged in this business place. He went on for over 12 years as barkeeper. His uncle and aunt had during this time accumulated means for the purchase of a small tenement. At the death of the uncle and aunt in 1910 and 1911 the defendant came into possession of this property.

In the last year and a half has not been in any regular business or employment, and spent his time in long walks about New York and Brooklyn, during which he meditated upon poetical compositions, and political and historical questions, jotting down ideas upon loose slips of paper as they came to him, night or day, forming the basis of his poems. He spent his evenings in a saloon, retiring early. The average daily quantity of stimulants or beer taken by him was insufficient to produce intoxication. He also states that in 1902 and 1903, for a period of nearly 2 years, he drank no intoxicants at all.

He states that in 1901, between 1 and 2 o'clock in the morning of the day after President McKinley's death he experienced a vivid dream, in which he appeared to be in a room with many flowers and a casket, and saw a figure sit up in the casket, which he says was the form and figure of the assassinated President McKinley, who then pointed to a corner of the room, and said, "Avenge my death." He then looked where the finger pointed and saw a form clad in a Monkish garb, and recognized the form and face of this individual as the form and face of Theodore Roosevelt.

At the time this made a strong impression, but was not dwelt upon especially except in the light of later events.

Prior to the nomination of Colonel Roosevelt for the Presidency in the year 1912, he had felt great interest in the political campaign, and had read articles expressing great bitterness toward the idea of a third term, and toward Colonel Roosevelt personally in the newspapers of New York, and after the period when the nomination of Colonel Roosevelt began to be actively agitated, meditated more deeply upon these matters. He had always studied with the greatest interest the questions of free government, as illustrated by the Declaration of Independence, and Washington's Farewell Address. In this connection, the Monroe doctrine also assumed great importance in his mind, and the converse thereof, the duty of this nation to refrain from war of conquest; and out of these meditations grew what he elaborated into his declaration as to the unwritten laws, or "The Four Pillars of our Republic," namely (1) the Third Term Tradition, (2) the Monroe Doctrine, (3) that only a Protestant by creed can become president, (4) no wars of conquest. This document, hereunto annexed as Exhibit 1, fully sets forth his views on these subjects.

These "four unwritten laws" had assumed in his mind a character of sacredness. They were "sacred traditions" to be maintained at all hazards, and, as subsequently appeared, even the hazard of life.

The following are some quotations from this document:

"Tradition is an unwritten law."

"I would doubt the right of a court to have jurisdiction over a man who had defended tradition of his country against violation."

"The oldest of these traditions is the 'third term tradition,' it has never been violated and is an effective safeguard against unscrupulous ambition, but never before has been established a test case of its inviolability as a warning to coming adventurers."

"For the first time in American history we are confronted by a man to whom practically nothing is sacred, and he pretends to stand above tradition."

"Anybody who finances a Third Term Movement should be expatriated and his wealth confiscated."

"The dangers in this campaign are these, the third termer is sure that the nomination has been stolen, and that the country and the job belongs to him, therefore, if he gets honestly defeated in November he will again yell that the crooks of both parties have stolen the election and should he carry a solid West, he and the hungry office-seekers would not hesitate to take up arms to take by force what is denied him by the people, then we face a Civil War, * * * * * * and that he who wilfully invites war deserves death. We would then be compelled to wash out the sin of violating the Third Term with the blood of our sons. Yet this is not the gravest danger we are facing. We have allowed an adventurer to circumtravel the Union with military escort with the torch of revolution in his hands to burn down the very house we live in."

"Have we learned no lesson about a one man's rule experienced in France with such disastrous results as the end of the reign of Napoleon I and Napoleon III."

"Are we trying to establish here a system like our ancestors have done in Europe, which all revolutions of a thousand years could not abolish."

"Are we overthrowing our Republic, while the heroes of the French revolutions, and the martyrs of 1848 gladly gave their lives to establish Republican institutions."

"The abolition of the Third Term tradition is the abolition of the Monroe doctrine also."

"Hardly any revolution has started without pretending that their movement was progressive."

"The prudence of our forefathers has delivered to us an equally sacred unwritten law which reads that no president should embrace another creed than Protestant, if possible, a sect of the English Church. I am a Roman Catholic. I love my religion but I hate my church as long as the Roman parish is not independent from Rome, as long as Catholic priests are prevented from getting married, as long as Rome is still more engaged in politics and accumulation of money contrary to the teachings of the Lord. The Roman Catholic Church is not the religion for a president of the United States."

"The Fourth unwritten law, which is practically supplementary to the second, we find in George Washington's Farewell Address, where he advises us to live in peace with your neighbor. We have no right to start a war of conquest."

In his examination in this connection he stated as follows: "Four-fifths of the United States would take up arms to defend the Third Term tradition. Trying to get perpetual power and dictatorship would justify killing."

He also said he would be justified to the same extent, that is, by killing, a man who would seek the presidency and was a Roman Catholic; and also for a man who would start a war for conquest; and he thought also of the possibility of foreign powers to help Roosevelt possibly to annex the Panama Canal and break down the Monroe Doctrine. He said he believed the country would be facing a civil war if Roosevelt went on as he had done.

He gives as a reason for his present attack upon Roosevelt, that he did not wish to give him (Roosevelt) an opportunity to plead that no defense of the Third Term tradition had been made in 1912 should he aspire to another term in 1916. Asked as to how he reconciled his act with the commandment "Thou shalt not kill," he replied that, "religion is the fundamental law of human order, but to kill to try and do a good thing, and to avenge McKinley's murder, justifies the killing."

The proof of his position came to him in his dream and in his vision.

"Roosevelt's ambition and conduct proves to every man that he was back of McKinley's assassination in some way or other."

The defendant says that he prayed God to find a leader among men who would take this responsibility, and he expected all along someone else would do this thing, but no one did it, and as he was a single man of 36, without a family, and thought the deed was a good deed, and it made no difference to him, he was willing to sacrifice his life for that end, even if he were torn to pieces by the mob. He therefore concluded that it was his mission, and desired to make of this a test case.

He thinks the election returns corroborate the fact that the people have been awakened to the idea of no Third Term.

In the progress of the campaign, when the progressive movement had taken shape, and Colonel Roosevelt had been nominated as the head of a third party, and on August 7th, 1912, the dream which had come to him in 1901, as above related, began to assume more importance, and special significance in his mind. He felt extreme agitation on this subject continuously. On the morning of September 15th, 1912, the anniversary of the date of his dream in 1901, having retired as usual the night before with his manuscript by his bedside, he suddenly awakened between 1 and 2 A.M., with the completion of a poem entitled "Be a Man" uppermost in his mind.

We insert the poem at this point:

1. Be a man from early to late

When you rise in the morning

Till you go to bed

Be a man.

2. Is your country in danger

And you are called to defend

Where the battle is hottest

And death be the end

Face it and be a man.

3. When you fail in business

And your honor is at stake

When you bury all your dearest

And your heart would break

Face it and be a man.

4. But when night draws near

And you hear a knock

And a voice should whisper your

Time is up; Refuse to answer

As long as you can

Then face it and be a man.

He found his ideas were taking shape, and getting up he sat writing, when he suddenly became aware of a voice speaking in a low and sad tone, "Let no murderer occupy the presidential chair for a third term. Avenge my death!" He felt a light touch upon his left shoulder, and turning, saw the face of former President McKinley. It bore a ghostlike aspect. This experience had a decisive effect in fixing in his mind the iniquity of the third term, and from this time he questioned as to his duty in the matter, and he finally regarded this vision and its connection with the exact anniversary of the dream as a command to kill Roosevelt, and as an inspiration. When asked by us whether he considered this as imagination or as inspiration and a command from God, while showing some reluctance to claim the vision as an inspiration, he finally answered decisively that he did.

When asked whether a man had a right to take a weapon and hunt down a man who had violated tradition, he submitted his written statement in reply, which is hereto annexed as Exhibit 2, some quotations from which are as follows:

"I should say where self-sacrifice begins the power of law comes to an end, and if I knew that my death during my act would have this tradition more sacred I would be sorry that my life was spared so convinced am I of my right to act as I did that if I were ever a free man again I would at once create an Order of Tradition."

"I presume you men would declare Joan d'Arc, the Maid of Orleans insane because the Holy Virgin appeared to her in a vision."

"When we read that God had appeared to Moses in the shape of a burning thorn bush, then again as a cloud, we will find many people who doubt the appearance of God to man in human or other shape."

"Why then in cases of dire national needs should not the God appear to one of us in vision."

The defendant states that at no time and under no circumstances did he communicate to anyone his intention. In fact, he kept it as an inviolable secret and took measures to throw off the scent persons who might inquire about his leaving New York. The defendant stated in this connection that he did not wish to commit the act in New York, as it would then be claimed that he had been "hired by Wall Street" and in that way the real purpose of the act would be obscured.

 

CHAPTER XVII.

SCHRANK DESCRIBES SHOOTING.

(BEFORE SANITY COMMISSION.)

On September 21, 1912, he left New York City, having first borrowed $350, and purchased a 38-caliber revolver, for which he paid $14. His efforts from this time were continuous to come within shooting distance of Colonel Roosevelt. He missed him at Chattanooga and at Atlanta, and then went to Evansville, where he remained seven days awaiting Colonel Roosevelt's return to the West. He then sought to come within range of Colonel Roosevelt in Chicago, and states that he waited for him at the exit of the building, where he spoke, but found afterwards that he had left by a different exit. He then preceded him to Milwaukee, arriving here at 1 o'clock P.M. the day preceding the attack.

On the evening of the shooting Schrank arrived at the hotel, where he had learned Colonel Roosevelt would stay, in advance of the time he was expected to start for the place of meeting. When a crowd began to collect around the automobile awaiting Colonel Roosevelt at the curb, he went into the street, standing near the automobile in a line just behind the front seat on the left hand side opposite the chauffeur's seat. He says,

"Seeing him enter the automobile and just about to seat himself, I fired. I did not pick any particular spot on his body. The crowd was all around me and in front of me. The next minute I was knocked down, but was not rendered insensible, and the gun was knocked out of my hands."

The defendant insists that he said nothing during his assault. He was then dragged to the sidewalk, and getting on his feet was hurried into the hotel, and the doors were locked. Here he said nothing, and was taken by the police through the back door to police headquarters.

From the examination at police headquarters, made at 9:25 P.M., October 14, 1912, by the Chief of Police, John T. Janssen, we find that he objected to telling his name, but did so when it was insisted upon. We also find that his statements made to the police concerning his following and attempting to gain access to Colonel Roosevelt, and his visits to various localities correspond, and his explanations of his acts agree with those made to us.

Some of his statements to the Chief of Police, are as follows, as extracted from document submitted herewith, marked Exhibit 3.

Q. Why did you want to meet him?

A. Because I wanted to put him out of the way. A man that wants a third term has no right to live.

Q. That is, you wanted to kill him?

A. I did.

Q. Have you any other reason in wanting to kill him?

A. I have.

Q. What is that?

A. I had a dream several years ago that Mr. McKinley appeared to me and he told me that Mr. Roosevelt is practically his real murderer, and not this here Czolgosz.

*****

Q. Did you know Johann Most when he was alive?

A. No, sir.

Q. Did you ever hear him talk?

A. No, sir.

Q. Did you ever hear Emma Goldman?

A. No, sir; I am not an anarchist or socialist or democrat or republican; I just took up the thing the way I thought it was best to do.

(It seems worth while to note that the defendant differs from many assassins of rulers or prospective rulers in having no anarchistic ideas or connections, but rather that he intended to be an upholder of established government.)

*****

"Mr. Grant was refused" (a third term) "and he was satisfied; this man was refused and he is not satisfied; it's gone beyond limits; if he keeps on doing this after election, he can't possibly carry a solid Western state; the next thing we will have a civil war, because he will say the scoundrels and thieves and crooks stole my nomination, and now they will steal my election, and they will take up arms in all the Western states; we are facing a civil war just to keep him in a third term."

Q. Where did you get all this idea from?

A. I have been reading history all the time.

*****

Q. What schooling did you have?

A. Well, I have attended school in the old country, and I attended night school in New York for about four winters; that's all the schooling I had.

Q. You haven't a very good education then?

A. Indeed I ain't.

Q. Have you always enjoyed good health?

A. Yes, sir; I am a healthy sane man, never been sick.

Q. Well, do you believe that that is a sane act that you committed this evening?

A. I believe that is my duty as a citizen to do, it's the duty of every citizen to do so.

Q. Well, how did you happen to get the idea that it was your duty among all the people that live in the United States?

A. I don't know, I thought maybe somebody else might do it before I got there.

Q. And you spoke to no one about your intention on all the route you took concerning this, nobody?

A. No, sir; nobody.

While in jail the prisoner prepared a written defense, which we submit herewith as Exhibit 4, and we extract certain sentences from the same, as follows:

"Gentlemen of the Jury, I appeal to you as men of honor, I greet you Americans and countrymen and fathers of sons and daughters. I wish to apologize to the community of Milwaukee for having caused on October 14th last, great excitement, bitter feeling, and expenses."

*****

"Gentlemen of the Jury: When on September 14th last I had a vision, I looked into the dying eyes of the late President McKinley, when a voice called me to avenge his death, I was convinced that my life was coming soon to an end, and I was at once happy to know that my real mission on this earth was to die for my country and the cause of Republicanism."

*****

You see that I have appeared here today without assistance of a counsellor at law, without any assistance save that of God, the Almighty, who is ever with him who is deserted, because I am not here to defend myself nor my actions."

*****

"The law I have violated for which you will punish me is not in any statute book."

*****

"The shot at Milwaukee which created an echo in all parts of the world was not a shot fired at the citizen Roosevelt, not a shot at an ex-president, not a shot at the candidate of a so-called prog. pty. (Progressive party), not a shot to influence the pending election, not a shot to gain for me notoriety; no, it was simply to once and forever establish the fact that any man who hereafter aspires to a third presidential term will do so at the risk of his life."

"If I do not defend tradition I cannot defend the country in case of war. You may as well send every patriot to prison."

(As showing the erratic reasoning of the defendant, the following passage, intimating that the assassination of President McKinley was a part of a conspiracy to elevate Colonel Roosevelt to a permanent control of the destinies of the United States, we quote further:)

"Political murders have occurred quite often, committed by some power that works in the dark and only too frequently of late the assassin was classed as an anarchist, but the real instigators could never be brought to justice. Whoever the direct murderer of President McKinley has been it could never be proven that he has ever been affiliated with any anarchistic or similar society, but we may well conclude that the man who in years after willingly violated the third unwritten law of the country whenever he thought it profitable to change his creed while president, perhaps to the mother of monarchies."

(From the remarks of the prisoner in our examination of him, we find by "the mother of monarchies" that he refers to the Roman Catholic Church.)

We further quote:

"Such was his fear that his machine, built up in 7˝ years will be destroyed over night, that he threatened not to leave the chair unless he were allowed to nominate his successor."

"Gentlemen of the jury: The 3t (third termer) 'never again will I run for pres.' (president) has a parallel in the history of Rome. Whoever read the history of Julius Caesar knows that this smart politician while elected dictator managed to become so popular with the people that they offered him the kingly crown, but J. Caesar knew that he had to bide his time, that the rest of Senators know of his ambition, and after refusing three times he knew they would offer it to him a fourth time, and when then he accepted it he was murdered for ambition's sake."

"He" (Colonel Roosevelt) "was ambitiously waiting for the Government at Washington to start a military intervention in Mexico, but the leaders of the Republican party feared that the 3t (third termer) would muster an army of volunteer Rough Riders and return at election as the conquering hero."

"The danger even more grave than civil war is the possibility of intervention of foreign powers, who may help the 3t (third termer) in order to keep the Union disunited and separated." * * * * * *

"We would at once realize that we are surrounded by a pack of hungry wolves ready to destroy this hated Republic, ready to destroy Monroe Doctrine, ready to annex the Panama Canal and the great land of the brave and free, the home many millions free people, the dream of all heroes and martyrs for political freedom to 1848 would have ceased to be owing to the ambitions of one man, and one man's rule. I hope that the shot at Milwaukee has awakened the patriotism of the American nation."

"I have been accused of having selected a state where capital punishment is abolished. I would say that I did not know the laws of any state I travelled through. It would be ridiculous to fear death after the act as I expected to die during the act, and not live to tell the story, and if I knew that my death would have made the third term tradition more sacred, I am sorry I could not die for my country."

*****

"Now, Honorable Men of the Jury, I wish to say no more, in the name of God go and do your duty, and only countries who ask admission by popular vote and accept the popular vote never wage a war of conquest murder for to steal abolishes opportunity for ambitious adv. (adventurers).

"All political adventurers and military leaders have adopted the career of conquering heroes wholesale murder, wholesale robbers called national aggrandizement. Prison for me is like martyrdom to me, like going to war. Before me is the spirit of George Washington, behind me, that of McKinley."

(The last sentence the prisoner explained, was written hastily, and he expected to revise it.)

 

CHAPTER XVIII.

CONCLUSION OF COMMISSION.

From the testimony of the jailor who had been in charge from the date of Schrank's arrest to the present date, we learn that he was a quiet, pleasant man, well-behaved in all respects, and fastidious as to dress and food, uniformly cheerful and happy. It was noticeable that he showed much less concern or anxiety as to his fate than the average prisoner. This is also corroborated by the examination of a detective concerned in his arrest.

The impression we have derived from the demeanor of the prisoner in our several examinations is that he is truthful in his statements and shows no desire to conceal anything. He undoubtedly has an elevated idea of his importance, but is free from bombast. In the course of his examination when the question of his views or opinions about himself came up he drew from his pocket the document herewith submitted as Exhibit 4, which he says he prepared as a defense, saying: "Perhaps I can help you, Gentlemen." He has shown every disposition to assist us in arriving at facts. He shows a knowledge and command of the English language unusual in a foreigner who has only had very limited schooling. He is self-confident, profoundly self-satisfied; is dignified, fearless, courteous and kindly. He shows a sense of humor and is cheerful and calm under circumstances that severely test those qualities. Beneath all of this is an air which is illustrated by his concluding sentence, that the spirit of George Washington is before him, that of McKinley behind him. He gives the impression that he feels himself to be an instrument in the hands of God, and that he is one of the band of historic heroes paralleled by such characters as Joan d'Arc and other saviours of nations. He undoubtedly considers himself a man of heroic mold. At no time did he express or exhibit remorse for his act.

SUMMARY.

We have limited the scope of our investigations to the questions that we have been asked to determine and summarize briefly: John Schrank, age 36 years, single, barkeeper and saloon keeper, and of limited educational opportunities, with insane heredity (see Exhibit 5), was born in Bavaria, on March 5, 1876, and came to this country twelve years later. Apparently he developed normally, but early in life showed a particular fondness for the study of the histories of this and other countries, and also for the composition of poetry. In the course of his studies of history, and especially of the Constitution of the United States, and of Washington's Farewell Address, he developed the belief that this Republic is based upon the foundation of four unwritten laws, to which he also refers as the "Four Sacred Traditions," as is more fully set forth in the preceding report.

In 1901 he had a very vivid dream, which at that time he recognized as only a dream, the memory of which has frequently recurred to him ever since. In the course of a pre-convention campaign, the belief that the four unwritten laws or the "Four Sacred Traditions" are in danger comes to him, and later, upon the nomination of a presidential candidate by the Progressive Party, he begins to attach particular significance to the dream he had in 1901. He meditates deeply upon this and, in the course of a few weeks there appears to him a vision accompanied by a voice which, in effect, commands the killing of the man through whose acts and machinations he believes the sacred traditions to be endangered, and who, he also believes is, through a conspiracy, concerned in the assassination of a former president. He continues to ponder upon the subjects set forth, awaiting the appearance of a person who would carry out the act suggested by the vision, but shortly arrives at the conclusion that he, and not someone else, is the chosen instrument. He at once sets forth to accomplish his mission, following his victim until he finally comes up with him.

During his examination as to his sanity, he conducts himself in perfect accord with his beliefs, and expresses a regret at not having died at the hands of the mob if such a result would have proven of benefit to his chosen country.

 

CHAPTER XIX.

SCHRANK DISCUSSES VISIONS.

(BY JOHN FLAMMANG SCHRANK.)

Has a man a right to take a weapon and hunt down a man who has violated tradition? In answer to this I would like to ask the gentleman the following question. How and by what means would you expect to withhold from a man that right. You know that according to the old Roman law the atonement for the taking of a life has been the giving of a life, and to this day our power of state with the laws and instruments for punishment is limited to the taking of man's life there is no severer penalty than death sentence. Now then when a man concludes to take a weapon and hunt down another man and he then willingly sacrifices his own life in defense we say of tradition, does such man then not willingly give what otherwise the law could take from him, is then not the right with him, I should say where self-sacrifice begins to power of law comes to an end and if I knew that my death during my act would have this tradition more sacred.

I would be sorry that my life was spared, so convinced am I of my act to act as I did, that if I were ever a free man again I would at once create an order of tradition sole purpose to defend it.

You gentlemen claim that you would think a man insane, that could have such things as a vision appear to him. There might be exceptions, but I disagree with you in making this the rule. Then I presume you men would declare Joan d'Arc the Maid of Orleans insane because the Holy Virgin appeared her in a vision. France as a nation passed in those days through a grave trial, her very existence as a nation was at stake. To our shame we must admit that while we prosper and are far from danger we hardly ever give it a thought, that all our comfort is granted to us by God the Almighty, and it is an old saying that when the danger is over the saints are mocked. But in days of hard stress, dire need and want, we at once knew that we are indebted to a power above us, we at once realize that we are sinners, we feel that our good spirit is a small particle to the Holy Spirit God that we are helpless children and related to the good father God. We then pray with innermost contrition that God may forgive, that God may enlighten one of us that God may find a leader among us.

And such is the mercy of God that for the repentance of one man for the acknowledgement for one good deed, God will forgive the sins of a whole nation. When we read about the destruction of Sodom Gomorrha, when Lot asked the Lord, wouldst Thou spare these cities if there were ten honorable and just men within its walls and God answered, if I could find one honorable and just man I would spare that people.

We may conclude from these words that God had long before this forsaken them when a nation is confronted with grave trials it is then nearing the boundary line of God's patience, no doubt the people of Sodom had arrived there and God had weighed their deeds and found them too light he would not enlighten one of them to be a leader and who would impress upon his people to come back to the safe avenue of God and leave the road of destruction. In our health and prosperity we are too easily over-confident and self-possessed when we read that God had appeared to Moses in the shape of a burning thorn bush, then again as a cloud, we will find many people who doubt the appearance of God to man in human or other shape. When I see a tree growing out of rocks it appears to me as if God spoke to me that he wants all people to live a temperate life as it requires but little to live and proper as is shown in that tree. Now then does God appear to us in our journey through this life. Has he ever appeared to you. Has there never been a time when you would say, O what a lucky dog I was that I did not do this or that. Have you ever refused for some reason an invitation to a joy ride, a pleasure trip or others, and after you would find one or the other of your friends killed while you escaped. Everyone of us is confronted at once in life with a grave trial which requires all the good in you to overcome temptation and find the right way out of it, is not this the secret assistance of God the Almighty when you appeal to Him and He weighs your deeds and either enlightens you or punishes Science discoveries. When then in cases of dire national needs should not God appear to one of us in vision the greatest injustice.

(Schrank's copy is followed closely in all presented here from his pen.)

ALIENISTS' CONCLUSIONS.

Our conclusions are as follows:

First—John Schrank is suffering from insane delusions, grandiose in character, and of the systematized variety.

Second—In our opinion he is insane at the present time.

Third—On account of the connection existing between his delusions and the act with which he stands charged, we are of the opinion that he is unable to confer intelligently with counsel or to conduct his defense.

Dated, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Nov. 22nd, 1912.

Respectfully submitted,

RICHARD DEWEY, M. D., Chairman

W. F. BECKER, M. D.

D. W. HARRINGTON, M. D.

FRANK STUDLEY, M. D.

WM. F. WEGGE, M. D.

Commissioners.

 

CHAPTER XX.

SCHRANK'S DEFENSE.

John Flammang Schrank expected to conduct his own defense before a jury, if tried for his assault upon ex-President Roosevelt.

This is demonstrated by the fact that he had prepared a defense to be read to the jury. In this defense he alluded to the fact that he "is not represented by counsel."

This defense is remarkable in that it shows clearly the thought which overcame his mental strength.

Schrank's defense is presented as he wrote it, with the exception of two or three corrections to enable readers to realize what Schrank is trying to say. The defense was prepared by Schrank in the county jail. He was writing it when it was reported that he was writing verse. The defense follows:

Gentlemen of the jury: I appeal to you as men of honor. I greet you Americans and countrymen and fathers of sons and daughters. I wish to apologize to the community of Milwaukee for having caused on October 14 last great excitement, most bitter feeling and expenses. I wish to apologize to you honorable men of the jury that I am causing to you this day unpleasantness in asking you to pass a verdict in a matter which should have better been tried by a higher than earthly court.

Gentlemen of the jury, when on September 14 last during a vision I looked into the dying eyes of the late President McKinley, when a voice called me to avenge his death, I was convinced that my life was coming soon to an end, and I was at once happy to know that my real mission on this earth was to die for my country and the cause of Republicanism.

Gentlemen of the jury, you see that I have appeared here today without the assistance of a counsellor at law, without any assistance save that of God the Almighty, who is ever with him who is deserted, because I am not here to defend myself nor my actions. I am here today to defend the spirit of forefathers with words what I have defended with the weapon in my hand, that is the tradition of the four unwritten laws of this country. Tradition is above written statute, amended and ineffective. Tradition is sacred and inviolable, irrevocable. Tradition makes us a distinct nation. Order of tradition. The law I have violated for which you will punish me is not in any statute book. Gentlemen of the jury, the shot at Milwaukee, which created an echo in all parts of the world, was not a shot fired at the citizen Roosevelt, not a shot at an ex-President, not a shot at the candidate of a so-called Progressive party, not a shot to influence the pending election, not a shot to gain for me notoriety. No, it was simply to once and forever establish the fact that any man who hereafter aspires to a third presidential term, will do so at the risk of his life. If I cannot defend tradition I cannot defend the country in case of war. You may as well send every patriot to prison. It was to establish a precedent for the third term tradition, which for the first time in the history of the United States one man dared to challenge and to violate.

Gentlemen of the jury, the third term tradition is the most sacred, because it has been established by the greatest champion of liberty in all ages past and to come by our first President, George Washington, when he modestly declined a third term nomination by saying that two terms are enough for the best of Presidents. The two great American political parties have since guarded this tradition most jealously, have regarded it as a safeguard against the ambitions of probable adventurers. The great Republican party, the party of an Abe Lincoln, the party of the new U. S., that party as a medium between government and the people, the party to which we are greatly indebted for our achievements and our greatness among the family of nations, it was that party that was destined to give birth to and to nurse the first offender of that tradition, who gradually proved to be the evil spirit of the country, and that great party which was born during a national crisis and which had bravely faced and overcome many a grave trial, nobly faced the coming storm and survived it with its honor unimpaired.

Gentlemen of the jury, when we inquire into the past of that man, we will find that his ambitious plans have all been filed and laid down long before he has been President. All doubt that these plans were towards establishing at the least a perpetual presidency in these United States have been removed during last summer, when a certain senator unearthed from within the library of the white house a written document deposited there during the third termer's presidency. This document was an order for repairing to be done in the white house, and this order closed with the following words: "These alterations should be done, to last during my lifetime." When the third termer was informed of the finding of this document, he admitted and absorbed the all-important matter by simply saying: "Some people have no more brains than guinea pigs."

Gentlemen of the jury, his rough rider masquerade during the Spanish-American war was his first important step towards his goal, it gained for him the governorship of the Empire state and that important office made him an influential factor in the councils of the Republican party. During his term as secretary of the navy he gained the popularity among the men in that branch of the mailed fist of the country by increasing the salaries of those men, who might some day be of vital benefit to his cause. The Republican leaders of those days were soon aware of the dangerous ambitions of this man and also knew that this man would never be safe enough to fill the highest office of the nation, for this reason these men thought it wise to make him vice-Presidential candidate on the same ticket with McKinley, for it must not be new to you that the office of a vice-President has always been regarded as the suicide to a man's political ambitions. But, gentlemen of the jury, now came the time when a man's ambitions blindfolded him to all reason. The desire to overcome the obstacle robbed him of his sane judgment, and in such a case the spoiler invites himself, political murders have occurred quite often, committed by some power that works in the dark and only too frequently of late the assassin was classed as an anarchist, but the real instigators could never be brought before justice. Whoever the direct murderer of McKinley has been it could never be proven that he has ever been affiliated with any anarchistic or similar society, but we may well conclude that the man who in years after so willingly violated the first unwritten law, which is the third term tradition, may have readily promised to violate the third unwritten law of the country whenever he thought it profitable to change his creed while president, perhaps to the mother of monarchies.

Gentlemen of the jury, a man's first presidential term begins when he takes the oath of office and constitutes a full term if it will only last twenty-four hours after oath and a man's third term is his third when he seeks it or is given to him twenty years or more after his second. When Roosevelt took the oath of office at McKinley's departure, he had ceased to be a Republican. He at once began to build a political machine of his own. It was then in fact that his one man party so-called Progressive party was born, parts of which we find later in the insurgents, handicapping Mr. Taft wherever they could. Later in August at the convention of treason he took the material where and as he found we see him trying hard to bring the money power of the union into his service, we find him extorting large sums for his political campaigns from the so-called despisable trusts, since then we became accustomed to look upon every man of wealth and the great industrials corporations who have been and are today of incalculable value and benefit to our national welfare, as nothing more or less than contemptible criminals, whom he offended in the most profane language during his crusade against them, if they refused to become a part of his machine. At the decline of his second term the remainder of the Republican party, those who had not been absorbed by "my policies" could no longer be in doubt as to the third termer's real intentions, and for the first time the third termer realized the magnitude and importance of the third term tradition and most men of influence in those used their power to scare him out of office at the same time comforting him with the fairy tale that if not succeeded by two consecutive terms another term would not be a third term but such was his fear that his machine built up in seven and a half years would be destroyed over night, that he threatened not to leave the chair unless he were allowed to nominate his successor.

Gentlemen of the jury, now comes the time when the third termer committed his second crime against friends, party, nation and republic. With his innermost conviction that his successor would be incompetent, incapable and that he would commit so many blunders while in office that at the expiration of his term the people would unanimously demand the renomination of the third termer, he thought to remove that obstacle of the third termer and to make it appear that he was not ambitious and that a renomination would have to be forced upon him, he solemnly declared, "Never again will I run for president," but again ambition had blindfolded him and robbed him of his judgment of men in selecting William H. Taft as his successor although his most intimate friend Mr. Taft was aware of his oath of office and his duties toward the nation, there never was a whiter man in the white house and no one ever more deserved a re-election as an honor for his services to the country against the revolutionary machine of the third termer in the house and senate than William H. Taft.

Gentlemen of the jury, the third term, "never again will I run for president," has a parallel in the history of Rome. Whoever read the history of Julius Caesar, knows that this smart politician, while elected dictator, managed to become so popular with the people that they offered him the kingly crown, but Julius Caesar knew that he had to bide his time, that the rest of senators knew of his ambition, and after refusing three times, he knew they would offer it to him a fourth time, and when then he accepted it, he was murdered for ambition sake. Never again will I run for president and under no circumstances, said this man, and four years later we find him eagerly seeking renomination at Chicago, to his friends, who advise him to run, he didn't have the heart to tell that if he were not a man of word he could never be a man of honor, but what shame lies in between his never again and his profane declaration that the crooks, thieves, scoundrels and liars had stolen the nomination from him, although he knew that the party could not give him what they had a third term not to give for the great Republican party determined to sooner go down to defeat than to violate the third term yet.

Gentlemen of the jury, the third termer had license to create a new party and be the power behind the throne and perhaps lead his party to victory. But having been deceived by the selection of his successor and having removed the mask he determined to insist on a third term. Had we lived in a time of panic, general disorder, strikes with armies of unemployed, most likely the third termer would have an easy walkin. He was anxious waiting for the government at Washington to start military intervention in Mexico, but the leaders of the Republican party feared that the third termer would muster an army of volunteer rough riders and return at election as the conquering hero.

Gentlemen of the jury, the danger of the third termer was less in his probable election than in his sure but close defeat. The man who cried of the theft at Chicago would never submit to the verdict on November 5, however honest it may be; he would again yell robbery, and if he carried a solid west as was then expected, he would give way to his fighting nature and try to take the presidency on the battlefield and so invite civil war, yet, Ab. Lincoln said that war is hell, and that he who wilfully invites war deserves death. Do we realize the horrors of civil war; are we willing to wash out the sin of violating the third term with the blood of our sons imagine torn from home, family and parents, from prosperity to dire want in order to place a man to the presidency he is legitimately not entitled to? Yet, gentlemen of the jury, the United States may still be able to subdue the rebels the danger the more grave than even civil war is the possibility of intervention by foreign powers, who may help the third termer in order to keep the union disunited and separated for we must know that our strength is not in our army and navy, money power, our strength is in our union, we would at once realize that we are surrounded by a pack of hungry wolves ready to destroy this hated republic, ready to destroy Monroe doctrine, ready to annex the Panama canal and the great land of the brave and free, the home many millions free people, the dream of all heroes and martyrs for political freedom to 1848 would have ceased to be owing to the ambitions of one man and one man's rule.

I hope that the shot at Milwaukee has awakened the patriotism of the American nation, that it has opened their eyes to the real danger and shown them the only safe way out of it as is proven by election returns in the great Democratic party the north, south, east and west is once more and more solidly united and proudly can we prove to the nations of the world that the spirit of 1776 is still alive and shall never die, and that self-government is an established fact and a success.

I have been accused of having selected a state where capital punishment is abolished. I would say that I did not know the laws of any state I traveled through, it would be ridiculous for me to fear death after the act, as I expected to die during the act and not live to tell the story and if I knew that my death would have made the third term tradition more sacred, I am sorry I could not die for my country.

Now, honorable men of the jury, I wish to say no more, in the name of God, go and do your duty, and only countries who ask admission by popular vote and accept the popular vote never wage a war of conquest, murder for to steal abolishes opportunity for ambitious adventurers, for all political adventurers and military leaders have adopted the career of conquering heroes, wholesale murder, wholesale robbers called national aggrandizement. Prison for me is like martyrdom to me, like going to war.

Before me is the spirit of George Washington, behind me that of McKinley.

 

CHAPTER XXI.

SCHRANK'S UNWRITTEN LAWS.

The following are John Flammang Schrank's four unwritten laws, "The Pillars of the Republic," he calls them. They are presented exactly as written by Schrank, and as incorporated in the report of the alienists.

BY JOHN FLAMMANG SCHRANK.

When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bonds which have hitherto connected them with another, due respect to mankind requires that we should declare the cause of such action. In these modest lines our forefathers have at once laid out the roads on which we should travel, it demonstrates their willingness to consult the opinions of others, as well as it duly respects the rights and feelings of others. In these critical days it is more than necessary to call the attention of the nation to the three wonderful documents which have established our people as an independent nation and under their guidance laid down in these documents we have become the most powerful nation on earth. The Declaration of Independence; The Constitution, and the farewell-address of George Washington. The most sacred custom of all nations has ever been their reverence for their ancestors, the honor they pay to their dead, and the utmost respect to the good deeds who live after them, these customs observed hundreds of years handed down from one generation to another, we have come to call the traditions of a people. Tradition is an unwritten law when it concerns a whole nation, it is above the written statute, I would doubt the right of a court to have jurisdiction over a man who has defended tradition of his country, against violation. As we are not an original nation or race, the founders of the republic were the sons of the nation whose language we speak, it is tradition with us especially that identified us as a nation. This nation has four unwritten laws, the oldest and most sacred, because established by Geo. Washington, is the third term tradition, it has never been violated and is an affective safe-guard against unscrupulous ambition, but never before has been established a test case of its inviolability as a warning to coming adventurers. In the present campaign for the first time in American history we are confronted by a man to whom practically nothing is sacred and pretends to stand above tradition. This man abused our constitution, he wants it amended until it is abolished. If our constitution is too old and in the way of progress after we have grown to be a rich nation with it, then the ten commandments so many thousand years old, must be a useless piece of junk. He has abused our highest Courts, he has spoken in the profanest language of our legislators, he has abused our best and most venerable citizens, calling them liars and scoundrels, he has shamefully abused our president, thereby undermining the dignity of the office, how can we expect our foreign born citizens to respect our institutions when an ex-President circumtravels the Union telling everybody that those honorable men at Chicago were thieves and crooks. Shall the people rule, is one of his demagogic phrases, yet he knows that in the very sense he wants this catchword to be understood is an impossibility, the people and herewith I mean the rich as well as the poor never rule in a republic, they cannot rule, they have no time to rule, therefore they elect a body of honorable men to do the ruling to the benefit of all, in other words they entrust a body of men with their government, that is why Grover Cleveland said that a public office is a public trust. And a political party is the medium between the people and the elected government, and any party that should nominate a man in violation of the third term tradition does no longer deserve to be a party entrusted by the people. This third termer could have been of more value to the country had he lent his advice and honest opinion to his party and our president who eagerly sought his advice, for a man's honest advice is his ideas and convictions but with man's ideas it is like digging a pan of sand from a river from the gold regions, the sand must be sifted and filtered, there might be one or more grains of gold found in it. A man's ideas must pass through the brains of other men, to be sifted and filtered and every grain of gold found will be appreciated, but a man who claims that he knows it all better, is equal to saying that his pan of sand is all gold. The third termer claims that it is not a third term, if not followed by two consecutive terms, then a second term would not be a second, if given to man 8 years after his first, I wonder what to call such term, after a while he will tell us that a monarchy in this country is not a monarchy if the monarch is a native born; let it be established now and forever that it is a man's third term if he has twice been in office and if each time only twenty-four hours after taking oath and if third term is given to him or he seeks it twenty years after the second. If the third termer thought that the republican party whom he hailed from needed chastisement because she refused to violate tradition in his favor, he had the right to create a third party, nominate all officials for same and be the very soul and power behind the throne, but when it became evident that the whole party movement was only enacted to give him a third term, he had forfeited his citizenship and his life. Anybody who finances a third term movement should be expatriated and his wealth confiscated. It is ridiculous to say that if he is defeated in November it is also a verdict of the people to uphold the third term tradition, as we may as well say it is the verdict of the people to abolish the third term if he wins in November, the third term tradition has never been before the people as an issue to vote and for this reason it should never be put before them. It is almost a certainty, that if voted upon last year, the people would have declared in favor of upholding the tradition, while it is dead sure that if we were living this year in a panic, a business depression, with hundreds of thousands out of work instead of a general prosperity, the third termer would walk in over the decision of the previous year. The dangers in this campaign are these, the third termer is sure that the nomination has been stolen and that the country and the job belong to him, therefore if he gets honestly defeated in November he will again yell that the crooks of both parties have stolen the election, and should he carry a solid West, he and the hungry office seekers would not hesitate to take up arms to take by force what is denied him by the people, then we face a civil war, and it was Ab. Lincoln who said that war is hell and that he who wilfully invited war deserves death. We would then be compelled to wash out the sin of violating the third term with the blood of our sons. Yet, this is not the greatest danger we are facing. We have allowed an adventurer to circumtravel the Union with military escort, with the torch of revolution in his hands to burn down the very house we live in while we should be aware that we are surrounded by a pack of wolves ever ready to jump on us. Does anybody think that the European powers would sit idly while we are disunited, would a certain power hesitate to help the third termer and make good the gravest mistake that power has made in 1861 by not keeping this country disunited and separated while we are just getting ready to become their greatest competitor on the seas after the completion of the Panama Canal. Our strength is not in our Army or Navy nor in our Money power, our strength is in our Union. In Union alone can we uphold the Monroe Doctrine our second unwritten law so much hated and dreaded by all the world. The sister republic's Transvaal and Orange Free State were not destroyed because it was the connecting link between Egypt and the Cape, not because gold was found, no, but because Great Brit. could not allow a second United States to establish a Monroe Doctrine on African soil. Reciprocity would have profited both the Union and Canada but England fears a too close a relation between the two nations and Premier Leurier's sin was that he was first a Canadian, second an American and third a Britisher, he had to be replaced by a man who is in the first, second, and third place a Britisher. The outcome of the present campaign interests the powers more than us, all actions of Congress or Cabinet are sooner known in the Cabinets of Europe than we hear about them. There is today a "Cato" in the Senate of every country and in the folds of his cloak he has concealed several figs of unusual size, everyone of these figs represent one of our great American Trusts, and he concluded every speech with Carthage must be destroyed. With our Union destroyed we would cry with the Israelites in the desert: Lead us back to the meat pots of Egypt, give us a thousand trusts sooner than one third termer. If we think that we need a one man's rule, whose place cannot be filled by another among millions intelligent citizens, then it were about time that we got a licking from somewhere. What are we about to do, do we want the great building we have helped to build tear down and give everybody a brick, the people which is only the present generation cannot do what they want, for what they have and what they are they are greatly in obligation to the past and earlier generations who also helped to build up, therefore this generation called the people cannot do as they please which is so ardently advocated by the third termer. Have we learned no lesson about a one man's rule experienced in France with such disastrous results as the end of the reign of Napoleon I and Napoleon III.

We are trying to establish here a system like our ancestors have done in Europe which all revolutions of a 1,000 years could not abolish, it would be useless to forcibly remove a third president because the system would then be established. Are we under no obligation to the heroes of all wars for freedom and independence, are we overthrowing our republic while the heroes of the French revolutions and the martyrs of 1848 gladly gave their lives to establish republican institutions. May God enlighten the nation, may the spirit of 1776 still be alive, and when they tell us that there is a Rome on the other side let them understand that U. S. A. is not Carthage. In this campaign we may observe that prosperity is as dangerous to our institutions as hard times are, people are too busy making money, they gradually lose all interest in politics, unless a third termer tells them that government is only medium to enrich them still more, how else can we explain his remark that Mr. Perkins wants his children to live better in this country after his departure, a millionaire's children can only live better when the third term party doubles the millions of their father. In this critical time I find that men have more interest in the baseball results than to register, think and vote. But of course some people have no more sense than three guinea pigs. His movement is not progressive, they are insurgents, insurgents and revolutionary. Hardly any revolution has started without pretending that their movement was progressive.

The abolition of the third term tradition is the abolition of the Monroe Doctrine also. In this Doctrine we are overtaking the guardianship over all republics on the American continent against Foreign encroachments. Naturally the third termer would prove too in 1916 that the fourth term is only his second, to do this he would have to become the conquering hero, we would commit the same faults France did 100 years ago National aggrandisement, yet France no larger today than before Napoleon I. The fourth termer could hardly gather laurels in a European or Asiatic war the natural consequences would that South America would become the field of his actions. We have upheld the Monroe Doctrine without the consent of these countries so she could prevent those nations from inviting a European power to protect them by declaring that inasmuch as the third term tradition is abolished, the Monroe Doctrine is no longer binding, because they are more afraid of the third termer than they would be of any foreign prince. The prudence of our forefathers has delivered to us an equally sacred unwritten law which reads that no president should embrace another Creed than Protestant if possible a sect of the English church. I am a Roman Catholic. I love my religion but I hate my church, as long as the Roman parish is not independent from Rome, as long as Catholic priests are prevented from getting married, as long as Rome is still more engaged in politics and accumulation of money contrary to the teachings of the Lord, the Roman Catholic church is not the religion for a president of the United States. The separation of state from church in France has sufficiently proved that Rome and republic are enemies.

The fourth unwritten law which is practically supplementary to the second we find in George Washington's farewell address where he advises us to live in peace with your neighbor. We have no right to start a war of conquest with any nation and our relations to the South American republic can be improved if we remove their fear of a steady conquest by us by observing this law. Does it not look ridiculous that established governments in this enlightened age sends thousands of unfortunates to prison as punishment for murdering, for to steal and rob, while these same nations are armed with all descriptable weapons like so many bandits ever ready to jump at each other's throat. What else is war but murder for to rob that which belongs to others. Since men have learned to work they have no more right to war. The salvation of the human family must be worked out by international Commercialism the sooner all industrial establishments of the world unite like in the days of the Hansa can the social questions be solved. International Commercialism must have individual legislation and jurisdiction, independent from national legislation, but must be acknowledged by all states and the United States is the only power ruled by commercialism without a mailed fiat and will be the first to recognize International Commercialism for this alone will abolish and distribute wealth more fair and just, and work to a higher state of civilization.

JOHN SCHRANK.

 

CHAPTER XXII.

UNUSUAL COURT PRECEDENT.

Judge August C. Backus' method of conducting the Schrank case has established a precedent for such cases, and the action of the court in establishing a new form of procedure has met with favorable comment on the part of lawyers, alienists, court officials and editors all over the world.

Instructing the commission of five alienists in its duties Judge Backus said:

Gentlemen of the Commission:

"You have been appointed as an impartial commission to examine into the present mental condition of the defendant John Schrank, who is charged with the crime of assault with intent to kill and murder Theodore Roosevelt, with a loaded revolver, on the 14th day of October, 1912, in the city and county of Milwaukee and state of Wisconsin.

"The court in this proceeding will finally determine the issue. I have decided to take this method of procedure instead of a jury trial, because as a rule in trials by jury the case resolves itself into a battle of medical experts, and in my experience I have never witnessed a case where the testimony of the experts on one side was not directly contradicted by the testimony of as many or more experts on the other side. Where men especially trained in mental and nervous diseases disagree, how can it be expected that a jury of twelve laymen should agree? Such testimony has been very unsatisfactory to the jury and to the court, and generally very expensive to the community.

"Bear in mind, gentlemen, that your appointment has not been suggested by either counsel for the state or for the defendant, or by any other party or, source directly or indirectly interested in this inquisition. You are the court's commission, and you must enter upon your duties free from any bias or prejudice, if any there be. You should assume your duties, and I know you will, with the highest motives in seeking the truth, and then pronounce your judgment without regard to the effect it may have upon the state or upon the defendant; in other words, in your inquiry and deliberation you are placed on the same plane as the judge.

"If any person seeks to influence you or talks to you as a commission, or to any member of the commission, who is not duly requested to appear before you, report him to the court so that an order to show cause why he should not be punished for contempt may issue.

"If there be any witnesses you desire, the court will command their attendance. The court will grant you the services of a phonographic reporter so that everything that is said and done may appear of record.

"This commission may now retire, select a moderator and proceed with the inquiry.

"Now, gentlemen, perform your duties fairly and impartially and render such findings to the court as your consciences and your judgments approve.

"The question for your determination is, 'Is the defendant John Schrank sane or insane at the present time?'"

*****

Editorial comment from three newspapers is herewith presented as showing the general trend of comment on the course followed by Judge Backus:

The Milwaukee Free Press said:

"The findings of the alienists appointed by Judge Backus to determine the mental condition of Schrank were foreseen. There has been little doubt at any time of the derangement of that unfortunate man. This fact, however, does not detract from appreciation of the excellent and novel course pursued by Judge Backus in taking advantage of the statute that permitted him to submit the question of Schrank's sanity to a body of alienists appointed by himself instead of leaving the question to a jury at the tender mercy of alienists employed alike by state and defense.

"The judge justified his procedure in these words, when instructing the examining physicians:

"'I have decided to take this method of procedure instead of a jury trial, because as a rule in trials by jury the case resolves itself into a battle of medical experts, and in my experience I have never witnessed a case where the testimony of the experts on one side was not directly contradicted by the testimony of as many or more experts on the other side. Where men specially trained in mental and nervous diseases disagree, how can it be expected that a jury of twelve laymen should agree? Such testimony has been very unsatisfactory to the jury and to the court, and generally very expensive to the community.'"

"Worse than that. It has been a scandal to the medical profession, a source of travesty to judicial procedure and all too often a means of defeating the ends of justice.

"The very course pursued by Judge Backus was advocated by President Gregory of the American Bar association not very long ago, and the outcome in this instance at least is such as to recommend its adoption by the bench wherever the statutes permit."

*****

The Chicago Record-Herald said:

"It is notorious that 'expert testimony' is too often confused and confusing testimony which jurors and judges feel themselves bound to disregard in favor of mere horse sense. The stated experts are matched or overmatched by the experts for the defense, and the conflict of 'scientific' testimony assumes in many cases the proportions of a public scandal.

"Hence the 'Wisconsin idea' as applied by Judge Backus of Milwaukee, who is presiding over the trial of John Schrank, is an admirable one. Under a statute of Wisconsin a judge may summon a certain number of experts and make them officers of the court. They testify as such officers, and presumably the state pays them reasonable fees. Under such a plan as this there is no temptation to strain science in the interest of a long purse, and impartial opinions is likely to be the rule.

"Statutes similar to that of Wisconsin are needed in all other states. 'Expert testimony' has long been a byword and reproach. Of course, under Anglo-Saxon jurisprudence no defendant can be deprived of the right to call witnesses of his own choosing, and after all a medical expert is only a witness who gives opinions instead of facts. Still, a law which authorizes the court to call truly impartial experts would not seem to be 'unconstitutional.' It is certainly not unfair or unreasonable from the lay point of view."

*****

The Saturday Night of Toronto, Ont., said:

"In the stress attending on matters of greater moment which have been occupying the attention of the daily press of late, the judicial wisdom of Mr. A. C. Backus, municipal judge of the city of Milwaukee, charged with the task of trying John Schrank, the man who attempted to slay Col. Roosevelt, has been overlooked.

"Nevertheless, he established a precedent with regard to the trial of prisoners where insanity is the only defense, that should be copied not only by every state of the American Union, but by every province of Canada.

"It was not generally known that the laws of the state of Wisconsin gave a presiding justice the plenary powers he has exercised, but every good judge who has presided over cases where alienists have been employed to furnish testimony must have yearned for similar authority.

"In the Schrank case Judge Backus decided to eliminate all direct testimony by alienists, and to constitute such experts into an auxiliary court who should co-operate with him in the final judgment of the case.

"His auxiliary, consisting of five physicians, was directed to elect a moderator who would preside over their deliberations and decide the issues of sanity or insanity in case of a deadlock.

"It would be difficult to say what objection could be taken to this system in any case where alienists are subpoenaed. It is even possible that by carefully protecting the rights of the prisoner the same system could be worked out in any case where medical testimony beyond the mere proving of the crime is required. In many murder cases physicians have been heard swearing to contrary positions until the jurors, disgusted with the confusion of the testimony, have simply thrown up their hands, neglected their duty to consider the reasonable facts of the case, and allowed murderers to go free.

"Judge Backus has taken a forward step in the administration of justice on this continent, and it is to be trusted that the effects of it will be far-reaching."

 

 

 
 
 
 
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