Title: A Note of Warning
Date: September 11, 1901
Author: Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain
Keywords: Joshua Chamberlain, Lawrence Chamberlain, Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, President McKinley, Assassination, speech, opinion
Credit: Courtesy the Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain Collection, George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections & Archives, Bowdoin College Library, Brunswick, Maine.
Permissions: Rights reserved by Bowdoin College. Do not reproduce without permission. Original copy Bowdoin Special Collections Box 11 Folder 7.
A Note of Warning
The anarchist Leon Czolgosz shot and seriously wounded President McKinley on September 6, 1901. Chamberlain made this speech before the President finally succumb to his wounds.
Suggesting stricter rules on immigration as a means to keep out the potentially insane or violent,
it seems plausible that Chamberlain was not yet aware that Czolgosz was not an immigrant but rather the son of immigrants.
Chamberlain was right however, to guess that Czolgosz was inspired by the anarchist Gaetano Bresci who murdered King Umberto I of Italy.
Chamberlain alludes to the previous efforts of James Blaine and other politicians to restrict immigration of the Chinese;
finding it absurd that so much effort was put in restricting one race, while anarchists and potential murders were being welcomed with open arms.1
While calling for immigration reform, Chamberlain did not point fingers at any one race for the cause of violence, he recognized that
home grown terrorists were just as much of a problem as any threat from overseas stating,
"I think we as a people have relaxed our ancient tone and have become in some considerable measure
responsible for the present condition of things in the matter we are considering."
Perhaps still thinking back to his college oration on the balance of Law and Liberty,
Chamberlain questions whether the ballance between law and liberty has become skewed in favor of liberties. He states,
"Some limit must be given to our boasted and much abused mixims [sic] of "free speech" and "free press" It is a difficult
matter to reach such things without over-reaching. Freedom of criticism is a salutary agent in discussing
public measures and personal candidacies. "