Sunday, December 30, 2018

Abraham Lincoln ridiculed State Auditor James Shields, who challenged Lincoln to a duel to the death in 1842.

On September 22, 1842, the Mississippi River levee in Alton, Illinois, was crammed full of spectators awaiting the results of a highly anticipated duel on an island in the middle of the river which belonged to Missouri — a smackdown between Abraham Lincoln and political rival James Shields. Only one man could emerge victoriously. Onlookers held their breath in suspense as they spotted a boat approaching with a blood-soaked body draped over the bow.
 Abraham Lincoln                                                James Shields
It had all started where so many skirmishes do: the Illinois state legislature. Though at the time Lincoln was a Whig and Shields was a Democrat, the two politicians had an amicable relationship and worked together to address the state’s enormous debt problem.

The relationship cooled, however, when Shields became the State Auditor. He passed a number of controversial measures and even instituted a policy whereby the state stopped accepting its own paper money as payment for taxes and other debts.

Lincoln expressed his disapproval in the most professional, statesman-like fashion he could think of: by anonymously lampooning Shields in print. He began composing letters to a Springfield paper deriding Shields' character as well as his policies.

Between August 19 and September 9, a series of letters addressed to the editor of the Whig paper, Sangamo Journal, from a fictitious farmer’s wife named Aunt Rebecca, pointed an accusatory and defaming finger at James Shields and the Democratic party. The letters were followed by a September 16th poem (related to the Rebecca letters), signed by fictitious Cathleen. The poem and likely two of the Rebecca letters were written by Mary Todd and her friend Julia Jayne. Mary was quite a satirical writer, and she was already very opinionated about politics. Lincoln only admitted to writing the second Rebecca letter, which landed a blow directly at Shields. The letter was a doozy! Read this complete "Rebecca" letter; Lost Townships, August 27, 1842.

Poking fun at Shields wasn’t hard to do. He was notoriously pompous, vain, and a tad eccentric. Opponents dubbed him “an irresistible mark for satire.” He also poked fun at Shields' lack of romantic game. One letter signed "Rebecca," quoted Shields as saying, “Dear girls, it is distressing, but I cannot marry you all... It is not my fault that I am so handsome and so interesting.”

Before sending his note off to the editor, Lincoln shared it with his soon-to-be-wife Mary Todd and her friend Julia Jayne. The two women contributed a few quips to Lincoln’s letter and even began writing memos of their own.

The letters soon became the talk of the town. Though Shields was generally well-liked, people got a kick out of Lincoln’s hilariously spot-on satire. Shields, however, didn’t get the joke. Incensed, he contacted the paper’s editor and demanded to know “Rebecca’s” identity. The editor gave him Abe’s name — as per Lincoln’s instructions.

Upon learning the identity of his defamer, Shields decided to settle the matter by challenging Lincoln to a duel to the death. Though Lincoln thought the whole thing was absurd, he knew that backing down from a duel was never the honorable thing to do.

Duel Rules
As the one who’d been challenged, Lincoln got to select the conditions of the duel. He had a grand old time conjuring up the most ridiculous set of circumstances possible. To begin with, he named the cavalry broadsword as the weapon of choice. (“I didn't want the damned fellow to kill me, which I think he would have done if we had selected pistols,” he later explained.)
Next, Lincoln decided that the duel should be held on an island across the Mississippi (dueling was illegal in Illinois). He also stipulated that the two men face off in the bottom of a 12-foot-deep pit divided by a wooden plank that neither man was allowed to cross.

These conditions gave the 6’4” Lincoln a serious advantage over his 5’9” opponent. Lincoln was sure Shields would back down.

Not the case.

On September 22, 1842, Shields arrived at the duel site near the city of Alton, ready to face any challenger who might be foolish enough to face him.

While the two men were gearing up to face off, one spectator noted how grave and serious Lincoln looked. “I’d never seen him look so long before making a joke, and began to believe he was getting frightened.” But all of a sudden, Lincoln reached up and casually sliced off a branch with his sword. Again, it was an effort to scare Shields into submission.
But his opponent’s impressive display of arm-span still didn’t deter the scrappy Shields. The duel was about to commence when a few mutual friends arrived and intervened. Colonel John Jay Hardin helped the two reach a face-saving compromise, working it out with words instead of swords. Lincoln offered up a mea culpa and admitted that he’d authored the letters.

Everyone standing on the levee was relieved (but probably a hair disappointed) to learn that the “body” on the boat returning from the island was really just a log in a red shirt – a simple prank set up by a mutual friend.

When the boat reached land, Lincoln and Shields stepped off together, chummily chatting away. Upon viewing spectators’ horrified reactions, they both broke into fits of laughter at how absurd the whole situation had been.

The two men buried the hatchet (or broadsword) and remained friends from then on. Lincoln wasn’t exactly proud that he’d almost dueled against a political opponent. In fact, he was pretty embarrassed. When an officer asked him about the event years later, he replied, “I do not deny it, but if you desire my friendship you will never mention it again.”

Lincoln never again got tangled up in the makings of a duel. Shields, on the other hand, found himself involved in such proceedings in 1850, when on behalf of Democratic Congressman William H. Bissell, he presented the acceptance of a challenge to a duel issued by future Confederate president Jefferson Davis. But he immediately set to work settling the matter without violence. He was successful. 

The Sport of Pistol Dueling in the 1900s.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D. 

President Abraham Lincoln institutes a centralized banking system to fund the Union in the Civil War, with notes by Lincoln on Banking in his own words.

Andrew Jackson vetoed the "Bank Bill" to the Senate in 1832. Jackson, when asked what he felt was the greatest achievement of his career replied without hesitation "I killed the bank!"

With the Central Bank killed off, fractional reserve banking moved like a virus through numerous state-chartered banks instead causing the instability this form of economics thrived on. When people lose their homes someone else wins them for a fraction of their worth. Depression is good news to the lender; but war causes even more debt and dependency than anything else, so if the banks couldn't have their Central Bank with a license to print money, a war it would have to be. We can see from this quote of the then chancellor of Germany that slavery was not the only cause for the American Civil War. "The division of the United States into federations of equal force was decided long before the Civil War by the high financial powers of Europe. 

These bankers were afraid that the US, if they remained as one block, and as one nation, would attain economic and financial independence, which would upset their financial domination over the world."

Unlike today, when the Federal Reserve System can increase or decrease the money supply in response to perceived economic needs through such mechanisms as changes to mandatory bank reserve requirements or changes in interest rate policies, there was little to no central management or intervention possible through techniques that while today subject to vigorous political debate, are nonetheless largely accepted practice in our political and economic system.

Wars are expensive. It takes money to wage successfully and require a marshaling of resources to defend the political system under armed attack. Weapons and munitions need to be purchased in large quantities. Naval forces need to be augmented. Such seemingly mundane actions as clothing and feeding large numbers of men enlisted for the defense effort need to be attended to. All these activities and functions take a considerable amount of money.

On the eve of the Civil War on April 12, 1861, the financial and banking system in the United States bore little resemblance to current institutions and practices. There was no central bank. The Federal Reserve System had yet to come into existence. Banking was largely a state regulated function. Money consisted of a myriad of private bank issues of paper money, as well as merchant scrip and, at the core of the monetary system, coins issued by the federal government whose value in commerce was predicated on and closely related to its inherent metallic value.
Predictably Lincoln, needing money to finance his war effort, went with his secretary of the treasury to New York to apply for the necessary loans. The banks wishing the Union to fail offered loans at 24% to 36%. Lincoln declined the offer. An old friend of Lincoln's, Colonel Dick Taylor of Chicago was put in charge of solving the problem of how to finance the war. His solution is recorded as this. "Just get Congress to pass a bill authorizing the printing of full legal tender treasury notes... and pay your soldiers with them and go ahead and win your war with them also."

On February 25, 1863, President Lincoln signed what was known as the National Currency Act. The system was quite simple. A federally chartered bank would purchase federal government bonds and leave them on deposit with the Treasury Department. This resulted in a temporary decrease in local area capital in the area of the bank and an increase in capital available for the federal government. Money that had yesterday been available to finance commercial needs in Belleville, or Chicago, Illinois or Omaha, Nebraska was now in Washington, D.C.
The chartered bank, however, now collecting interest on the money it had sent to Washington, could immediately issue National Bank Notes up to 90% of the value of the bonds it had purchased and left on deposit, loan the money represented by those notes out in its local community and begin collecting interest on those loans. Where before the bank had $100,000 to loan out, it now had $190,000, the original value of the bonds it had purchased, plus the $90,000 in new money it was able to create virtually out of thin air, now collecting interest on its original money as well as its newly issued National Bank Notes.

Under its provisions a system was established under which the federal government issued charters – essentially a grant of authority to operate under the newly established national bank system — to banks that agreed to meet certain capital and other regulatory requirements. One of the central features of the March 3, 1863 National Currency Act was a provision under which federally charted banks participating in the system were able to purchase federal government bonds – as actually any individual or institution could – but the federally chartered banks could then issue their own money, what was call "National Bank Notes," that constituted obligations of the federal government and would be redeemed by the government itself in the event of a bank failure. The security for this pledge was the value of the federal bonds purchased by the issuing bank, which was authorized to print National Bank Notes up to 90% of the value of the federal securities left on deposit with the government as security to back the bank issues.

When Lincoln asked Colonel Taylor if the people of America would accept the notes, Taylor said. "The people or anyone else will not have any choice in the matter, if you make them full legal tender. They will have the full sanction of the government and be just as good as any money; as Congress is given that express right by the Constitution."

Lincoln agreed to try this solution and printed 450 million dollars worth of the new bills using green ink on the back to distinguish them from other notes.
Issued on March 10, 1862 with the image of current President Lincoln on this $10 bill.
"This note is a legal tender for all debts, public and private, except duties on imports and interest on the public debt, and is receivable in payment of all loans made to the United States."
"The government should create, issue and circulate all the currency and credit needed to satisfy the spending power of the government and the buying power of consumers... The privilege of creating and issuing money is not only the supreme prerogative of Government, but it is the Government's greatest creative opportunity. By the adoption of these principles, the long-felt want for a uniform currency medium will be satisfied. The taxpayers will be saved immense sums of interest, discounts and exchanges. The financing of all public enterprises, the maintenance of stable government and ordered progress, and the conduct of the Treasury will become matters of practical administration. The people can and will be furnished with a currency as safe as their own government. Money will cease to be the master and become the servant of humanity. Democracy will rise superior to the money power."
From this we see that the solution worked so well Lincoln was seriously considering adopting this emergency measure as a permanent policy. This would have been great for everyone except the banks who quickly realized how dangerous this policy would be for them. They wasted no time in expressing their view in the London Times. Oddly enough, while the article seems to have been designed to discourage this creative financial policy, in its put down we were clearly able to see the policies goodness.
"If this mischievous financial policy, which has its origin in North America, shall become endurated down to a fixture, then that Government will furnish its own money without cost. It will pay off debts and be without debt. It will have all the money necessary to carry on its commerce. It will become prosperous without precedent in the history of the world. The brains, and wealth of all countries will go to North America. That country must be destroyed or it will destroy every monarchy on the globe."
The American economy has been based on government debt since 1864 and it is locked into this system. Talk of paying off the debt without first reforming the banking system is just talk and a complete impossibility. That same year Lincoln had a pleasant surprise. Turns out the Tsar of Russia, Alexander II, was well aware of the banks scam. The Tsar was refusing to allow them to set up a central bank in Russia. 
If Lincoln could limit the power of the banks and win the war, the bankers would not be able to split America and hand it back to Britain and France as planned. The Tsar knew that this handing back would come at a cost which would eventually need to be paid back by attacking Russia, it being clearly in the banks sights. The Tsar declared that if France or Britain gave help to the South, Russia would consider this an act of war. Britain and France would instead wait in vain to have the wealth of the colonies returned to them, and while they waited Lincoln won the civil war. With an election coming up the next year, Lincoln himself would wait for renewed public support before reversing the National Bank Act he had been pressured into approving during the war. Lincoln's opposition to the central banks financial control and a proposed return to the gold standard is well documented. He would certainly have killed off the national banks monopoly had he not been killed himself only 41 days after being re-elected. The banks were pressing for a gold standard because gold was scarce and easier to have a monopoly over. Much of this was already waiting in their hands and each gold merchant was well aware that what they really had could be easily made to seem like much much more. Silver would only widen the field and lower the share so they pressed for it.

Under the system originally established by the Act of March 3, 1863, 14,348 charter numbers were issued to qualifying banks. Although the system was statutorily modified from time to time, the essential element, i.e. a money issuing privilege granted to participating institutions related to the value of their underlying purchases of federal debt obligations remained largely unchanged. One significant modification was the Aldrich-Vreeland Act of May 30, 1908, which permitted banks to issue on the basis of other securities left on deposit in addition to federal government debt obligations. This modification was occasioned by needs to increase the money supply in response to the economic contraction attendant on the Panic of 1907. The “other securities” privilege expired in 1915.

In excess of 12,000 individual banks took advantage of the issuing privilege prior to the end of the National Bank Note era on August 1, 1935, when the last bonds authorized to support the issue of what are called “Nationals” by collectors, were called for redemption.

Abraham Lincoln on Banking, in his own words.
1.) Speech Concerning the State Bank, January 11, 1837. In this, his first published speech, Lincoln argued from the floor of the Illinois House of Representatives against a motion to “investigate” the State Bank of Illinois as a prelude to killing it – much as President Andrew Jackson had killed the second Bank of the United States, another joint public-private venture. In his speech, Lincoln defended both institutions, expressing his core conviction that strong banks and a reliable, flexible currency, preferably under Federal organization and supervision, were essential to economic opportunity.
“I make the assertion boldly, and without fear of contradiction, that no man... has ever found any fault with the Bank. It has doubled the prices of the products of their farms, and filled their pockets with a sound circulating medium, and they are all well pleased with its operations.”
2.) Speech on the Sub-Treasury, Dec. 26, 1839. This lengthy speech, the only speech of Lincoln’s to survive from the period, was one he probably delivered in dozens of variations while campaigning for William Henry Harrison in his successful 1840 bid for the White House. It compared the second Bank of the United States to the hard money-only “sub-treasury” system with which Jackson’s followers had replaced it – producing, according to Lincoln, vastly inferior results. The speech, which was widely reprinted, thrust Lincoln (and the banking question) into the national spotlight.
“The [National] Bank was permitted to, and did actually loan [public revenues] out to individuals, and hence the large amount of money annually collected for revenue purposes, which by any other plan would have been idle a great portion of time, was kept almost constantly in circulation. Any person... will reflect, that money is only valuable while in circulation, [and] any device which will keep the government revenues, in constant circulation, instead of being locked up in idleness, is no inconsiderable advantage.

By [contrast, under] the Sub-Treasury, the revenue is to be collected, and kept in iron boxes until the government wants it for disbursement, thus robbing the people of the use of it, while the government does not itself need it, and while the money is performing no nobler office than that of rusting in iron boxes. The natural effect of this change of policy, everyone will see, is to reduce the quantity of money in circulation... [resulting in] distress, ruin, bankruptcy, and beggary.

We do not pretend, that a National Bank can establish and maintain a sound and uniform state of currency in the country, in spite of the National Government, but we do say, that it has established and maintained such a currency, and can do it again, by the aid of that Government, and we further say that no duty is more imperative on that Government, than the duty it owes the people, of furnishing them a sound and uniform currency."
3.) Address to the People of Illinois, March 4, 1843 While Lincoln’s Whigs had won the White House in 1840, they went down to defeat in Illinois, owing in part to the lingering effects of the economic downturn in 1837. Seeking to regroup, the party leadership called on Lincoln to formulate a statement of principles easily understood by the public. One of those resolutions concerned banking.
"The third resolution declares the necessity and propriety of a National Bank.... The first National Bank was established chiefly by the same men who formed the constitution, at a time when that instrument was but two years old, receiving the sanction, of the immortal [President[ Washington. [T]he second [national bank] received the sanction of [President] Madison, [holder of] the proud title of ``Father of the Constitution;" and subsequently the sanction of the Supreme Court, the most enlightened judicial tribunal in the world.

Upon the question of the expediency, we only ask you to examine the history of the times, during the existence of the two Banks, and compare those times with the miserable present.”
As a wartime president, Lincoln focused on his role as commander-in-chief, leaving most non-military decisions to the discretion of Congress. On the handful of domestic issues that really mattered to him, however, Lincoln provided determined leadership. A safe and sound national banking system and a reliable national currency were among those issues, as he said in a message to Congress from 1862.
"... it is peculiarly the duty of the national government to secure to the people a sound circulating medium... furnish[ing] to the people a currency as safe as their own government."
For Lincoln, as he told a confidant, the creation of a national banking system was a “special interest” – special enough for him to bend every effort to persuade Congress to pass the founding legislation prepared by Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase. The President thus took great satisfaction in signing into law the National Currency Act, which created the national banking system and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency as its supervisor. Although promoted partly as a wartime measure (the new national banks were required to purchase government bonds as security for the bank notes they issued), Lincoln, in his message to Congress of December 1864, left no doubt that his intention was to create a system that would serve the country long into the future.

The national banking system is proving to be acceptable to capitalists and to the people... That the government and the people will derive great benefit from this change in the banking systems of the country can hardly be questioned. The national system will create a reliable and permanent influence in support of the national credit, and protect the people against losses in the use of paper money.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D. 

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Abraham Lincoln was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.

Thumb through any history textbook or watch any Hollywood biographical movie about Abraham Lincoln, and you'll see a pretty consistent version of Abe's story. The solemn, dignified leader who helped free the slaves and guide America through the Civil War is someone almost everyone learns about in grammar school. But before he stepped into the political arena, the man who would eventually become president was a combatant of a different kind: a wrestler on the American frontier.
Standing at an impressive 6 feet, 4 inches tall, with lanky arms perfectly designed to tie his opponents in knots, Lincoln was a renowned grappler known for his peerless strength and keen mind in his teens and early 20s. 
After the Wrong Man.
At one time while Lincoln was engaged in chopping rails, the "bully of the county" (Sangamon, Illinois), perhaps set on by some practical joker, came to "the boys" in the woods and, with set design, challenged "the greeny" (Lincoln) to a fight.

The great brawny, awkward boy laughed and drawled out: "I reckon, stranger, you 're after the wrong man. I never fit in my whole life." But the bully made for Abe, and in the first fall Lincoln came down on top of the heap. The champion was bruising and causing blood to flow down Lincoln's face, when a happy mode of warfare entered his original brain. He quickly thrust his hands into a convenient bunch of smartweed and rubbed the same in the eyes of his opponent, who almost instantly begged for mercy. He was released, but his sight, for the time being, was extinct. No member of the trio possessed a pocket handkerchief, so Lincoln tore from his own shirt front the surplus cloth, washed and bandaged the fellow's eyes and sent him home.

John White,
printed in The Censor, Viroqua, Wisconsin.
Remember, though, wrestling in rural 19th century America didn't have the fluid grace of an Olympic contest, and it certainly wasn't the garish morality play of the WWE. No, this wrestling style was a pure test of strength, with combatants locking horns to prove their dominance in front of an audience mostly made up of drunks, gamblers, soldiers, or some combination of the three. Known as catch-as-catch-can style, this brand of wrestling is best described as "more hand-to-hand combat than sport."
There Was A Man, Esquire Magazine, July 1, 1949
Touting just one loss among his 300 (or so) contests, Lincoln gained a reputation among the locals of New Salem, Illinois, as an elite fighter, eventually earning his county's wrestling championship. He knew just how good he was, too. After one victory, Lincoln reportedly looked at the crowd and bellowed what passed for trash talk at the time: “I’m the big buck of this lick. If any of you want to try it, come on and whet your horns.” The challenge would go unanswered.

Lincoln's most memorable contest came against Jack Armstrong, a member of the rough and rugged Clary's Grove Boys. When Armstrong heard stories of Lincoln's famous strength (from Lincoln's boss, no less), he challenged the future president to a match. Crowds gathered. Money was wagered. And when the bout was over, Lincoln again stood tall, as he always seemed to.

Some versions of this story claim that Lincoln challenged each member of Armstrong's gang to individual fights after they attempted to interfere in the match before a clear winner was declared. Armstrong, admitting defeat, reportedly called off his friends and became lifelong friends with Lincoln. While accounts differ on the last moments of the fight, it's clear Lincoln had earned the respect of not only Jack Armstrong but the neighborhood as a whole.

Biographer William O. Stoddard wrote of the match:
"The episode was full of important consequences to Abraham Lincoln. His courage and prowess had been thoroughly tested and had made a deep impression upon the minds of his rough neighbors. He was in no danger of further challengers from any of them, and Jack Armstrong avowed himself the fast friend of the man who had given him so good a shaking."
To this day, historians can only find one instance where Lincoln was bested during a match. While he was a part of the Illinois Volunteers during the Black Hawk War of 1832, a man named Hank Thompson became the only man to actually throw Lincoln during a bout for his regiment's championship.

While Thompson may have claimed the title, Lincoln's reputation as a feared wrestler—and beloved president—was rewarded in 1992 when he was inducted into the Outstanding American wing of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum in Stillwater, Oklahoma.
The National Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum, Stillwater, Oklahoma. See mural on the wall.
Lincoln is joined by three other presidents: George Washington, Teddy Roosevelt, and William Howard Taft. None of them, however, quite matched Lincoln's mystique as a trash-talking, grappling frontiersman.

Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D. 

Thursday, December 27, 2018

The story of Carter Harrison Sr., Chicago Mayor, Assassinated by Patrick Eugene Prendergast on October 28, 1893.

In late 1893, at the moment of the city's and his own greatest triumph, Chicago Mayor Carter Henry Harrison (Democrat) was murdered in his own front hall. His murderer was a disappointed office seeker named Eugene Patrick Prendergast.

The event shocked the country, as had the assassination of President James Garfield just twelve years before. His killer, it emerged, was motivated by a combination of delusion, ambition, and political ideal­s. His trials, the second of which was dominated by a young Lawyer, Clarence Darrow, raised issues of justice, sanity, responsibility, and punishment that spoke not just of their time and place but remain unresolved. Largely for­gotten today, this episode was seen as a major event in American history. It stands as an essential chapter in the chronicle of Chicago and the nation during the late nineteenth century.
Chicago Mayor Carter H. Harrison Sr.
When he arrived home at 5:00 PM on the afternoon of Saturday, October 28, 1893, Carter H. Harrison had every reason to be content and happy. He was a man who had extracted from life virtually every possible reward. The city's most successful political figure in history was serving his fifth term as Mayor (1879, 1881, 1883, 1885, and 1893). Harrison was Chicago's first five-time elected Mayor; eventually, his son Carter Harrison Jr. was also elected Mayor five times. Harrison Sr. was the first cousin twice removed by President William Henry Harrison.

His stature was such that the local political culture could be reasonably defined purely in terms of his supporters and opponents, and some saw in him a future president. Known as "the common man's mayor," Harrison enjoyed riding through the city's neighborhoods mounted on his white horse and boasted that his office door was "always open." 

Besides his unprecedented achievements as a political figure, Harrison was also an affluent businessman, and he owned several enterprises, including The Chicago Times. He was now a millionaire, confirmed by the opulence of his Italianate mansion at 231 Ashland Boulevard into which he entered.
The Carter Harrison Sr. house at 231 Ashland Boulevard at the corner of Jackson Boulevard, Chicago, where Mayor Harrison was assassinated.
Moreover, he was a man in love. In the last year, he had met, wooed, and become engaged to Annie Hall, a close friend of the wife of his youngest son, William Preston Harrison. Originally from New Orleans, Miss Hall was said to have "a charming disposition" and to be "brilliant, unselfish, and amicable manner." The twenty-five-year-old woman also had a fortune estimated to be over three mil­lion dollars. The sixty-two-year-old Harrison was understandably enamored and had just that week purchased for his fiancée a necklace worth four thousand dollars (in an era when a workingman's yearly salary was less than a quarter of that). The wedding was set for November 16, and it was to have been his third marriage. 

Harrison appointed 1st Ward Alderman "Bathhouse" John Coughlin to sit on the World's Fair reception committee, a small part of Harrison's plan to create a centralized Democratic Party machine consisting of empowered Ward Committeemen and precinct captains that answer to the local Democratic Party. This plan would come to fruition once Anton Cermak came to power in Chicago politics.

On this day, Harrison also had the special gratification of being the "world's fair mayor." Since May 1, one of the greatest fairs in history, the World's Columbian Exposition, has drawn millions of visitors and international attention to Chicago. Its triumphal closing was just a day away. The Mayor had begun his morning presenting a speech there extolling the virtues of Chicago to visiting city officials from all over the United States. 

Book: Chicago Mayor Carter Henry Harrison Sr., Last Speech before His Assassination on the Evening of October 28, 1893.
In the final speech of Chicago Mayor Carter Harrison Sr. at the World's Fair, he would be killed that night.
Afterward, he spent his time touring the exhibits and politicking among the crowds.

The Mayor came home tired from being on his feet for so long but also, according to William Preston Harrison, who arrived shortly after his father for dinner to discuss a potential article for The Times, "in rare good spirits." At about 6:00 PM, the two, together with Miss Sophie Harrison, the Mayor's youngest daughter, sat down to a hearty dinner. The atmosphere was convivial, and Harrison continued to regale his children with amusing stories of the day's experiences and discuss newspaper business with William after the meal. Somewhere near 7:45 PM, the conversation petered out, and the Mayor dozed off in his chair. Preston and Sophie went upstairs to their respective rooms while the elder Harrison napped.

Meanwhile, at the Kinzie Street branch of the Young Men's Christian Association (Y.M.C.A.), a pale figure for whom life had been far less rewarding prepared to leave his room. So far, his day had been rather ordinary and largely given over to his job as a newspaper distributor. However, he was a man with a mission, and it was shortly to become the most significant of his life. When he stepped out into the street, he had a five-shot 38-caliber pistol in his pocket that he had purchased for $4.00 in borrowed money the day before from a shoemaker on Milwaukee Avenue.

At about 8:00 PM, a knock was heard on the front door of the Harrison mansion. Answering was the parlor maid, Mary Hanson. On the doorstep stood the young man, later confirmed to be twenty-five years old, of slight build, and of reasonably respectable manner and dress. He asked to see the Mayor. Mary, who "fancied" she recognized him, inquired after his identity. He replied: "A city official." There were standing orders in the house that no one would be turned away, so the young man was admitted, and Harrison was informed. He rose and moved through a door in the dining room that led directly into the front hall.
Scene of the Tragedy in Mayor Harrison's Mansion.
The visitor quickly opened fire four times with his pistol as he entered without a word. Each bullet struck the Mayor. The first entered the top of his left hand, exiting through the palm. The second pierced Harrison's abdomen "about five inches above the navel" to lodge in his intestine. The third created a wound about three inches to the right and below his right nipple, and the fourth, fired while the Mayor was apparently on the ground and writhing, was found to be just below the rear of the right shoulder with the bullet moving down four inches beneath the skin.

Immediately consternation prevailed. The Mayor's coachman, Paul Eliason Risberg, ran upstairs carrying a handgun. The assassin turned and shot into the hall from the front steps at the emerging figure, and the robust Risberg returned fire as he gave chase in vain. Next on the scene was William J. Chalmers, a friend and neighbor from across the street, who rushed over to kneel at the stricken man's side.

A tragic scene began to unfold. Carter Harrison had managed to pull himself out of the hall through the dining room and crawled into a butler's pantry that led into the kitchen before collapsing. William Preston Harrison, who had been delayed by his signaling for the police on the Messenger (a device, not unlike today's security systems, found in prosperous homes of the period that provided for direct communication with emergency services), ran downstairs, and after going outside to call to a passing bicyclist to summon the family doctor, went to his father.

The Mayor, who was bleeding from his mouth and had blood on his shirt, remained conscious for about ten to twelve minutes after the shooting. He was certain he was dying from the bullet in his chest. His first words to Chalmers were, "this is death," and he briefly showed his usual irascibility in brooking no argument from his friend. He repeated his belief emphatically and began calling with increasing desperation for Annie. In fact, he was bleeding internally from the second shot to his abdomen and was becoming weaker by the second. Very soon, a bevy of three physicians and assorted police arrived, but Harrison knew that "doctors are no good now." He was right: "Death had already glazed the eyes of the victim, and medical science was useless." Not long afterward, he lapsed into unconsciousness. His last words were reported to be, "Give me water. Where is Annie?" Miss Hall, who had been visiting at the home of the Mayor's eldest son, Carter Harrison Jr., just a short distance away, arrived as he quietly died of internal hemorrhaging at about 8:27 PM. She was inconsolable. A half an hour or so later, a young man disembarked from a street­ car and walked into the nearby Desplaines Street Police Station. To the astonished desk sergeant, Oz Barber, he identified himself as the assassin and said his name was Patrick Eugene Prendergast.

The news spread -- shock and disbelief throughout the city. In the words of one telegraph official: "the news created a greater sensation throughout the country than anything which has ever happened since the shooting of President Garfield [in 1881)." Indeed this comparison soon became common. The Boston Herald expressed the hope that "the assassination of Mayor Harrison under the circumstances very similar to those attending the shooting of President Garfield" would now bring civil service reform to the nation's cities. The New York Evening Post also called for reform and saw the Mayor's death as symbolizing the mismanagement and corruption of municipal government throughout the country and made the unfortunate comparison of Chicago's somewhat notorious political culture with the model governance of the recent fair. The socialist New York Post took a different tack and interpreted the murder as the result of "Anger, envy, rage, and despair - the whole hideous spawn of capitalism!

Meanwhile, from President Grover Cleveland and former President Benjamin Harrison down to the Thirteenth Senatorial District Hebrew Democratic Club, leaders and organizations from all over the country quickly proclaimed their grief. All praised Harrison, while others like Governor John Altgeld went further and identified the assassination as yet another in a series of acts by a crazy man." As symptomatic of the times: Almost every day we hear of someone being killed by a person scarcely responsible for his actions."

Even as the Mayor lies dying, a massive crowd formed outside of his home and remained there more or less constantly for the next three days. 
Crowds outside Harrison's house the day after his murder.
On Sunday, the family allowed several friends, including Mrs. Adali Stevenson, wife of the United States vice president, to enter the house to leave their cards. Meanwhile, the city began transforming itself as flags were lowered to half-mast and official and private buildings were draped in black cloth. The City Council met briefly to help prepare for the funeral and the future and pointedly left the Mayor's chair empty. In the same spirit, the fair closed quietly without the planned ceremonies, and instead, a quiet memorial service for the Mayor was held at noon.

In keeping with their shock and the proclivity of the age to glorify the dead and dying, the City Council planned a "Pageant of Grief." At about 9:00 AM on Tuesday, October 31, an official contingent arrived at the Harrison home, where the body had been placed on display in a downstairs window, to accompany the late Mayor to the City Hall for public viewing. The pallbearers included former governor Richard Oglesby, Major General Nelson Miles, Judge Lyman Trumbull, and seven police and eight fire captains dressed in black. Also present were numerous city officials. With about three hundred citizens looking on, the remains were removed to the hearse. A solemn parade of carriages with accompanying police and military guards quietly returned Harrison to the building where he had spent so many years working. A room had been improvised by placing partitions and black draping into a ground floor hallway, and it was there on a black catafalque surrounded by banks of flowers that the earthly shell of Carter Harrison was placed. His heavy red cedar "state coffin" with its eight extra heavy silver handles was specially fitted with a copper core that supported a glass window for half of its length. Until dark, and between about 8:00 AM and 9:45 AM the following day, over one hundred thousand people filled the streets to take their tum to view the body.

Shortly after 10:00 AM on Wednesday, November 1, the casket was carried out to the waiting hearse. Prominent on the back of the vehicle was a pathetic wreath from Annie Hall, who collapsed again during the course of the rites. The conveyance itself excited comment and communicated much of the tenor of the occasion with its ornate glass windows and elaborate carvings that included oak leaves, cherub faces, scrolls, lions' claws grasping a golden ball on the roof, as well as metal castings of Jesus, Roman soldiers, the two Marys, the Pharisees, the two thieves, and the Ascension. It took nearly forty-five minutes to organize the procession of over twenty thousand people. Leading the way was a hundred-and-fifty-piece band, one of several in the march. There were more than six hundred carriages to carry the family, relatives, pallbearers (active and honorary), federal, state, city, and former city officials, as well as members of such diverse groups and organizations as the Bar Association, the Liquor Dealers State Protective Association, the Newspaper Club, the Iroquois Club, and the Italian Democratic Club. There were about fifteen hundred marching uniformed men representing various social affiliates and military units. The City Street Department sent eighteen hundred men, the water department three hundred, and there were large contingents from every other city agency. There were members of unions, German, Italian, Irish, and Polish social fraternities, and of literally dozens of Catholic bodies like the Sainte Barbara Society. No group, from those that included social leader Mrs. Potter Palmer down to the city street cleaners, was not represented. The crowds watching were estimated to be over half a million, and it took about two hours for the procession to pass any one point. The route deliberately wound through the streets, and the casket did not arrive at the Church of the Epiphany, where a brief Episcopal service was conducted until noon.

Less than an hour later, the march began again, and it was nearly dark before it arrived outside Graceland Cemetery. Those on foot dispersed while the carriages drew up outside of the chapel. Another short service was held, and at 5:00 PM, the coffin was taken to the cemetery vault to be interred, concluding the ceremonies. On November 10, the body was quietly moved for final burial in the family plot.

The murder of Mayor Carter H. Harrison deeply affected Chicago and America. It occurred in a social environment of deep insecurity throughout the Western world brought about by rapid industrialization and urbanization challenges. For example, just seven years before Harrison was assassinated, Harrison walked unmolested through the crowd of anarchists on the night of the Chicago Haymarket Riot in 1886. He advised the police to leave the demonstrators alone. A bomb blast had resulted in the death of seven policemen, many of whom openly advocated assassination and violence as a means of undermining the existing order. 

Just a few months after Harrison's assassination, the first protest march on Washington, D.C., was undertaken by Coxey's Army, a group of twenty thousand men who converged upon the capital seeking relief from the worst economic depression in the nation's history to that point. Later in 1894, the destructive Pullman Strike began outside of Chicago. It was just one of a long series of increasingly bloody industrial conflicts between labor and capital that raised fears of possible revolution.

Symptomatically, the assassination of public leaders was becoming increasingly common; Carter H. Harrison was but one in a lengthening series of prominent targets. In 1881, as noted above, President Garfield was murdered by Charles Guiteau, a disappointed office-seeker and "crank (ideas or behavior are strange)," while in the same year Russian Tsar Alexander II, the "reform Tsar" who had emancipated the peasants from serfdom, was blown apart. In 1894, a political opponent gunned down Sadi Carnot, president of France. In 1898, an anarchist in Switzerland stabbed the Austrian empress, Elizabeth, to death. In 1900 King Humbert I of Italy was shot by other anarchists, and in 1901, another anarchist assassinated President William McKinley. Moreover, such leaders as Kaiser Wilhelm I, Otto von Bismarck, England's Queen Victoria, her son, Edward, the Prince of Wales, and two kings of Spain faced scores of attempts upon their lives.

It was against this background that public opinion coalesced. The questions of Eugene Prendergast's motive and responsibility always included a usually unspoken but implicit political subtext. At the heart of the matter was the question of whether he was truly "insane" or another dangerous political "crank." Initially, public opinion, as represented by the news­ papers, seemed to have little doubt; he was a degenerate lunatic. Understandably, Harrison's newspaper, The Times, led the way in this kind of portraiture: Insanity was written all over the man. He was but a young, puny, unclean, ugly man. He looked stupid and dumb, as if under the power of an opiate… a blond man… with light yellow hair trimmed very closely after the fashion which used to be popular as the "pompadour," an unclean, unhealthy beardless face with uncertain eyes that looked nowhere; a large nose, a retreating forehead, a retreating chin, dry drooping lips disfigured by black blisters, great awkward red hands and shambling limbs. Just such a miserable being would solicit alms from you on Wabash Avenue any night.

Similarly, other newspapers reported the crime as "by a madman" with no political motive. This impression of insanity was reinforced by the interviews he was allowed to give in the days following the assassination. Most revealing was his stated motive for attacking the Mayor. It centered upon his plan to elevate the tracks of the city's railroads at road crossings. As he put it, Harrison had "betrayed me" because "I wanted to be Corporation Counsel so that I could push this scheme." According to Prendergast, he had been promised the position and asked the Mayor for the appointment "again and again," but "the office was given to another. The Mayor had betrayed me, and I resolved to have revenge. Now I have it." However, when pressed to disclose his plan, he replied that he "had forgotten it." Moreover, he began soon to proclaim his innocence and certainty of being acquitted, reaffirming that he killed the Mayor for his "betrayal." Perhaps most disturbing was his claim of a close personal relationship with Harrison, who, he assured reporters, called him "son"!

The position of Corporation Counsel had responsibilities some­ were between those of an Attorney General and a Deputy Mayor; it was the second most powerful position in the city government. Almost, needless to say, it was never pledged to Eugene Prendergast. When stories were published that he had worked for the Mayor's reelection, that he had met him several times, that he had been regularly sending notes to him, that he had also been hanging around the office of the Corporation Counsel for months assuring everyone of his imminent appointment, and that more recently he had sought a meeting with Governor John P. Altgeld, it was initially seen as further evidence of an unsound mind.

However, the Revelation of Prendergast's political interests soon became a factor that contributed to the shifting conviction that he was more than simply insane. Already the initial impression of him as a marginal character had been contradicted by the facts of his background. Far from being the seedy tramp of the time's initial characterization, he was, in fact from the respectable lower-middle-class, and by the standards of the day, with nearly the equivalent of a high school degree, relatively well-educated. While not impressive, his income from the distributorship of The Inter-Ocean and Post was adequate enough. Moreover, many who knew him, while naturally inclined after the event to distance themselves and to emphasize, where possible, his lack of balance, tended to describe him in normal terms.

Brother Baldwin of St. Patrick's Academy, where Prendergast had attended, was certain that "there was a screw loose in his head," but he also described him as a perfectly "ordinary" boy during his years of attendance. Moreover, Brother Baldwin had thought highly enough of the young man to allow his frequent visits back to his old school. Similarly, William Cook, secretary of the Kinzie Street branch of the Y.M.C.A., concluded that "Prendergast is mentally unbalanced, but not enough to interfere with his knowledge of right and wrong, and he is cunningly making use of this subterfuge." Like Brother Baldwin, who assured reporters he was just about to forbid his former student's visits, Cook maintained that he was on the verge of evicting him from his room because he was neither a railroad man nor a member of the Y.M.C.A. 

Of course, Cook did not explain why he had given the accused assassin a room almost eighteen months before, and his statement in this regard, like those of a similar character by Brother Baldwin, should be viewed with skepticism. Perhaps most decisive in affecting public opinion, or at least those of the newspapers, were the statements of his mother, Ellen Prendergast. As a respectable widow who embodied Victorian notions of aggrieved mother­ hood, she was presented as a sympathetic figure. With a mother's pride, she extolled her son's virtues, listing his accomplishments, including his superior education and his successful business. "I never noticed any symptoms of insanity about him," she stated, "and no people ever told me that they considered any of his actions as being queer, with the single exception of the great interest he has lately taken in the single tax theory of Henry George." This "obsessive" advocacy was noted by virtually all those interviewed.

In the late nineteenth century, Henry George was an economic theorist with wide popularity, especially among alienated middle-class intellectuals. Born into an impoverished family in Philadelphia, he moved when young to California, where, even though he had only a few months of secondary education, he became a successful newspaperman. In face of personal financial difficulty, he began theorizing about political economy and published his first book, Our Land and Land Policy (pdf), in 1870, followed by his most popular work, Progress, and Poverty (pdf), in 1879. He soon became one of the most famous men in the United States and was, perhaps, even more, popular in Great Britain. In 1886, he ran for Mayor of New York as the candidate of various labor organizations, and in 1897, he was on the eve of another run for the same office when he died.

George argued that all taxes on goods and income stifle production or productive behavior. The natural inclination among humans towards self-improvement is undercut by the intrusion of the government, thus limiting progress. On the other hand, a single tax on the unimproved value of land would not have such an effect. The land has two bases of value, the unimproved value that it has intrinsically and its improved value brought about by human endeavor. A tax (or "ground rent") on the whole unimproved value of land, which the landowner had not "earned," would not affect productive activity, limit the quantity of land, or inhibit progress, according to George. Indeed, in short order, the unimproved price of land would drop to almost nothing, a "loss" to landowners to be more than compensated for by freedom from burdensome taxes. Another not incidental impact of the plan would be to limit the power of large landowners and create a more equitable society.

Henry George and the Henry George Societies that sprang up all over the country were one source in the 1890s of the emerging progressive movement that was ushering in an important period of reform that endured until at least 1917. His scheme and its advocates were, however, viewed by the more conservative and dominant elements of American society as at least "cranky" and at most dangerous. Prendergast's passionate allegiance was judged as proof of a subversive bent, and there was even some suggestion that his belief in Henry George was the source of his mental imbalance! His "radical" status was further demonstrated for many when it became known he was in the habit of writing letters to United States senators in support of one of the other great so-called "cranky" schemes of the age, the free coinage of silver.

Just the year before, the new People's or Populist Party had been formed in Omaha, Nebraska, chiefly on a platform of inducing inflation to, among other things, break the hold on the money supply by "Wall Street" by coining silver in proportion to gold at a ratio of sixteen to one. Three years hence the silver movement would capture the Democratic Party with the nomination of William Jennings Bryan. Among the business community that dominated popular opinion in Chicago and elsewhere, however, the free coinage of silver evoked the most passionately negative emotions.

As an advocate of Henry George and the free coinage of silver, and, of course, as the presumed assassin of a major public figure whose motivation was an apparent political ambition, Prendergast now faced trial in the public estimation not so much as a possibly insane murderer, but rather as an unbalanced egotist acting under the influence of unorthodox, even dangerous, political thought. The Times reflected this rapid shift in opinion when within a week of its initial characterization, it now concluded that: "Prendergast's methods and manner… are of a nature of which an insane person would be incapable."

Meanwhile, in a period when the Constitutional provision for a speedy trial seemed to mean something, the legal process was moving rapidly ahead. On October 29, the day after the assassination, the coroner's inquest was held at the Harrison house. This created the bizarre situation of Prendergast (who did express sympathy for the Harrison family but subsequently refused to speak to the jurors) waiting under guard in the front hall, where the murder occurred, while others testified in the "south back parlor." The jury voted to remand the case to the Grand Jury, which on November 2, voted to indict for first-degree murder. On the same day, he was taken before Judge Oliver Horton to be arraigned, where "cowering in terror" and perspiring freely, in little more than a whisper, he entered a plea of not guilty. The trial was scheduled to begin on November 6 before the circuit judge (and future Mayor of Chicago and governor of Illinois) Edward F. Dunne. In a very brief session on that day the lead defense attorney, R. A. Wade (a claim lawyer for the Pennsylvania Railroad) asked for and received a continuance.

After several additional short delays, the trial began at last on December 6, 1893, before Judge Theodore Brentano (criminal case responsibility being rotated each month among the twenty-four judges of the circuit courts). The first week was given over to jury selection. This proved to be more difficult than anticipated. The prosecution team was now led by A. S. Trude, star state's attorney, who had gained fame by successfully prosecuting the anarchist defendants following the Haymarket Riot, and also comprised Jacob Kem, and James Todd. They sought to weed out those who opposed capital punishment or were apparently too sympathetic toward an insanity defense. The defense team was now made up of four men, R. A. Wade and Robert Essex, appointed by the Court, and John Heron and John P. McGooty, hired by the defendant's brother, John Prendergast, a respectable postal employee. Their main concern was about preconceived opinions. It was not an unreasonable fear; most of those questioned for the jury admitted to being convinced by the newspapers that Prendergast was both guilty and sane. In a normal murder case, only about fifty veniremen had to be questioned, but by the end of the exhausting week, two hundred and seven had been queried before a jury of twelve was empaneled. They were, as a group, stolid business types: six salesmen, a commission purchase agent, a merchant tailor, a clerk, a fire insurance agent, a business secretary, and a factory manager. Both sides stated their confidence in the quality and fairness of the jury.

During the dull proceedings, Prendergast began to express himself with growing frequency and emotion. Having had his request to defend himself denied, on most days, he repeatedly interrupted, with, among other things, objections to any contention that he was insane and to any disparaging characterization of him by the prosecutors, including any reference to him by just his last name. On one occasion, he engaged in a short debate with Trude over the nature of right and wrong. Naturally, his lawyers frantically sought to quiet him. In the courtroom were members of a team of two physicians hired by the state to assess his mental condition who were closely watching. When questioned, they preferred to keep their opinions confidential. The newspapers had no doubts and dismissed the bizarre ravings as a pretense, as "playing the crank," likening him to Charles Guiteau, the assassin of President Garfield, who behaved similarly while being tried. Meanwhile, in his jail cell, he restated his certainty of acquittal in his first statements since the weekend of the assassination to a reporter who snuck into the jail posing as a "friend from Philadelphia."

Todd's opening statement for the prosecution on the morning of December 13 held no surprises. This was a dastardly act on the level of the assassinations of Lincoln and Garfield, and it was especially regrettable because it occurred when the world's eyes were on Chicago (because of the World's Fair). Prendergast had confessed to the crime and had been identified by numerous witnesses as the perpetrator. Of course, he was sane. His own mother had said so to reporters. It was vanity and a perverted sense of self-importance that were the source of his evil deed. Following the oratory, the next two days were given over to calling a melancholy parade of witnesses to establish the facts of the assassination.

First up was Mary Hanson, the Harrison parlor maid, who told her story and identified Prendergast as did Maggie Freunscht, the housemaid. Coachman Reisberg told of pursuing the defendant. William Preston Harrison and Miss Maggie Harrison gave accounts of their experiences, followed by testimony from William Chalmers and another neighbor, R. Earle Smith. Oz Barber, Detective Sergeant S. D. McCarthy, and Jail Clerk Ben Price of the Desplaines police station explained how the assassin had turned himself in and confessed his crime. Lastly, Dr. Louis G. Mitchell, who conducted the post-mortem, gave details about the causes of death of the Mayor. At 2:25 PM on Thursday, December 14, the prosecution rested.

The defense's opening statement by Wade (which immediately followed that of the prosecution) had been less sanguine than the state's. Facing the obvious fact that his client had undeniably committed the killing, he could only argue his insanity. This was done with great passion as he contended that Prendergast was unquestionable of unsound mind, that there was a history of insanity in the family, that he had been "dull" and "hard of comprehension" as a schoolboy, that his obsession with political ideas had inspired the intention among his relatives to have him committed, and that those who truly knew him, including his mother, would testify accordingly. Lastly, Wade promised that their case would be supported by medical opinion. "If you believe [after all the testimony] that the man is feigning insanity, then hang him!"

Proving Eugene Prendergast was insane was not going to be a simple task. The established precedents for criminal insanity in 1893 were known as the "M'Naghten Rule" based upon the British case Rex v. M'Naghten. In 1843, Daniel M'Naghten, a Scottish woodcutter, decided that the Prime Minister, Sir Robert Peel, was his enemy. Acting under this delusion, he shot and killed the Prime Minister's private secretary in a case of mistaken identification. Based on the testimony of nine expert medical witnesses, he was found not to be responsible.

From the trial emerged the first clear test of criminal insanity: 1) That a defendant was presumed sane unless proven to be otherwise, 2) That he must be operating under such a disability as to not understand the nature of his act, or 3) That he must be unable to appreciate that his act is wrong (or illegal, as it was sometimes interpreted).

However, in Illinois and elsewhere, the M'Naghten Rule had been supplemented by the idea of an "irresistible impulse," and it had been held by the courts that simple knowledge of right and wrong was insufficient for sanity if there was no possibility of self-control. On the other hand, the concept of diminished capacity also had evolved in American jurisprudence but was not to be formally adopted by Illinois for decades and so was not relevant. Moreover, American courts in the nineteenth century demonstrated much broader standards of accountability than is the current practice and regularly allowed for the conviction of children, sometimes under the age of ten, for serious crimes and over that age for murder. Lastly, although the idea of expert witnesses did exist (as occurred in the M'Naghten case), the exclusive expertise of psychiatrists and the field of psychology had not been established. Rather, "expert witnesses" tended to be merely medical doctors who might or might not claim a specialty in human behavior. Moreover, American courts had repeatedly held that the testimony of nonprofessionals was just as admissible, meaning that definitions of insanity were often based on nothing more than "common sense," and at this time and this place, the "common sense" consensus that Prendergast was sane already existed.

Accordingly, the defense led with their best witness, the defendant's mother, Ellen Prendergast. "In the faces of the jury, the little Irish woman saw sympathy," and several members with names like Altfleisch and Gross, who had been born in Europe, could empathize with her story of leaving Ireland and her two children behind to join her husband, Patrick Prendergast, who was working as a clerk in the United States. Even when the family reunited after two years, things were so hard that little Eugene had been placed in a Catholic orphanage for a period. He had been "dull" and unsociable in school, a condition she attributed to a bad fall at the age of four. He was not, she believed, at that point demented. It was not until after he had finished his schooling at St. Patrick's Academy at age sixteen and following the subsequent death of his father that she began noticing severe changes in his personality. He was successful enough in his first job as a messenger for Western Union, but he became restless, and under the guise of what proved to be an unfounded fear of tuberculosis, he had gone briefly to New Mexico and thereafter moved frequently, living for short periods in many places including a stint in a barely furnished basement.

Most noticeable was his growing obsessions, particularly with the economics of Henry George, but also with religious issues. These so dominated his mind that they marked every conversation. She became convinced that he was ill, feeling that it was the fault of heredity, as her husband's father, William Prendergast, had died insane after losing an arm fighting Napoleon in Spain. Even the hostile newspapers conceded that she had an impressive performance and that her veracity was unquestionable. However, during the gentle cross-examinations by Trude, she was confronted with the fact that earlier she had told police and reporters that she did not believe her son to be insane, and there had been no insanity in the family's history. Moreover, she had no choice but to con­ fess that she had never confided her fears about his mental state to anyone. The defense called an extensive list of the defendant's friends and acquaintances to attest to his lunacy. Brother Baldwin (backed by Brother Ambrose), and William Cook now asserted their belief that his thinking had always been unsound, and Cook told of a speech Prendergast had given at the Y.M.C.A. that had begun as a dissertation on Henry George but had evolved into a tirade about the evils of the Chicago City Council and the infallibility of Catholic bishops and the Pope. Phillip Cahill, the janitor at his Church, proclaimed him "peculiar," Miss Ellen McCormick, the organist, said he acted "queerly," and a neighborhood man told of how he saw him on one occasion hitting his head on a tree. Numerous members of the local Single-tax Club also put in an appearance. George Schilling, a member and secretary of the State Bureau of Statistics (and a leading figure in state and city reform circles), told of the odd impression that Prendergast made. John Z. White and others made the same point, and it was revealed that on one occasion, the defendant had to be expelled from a meeting because of his excitability. During the testimony, it also became known that he had claimed a personal visitation from Jesus Christ and that he was in the habit of writing "silly" letters to everyone from Mayor Harrison and Corporation Counsel Kraus to Catholic Bishops, United States senators, and the Pope. Another recipient of his letters was Henry George himself. It was briefly reported that the defense would call George to the stand to talk about his relationship with Prendergast in an upcoming visit to Chicago, and a defense subpoena was, in fact, issued. Reached in Michigan, he denied that he had anything useful to say and managed to avoid receiving the sum­ mons. John Prendergast, the defendant's elder brother, was last among this group of witnesses. Like his mother, he described a young man who he had come to believe was insane. Under cross-examination, he admitted, also like his mother, that he had never told anyone of this conviction.

As the defense prepared to introduce its medical testimony, there was general astonishment when the prosecution announced that the best four of its eight expert witnesses were now about to speak for Prendergast. Much of this advantage was vitiated when they were able, with Judge Brentano's collusion, to keep this fact from directly reaching the jury. Nonetheless, Trude and his associates were understandably discomfited and made some unsubstantiated claims that money was involved.

However, the defense seemed to be playing into their hands by leading with Dr. Eugene Talbot, a dentist who had examined and made molds of the defendant's jaw. Using an apparent personal interpretation of phrenology (an early but by now rapidly fading form of psychology that saw in the contours of the skull insight into personality, but which also did not recognize the jaw as indicating anything), he concluded that it demonstrated "neurotic degeneration," a "deficiency that resulted from arrested development of the cells of the brain in early life." For the most part, Trude, after mildly demonstrating the limits of expertise of the witness in psychology, let these statements stand. Next up was Dr. Archibald Church, one of the defectors and a much more formidable expert. He was on the staff of the Illinois State Hospital, a professor of mental diseases at the Chicago Medical School, and a professor of nervous diseases at Chicago Polyclinic. After extensive examinations of Prendergast, he had concluded that he was a delusional paranoid, a condition in which "the hereditary features are strongly marked." Trude used the previous witnesses' testimony as an excuse to divert attention to such relevant issues as the shape of the skulls of Abraham Lincoln and Daniel Webster before getting Church to admit that he disagreed passionately with the Illinois law stating that insanity was not proved by the absence of motive. Finally, the prosecutor used a tactic that would frequently see light that day and the next by convincing the good doctor to state his belief that Charles Guiteau, the executed assassin of President Garfield, had been insane, which, since it was at odds with "established" medical opinion, "proved" his judgment to be defective. Dr. Daniel Browser, who had also been originally brought into the case by the state, fared a little better. As vice superintendent of the Eastern Lunatic Asylum in Virginia and professor of mental diseases at Rush Medical School, he too had unimpeachable credentials, and he too believed that Prendergast was suffering from paranoia that was driven by "an irresistible impulse" fueled by delusions, which made it impossible for him to distinguish between right and wrong. Trude did his best to change the subject to issues of epilepsy, kleptomania, and the shape of the defendant's jaw in hopes of engaging the lay cynicism of the jury. He disposed of Dr. John H. Slayer and Dr. Henry Banister, both with no special credentials in psychology, with much greater ease, using the "Guiteau tactic." Dr. John Kierknan, the one defense expert who was being paid, was an even easier target. He had actually testified for Guiteau! To discredit him, the prosecutor had merely to read from the transcript of that trial (pdf), quoting the doctor as saying that five of twenty-five people were insane and then not letting him fully explain. Throughout the day, Wade and the defense team objected in vain to these practices, but Judge Brentano refused to intervene.

The next day, December 19, was no better. Dr. Richard Dewey, former superintendent of the Kankakee Hospital for the Insane, and one of the defectors were so esoteric and noncommittal as to help no one. Even an outburst by Prendergast during his testimony excited no conclusion or response. Dr. William Bain, who practiced psychology in private practice, was treated to a series of neurotic jaw questions. Dr. Frank Wall, who specialized in adolescent medicine and served as an assistant county physician, had seen the defendant almost daily and concluded he was insane. Trude questioned his motives and attacked him personally. He was "duly badgered" about being quoted in the newspapers as saying that Prendergast was "cunning as a fox" and then "allowed to depart chastened." Dr. Kierknan returned to the stand to clarify his earlier testimony, and the prosecutor let him go having merely reestablished the fact that he was being paid. Following the short appearance of an employee of the Unity Trust Company describing the untoward attempt to see Governor Altgeld, the defense rested on December 19 at 3:15 PM.

Predictably, the state rebuttal was the mirror image of the defense. First brought to the stand were their series of lay witnesses. One set was made up of such boyhood acquaintances as J.M. Martin, who had known the defendant in school but had not seen him in over ten years, and Anton Hom, "a comical old German," who spoke of youthful "sassiness." Another group was professional associates like M. F. Goodrich, circulation supervisor for the Inter-Ocean, who stressed Prendergast's competence and intelligence. Indeed, he had thought well enough of him to lend him three of the four dollars used to purchase the murder weapon. Next came guards and others who had observed him since the assassination, including Judge Horton, who asserted his belief in his complete sanity while noting his emotional distress at his arraignment.

The prosecution's medical experts were similarly unanimous in their opinions. Dr. John Spray, Dr. James Bluthardt, who was county physician, Dr. Henry Wyman, Dr. John Benson, who was superintendent of the Cook County Insane Hospital, Dr. HI. Baxter and Dr. Nathan Davis all attested, based upon their observations and interviews, that since the defendant showed fear he understood the consequence of his actions, that this together with his planning and subsequent surrender to police demonstrated that he knew the difference between right and wrong and that contrary to the defense contention, they found him to be highly intelligent without "a trace of insanity," or certainly without enough to excuse his actions. Trude cleverly showed some of them the casting of Prendergast's jaw, which was dismissed with barely concealed contempt. Without something as effective (and frankly meaningless) as a "Guiteau tactic," the defense was at a loss. They did their best to discredit specific statements, but in the end, they made little headway against the physicians.

A few more witnesses were produced, including Corporation Counsel Kraus for yet another time and some newspaper reporters to clear up elements of the prosecution case. The defense also had little left to offer in its rebuttal, chiefly random witnesses, including John Garvin from Ireland, who testified to grandfather William Prendergast's insanity, and John Prendergast, who made another appearance to clear up a point of mistaken identity that had little bearing on the case. The defense did enjoy one triumph of sorts by being allowed, over Trude's objections, to introduce into evidence letters written by Eugene Prendergast before and during the trial. The letter most emphasized was one the defendant had written to his own attorneys on November 4. Long and rambling, it combines the prevalent political and religious themes in his thinking. Like most of the letters, it included drawn crosses on the opening page, and its primary theme seems to have been the insanity defense itself:

If you attempt to plead insanity - I think the prosecution would find it very easy to prove me sane. I was a single-tax advocate [illegible]. If I were sent to an asylum for insane persons, my future is utterly destroyed. If the death penalty were imposed, I would lose nothing by death. I would like the hereafter, and I would die confident that I have always tried to live up to my Obligations. If my sentence were life in Joilet on a term, the chances are I would be pardoned. My position is that of a soldier fighting on a battlefield who is ready to face death, a policeman who risks his life among criminals, or a fireman who enters a burning building not knowing whether he will return alive.

He then concedes that: If you plead justification, I think they will find me insane anyhow... I might have been more insane than sane when the act was committed… Their treatment of me almost drove me crazy… I thought my mind would give away a few days after I came to the jail, but now If this A.S. Trude is nominated and elected Mayor, I will regard it as a sign that I have not been negligent of my duty.

After a further similar discourse, he switches his theme to religion, particularly his "visitation" from Christ, which he is convinced was "genuine." He then engages in an "oration," which "if copied and recited," would "save a soul from purgatory." Echoing revelation, he describes passionately the aspects of God and makes a fervent prayer closing with a statement that "what I have done was solely for society's benefit-there was no malice in my purpose. I have always tried to be useful." Interestingly, too, his writing begins in a legible and even manner and becomes increasingly erratic until it is almost unreadable in the end.

Other letters included a short note to an unknown party in which Prendergast justifies his killing of Harrison because the Mayor refused "to appoint me corporation counsel + interferes with me in my work abolishing grade crossings," and in which he has "no doubt I shall be honorably discharged when all the evidence is heard." Also submitted was a postcard sent the day before the assassination and addressed to "Most Rev. M.A. Corrigan, Archbishop, Catholic Apostate C., New York," in which he rants about Catholic senators and congressmen voting to repeal the Sherman Silver Purchase Act.

The prosecution's closing was predictable and redundant: there was no doubt that the man had committed the crime, he had even confessed within hours of the act, and there was no good evidence that he was anything less than sane and in full control of his faculties. Justice demanded his execution. For the defense, too, there was little new to say. They, of course, reviewed the evidence as proving without question that their client was not responsible. Hedging on the issue of his knowledge of right and wrong, they preferred to emphasize his presumed inability to control his actions.

The high (or low) point in the closings came when A.S. Trude rose to offer the final words for the state's case. Likening Chicago to Harrison's bride (for such the late Mayor was in the habit of doing), in a louder voice, he proclaimed that her face was now turned to the jury, "The lips are cold and white… Her garb is somber black… her finger, rigid, is pointed towards the mangled remains of the object of her frequent admiration… Pointed to that man [Prendergast] is her other hand... "And he was just warming up! Nor did he neglect the ever-useful Guiteau parallels. At one point, the defendant moved beyond all self-control and cried out agonizingly that he had had no malice in his heart!

Judge Brentano's instructions were simple to the point of sparseness and just outlined all the options avail­ able to the jury. There was no significant reference to the law concerning insanity and its meaning other than the formula of the knowledge of right and wrong and the ability to regulate one's actions. The charge was completed at 1:20 PM, December 29, 1893, and the jury retired. Exactly an hour later, they sent word that they had reached a verdict. Eugene Prendergast was guilty, and he should die.
The defense made a motion for a new trial based upon alleged errors "in admitting incompetent and improper evidence," in allowing in testimony about the conduct of the defendant during the arraignment that had the "effect to compel [him] to give evidence against himself," and in permitting the jury to mingle unescorted with the public while voting. Judge Brentano gave due consideration, but on February 24 denied the motion, and sentenced Prendergast to be executed on March 23, 1894.

By March 22, the newspapers had begun displaying that horrifying mix of maudlin sentiment and eager anticipation that characterized the reporting of executions in this era. It promised to be an especially interesting time as Prendergast was to mount the gallows at the City Jail within hours of a burglar turned convicted murderer. Adding to the drama was the Illinois Supreme Court's refusal on the eve of the execution to intervene and Attorney Wade's despairing proclamation that "he'll surely hang now!" Thus when Chicagoans read their morning paper the next day, they were shocked to learn that at 11:30 PM the night before, Judge Arthur H. Chetlain, of the Criminal Court had issued a two-week reprieve pending the calling of a jury to conduct a 'de lunatico inquirendo' (on the basis of) to establish whether the defendant was currently insane, and therefore ineligible for execution. The press was livid, and Judge Chetlain was accused, among other things, of being a philanderer and of having overstepped his authority. One result of all this criticism was that, in short order, he recused himself and passed the case over to Judge John Gordon Payne.

The author of this miracle was Clarence S. Darrow. Not yet the most famous lawyer in the country, he was in the final stages of his career as a corporate attorney. It was only later in 1894 and 1895 that he would be vaulted into the public eye nationally by his defense of Eugene Debs, leader of the Pullman Strike, which had begun even as the assassination case was moving toward closure. However, Darrow was an implacable foe of the death penalty, and while not a single-taxer, he was an important figure in Chicago progressive circles with contacts among those with whom Prendergast had associated. Indeed, in the years to come, he would be elected as a reformer to the state legislature and then serve as Special Traction Counsel in the administration of the city's only truly reformed Mayor, the aforementioned Edward F. Dunne.

The question of when exactly he joined the defense team is less clear than his motive. R.A. Wade and John Heron had signed the petition for a retrial, but one of the supporting affidavits (that of one of the defectors, Dr. Daniel R. Brower, describing the prosecution's unwillingness to accept his diagnosis of Prendergast's mental state) was written on stationery of the firm of Collins, Goodrich, Darrow, & Vincent. Further, in a petition filed on June 17 to Judge Payne, Darrow swears confusingly that he "is one of the attorneys of the above-named defendant and has acted in that capacity from the commencement of this case and in the argument of the motion for a new trial, in the prosecution of said defendant under indictment for murder." However, there is no mention of him in either the newspapers or the court records during the period of the first trial and immediately after. Nor, for that matter, is his participation addressed in his various biographies or his autobiography. It is possible that he served in some kind of consulting capacity initially, but regardless, by March, Wade was out, and Darrow was clearly in charge.

When the trial commenced on June 20, after a long series of delays, its theme rapidly became clear; it was to be a battle between the modem expert and logic on one side and good old "common sense" and emotion on the other. In their opening statement, Stephen S. Gregory, who had joined the case with Darrow, promised the defense would present professional testimony that would leave no doubt about the defendant's mental incapacity. In response, the prosecution led again by A.S. Trude (by the special permission of the judge over the defense's strenuous objections), warned the jury to be "on their guard against attaching too much importance to expert testimony in an insane case… it was not so good as the testimony of plain, honest, unprofessional people."

Nonetheless, one eminent physician after another rose and proclaimed Prendergast medically and legally insane. Making the greatest impression was Dr. Archibald Church, who had also testified at the first trial. He now told how the defendant had confided his new belief that he had become Christ's vicar and that his trials reflected the state's persecution of the Church through him, its rightful head. Similarly, Dr. Oscar King, a graduate of Bellevue Hospital Medical College in New York, who had studied in Vienna, and who was professor of the College of Physicians and Surgeons in Chicago as well as Superintendent of a private sanitarium at Lake Geneva, assured the court that his careful observations had convinced him that the defendant was delusional. Others nearly as qualified spoke of his obsession with the single tax and how he had discovered a "physical and temperamental likeness to Jesus Christ" in himself! What could have been the most telling moment, the appearance of Prendergast himself, proved to be an anti-climax.

For the most part, nervous but clear, he only became confused and agitated when speaking about his motives for the killing. He recited his usual rationalizations and, perhaps not surprisingly, the prosecution, in their cross-examination, probed him relatively gently. After two days, the defense finished with the testimony of three priests who attended the defendant in jail. John Prendergast once again recited an account of his brother's long decline into mental illness.

In their cross-examinations and in presenting their witnesses, Trude and his colleagues repeatedly hammered home the same four points: that there "was no objective proof of insanity," and that there was no way to absolutely determine when someone was feigning, that "plain, honest, people" were as good or even better judges of insanity than so-called experts, and that a jury had already found Prendergast sane. While also parading their own rather undistinguished group of medical witnesses and a body of the defendant's jailers to attest to his sanity, the prosecution made a blatant appeal to emotion by focusing on the assassination itself. Once again, Preston Harrison, Sophie Harrison, and others shared their experience. Even more heartbreaking was the testimony for the first time of Mayor Harrison's fiancée, Annie Hall. The state's closing statements were predictable: The murder was an evil act, a jury had already found him sane, Darrow and his associates were trying to cheat the law through trickery, and the jury should not overlook the parallels with Charles Guiteau, who assassinated Garfield, the testimony of laypeople like the members of the jury was as valid as so-called experts, and anyway, the state had experts on its side too.

Unlike the first trial, where Trude had overwhelmed the defense, Darrow was not intimidated and fought and objected at every point, often to the judge's irritation. He was so vigorous in this regard that he might be trying to lay the groundwork for a possible appeal. Also adding to the rising emotion of the trial were frequent, apparently irrational, punctuations by Prendergast himself, which the newspapers dismissed once again as merely role-playing.

By the time the prosecution concluded, it had become clear that the defense's best chance for victory rest­ ed with their closing. The jury was effectively identical in composition to that of the first trial, and the rational and complicated testimony of physicians did not appear to have been enough to overcome their cynicism or the emotions associated with the assassination- cynicism and emotions that were given a certain legitimacy by Trude in his final remarks.

Accordingly, the true climax of the trial came with the final appeal of Clarence Darrow.
Clarence Darrow Lawyer
It was a brilliant performance. He began by summarizing his themes: the jury must remember its oath and not rely upon the verdict of the first trial, that the only issue present was the condition of Prendergast's mind since his sentencing, that the prosecution's contention of the equality of lay opinion to that of experts was nonsense - "Can a man who lives in Illinois be so ignorant that he does not believe that special skill is necessary for treating of diseases of the mind?" - and that the weight and quality of judgments of the defense's specialists left no doubt as to the insanity of the defendant.

Careful to praise Harrison and to lament his passing, Darrow was relentless in his logic that, in an insanity hearing, the murder and the sub­ sequent trial were entirely irrelevant. Moreover, the state's emotional tirade was ill-motivated, "that they might get more praise and more cash." Only the state of the sanity of the defendant's mind mattered, and that was the purview of men with education and experience. It was ridiculous for the state to bring to the stand jailers whose only expertise was for "watching prisoners and carrying caucuses," a reference to the fact that they were patronage employees, which brought an objection that was sustained by Judge Payne. How could there be any comparison between such as these, or the motley crew of unknown doctors with the eminent physicians (including several first brought into the case by the state) and the three priests also brought to the stand, who had counseled the "boy" in jail as presented by the defense? "I can only characterize their experts," he proclaimed, "by a certain kind of a fish called a skate, I believe, which is all head, and after you cut off the head, nothing is left."

He proceeded to demolish the reputations of the prosecution doctors one by one. Dr. Davis is old and senile; Dr. Bluthardt, a "political doctor," looks and sounds like a butcher; Dr. Corbus obtained an interview with Prendergast under false pretenses and has shown himself to be a liar, and so it went. Only barbarians, he argued, would execute a man based upon this quality of testimony. In great detail, Darrow then extolled the qualifications and conclusions of his doctors, noting that even the reports of those for the prosecution upheld key points, including the defendant's obsession with Henry George and his clear belief that he was to be appointed Corporation Counsel.

Concerning the legal definitions of insanity, he noted that regardless of precedent or statute, the jury alone must decide. Should the defendant be executed because he knows the consequence of his act, tries to defend him­ self, recognize his friends and enemies, and fears death? No, "A little babe will tum from its pain and its anguish and look lovingly and affectionately into its mother's face," and even a child shown the gallows could append its purpose. Would he go to the scaffold understanding it as punishment? No, he would die "believing in the justice of his cause… believing that he was the successor of St. Peter… that he was sacrificed for humanity." He clearly had no applicable conception of right and wrong. It, therefore, would be an affront to civilization for that to happen "in this day and generation, in the nineteenth century."

After his hour-long address, he turned from reason to emotion and pleaded: I know that not a drop of human blood is shed except it creates an impression on the world, and I believe, gentlemen, that to lead this poor lunatic up the steps of the scaffold, to sew him in a shroud, to tie a rope around his neck, to drop the scaffold from his feet, to leave him dangling in the air, in the presence of the humanity of today, would work infinite harm to infinite human beings on earth… Do not, I beseech you, gentlemen, do not break the clay, for though weak, cracked, and useless, it is the handiwork of the infinite God!

The courtroom was briefly stunned into silence, and then the session was adjourned.

The following day the case resumed at 10:00 AM with the reading by Judge Payne of his instructions to the jury. They were unemotional and straightforward but included the critical reiteration of the law's definition of insanity as being unable to tell right from wrong or being unable to exercise any self-control. At 10:20 AM, the jury retired. At 12:55 PM, they notified the court that they had reached a verdict. The defendant was found "not insane."

Juror P. W. Bandow subsequently explained that there had been very little dissension among the jurors, that although "the jury was particularly pleased with Mr. Darrow's closing speech… and also approved his criticism… the witnesses for the people," they did not believe that Prendergast "ever saw the time when he was not sane enough to be accountable to the law. 

Steinke concurred: "We thought well of the Judge's charge and particularly well of Mr. Darrow's speech. Mr. Bandow has not exaggerated its effect on the jury." However, "we discovered Prendergast was able to see when others wronged him, and we reasoned that he was able to see when he wronged others." Under the terms of his original stay (which had been twice extended), he was now scheduled to die in ten days, or on July 13, 1894, between the hours of "ten and two."

Darrow made a routine motion for a new trial that Judge Payne just as routinely denied. It was not until just two days before the execution that the defense began making their last desperate bids to save the life of Prendergast. On the morning of July 11, Darrow, with one of his three co­counsels, James B. Harlan, went to Springfield to meet with Governor Altgeld, who, having been already damaged politically by his pardon of some of the convicted Haymarket Riot anarchists, declined to intervene. The following day, federal Judge Peter Grosscup was asked to allow an appeal to the United States Supreme Court because the defendant's rights to due process under the Fourteenth Amendment had been denied because, at the end of the first trial, he was not allowed to speak on his own behalf (which was not true) and that Judge Horton had been allowed to present an opinion concerning his sanity. Moreover, during the second trial, evidence about the facts of the murder had been allowed. The judge denied the request because the Fourteenth Amendment applied not to "any particular trial but to the actions of the Legislature and the State polity." Following the hearing, a remarkable scene occurred outside that probably could not happen today. John Prendergast emerged and saw A. S. Trude, the chief prosecutor. The two men shook hands, and Trude expressed his respect and admiration for the young man: "There is nobody in this city more worthy of respect than you and your mother; you have been a good brother." Such was appropriate behavior in this age of sentiment, if not mercy.

The condemned was informed at 5:00 PM on July 12 that all avenues of appeal were now closed. Somewhat to the surprise of his jailers, he remained relatively calm. He did express the belief that something might yet occur, but that "If I am hung, it will be official murder." He was moved to Cell 22, next to the chief clerk's office, where he could be watched more closely. He then sat down to a substantial meal of ham and eggs, fried potatoes, bread and butter, pie, and coffee, followed by a good cigar, which made him sick since he had not been allowed to smoke in the jail in the months since the murder. He had already met with his mother in a truly pathetic scene, and he was now tired. He declined to see his brother, who arrived at the jail at 8:00 PM. Two hours later, he was sound asleep.

He awoke at 6:00 AM, complaining of hunger, but was apparently not fed. By 10:00 AM, when Sheriff James H. Gilbert arrived to read the death warrant, he was up and dressed in the same respectable but shabby clothes that he had worn through both of his trials. As the warrant was read, he became paler but retained his self-control. He asked when exactly the execution would take place. When the question was ignored, he quietly expressed hope that the governor would yet issue a reprieve. At 11:00 AM. John Prendergast arrived for the last visit and nearly collapsed when leaving. At 11:30 AM, the county physician examined Prendergast and found his pulse had climbed from a normal 70 to a high of 120 beats per minute. Asked if he needed anything, he replied, "nothing," though he expressed a wish for the execution to be delayed as long as possible as the governor might yet save him. He then declared that he forgave those who had prosecuted him. At 11:40, Stephen S. Gregory, one of his defense attorneys, arrived and asked for an interview. Sheriff Gilbert balked because he was about to proceed, but Gregory pleaded and was allowed to shake hands with his client.

The gallows were ready, having been carefully inspected, constructed, and tested overnight. This was more than a ritual; just six months before, the rope had broken during the execution of a murderer named George H. Palmer, who, gruesomely, had to be hung again, causing grown men to retch and faint. About a hundred male witnesses now filled the seats in the cellblock where the scaffold had been constructed, and outside, a crowd of over five hundred of both sexes had begun to gather hours before. The prisoners who normally occupied the area were marched out by 11:00 AM; all cigars were ordered extinguished at 11:11 AM, and at 11:43 AM, the Sheriff directed the procession to the gallows to begin. He led, followed by the chief jailer, then Prendergast, Father John Barry of the Cathedral of the Holy Name, and a collection of deputy sheriffs and jailers. Eugene looked straight ahead as if in a daze, his feet dragging and his legs quivering.

When they appeared in the cellblock, every man took off his hat and remained silent as the somber parade climbed the iron steps to the top tier on the scaffold's level. On the gallows, Eugene Prendergast briefly raised his hands in greeting to the crowd and then placed them behind his back to be strapped. Next, his legs were belted together. He made no speech; Father Berry had dissuaded him from this, but he whispered to the priest that he bore no malice toward anyone. "His lips closed, never to open again." The noose was placed around his neck, and a white "shroud," a linen wrapper with drawstrings at the neckline, was placed over his body. Over his head was placed the white hood. At exactly 11:48 AM, he dropped. Sighs were heard that became gasps and his legs trembled slightly, but these were interpreted as signs that there was little suffering. Immediately before the execution, his pulse stood at 120 beats per minute. In the first minute after the execution began, it fell to 58, and during the second minute, it rose to 100. It rose to 148 beats in the third, then to 160 in the fourth. It gradually declined to 100 again by the eighth minute, and by the twelfth minute, his heart had ceased beating altogether. At 12:08 PM, he was taken down and pronounced dead. When the hood was removed, his mouth was agape and twisted to the left side, but the manipulations of the undertaker quickly restored an appearance that was so nearly normal, except for a red rope burns around the neck, as to excite comment. At 12:30 PM, the body left the jail in a hearse for eventual burial in Calvary Cemetery. In the words of what had become his most bitter opponent, the Chicago Times, his "Last Act" was "performed decently and without faltering."

The assassination and the subsequent trial of the assassin raised issues about criminal responsibility and social response that continue to elude easy answers. Where, for instance, is the line between political and religious belief and dangerous delusion? Was Eugene Prendergast's certainty that he was serving the interests of God and of the people of Chicago in killing his Mayor any more or less compelling than, say, the contention that the United States is the "Great Satan" and ought to be destroyed? To what degree should society punish (as opposed to protecting itself from) those who act under the weight of systems of thought so violently at odds with accepted norms? Where, therefore, does sanity truly begin as a legal concept, and how should it be measured? Was Darrow right that it should be left exclusively to "experts," or is a more common experience also relevant? What is to be done when experts disagree? Is "common sense" thus the last resort? Nor have things been made any clearer by the fact that modem criminal justice, unlike Illinois at the time of the trials, recognizes the concept of diminished capacity; it, too, evades simple definition. Indeed, recent trends in this regard illustrate that under the pressure of events, the legislatures and courts, with public approval, are increasingly retreating toward nineteenth-century notions of responsibility, as illustrated by a growing consensus toward holding minor children accountable as adults for violent acts. In 1893, concepts of right and wrong were much more obvious and not usually debatable. This made life simpler and perhaps even more secure, but also frankly more brutal and less humane. Despite this, the fundamental questions were as challenging then as now: Did Eugene Prendergast know the difference between right and wrong? Probably. Could he control his actions? Maybe. Was he delusional and, therefore, by modem standards, insane? Yes. Was the State of Illinois right in executing him?

More concretely, the death of Carter H. Harrison also altered the probable course of Chicago's political history. Elected to serve out his term was John P. Hopkins, who, together with his partner, Roger C. Sullivan, used the opportunity to augment their personal fortunes and to strengthen their already formidable political "machine." For the next eighteen years, the Hopkins /Sullivan faction would fight it out with the late Mayor's son, Carter H. Harrison "Jr.," who was elected to the first of his own five terms as the city's chief executive in 1897, for control of the city and state Democratic Party. Finally, in the primary elections of 1915, the Hopkins /Sullivan faction emerged triumphantly and created what became the basis for the famous Chicago Democratic "machine" that reached full fruition under Mayor Richard J. Daley. Had the elder Harrison survived, he would have created the enduring and dominant faction. The overall growth of "machine" politics in Chicago would not likely have been altered had Harrison lived. It genuinely reflected the changing conditions of the booming metropolis, the hopes of the reform-minded aside-but its specifics unquestionably would have been different.

Lastly, the deaths of Harrison and Prendergast need to be under­ stood in strictly personal terms. Carter H. Harrison was sixty-two years of age but had tremendous potential for even greater accomplishment in his personal and public life. He was loved and respected, and his passing deeply affected his family, his friends, and an entire city. Eugene Prendergast was twenty-five years old and a young man with little intelligence and energy. Had his mind not strayed from the paths of reason, he would have been able to live a normal, if probably obscure, productive life. It is even possible that had he been allowed to live after the murder, he could have recovered his life somehow. He, too, was loved. His death, too, was hurtful to others. Ultimately, the assassinated and the assassin are joined together permanently in an unmitigated human tragedy.
Today Prendergast lies in an unmarked grave next to his father at Calvary Cemetery in Evanston, Illinois.
The old Criminal Courts Building at 54 W. Hubbard where
Prendergast met the gallows.
Carter Harrison Sr. Memorial in Union Park, 1501 West Randolph Street, Chicago.
Carter H. Harrison Sr. Tomb at Chicago's Graceland Cemetery.
ADDITIONAL READING: Chicago Mayor Carter Henry Harrison Sr., Last Speech before His Assassination on the Evening of October 28, 1893.

Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.