Statement on Clement Pfuetzner, October 20, 1901 (excerpts)




Clement Pfuetzner, Who Was Arrested After the Assassination of President McKinley, Disturbs a Meeting in the West Side Settlement Just as the Speaker Is Telling of Greatness of the Nation -- Others Quickly Cry Him Down -- Miss Addams' Ire Aroused.

Anarchy burst out like a flame at a meeting at Hull House last night. It blazed hotly for a moment, and the room echoed with "revolution," "force," and "tyranny of capital." Then the flame was quenched, but it left some startled auditors.

Clement Pfuetzner, one of the Anarchists arrested at the time President McKinley was shot, was the speaker who offended Hull House by his utterances. A socialistic meeting was in progress, and Mr. Simon was discussing the commercial supremacy of America. When he concluded Pfuetzner sprang to his feet.

"You talk of the ballot," he shouted, "but the ballot is too slow for the working man. The only way to change conditions is by a revolution.

"The American workman is the poorest paid laborer in the world, considering the amount of service he renders. As I look at the many young children sold into the toil of the capitalist -- children that should be considered so precious to their parents -- I try and find the remedy. It is not to be changed by a simple paper, that takes too long, but an armed force would strike in the right direction."

Anarchist Tempts a Storm.

Pfuetzner stood in the midst of the audience as he talked. The words "armed force," roused his hearers from their spellbound surprise. Mr. Simon stepped forward and raised his hand in protest, but those near the speaker sprang to their feet.

"No assassinations for us," "That's not our theory," "You are crazy," they shouted, and Pfuetzner, his voice drowned by his adversaries, took his seat.

When quiet was restored Mr. Simon said:

"I hear such a speech about every month, but I want to remind you that William Morris at Trafalgar Square had an audience that was loyal to him yet when the police appeared he called the crowd to follow him and defeat the force only four out of 6,000 had the courage to fight."

Miss Addams Explains.

Miss Jane Addams was not in the room when Pfuetzner made his remarks.

"Mr. Pfuetzner used to come to our meetings, but I had not seen him for some time until tonight," said Miss Addams. "He is perfectly harmless, despite his talk, I am sure, otherwise we would not permit him to come here at all. His remarks tonight fell perfectly flat. I wish, though, he hadn't made them.

"We are opposed to all political discussions here. The socialistic lectures are purely educational, not at all like the interruption tonight."

"I didn't mean that the workmen should take up arms, but meant to convey the idea that it would be easier to gain what a workingman needs by force rather than by those paper ballots that Socialists are always talking," said Pfeutzner later. "Then, too, that man Simon is filling those poor people with wrong ideas and I couldn't sit any longer and hear him lie to the would-be rescuers of the workingmen."

Item Relations


Allowed tags: <p>, <a>, <em>, <strong>, <ul>, <ol>, <li>