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JAMA 100 Years Ago
August 2, 2000


Author Affiliations

JAMA 100 Years Ago Section Editor: Jennifer Reiling, Editorial Assistant.

JAMA. 2000;284(5):537. doi:10.1001/jama.284.5.537

Regicide has been shown to have been committed, in a large proportion of cases at least, by persons of weak or unbalanced minds. This was notoriously the case with the assassins Guiteau and Prendergast in this country, who worked without accomplices, following out the dictates of their own insane delusions. In times of great excitement it is very natural to suppose that some ill-balanced individual without being actually insane might commit a crime and the responsibility be somewhat questionable under the circumstances. When, however, such a crime is the result of a conspiracy of a number of individuals, as in the case of the assassination of President Lincoln and of the Emperor Alexander, it is somewhat different. The assassination of King Humbert [of Italy], which has just occurred, appears to belong more to this class than to that of the irresponsible lunatic homicides. The assassin in this instance seems to have been an adherent of a body that is at present endorsing his action, and the suspicion of a widespread conspiracy is certainly justified in such a case.

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