The Assassination of President McKinley

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William McKinley Jr. happened to be the twenty fifth president of the United States. He lived from 1843 to 1901 when he was assassinated by an anarchist.  He is described as one of the last veterans of the famous American Civil War to be elected in office. Apart from this, due to the time he was in power, he can also be described as the last president to serve the United States in the 19th century and also the first one to serve it in the 20th century. During his time, he is believed to have accomplished a lot in terms of politics. At one time, he served in the union army during the time of the civil war and later on he is known to enter Congress in 1872. McKinley is also believed to have very conservative policies and this was his main drive to power. Through this, he was able to attract Marcus Hanna’s support; a very powerful politician and financier. This is also the man who secured McKinley the Republican Presidential nomination that was held in 1896. (, 2002)

The onset of the 20th century was the time when anarchists were known to have strong belief of what was then referred to as the “Propaganda of Deeds.” What this meant was that if the leaders who were ruling then were killed, the fear of God would befall the people. Proponents of this belief also believed that by doing so, the multitude would be inspired to rise against their masters and this way they would be able to rule. In addition, the practice was carried out repeatedly in Russia and Italy. After King Hubert was killed there were a lot of rumors that all the leaders in the world would be assassinated. (Steven, 2006 )

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Slightly before the assassination of President McKinley, a 29 year old blacksmith by the name of Czolgosz who had his descendants traced to Russia and Poland was already an anarchist. Wesley, (1970) says that Czolgosz had attended one of the talks by Emma Goldman; a famous anarchist. It is after this that he decided he wanted to do something that would liberate his people. Specifically, he wanted to liberate or rather to help the working class through the international working class movement. This tactic was top in the list and he also found out that McKinley then the president would be off to Buffalo.

The events that led to the death of President McKinley started one day prior to his assassination that is on 5th September. On this day, McKinley together with his wife Ida had gone to an exposition under the name of “President Day”. This was an honor to the president and some of the events that were scheduled that day were the military review and a private reception. Later on, the president was to give his speech. On this day, Czolgosz was determined to accomplish his mission of killing the president. He tried to get close to the president but he failed due to the existence of the security guards. It is on the second day he succeeded and he is believed to be among the first people to enter the Music Temple where the president was scheduled to attend. (Fisher, 2001)

On the fateful evening of September 6, the president had just arrived and wanted to shake hands with some well wishers who had attended the Exposition. He had been discouraged on going to the function due to the tight schedule he had but he objected.  It was some few minutes past four in the evening when there were two shots in the auditorium. According to Steven, (2006 ), the president had been shaking hands with well wishers for about ten minutes. Among the well wishers on the front line was Czolgosz. Then it came a time for the president to shake hands with Czolgosz and before he reached his hand, Czolgosz pulled a .32 pistol and shot the president twice. The first bullet is said to have gone through the chest while the other one lounged on the president’s stomach. Czolgosz was immediately taken to custody and is believed to have later confessed everything and the reason why he shot the president.

The president was immediately rushed to hospital and is said to undergo surgery immediately to remove the bullets. Lowy, (2005) in his novel says that it was very critical for him because for over seven days, the president is said to hang on his life as he lapsed between consciousness and unconsciousness. At one incident, he was in coma and after coming out of it, he whispered for his wife. The wife was not in hospital and by the time she arrived he had already gone to another coma.

The same day, the president regained his consciousness at around eight o’clock again.  This time round, his wife was there and she grabbed his hand. The president then said,” Nearer my God to thee.” Then he closed his eyes for some minutes and then opened his eyes again for the last time. This time the doctor said that he looked very unstable. He looked the people who were around him which included doctors, nurses who had bowed their heads towards him. He then focused on his wife and said,” Goodbye all; goodbye, It is God’s way. His will be done.” After these statements, President William McKinley died. (Steven, 2006 )

During this time, Czolgosz who lived in Cleveland had confessed that he had gone to Buffalo three days ago and his main aim was to shoot and kill the president. He confessed that in the whole mission, he had no accomplice and therefore he accomplished his actions singlehandedly. On October 29, the same year, he was found guilty and was sentence to death. Some seconds before his execution, he cried claiming that he killed the president because he believed he was the enemy of the mass; that all that he was doing was to save the people.

References (2002). President McKinley Assassination. Retrieved July 10, 2010, from

Fisher, J. (2001). Stolen Glory: McKinley Assassination. La Jolla: Alamar Books.

Lowy, J. (2005). The Temple of Music: A Novel. New York: Three Rivers Press.

Steven. (2006 , September 10). Assassination of President William McKinley. Retrieved July 10, 2010, from

Wesley, J. (1970). The Man Who Shot McKinley. New Jersey: Barnes Publishers.


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The Assassination of President McKinley. (2017, Feb 07). Retrieved from

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