September 6, 1901
Buffalo, New York
Anarchist Leon Czolgosz shoots President William McKinley twice in the abdomen

Czolgosz turned to anarchism after he lost his job during the Panic of 1893, an economic depression that lasted 4 years. Czolgosz believed McKinley was a symbol of a corrupt government and it was his duty as an anarchist to kill him.

McKinley’s final speech

Czolgosz waited in line to shake McKinley’s hand following a speech and shot twice into the president’s abdomen. One shot heavily damaged internal organs including the stomach, kidney, colon, and pancreas while the other was deflected by a button and merely grazed the president. Before Czolgosz could take a third shot, he was wrestled to the ground by James Parker who had been standing behind him in line, Detective John Geary, and artilleryman Francis O’Brien. As he was being punched and hit with rifle butts he was heard to say “I done my duty.”

The assaasination of William McKinley

McKinley died of gangrene from his wounds on September 14, 1901. Because he was the third president assassinated (Lincoln being the first in 1865 and Garfield in 1881), criticism was raised about a failure to protect the Presidents. This paved the road for the Secret Service to guard the President full-time, starting with President Teddy Roosevelt in 1902.

Czolgosz was executed on October 29, 1901 with his last words being “I killed the president because he was the enemy of the good people—the working people.” Allegedly, Thomas Edison filmed his electrocution. Shortly before his burial, acid was placed in his casket to dissolve his body.

Leon Czolgsz

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