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Source: Leslie’s Weekly
Source type: magazine
Document type: article
Document title: “An Anarchist Shoots the President at the Pan-American Exposition”
Author(s): anonymous
Date of publication: 9 September 1901
Volume number: 93
Issue number: none
Pagination: none

“An Anarchist Shoots the President at the Pan-American Exposition.” Leslie’s Weekly 9 Sept. 1901 v93: [no pagination].
full text
presidential assassinations (comparison); McKinley assassination; Leon Czolgosz; McKinley assassination (personal response); anarchism (laws against); McKinley assassination (eyewitness accounts); James B. Parker; William McKinley (medical care); William McKinley (medical condition); William McKinley (surgery); Milburn residence; Ida McKinley (informed about assassination); Leon Czolgosz (as anarchist).
Named persons
Manuel de Azpiroz [variant spelling below]; Ida Barber; Mary Barber (Ida McKinley niece); William I. Buchanan; William H. Chapin; George B. Cortelyou; Leon Czolgosz; Sarah Duncan (McKinley niece); George F. Foster; James A. Garfield; John J. Geary [misspelled below]; Emma Goldman; Webb C. Hayes; Samuel R. Ireland; Edward Wallace Lee; Abraham Lincoln; Matthew D. Mann; Ida McKinley; William McKinley; John G. Milburn; Mary Milburn; Roswell Park [misspelled below]; James B. Parker [middle initial wrong below]; Presley M. Rixey; Eugene Wasdin [misspelled below]; Samuel M. Welch; James Wilson.
From magazine cover: Vol. XCIII.—Extra Number.

From magazine cover: McKinley Extra.


An Anarchist Shoots the President at the Pan-American Exposition

     FOR the third time in the history of this country a foul assassin has marked the President of the United States for his victim. In each instance the President has been a Republican. Lincoln was assassinated early in his second term, and President McKinley was shot only six months after his second inauguration. Garfield fell a victim to the assassin’s bullet four months after his inauguration. There is very little consolation in the belief that all of the assassins were ill-balanced mentally, for there is no question as to their responsibility, in every instance, for their foul deeds.
     Leon Czolgosz, the assassin, a Polander, whose home is at Cleveland, announces that he is an anarchist and declares that he was induced by the teachings of Emma Goldman, the notorious anarchist incendiary whom New York tolerated altogether too long, to decide that the present form of government in this country was all wrong. He said he thought the best way to end it was by the killing of our noble-minded, generous-hearted, loving President. The dastardly criminal would substitute a government by assassination for a government by the people. This is the legitimate outcome of our lax immigration laws, which permit an invasion of anarchists, both men and women, from the slums of Europe, and an outcome of our equally lax State laws, which tolerate the murderous declarations of these wretches at public and private meetings. The cowardly and fiendish assault on our President should result in the prompt reform of our defective Federal and State legislation on these subjects.
     The tragedy occurred about four o’clock on the afternoon of September 6th, while the President stood upon the slightly elevated platform of the Temple of Music at the Pan-American Exposition at Buffalo. He stood at the edge of the dais and was thought to be well guarded by several United States Secret Service detectives. The President was in a cheerful mood and was enjoying the hearty evidences of good-will which everywhere met his gaze. Upon his right stood John G. Milburn of Buffalo, president of the Pan-American Exposition, chatting with the President, and introducing to him persons of note who approached. Upon the President’s left stood Mr. Cortelyou.

The Story of an Eye-Witness.

     AN eye-witness of the tragedy, whose veracity is unquestioned, and who is personally known to the editor of LESLIES WEEKLY, stood within twenty feet of the President when the latter was shot. He says: “It was about the close of the reception in the Temple of Music, and the President, in his customary cordial manner, was reaching forward, with a pleasant smile, to take the hands of the good-natured crowd that was pushing forward. A six-foot colored man, who proved to be a waiter in the Plaza, named James F. Parker, had just shaken hands with the President and was smiling all over with enjoyment, when suddenly, behind him, pressed forward the slight figure of a smooth-faced but muscular young man, whose eyes were wild and glaring, whose head was drooping, and who seemed to me to have sprung up from the floor, as I had not observed him before. The President took no special notice of him, but simply stooped over to shake his hand, without looking, apparently, at the individual.
     “Their palms had hardly touched before I heard two shots in quick succession. A hush and quiet instantly followed. The President straightened up for a moment and stepped back five or six feet. Secretary Cortelyou, who had been standing at his side, burst into tears, and exclaimed, ‘You’re shot!’ The President murmured, ‘Oh, no, it cannot be!’ But Secretary Cortelyou and Mr. Milburn had torn open the President’s vest, and the tell-tale blood, flowing from the wound in the abdomen, revealed the fearful truth. The President had dropped into a chair and now turned deathly pale. Meanwhile, the other wound in the breast had been uncovered and both Mr. Milburn and Secretary Cortelyou were in tears. The President, seeing their emotion, put up his hand and gently murmured that he was all right, or some reassuring words, and appeared to faint away.
     “The Secret Service men, Foster and Ireland, at one bound seized the assassin, before the smoke had cleared away, and, in fact, before the sound of the second shot was heard. The negro, Parker, also turned instantly and confronted Czolgosz, whose right hand was being tightly held behind him by the detectives and whose face was thrust forward. Parker, with his clenched fist, smashed the assassin three times squarely in the face, and was apparently wild to kill the creature, while all the crowd of artillerymen, policemen, and others, also set upon the object of their wrath.
     “The women in the vast audience were hysterical, and the men were little less than crazy. The transformation from the scene of smiles and gladness of a moment before, to the wild, rushing, mighty roar of an infuriated crowd, was simply awful. The police and military at once set about the task of clearing the building, which they accomplished with amazing celerity and good judgment, considering the fact that a crowd of 50,000 at the outside were pressing into the entrance.[”]

Different Accounts of the Shooting.

     ACCOUNTS differ as to exactly what happened at the exciting moment when the shooting occurred. One report has it that the assassin was accompanied by an Italian, short, heavy, with a dark mustache, black brows, and a forbidding face, and that this man was picked out by Mr. Foster, a Secret Service detective, as a suspicious character. He was closely watched when he shook hands with the President and held the President’s hand so long that he attracted attention. Immediately behind him was the assassin, tall, boyish-looking, apparently about twenty-five years old, with a smooth and rather pointed face, but without a sinister expression. His right hand was wrapped in a handkerchief and carried uplifted, as if in a sling, under his coat. When he extended his left hand to the President it was noticed that his companion apparently held back, as if to shield Czolgosz. As the latter extended his left hand, quick as a flash he put out his right, holding a revolver, and fired the two shots, one after the other. The President drew his right hand quickly to his chest, raised his head, and rolled his eyes upward.
     Accounts differ, too, as to what he said. One reports that, as he reeled and fell into the arms of Secretary Cortelyou, he exclaimed, “May God forgive him!” The excitement was so intense that no one knew what to do, until some one suggested to carry the President behind the bunting with which the dais was decorated, and seat him on a chair. Some men tore the benches aside and trampled the bunting down, while Mr. Milburn and Secretary Cortelyou half carried the President into the passage-way leading to the stage. The President’s foot caught in the bunting and he stumbled. A reporter extricated the foot, and the President was carried to a seat, where a half dozen men fanned him, a woman in the crowd having passed up her fan. Secretary Cortelyou inquired:
     “Do you feel much pain?” The President slipped his hand into the opening of his shirt front near the heart, and said:
     “This wound pains greatly.”
     As he withdrew his hand and noticed the blood on his fingers he looked at it, dropped his hand, and appeared to become faint. Minister Aspiroz, of Mexico, and others were affected to tears. The former exclaimed, dramatically, “Oh, my God, Mr. President, are you shot?” The attendants tried to restrain the excited Mexican, who was about to fall at the President’s feet. The latter, gasping after each word, replied, “Yes—I—believe—I—am—” and almost fainted again. Mr. Milburn supported the President’s head, and the wounded man revived and sat quietly in his chair, his legs spread out on the floor and his lips clenched firmly, as if awaiting death.
     Another report of the exciting incident says that, after the assassin’s shots, there was a moment’s pause in the great Temple of Music, and then somebody shrieked, “He’s shot the President!” The crowd surged toward the President, while others pounced upon the assassin and began to beat his life out, until the police interfered. Women were falling into hysterics, and a man shouted, “He’s dead! He’s dead! Oh, my God!” A level-headed policeman stilled the tumult by crying out in a loud voice, “No, the doctor says he lives,” which quieted the excitement and checked the riot. This reporter adds that when the President was shot he fell into the hands of Detective Gerry and coolly asked him, “Am I shot?” Gerry unbuttoned the President’s vest, and, seeing blood, replied, “I fear you are, Mr. President.”
     A third narrative is still somewhat different. The narrator recites that the President, after he had been shot, was calm, seemed to grow taller, and had a look of half reproach and half indignation in his eyes as he turned and started toward a chair unassisted. Then Secretary Cortelyou and Mr. Milburn went to his help. Secret Service Agent S. R. Ireland and George F. Foster had grappled with the assassin, but, quicker than both, was a gigantic negro, James F. Parker, a waiter in a restaurant in the Plaza, who had been standing behind Czolgosz, awaiting an opportunity, in joyous expectation, to shake the President’s hand. He stood there, six feet four inches tall, with 250 pounds of muscular enthusiasm, grinning happily, until he heard the pistol shots. With one quick shift of his clenched fist he knocked the pistol from the assassin’s hand. With another he spun the man around like a top, and, with a third, he broke Czolgosz’s nose. A fourth split the assassin’s lip and knocked out several teeth, and when the officers tore him away from Parker the latter, crying like a baby, exclaimed, “Oh, for only ten seconds more!”
     The best medical skill was summoned, and within a brief period several of Buffalo’s best-known practitioners were at the patient’s side. The President retained the full exercise of his faculties until placed on the operating table and subjected to an anæsthetic. One bullet had taken effect in the right breast just below the nipple, causing a comparatively harmless wound. The other took effect in the abdomen, about five inches below the left nipple, two inches to the left of the navel, and about on a level with it. When the President was placed on the operating table he seemed to be suffering little pain. When he was told that an operation was necessary, he said, “Gentlemen, do what seems best and necessary.” The attending surgeons were Drs. R. E. Parke, M. D. Mann, and Edward W. Lee. Dr. Mann made an incision of the abdominal cavity four inches long and found that the bullet, a thirty-two or a thirty-eight calibre, had passed entirely through the stomach, permitting the contents of the latter to be discharged into the abdominal cavity. The two holes in the stomach were stitched, and the intestines and entire abdominal cavity were thoroughly cleaned and the incision sewed up. The operation lasted for two and a half hours and was most serious. This was at 4.30 P. M. At 7.30 the President was removed from the hospital to the home of his host, John G. Milburn.
     Four surgeons carried the stretcher on which the President lay. His head rested on a pillow and a white sheet concealed all but his face, which [l]ooked as white as the linen around it. There was not a sound from the crowd. All heads were bare. It could be seen that the President was conscious, that his eyes were open, but he made no sign. Dr. Parke, who had removed his coat and rolled up his shirt sleeves, entered the ambulance and sat at the President’s head, while Dr. Wasden, of the Marine Hospital, sat at his feet. General Welch and Colonel Chapin sat with the driver, and the military guard rode out at the head of the ambulance. Behind the ambulance went two automobiles carrying Secretary Cortelyou, Secretary Wilson, Mr. Milburn, and Dr. Mann.
     Arrived at the Milburn residence, all persons outside the medical attendants, nurses, and the officials immediately concerned were excluded, and the task of probing for the bullet, which had lodged in the abdomen, was begun by Dr. Roswell Parke.
     While the wounded President was being borne from the Exposition to the Milburn residence between rows of onlookers with bared heads, a far different spectacle was being witnessed along the route of his assailant’s journey from the scene of his crime to Police Headquarters. The trip was made so quickly that the prisoner was safely landed within the wide portals of the police station and the doors closed before any one was aware of his presence.
     Immediately after the President was cared for at the Exposition hospital, Director-General Buchanan started for the Milburn residence to notify Mrs. McKinley. He broke the news as gently as possible to her nieces, the Misses Barber, and the President’s niece, Miss Duncan, and Mrs. Milburn. Mrs. McKinley had just arisen from a nap and was inquiring the cause for the President’s delay, as he was expected to return about six o’clock, and it was then nearly seven. Meanwhile, Dr. Rixey, her physician, had arrived, accompanied by Colonel Webb Hayes, son of the former President, an intimate friend of President McKinley. Dr. Rixey gently broke the news to Mrs. McKinley, who stood the shock most bravely.
     Czolgosz, it is said, not only boasts that he is an anarchist, but admits that he was chosen by an anarchist circle to commit the terrible deed. It is said that he was connected with the fearful Haymarket outrage in Chicago, and that he was a rabid exponent of red-flag ideas in Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago, and other Western cities. He is a German Pole, a blacksmith, and speaks good English. He weighs 160 pounds, has blue eyes, dark-brown hair, a dark complexion, regular features, and a prominent nose. A crowd of 50,000 persons gathered about the Buffalo police headquarters would have lynched him on his arrival at the police station if the authorities had not fought desperately to restrain the outbreak.



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