Assassination of President McKinley
President McKinley was shot by an
anarchist, Leon F. Czolgosz (Shawlgotch) while holding a reception
in the Temple of Music on the Pan-American Exposition grounds, Friday,
Sept. 6, about 4 p. m.
Two shots were fired by the cowardly
fiend. The first one entered the left groin, passed through both
walls of the stomach and lost itself in the fleshy portion of the
President’s back. The second shot followed immediately upon the
first, struck the top button of the President’s vest and carrying
the button along with it, tore its way through the clothing, bruising
the flesh over the breast bone, but glanced off and was found in
The following is the story in detail:
When President McKinley entered Music Hall at the hour appointed
for the reception, 20,000 people shouted their welcome to the beloved
magistrate of the nation. Then the great organ in the temple pealed
forth the national air, and the throngs fell back from the entrance
through which Mr. McKinley was to pass.
Inside the temple a place had been
made in the center of the floor for the President to stand and greet
the thousands who were waiting to grasp his hand.
Two aisles led diagonally from the
entrances at either corner of the reception-room, and the people
passed in one door-way, halting at the central point to meet the
chief executive, then passed on and out through the opposite door.
Perhaps a hundred men and women and
children had gone slowly up the long aisle and looked into the kindly
face that met each comer with a smile of welcome. Then there was
a break in the line and a rush of exposition guards toward the door
through which the crowds were entering.
At the moment a woman was standing
before Mr. McKinley. The trouble at the door apparently subsided,
and the woman gave way to a well-dressed man. He grasped the President’s
hand warmly and spoke a few words, but the crowd pushed him on and
gave way to Leon Czolgosz.
Secret Service Agents Foster and Ireland
were standing directly across from the President, closely scanning
each man and woman passing along in the line.
When Czolgosz paused before President
McKinley the government officers saw before them a quietly dressed,
intelligent-appearing young man with reddish hair and smooth-shaven
cheeks. His right hand was thrust beneath the lapel of his coat,
and a handkerchief was wrapped about it in such a way as to give
the impression that it had been injured.
Czolgosz turned his eye squarely upon
the President’s face and extended his left hand.
Mr. McKinley observed that the man
before him was offering his left hand instead of the right, and
his eyes wandered to the hand thrust beneath the coat. Then his
own right hand closed about the fingers of the man who was ready
to slay him.
The touch of Mr. McKinley’s hand seemed
to rouse the assassin to action. He leaned suddenly forward, at
the same time gripping the President’s hand in a viselike hold.
He drew Mr. McKinley the barest trifle toward him and the right
hand flashed from beneath the coat lapel.
The hand and the fingers were hidden
by the folds of the handkerchief. Czolgosz thrust the hand fairly
against the President’s breast and pulled the trigger of the weapon
that the white bit of cloth was concealing.
Then he fired again; the second shot
following the first so quickly that the report was scarcely noticeable.
President McKinley dropped the hand
of the assassin and staggered back a pace toward Secretary Cortelyou
and President Milburn, who had been standing at his side. They caught
him as he was falling and drew him tenderly toward a chair.
Every act of the assassin had been
watched by the secret service officers, but they were not quick
enough to stop him. As the second shot was fired, though, the meaning
of what was happening dawned upon a half hundred of those closest
to the place occupied by the President, and there was a mad rush
to seize the murderer.
Homer James, an exposition guard,
was probably the first man to reach Czolgosz. He sprang upon the
backs of those who blocked his way and dashed his club down upon
the anarchist’s skull.
Then there was a rush from every side
and Czolgosz was borne from his feet and swept to the floor. He
was trampled on and kicked and pushed from side to side, everybody
seeking to lay hold of him.
The strains of the great organ died
away as the President staggered back from the line where he had
encountered his assailant. The thousands who were too far off even
to see the place where the reception had been in progress guessed
something was wrong, as a wonderful silence fell upon the great
room and its hundreds of occupants. Then the word went through the
assembled throng like wildfire:
“The President has been assassinated!”
An automobile ambulance quickly removed
the President to the fine emergency hospital, where, in an incredibly
short time, the skilled surgeons had sewed up the wounds in the
stomach, cleansed the abdominal cavity, and prepared the distinguished
patient for removal to the beautiful residence of President John
H. Milburn of the exposition.
The coolest man in the Temple of Music
was President McKinley. His first words were:
“May God forgive him.”
“I feel a sharp pain here.” Pointing
to his breast.
“I trust Mrs. McKinley will not be
informed of this. At least try to see that what she must know of
it be not exaggerated in the telling.”
With difficulty the assassin was saved
from the infuriated populace and removed to prison where he calmly
gloated over his deed.
Leon F. Czolgosz, the assassin, is
a man 23 years of age, of Polish parentage, who claims to have been
born in Michigan, but whose home is in Cleveland. He is of medium
height, and inoffensive in appearance. It is thought that he is
but the tool of a conspiracy, but as yet there is no proof of this.
Czolgosz claims that he came to Buffalo just to do the cowardly
deed; that he had been converted to anarchy by the lectures of Emma
Goldman; that he had no confederates.
The abstemious life, steady nerve,
indomitable will of President McKinley aided by the excellent care
and attendance, has at present writing seemingly won the battle
for life, much to the joy of all the world. It needed but this to
bring from all classes, parties and nations the tenderest expressions
of sympathy and full acknowledgment of the esteem in which the great
commoner was held.
For four days the President took nothing
save water into his stomach. Nourishment was administered by injecting
nutriment into the veins. He is now taking food regularly.
Mrs. McKinley was informed fully of
the blow by the family physician. She has been remarkably strong
and brave, and her cheerful mien has greatly comforted the President.
Vice President Roosevelt and all the
members of the cabinet came hastily to Buffalo, as also did many
senators and public men—friends of the President.
For a time the nation was in mourning,
but as the glad tidings from the Milburn home flashed across the
continent, it seemed that a load was lifted from everyone. No action
has been taken concerning the administration of affairs, and probably
none will be. All now hope for a speedy recovery of the nation’s
By the law of New York the assassin
can be punished by but 10 years’ imprisonment, if the President
should recover. All concede that congress should pass a law making
such attempt on the life of our chief executive treason, and punishable
by death. So say we, all of us.