Source: Timely Topics
Source type: magazine
Document type: article
Document title: “Assassination of President McKinley”
Date of publication: 13 September 1901
Volume number: 6
Issue number: 2
|“Assassination of President McKinley.” Timely Topics 13 Sept. 1901 v6n2: p. 20.|
|McKinley assassination; William McKinley (recovery).|
|George B. Cortelyou; Leon Czolgosz; George F. Foster; Emma Goldman; Samuel R. Ireland; Homer James; Ida McKinley; William McKinley; John G. Milburn [middle initial wrong below]; Theodore Roosevelt.|
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 clothing.
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 executive.
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.