President McKinley Shot Twice While Holding a
Reception at the Buffalo
Exposition by a Cleveland, O., Anarchist
The Assassin Fired at the Executive as He Reached
Out to Shake Hands
with Him during a Monster Levee
HE WAS BADLY BEATEN AND JUST ESCAPED A LYNCHING
Many Arrests Made in Buffalo and Chicago of Anarchists Who Are Said
to Have Instigated the Crime
An assassin, who later confessed
that he was an Anarchist, shot twice at President McKinley at Buffalo,
N. Y., on the afternoon of September 6, and wounded him twice, once
in the groin and once in the chest. Five minutes before the tragedy
the crowd in and about the Temple of Music was in the most cheerful
humor. When the President’s carriage, containing besides the Executive,
Mr. Milburn, president of the Pan-American Exposition, and Mr. Cortelyou,
the President’s private secretary, drove up to the side entrance,
it was met by a mighty salute of cheers and applause.
The three gentlemen alighted and were
escorted to the door of the building. A carriage containing George
Foster and S. R. Ireland, secret service men, drove up at once,
and these, with several other detectives, also entered the building.
The President was met by Director-General Buchanan.
From the main entrance to the temple,
which opens on the esplanade, where thousands had gathered, an aisle
had been made through the rows of seats in the building to near
the centre. This aisle was about eight feet wide and turned near
the centre to the southwest door of the temple.
It was so arranged that the persons
who wished to shake hands with the President would enter by the
southeast door, meet the President in the centre and then pass out
of the southwest door. Where the aisle made the turn in the centre
tall palms and green plants were placed, so the President stood
under a bower. Both sides of the aisle were lined with strips of
From the southeast door and extending
up to and around the curve on either side was a line of soldiers
from the Seventy-third Seacoast Artillery, interspersed with neatly
uniformed Exposition guards under the command of Captain Damer.
When the Presidential party entered
the building the soldiers came to “Attention.” The President was
escorted to the centre of the palm bower, and Mr. Milburn took a
position on his left so as to introduce persons as they came in.
Mr. Milburn ordered the door opened,
and immediately a wavering line of people, who had been squeezed
against the outside of the door for hours, began to move up through
the line of soldiers and police to where the President stood. An
old man with silvery white hair was the first to reach the President,
and a little girl he carried on his shoulder received a warm salutation.
W. J. Gomph, an organist, started
on Bach’s sonata in F, low at first, and swelling gradually until
the auditorium was filled with the melodious tones of the great
Secretary Cortelyou stood at the President’s
right. Foster, a Secret Service man, who has travelled everywhere
with the President, took a position not more than two feet in front
of Mr. Milburn, and Ireland, another Secret Service man, stood by
his left, so that he was the same distance in front of the President.
Detectives were scattered through the aisle.
Through a narrow two-foot passage
those who would meet the President must pass. When all was prepared
the President smiled to Mr. Buchanan, who was standing near the
corporal in charge of the artillerymen, and said that he was ready.
He seemed very jovial, and as he waited
for the doors to open he rubbed his hands together, adjusted his
Prince Albert coat, and laughingly chatted with Mr. Milburn, while
Secretary Cortelyou gave a few last instructions to the officers
as to the way the crowd was to be hurried through, so that as many
as possible could meet the President.
As each passed he was critically scanned
by the Secret Service men. His hands were watched, his face and
Far down the line a man of unusual
aspect appeared. He was short, heavy and dark, and beneath a heavy
dark mustache were straight, bloodless lips. Under his black brows
gleamed sharp, black eyes. He was picked out at once as a suspicious
person, and when he reached Foster, the secret service man kept
his hand on him until he reached the President and clasped his hand.
Ireland was equally alert, and the slightest move on the part of
this man, who is now supposed to have been an accomplice, and for
whom a search is being made, would have been checked by the officers.
Immediately following this man was
the assassin. He was a rather tall, boyish looking fellow, apparently
twenty-five years old, and of German-American extraction. His smooth,
rather pointed face would not indicate any sinister purpose.
The secret service men noted that
about his right hand was wrapped a handkerchief, and as he carried
the hand uplifted, as if supported by a sling under his coat, the
officers thought his hand was injured, and especially since he extended
his left hand across the right to shake hands with the President.
It was noticed that the man in front of the assassin held back,
apparently to shield the young man, so that it was necessary for
Ireland to push him on.
Innocently facing the assassin, the
President smiled as he extended his right hand to meet the left
of the supposed injured man. As the youth extended his left hand,
he, quick as a flash, as if trained by long practice, whipped out
his right hand, which held the revolver, and before anyone knew
what was happening two shots rang out, one following the other after
the briefest space of time.
For a moment there was the hush of
awful death. There was not a sound. The sonata died instantly. The
people stopped and could not breathe. The next instant there was
pandemonium. It was realized that the President had been shot.
Mr. McKinley drew his right hand quickly
to his chest. He raised his head, and his eyes looked upward and
rolled. He swerved a moment, reeled and fell in the arms of Secretary
Catching himself for the briefest
second the President, whose face had now the whiteness of death,
looked at the assassin, as the officers and the soldiers bore him
to the floor, and said feebly, “May God forgive him.”
The President was carried first one
way, then a step in another direction. The excitement was so sudden
and intense that for a minute no one knew what to do.
Finally some one said to carry him
within the purple edge of the aisle and seat him on a chair. The
bunting was in a solid piece, no one had time to produce a knife.
A couple of men tore the benches aside and trampled the bunting
down, while Mr. Milburn and Secretary Cortelyou half carried the
President over the line into the passageway leading to the stage.
The President was able to walk a little,
leaning heavily on his escort. In passing over the bunting his foot
caught, and for a moment he stumbled. A reporter extricated the
wounded man’s foot, and he was carried to a seat, where a half dozen
men stood by and fanned him vigorously. Quick calls were sent for
doctors and an ambulance.
While seated for a moment Secretary
Cortelyou leaned over the President and asked: “Do you feel much
White and trembling, the President
slipped his hand into the opening of his shirt front, near the heart,
“This wound pains greatly.”
As the President withdrew his hand
two fingers were covered with blood. He looked at them, his hand
dropped to his side and he became faint. His head dropped heavily
to his chest and those about him turned away.
During this pathetic scene, while
tears were filling the eyes of those about him, who realized their
powerlessness to help him, Minister Aspiroz, of Mexico, pushed through
the little group and broke the faint into which the President had
sunk by exclaiming dramatically in English:
“Oh, my God, Mr. President, are you
While the excited diplomat was being
restrained from caressing the Executive and falling at his feet,
the President replied, gasping after each word:
The President’s head fell backward
and he almost fainted again. Mr. Milburn placed his hand back of
the wounded man’s head for a support. This seemed to relieve the
President, and after that he sat stoically in the chair, his legs
spread out on the floor and his lips clinched firmly as if to fight
determinedly against death, should it be coming. He was making the
fight of a soldier, and more than one turned away and tremblingly
“He is certainly a soldier.”
While all this was passing the tragedy
had not yet ended on the scene of the shooting. The shots had hardly
been fired before Foster and Ireland were on top of the assassin.
Ireland knocked the smoking weapon from the man’s hand and with
his companion and a dozen Exposition police and artillerymen were
upon the wretch. He was literally crushed to the floor.
While the President was being led
away the artillerymen and guards cleared the building of those who
had come to greet the Executive. To do this it was necessary to
draw their bayonets and use force.
Foster reached under the crowd and
by almost superhuman strength pulled the intending murderer from
under the heap. Forcing the youth to the open, Foster clutched him
by the throat with his left hand, and saying, “You murderer,” he
struck him a vicious blow with his fist squarely in the face.
The blow was so powerful that the
man was sent headlong through the guards and sprawling upon the
floor. He had hardly touched the floor when he was again set upon,
this time by the guards and soldiers. He was kicked repeatedly until
Captain Damer rushed in and drew back the guards. Foster made another
attempt to get at the assassin but was held back although he protested
that he knew what he was doing.
One who stood near the captive declares
that the would-be murderer cried:
“I am an anarchist! I did my duty!”
He was not given time to say another
word, and it is doubtful if he would have had the power. He was
as white as his victim, and was shaking from head to foot. He had
not the power to beg to be saved from the lynchers.
Weak with the excitement, he was unable
to stand on his feet, and he fell to the floor like a weak coward.
A half dozen guards, as many soldiers
and several Secret Service men grabbed him as they would an offensive
corpse. Several were at his feet and others at his head, but none
to support his body. He was rapidly dragged over the floor, up a
short flight of stairs and into a room back of the stage. There
he was locked in with the soldiers, guards and detectives, most
of whom drew their revolvers, ready to withstand any attempt which
might be made by a mob.
With tremendous rapidity the news
of the assassin’s assault spread through the 20,000 people who were
outside the building. Their cries of grief could be heard inside,
and the President heard and seemed to understand, though he spoke
The electric ambulance from the Emergency
Hospital quickly arrived with Drs. Zittell and Kennerson, who rushed
in and were at the side of the President. His white vest, powder
marked and bloody, had been opened, as well as the shirt. After
seeing the location of the wound and learning that another bullet
had entered the abdomen, they ordered in the ambulance stretcher,
on which were placed a row of pillows. The stretcher was placed
on the floor and the wounded President was lifted by Mr. Milburn,
Mr. Cortelyou and the ambulance men, and laid gently on the pillows.
The President groaned slightly, as
if in great pain, but recovered, pressed his lips firmly and resigned
himself to the care of the grief stricken men around him. At least
twenty men carried the stretcher up the three or four steps to the
As it opened and the great crowd caught
a glimpse of the wounded man on the stretcher a groan of grief went
up. Men uncovered their heads, they looked at each other for sympathy,
that they might have the strength to stand the crushing blow.
No man was weak who wept. It was the
time for weeping. There was not the slightest cry for vengeance.
As the bullet pierced body [of] the President was being carried
out through their midst the note was only of sorrow. Women were
no more affected than men. They clung close to each other. It was
a moment when every one felt that he needed help.
On the double quick the President
was hurried to the Emergency Hospital, where a room had been hastily
prepared for him. Messages had been sent to the city for physicians
and surgeons. The first call was sent for Dr. Rixey, the family
physician, who had left the grounds with Mrs. McKinley for the Milburn
home. He was quick to arrive on an automobile with two trained nurses.
They tore through the grounds at a terrific pace until the hospital
At six o’clock the President was put
under influence of an anaesthetic and Dr. Parke began probing for
the bullets. The first one was removed. It struck the sternum and
glanced off, causing a slight flesh wound only. The second bullet
perforated both walls of the stomach and has not yet been found.
The bullet is thought to be in the stomach.
President McKinley was later placed
in an automobile ambulance and taken to the home of President Milburn.
The man who shot the President said
his name was Leon Czolgosz, and admitted that he was a Cleveland,