Is He a Bogus Hero?
Part Played by Parker in the Buffalo Tragedy.
Early accounts of the shooting of
President McKinley gave much credit to a man named Parker for having
instantly grappled with the assassin, preventing him from firing
a third shot. Parker became a hero of the tragedy immediately. Congratulations
and favors were showered upon him. Souvenir fiends demanded the
buttons of his clothes, and other enthusiasts purchased his shoes
and hat. For a week or two he was the greatest attraction on the
midway. Emotional yellow journals started funds for the hero, and
museum managers, with an eye to the main chance, struggled to secure
him as a headliner for their shows.
For a brief period the hero Parker
enjoyed the affusive favors of the multitude and quite a pile of
money poured into his pockets. Then came the trial of the assassin,
at which testimony was given by every person who witnessed the crime.
But Parker was not called to testify. The reason why he was not
called in as a witness is explained by a Buffalo paper as follows:
“The first time Parker was seen in
the scuffle over Czolgosz was when a half dozen officers were trying
to prevent the crowd from beating Czolgosz to death, and Parker
forced his arm around one of these officers, Secret Service Operative
Gallagher, to drag him away so that he could strike the prisoner.
A most careful canvass of the people who were immediately about
the spot fails to show that he did anything else.
“This negro has been given national
prominence by making claims of bravery which on the spur of the
moment seemed genuine, but have since been shown to be entirely
“He appeared in Rochester Sunday and
was billed as the ‘Giant Colored Man Parker, who struck the gun
from the hand of President McKinley’s assassin.’
“The receipts of the lecture go toward
‘The Parker Fund.’
“The truth of the matter is Parker
was standing some distance away, according to the statement of H.
J. Close of the Pan-American treasurer’s office, who has known him
for some time and was beside him at the time of the shooting. When
the shots were fired Parker sprang forward, as did everybody else,
and entered vigorously, as his enormous size allowed him to do,
into the effort to beat the prisoner Czolgosz. Secret Service Operative
Gallaher was in the way of the blows which Parker sought to bestow
on the helpless, bleeding man and Parker thrust his arm around Gallagher
in an effort to drag him back. Only the interference of an exposition
guard prevented Parker from striking Gallagher, it is said.
“An effort may be made by the authorities
who have been handling the case to prevent further humbuggery on
the part of Parker.”