Source: Sunday Journal
Source type: newspaper
Document type: article
Document title: “He Saw the Assassin”
City of publication: Indianapolis, Indiana
Date of publication: 8 September 1901
Volume number: 51
Issue number: 251
|“He Saw the Assassin.” Sunday Journal 8 Sept. 1901 v51n251: part 1, p. 10.|
|Charles E. Thornton; McKinley assassination (persons present on exposition grounds); Charles E. Thornton (public statements); McKinley assassination; McKinley assassination (public response: Buffalo, NY); McKinley assassination (personal response); William McKinley (protection).|
|Leon Czolgosz; William McKinley [in sub-headline]; Charles E. Thornton.|
He Saw the Assassin
CHARLES E. THORNTON RETURNS FROM BUFFALO EXPOSITION.
He Was Just Outside the Temple of Music When President McKinley Was Shot.
THE EXCITEMENT WAS INTENSE
ALL THE ANGER-STIRRED CROWD NEEDED WAS A LEADER.
The Assassin Had a Narrow Escape from Instant Vengeance—Buffalo in Mourning.
Charles E. Thornton, of 1216 Broadway,
returned from Buffalo last evening with his family, and told an interesting
story to a Journal reporter of the intense excitement that prevailed on the
Pan-American Exposition grounds just after the dastardly attempt on the President’s
life. “I arrived in Buffalo from New York Friday morning, and went to the exposition
grounds with my family,” said Mr. Thornton. “We spent some time inspecting the
exhibits in the variou[s] buildings, and shortly after 3 o’clock started toward
the Temple of Music in order to hear the immense pipe organ. As we neared the
building the President’s party was approaching, the mounted police clearing
the way to the entrance.
“The crowd increased in numbers, and it was several minutes before I could get near the door. I was just about to enter when the sharp report of a revolver startled the crowd. We all stood in breathless expectancy, awaiting developments. The crowd in the building was hurriedly rushed through the doors to the outside and the doors were closed. No one made a loud announcement that the President had been shot, but, as if by magic, the word was passed to the thousands who were gathered near the building.
“The excitement was intense. The
regulars cleared the building and the marines rushed to the scene to control
the crowd. They formed a line and gradually forced the excited multitude away
from the building. When the crowd had been pressed back a s[a]fe distance from
the Temple of Music ropes w[e]re stretched to prevent the people from surging
forward. It was necessary for the marines to fire several shots into the air
in order to impress the people with the necessity of not crowding toward the
“When the would-be a[s]sassin was hurried from the building to a patrol wagon his face was pale and he looked as if he was laboring under intense excitement. The men in the front ranks of the crowd stood with fists clenched and eyes staring at the Anarchist while a murmur pa[ss]ed among them ‘Let’s lynch him.’ Others were in favor of even tearing his heart out, and had there been a man in the crowd asserted himself as a leader just at that time all the police, regular soldiers, marines, guards and detectives in the exposition grounds could not have prevented the crowd from lynching the Anarchist. All the crowd needed to speedily end the villain’s life was a leader. Czolgosz’s face was covered with blood as the result of the contact with the secret service men directly after he shot the President.
“After the President was removed to the hospital and the prisoner taken to the police station, business at the exposition grounds was suspended. Groups of men could be seen everywhere discussing the horrible tragedy in low tones. A great gloom spread over the exposition crowd and the entire city of Buffalo. Sorrow and regret were mingled with a feeling of revenge on the assassin.
CROWDS IN THE STREETS.
“I left the grounds before 5 o’clock
and started towards the city. As we neared the central part of the city the
crowds in the streets were so great that the cars had to be stopped. Excited
men and women hurried along the thoroughfares to the newspaper and telegraph
offices, where bulletins were displayed. Although nearly every one expressed
himself that the coward who sought the life of the President should be summarily
dealt with, yet there was no open outbreak.
“I do not believe that there was sufficient protection afforded the President. Of course, he had always been opposed to having a guard, as he believed that no one would seek his life, but still there should have been more precaution taken to protect him from just such Anarchists or cranks as the man who shot him on Friday. When he approached the Temple of Music in his carriage it would have been an easy matter for a man inclined as was Czolgosz to have fired at him. He entered the building and there were two secret-service men [s]tationed near him, yet the Anarchist was allowed to approach and shoot the President. The act is deplorable and it is out of the question to censure the men who were there to protect the chief magistrate. There should have been more secret-service men in the building.
“When I was on the car riding to the city from the exposition grounds I informed a workingman sitting near me of the shooting. He was greatly shocked, and said that while he had been a Democrat all his life he would willingly give $1,000, all the money he had, if he could have prevented the deed. Other men expressed themselves in the same manner. I stopped in Cleveland on my way home for a few minutes, and the people of that city are as greatly grieved as the citizens of Canton, the President’s home.”