Sunday, September 6, 2015


JFK+50:  Volume 5, No. 1705


Buffalo, New York (JFK+50) 114 years ago today, September 6, 1901, President William McKinley was shot as he was shaking hands with the public in the Temple of Music at the Pan American Exposition here in Buffalo.

The event was scheduled to last only ten minutes, but when a presidential aide expressed his concern that McKinley was unnecessarily exposing himself to danger, the President replied "No one would wish to harm me."

John D. Wells, a reporter covering the event, said at exactly 4:07 p.m...

"I saw a hand shoved toward the President...then there were two shots (fired) in rapid succession."

The man, who was taken into custody immediately after the shooting, was identified as Leon Czolgosz.   The self-proclaimed anarchist, walking forward in the reception line, had concealed his pistol under a handkerchief wrapped around his right hand as if bandaged.

After the shots rang out, blood appeared on McKinley's shirt and he said..."Am I shot?,"  adding..."My wife, be careful about her. Don't let her know."

The President was taken to the hospital where doctors determined that one of the bullets caused a superficial wound while another bullet passed through the abdomen lodging in the back. Doctors were unable to locate or remove the second bullet.

When Czolgosz was asked why he done this, he answered... 

"I killed the President because I done my duty.  I didn't believe one man should have so much service and another man should have none."

McKinley's condition gradually improved but on September 12 it began to quickly deteriorate and the President died on September 14.  Vice-President Theodore Roosevelt was sworn in as the new president.

The assassin, tried and convicted later in the month, was electrocuted on October 29, 1901.  


"The Assassination of President William McKinley, 1901," Eyewitness to History,

"To the Best of My Ability: The American Presidents," by James M. McPherson, Dorling Kindersley Publishing, Inc., New York, 2001.

President McKinley Is Shot
Sketch by T. Dart Walker (1905)