Most everyone remembers the name of John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, Sirhan Sirhan and even John Hinckley, but few recall the name of Leon Czolgosz, (pronounced chlgsh), yet he was just as infamous as the others. All have either shot a president or presidential candidate.
On January 29, 1843, the McKinley family of Niles, Ohio (about 5 miles north of Youngstown) welcomed a son, William McKinley Jr., into the family.
In 1852, the McKinley family moved to Poland Ohio, located about 7 miles south of Youngstown.
In June 1861, eighteen-year-old McKinley Jr., enlisted in the Union Army to fight in the Civil War.
In 1865, McKinley Jr. was promoted to Brevet Major in the Union Army. Brevet meant that in reality, he was a Captain, received the pay of a Captain, wore the uniform of a Captain and had the same responsibilities of a Captain but awaiting promotion to that of a full Major.
In 1866 McKinley Jr., started law school in Albany, New York and was admitted to the Bar in Ohio in 1867 after moving to Canton.
In 1869, McKinley Jr. ran for the elected position of County Prosecutor for Stark County, Ohio and won.
In the 1870s, McKinley married and fathered two daughters, both of whom died before the age of four.
In 1876, McKinley ran for the US House of Representatives and was elected to his first of many terms, lasting through 1891. One of his noted actions while serving in congress was the McKinley Tariff Act of 1890.
In 1891, McKinley was elected as Governor of Ohio and was re-elected in 1893.
In 1895, McKinley decided to seek the Republican nomination for President of the United States.
In 1896, McKinley wins the Republican nomination for President and in November 1896, William McKinley Jr., wins the general election.
On March 4, 1897, McKinley is sworn in as the 25th President of the United States of America.
In 1898, McKinley is credited with winning the Spanish American War in which Guam, Philippine and Puerto Rico were ceded to the US by Spain. This was also the year that they US annexed Hawaii making it a US Territory.
In 1900, McKinley runs for re-election and wins in the November election.
On March 4, 1901, McKinley is sworn in for his second term as President of the United States.
On September 6, 1901, McKinley attends the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York. The Exposition had been scheduled to open a couple years earlier but had been delayed by the Spanish American War. McKinley had been warned by those charged with his safety about the dangers he was exposing himself to by appearing at the Exposition and his plans to mix with the crowd. Reportedly, when confronted by the danger by one of his aides, McKinley responded:
“No one would wish to hurt me.”
He opened the Exposition, standing at the front of a large reception line, then gave a short address to the crowd. After addressing the crowd, McKinley went amongst the people, shaking hands. One man in crowd, Czolgosz, approached McKinley and held out his hand which was draped with a handkerchief. When McKinley extended his hand to shake with Czolgosz, the radical anarchist shot McKinley twice with a .32 caliber revolver. The first shot was deflected by a button on McKinley’s suit jacket, but the second bullet hit the President in the stomach.
Czolgosz was quickly apprehended and placed under arrest.
On this day, September 14, 1901, President William McKinley Jr. died from an infection caused by the bullet wound to his stomach. McKinley’s Vice President, Theodore Roosevelt was quickly sworn in as the 26th President of the United States. After his state funeral, McKinley was buried in Canton, Ohio.
Leon Czolgosz was a second generation Polish immigrant who held very strong anarchist ideologies. His trial for the murder of President McKinley didn’t last long and he was found guilty and sentence to death. On October 29, 1901, he was put to death in the electric chair. For fear of him becoming some sort of martyr or hero for other anarchists, Czolgosz’s body was then destroyed in acid.
Sources for the above includes: William McKinley Biographical Timeline; William McKinley Timeline; Pages in History: President McKinley’s Assassination; The Assassination of President William McKinley, 1901; President William McKinley: Assassinated by an Anarchist; McKinley Dies of Infection from Gunshot Wounds; 7 Amazing, Little Known Facts Surrounding President McKinley’s Assassination; The Assassination of William McKinley