The 28-year old Leon Czolgosz shot President William McKinley on September 6, on the Pan-American Exposition’s grounds, inside the Temple of Music in Buffalo, New York.
The Assassination and President’s Death
Czolgosz waited in line for two hours to shake the president’s hand, pretending to have a broken arm, but hiding a gun under the bandages. As soon as the president reached out to shake his left hand, he fired two shots. President William McKinley did not die on the spot, but passed away a couple of days later due to gangrene caused by the bullet wounds. When he fell, he told the people to be careful of how they bring the news to his wife and not to hurt his assailant. His secretary had taken the event off the president’s schedule twice before due to security concerns, but the president insisted on attending.
Who Was Leon Czolgosz?
Leon Czolgosz was the child of Polish immigrants from Detroit and grew up working as a child laborer in factories. He was socially awkward, having been bullied as a child and rebelling against his parents. He became interested in socialism and anarchism, but even in those circles, his behavior was such that even the Radical Free Society newspaper warned people that he might be a spy. Czolgosz believed that the American government was corrupt and that the rich in American society were exploiting the poor people. He was still unrepentant up until the moment of his execution in the electric chair on October 29, 1901, when he said that he killed the president because he was the enemy of the good, working people.
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