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September 6, 1901, President McKinley Shot By Leon Czolgosz - Today In Crime History

On this day, September 6, in 1901, President William McKinley was shot at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York.   McKinley, while greeting a gathering of people in the Temple of Music, was shot twice at point-blank range by Leon Czolgosz, a self proclaimed anarchist.  McKinley survived for another week before finally dying on September 14, 1901.

At the time of the assassination, the United States was enjoying a period of peace and prosperity, making President McKinley very popular with the American public.  Czolgosz, a laborer from Cleveland, reportedly fell under the influence of charismatic leaders of the anarchist cause.  Czolgosz had become particularly obsessed with Gaetano Bresci, an anarchist who shot and killed King Humbert I of Italy on July 29, 1900.  Czolgosz decided to kill McKinley to further the anarchist movement.

While Presidents Lincoln and Garfield had been completely unprotected at the time of their assassinations, the Secret Service, which was newly formed, was supposedly protecting President McKinley at the time of the shooting. When Czolgosz stepped forward to shake McKinley's hand with a handkerchief covering the revolver in his hand, the agents did not act to intervene.  After the shots were fired, the agents grabbed Czolgosz and began beating  him, but McKinley warned, "Be easy with him, boys," as he was helped to an ambulance.

Working in a building without electricity, doctors operated on the president, who appeared to be recovering at first.   It was reported that his recovery diet consisted of raw eggs and whiskey. Before lapsing into a coma and dying, McKinley's last reported words were: "It is God's way. His will, not ours, be done."

Czolgosz took full and sole responsibility for the assassination and was sent to the electric chair less than two months later.  On October 29, 1901, his last words were: "I am not sorry for my crime."

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