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September 6, 1901 - President McKinley Shot at Buffalo Fair
NYTimes ^ | September 6, 1901,

Posted on 09/05/2002 10:01:05 PM PDT by swarthyguy

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On This Day

This event took place on September 6, 1901, and was reported in the The New York Times the following day.

Read the full text of The Times article or other headlines from the day.


Front Page Image

President Shot at Buffalo Fair

Wounded in the Breast and Abdomen
He is Resting Easily
One Bullet Extracted, Other Cannot Be Found
Assassin is Leon Czolgosz of Cleveland, Who Says He is an Anarchist and Follower of Emma Goldman
Special to The New York Times


Mrs. McKinley Courageous: Bears Up Well When She Hears of the Attempt on Mr. McKinley's Life

Mr. Roosevelt En Route: On Receipt of News the Vice President Leaves for Buffalo

Washington Stunned By The Tragedy: No Member of Cabinet Is at the Capital City: Military Guard Detailed: Under the Law Vice President Roosevelt Will Discharge the Purely Routine Duties of the President

Buffalo, Sept. 6.--President McKinley, while holding a reception in the Temple of Music at the Pan-American Exposition at 4 o'clock this afternoon, was shot and twice wounded by Leon Czolgosz, an Anarchist, who lives in Cleveland.

One bullet entered the President's breast, struck the breast bone, glanced and was later easily extracted. The other bullet entered the abdomen, penetrated the stomach, and has not been found, although the wounds have been closed.

The physicians in attendance upon the President at 10:40 o'clock to-night issued the following bulletin:

"The President is rallying satisfactorily and is resting comfortably. 10:15 P. M. temperature, 100.4 degrees; pulse, 124; respiration 24.

--P.M. Rixey, --M.B. Mann, --R.E. Parke, --H. Mynter, --Eugene Wanbin.

Signed by George B. Cortelyou, Secretary to the President."

This condition was maintained until 1 o'clock A. M. when the physicians issued the following bulletin:

"The President is free from pain and resting well. Temperature, 100.2; pulse, 120; respiration 24."

The assassin was immediately overpowered and taken to a police station on the Exposition grounds, but not before a number of the throng had tried to lynch him. Later he was taken to Police Headquarters.

The exact nature of the President's injuries is described in the following bulletin issued by Secretary Cortelyou for the physicians who were called:

"The President was shot about 4 o'clock. One bullet struck him on the upper portion of the breast bone, glancing and not penetrating; the second bullet penetrated the abdomen five inches below the left nipple and one and one-half inches to the left of the median line. The abdomen was opened through the line of the bullet wound. It was found that the bullet had penetrated the stomach.

"The opening in the front wall of the stomach was carefully closed with silk sutures; after which a search was made for a hole in the back wall of the stomach. This was found and also closed in the same way. The further course of the bullet could not be discovered, although careful search was made. The abdominal wound was closed without drainage. No injury to the intestines or other abdominal organs was discovered.

"The patient stood the operation well, pulse of good quality, rate of 130, and his condition at the conclusion of operation was gratifying. The result cannot be foretold. His condition at present justifies hope of recovery."

Leon Czolgosz, the assassin, has signed a confession, covering six pages of foolscap in which he states that he is an Anarchist and that he became an enthusiastic member of that body through the influence of Emma Goldman, whose writings he had read and whose lectures he had listened to. He denies having any confederate, and says he decided on the act three days ago and bought the revolver with which the act was committed in Buffalo.

He has seven brothers and sisters in Cleveland, and the Cleveland Directory has the names of about that number living in Hosmer Street and Ackland Avenue, which adjoin. Some of them are butchers and others are in other trades.

Czolgosz is now detained at Police Headquarters, pending the result of the President's injuries. He does not appear in the least degree uneasy or penitent for his action. He says he was induced by his attention to Emma Goldman's lectures and writings to decide that the present form of government in this country was all wrong, and he thought the best way to end it was by the killing of the President. He shows no signs of insanity, but is very reticent about much of his career.

While acknowledging himself an Anarchist, he does not state to what branch of the organization he belongs.

How The Deed Was Done

Assassin Came with the Crowd to Greet the President and Shot When Two Feet from Him

Buffalo, Sept. 6.--Czolgosz's attempt on the life of the President was made at about 4 o'clock in the Temple of Music, where Mr. McKinley had gone to hold a reception at that hour. He had spent the day at Niagara with about 100 invited guests, and arrived at the exposition ground at 8:30. Mrs. McKinley proceeded to the Mission Building and the President went directly to the Temple of Music.

A vast crowd had assembled long before the arrival of Mr. McKinley. The daily organ recital was nearing its end as the President entered and went to the slightly raised dais at one end of the hall.

The President, though well guarded by United States Secret Service detectives, was fully exposed to such an attack as occurred. He stood at the edge of the raised dais, and throngs of people crowded in at the various entrances to see their Chief Executive, perchance to clasp his hand, and then fight their way out in the good-natured mob that every minute swelled and multiplied at the points of ingress and egress to the building.

The President was in a cheerful mood and was enjoying the hearty evidences of good-will which everywhere met his gaze. Upon his right stood John G. Milburn of Buffalo, President of the Pan-American Exposition, chatting with the President, and introducing to him persons of note who approached. Upon the President's left stood Mr. Cortelyou.

The Assassin Appears

It was shortly after 4 o'clock when one of the throng which surrounded the Presidential party, a medium-sized man of ordinary appearance and plainly dressed in black, approached as if to greet the President. Both Secretary Cortelyou and President Milburn noticed that the man's hand was swathed in a bandage or handkerchief. Reports of bystanders differ as to which hand. He worked his way with the stream of people up to the edge of the dais, until he was within two feet of the President.

President McKinley smiled, bowed, and extended his hand in that spirit of geniality the American people so well know, when suddenly the man raised his hand and two sharp reports of a revolver rang out loud and clear above the hum of voices and the shuffling of myriad feet. The assassin had fired through the handkerchief which concealed the revolver.

There was an instant of almost complete silence, like the hush that follows a clap of thunder. The President stood stock still, a look of hesitancy, almost of bewilderment, on his face. Then he retreated a step while a pallor began to steal over his features. The multitude seemed only partially aware that something serious had happened.

Then came a commotion. With the leap of a tiger three men threw themselves forward as with one impulse and sprang toward the would-be assassin. Two of them were United States Secret Service men, who were on the lookout and whose duty it was to guard against just such a calamity as had here befallen the President and the Nation. The third was a bystander, a negro, who had only an instant before grasped the hand of the President. In a twinkling, the assassin was borne to the ground, his weapon was wrested from his grasp, and strong arms pinioned him down.

Then the vast multitude which thronged the edifice began to come to a realizing sense of the awfulness of the scene of which they had been witnesses. A murmur arose, spread, and swelled to a hum of confusion, then grew to a babel of sounds, and later to a pandemonium of noises.

The crowds that a moment before had stood mute and motionless in bewildered ignorance of the enormity of the deed, now with a single impulse surged forward, while a hoarse cry welled up from a thousand throats, and a thousand men charged forward to lay hands upon the perpetrator of the dastardly crime.

Confusion Reigns

For a moment the confusion was terrible. The crowd surged forward regardless of consequences. Men shouted and fought, women screamed and children cried. Some of those nearest the doors fled from the edifice in fear of a stampede, while hundreds of others from the outside struggled blindly forward in the effort to enter the crowded building and solve the mystery of excitement and panic which every moment grew and swelled within the congested interior of the palatial edifice.

Inside on the slightly raised dais was enacted within those few feverish moments a tragedy, so dramatic in character, so thrilling in its intensity, that few who looked on will ever be able to give a succinct account of what really did transpire. Even the actors who were playing the principal roles came out of it with blanched faces, trembling limbs, and beating hearts, while their brains throbbed with a tumult of conflicting emotions which left behind only a chaotic jumble of impressions which could not be clarified into a lucid narrative of the events as they really transpired.

But of the multitude which witnessed or bore a part in the scene there was but one mind which seemed to retain its equilibrium, one hand which remained steady, one eye which gazed with unflinching calmness, and one voice which retained its even tenor and faltered not at the most critical juncture.

They were the mind and the hand and the eye and the voice of President McKinley.

After the first shock of the assassin's shots, he retreated a step, then, as the detectives leaped upon his assailant, he turned, walked steadily to a chair and seated himself, at the same time removing his hat and bowing his head in his hands.

In an instant Secretary Cortelyou and President Milburn were at his side. His waistcoat was hurriedly opened, the President meanwhile admonishing those about him to remain calm and telling them not to be alarmed.

"But you are wounded," cried his secretary; "let me examine."

"No, I think not," answered the President. "I am not badly hurt, I assure you."

Nevertheless his outer garments were hastily loosened, and when a trickling stream of crimson was seen to wind its way down his breast spreading its stain over the white surface of the linen their worst fears were confirmed.

A force of Exposition guards were on the scene by this time, and an effort was made to clear the building. The crush was terrific. Spectators crowded down the stairways from the galleries, the crowd on the floor surged forward toward the rostrum, while despite the strenuous efforts of police and guards the throng without struggled madly to obtain admission.

In The Hospital

The President's assailant in the meantime had been hustled to the rear of the building by Exposition Guards McCauley and James, where he was held while the building was cleared, and later turned over to Superintendent Bull of the Buffalo Police Department, who took the prisoner to No. 13 Police Station, and later to Police Headquarters.

As soon as the crowd in the Temple of Music had been dispersed sufficiently the President was removed in the automobile ambulance and taken to the Exposition Hospital, where an examination was made.

The best medical skill was summoned and within a brief period several of Buffalo's best- known practitioners were at the patient's side. The President retained the full exercise of his facilities until placed on the operating table and subjected to an anesthetic.

Upon the first examination it was ascertained that one bullet had taken effect in the right breast just below the nipple, causing a comparatively harmless wound. The other took effect in the abdomen, about five inches below the left nipple, two inches to the left of the navel, and about on a level with it.

Upon arriving at the Exposition Hospital the second bullet was probed for. The walls of the abdomen were opened, but the ball was not located. The incision was hastily closed and after a hasty consultation it was decided to remove the patient to the home of President Milburn. This was done, the automobile-ambulance being used for the purpose.

Arrived at the Milburn residence, all persons outside the medical attendants, nurses, and the officials immediately concerned were excluded and the task of probing for the bullet, which had lodged in the abdomen, was begun by Dr. Boswell Park.

When it was decided to remove the President from the Exposition Hospital to the Milburn residence, the news was broken to Mrs. McKinley as gently as might be by the members of the Milburn family. She bore the shock remarkably well, and displayed the utmost fortitude.

Crowd Ready to Lynch

While the wounded President was being borne from the Exposition to the Milburn residence between rows of onlookers with bared heads, a far different spectacle was being witnessed along the route of his assailant's journey from the scene of his crime to Police Headquarters. The trip was made so quickly that the prisoner was safely landed within the wide portals of the police station and the doors closed before any one was aware of his presence.

The news of the attempted assassination had in the meanwhile been spread broadcast by the newspapers. Like wildfire it spread from mouth to mouth. Then bulletins began to appear on the boards along "Newspaper Row," and when the announcement was made that the prisoner had been taken to Police Headquarters, only two blocks distant from the newspaper section, the crowds surged down toward the terrace, eager for a glimpse of the prisoner. At Police Headquarters they were met by a strong cordon of police, drawn up across the pavement on Pearl Street, who denied admittance to any but officials authorized to take part in the examination of the prisoner.

In a few minutes the crowd had grown from tens to hundreds, and these in turn quickly swelled to thousands, until the street was completely blocked by a surging mass of eager humanity. It was at this juncture that some one raised the cry of "Lynch him!" Like a flash the cry was taken up, and the whole crowd re-echoed the cry, "Lynch him!" "Hang him!" Closer the crowd surged forward.

Denser the throng became as new arrivals each moment swelled the swaying multitude. The situation was becoming critical when suddenly the big doors were flung open and a squad of reserves advanced with solid front, drove the crowd back from the curb, then across the street, and gradually succeeded in dispersing them from about the entrance to the station.

By this time there were probably 30,000 people assembled in the vicinity of Pearl, Seneca, Erie Streets, and the Terrace. The crowd was so great that it became necessary to rope off the entire street in front of Police Headquarters, and at a late hour to-night the police were still patrolling in the streets in the neighborhood, in squads of three or four. Inside the station house were assembled District Attorney Penny, Superintendent of Police Bull, Capt. Reagan of the First Precinct, and other officials.

The prisoner at first proved quite communicative, so much so in fact, that little dependence could be placed on what he said. He first gave his name as Fred Nieman, said his home was in Detroit, and that he had been in Buffalo about a week. He said he had been boarding at a place in Broadway. Later this place was located as John Nowak's saloon, a Raineslaw hotel, 1,078 Broadway. Here the prisoner occupied Room 8.

The Prisoner's Story

Nowak, the proprietor, said he knew very little about his guest. He came there, he declared, last Saturday, saying he had come to see the Pan-American and that his home was in Toledo. He had been alone at all times about Nowak's place, and had had no visitors. In his room was found a small traveling bag of cheap make. It contained an empty cartridge box and a few articles of clothing.

With these facts in hand the police went at the prisoner with renewed vigor in the effort to obtain either a full confession or a straight account of his identify and movements prior to his arrival in Buffalo. He at first admitted that he was an Anarchist in sympathy at least, but denied strenuously that the attempt on the life of the President was a result of a preconcerted plot on the part of any Anarchist society.

At times he was defiant and again indifferent. But at no time did he betray the remotest sign of remorse. He declared the deed was not premeditated, but in the same breath refused to say why he perpetrated it. When charged by District Attorney Penny with being the instrument of an organized band of conspirators, he protested vehemently that he never even thought of perpetrating the crime until this morning.

After long and persistent questioning it was announced at Police Headquarters that the prisoner had made a confession, which he signed.

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TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: greatwar; mckinley
On this date in:

1909 American explorer Robert Peary sent word that he had reached the North Pole five months earlier.

1939 South Africa declared war on Germany.

1941 Jews over the age of 6 in German-occupied areas were ordered to wear yellow Stars of David.

1966 South African Prime Minister Hendrik Verwoerd was stabbed to death by a deranged page during a parliamentary session in Cape Town

1970 Palestinian guerrillas seized control of three jetliners which were later blown up on the ground in Jordan after the passengers and crews were evacuated.

1992 A 35-year-old man who was the recipient of a transplanted baboon liver died at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, 10 weeks after receiving the organ.

1996 Eddie Murray of the Baltimore Orioles hit his 500th career home run during a game against the Detroit Tigers.

1997 Britain bade farewell to Princess Diana with a funeral service at Westminster Abbey. Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey offers prayers for Diana Read the original AP story

1998 Japanese movie director Akira Kurosawa died in Tokyo at age 88.

1 posted on 09/05/2002 10:01:06 PM PDT by swarthyguy
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To: William McKinley
As you said, anarchists ...... well, you know.
2 posted on 09/05/2002 10:03:57 PM PDT by dighton
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To: Mr. Mulliner
Is this an example of Media Biased?

I heard no mention of this on the news.

It would be interesting to discover how many news stations mentioned this.
3 posted on 09/05/2002 10:17:03 PM PDT by Fearless Flyers
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To: swarthyguy
He was the greatest President of the 20th Century.

Those that followed either expanded government or refused to roll it back to McKinley's size and power of the Federal Government. Starting with that damn cowboy Teddy Roosevelt who started us on the road to Socialism.
4 posted on 09/05/2002 10:18:21 PM PDT by Swiss
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To: swarthyguy
I'm worried SICK!! Is he OK?
5 posted on 09/05/2002 10:35:34 PM PDT by ALASKA
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To: dighton
Go easy on him, boys.
6 posted on 09/06/2002 4:47:30 AM PDT by William McKinley
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No, I died.
7 posted on 09/06/2002 4:48:20 AM PDT by William McKinley
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To: William McKinley
So you can Freep in the afterlife? Cool!
8 posted on 09/06/2002 5:22:01 AM PDT by xp38
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To: William McKinley
Remember saying this?

"That’s all a man can hope for during his lifetime—to set an example—and when he is dead, to be an inspiration to history."
9 posted on 09/06/2002 5:39:38 AM PDT by Neets
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To: OneidaM
Good-bye—good bye, all. It’s God’s way. His will, not ours, be done. Nearer my God to Thee, nearer to Thee.
10 posted on 09/06/2002 5:46:59 AM PDT by William McKinley
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To: OneidaM
One of the really sad things is, he was truly a great man, admirable in so many ways.

He should be touted as an inspiration to history.

Yet in many ways, he is a forgotten president.

11 posted on 09/06/2002 11:37:26 AM PDT by William McKinley
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To: swarthyguy; William McKinley
The president of the United States is shot and it doesn't rate a bigger headline than this? The headline part is relegated to one of six headlines? That seems really strange. What qualifies as big news?
12 posted on 09/21/2002 9:15:52 PM PDT by nickcarraway
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To: nickcarraway
I tell ya I get no respect.

The odd thing about it is that McKinley was, at the time, the most popular President in the post civil-war era.

13 posted on 09/22/2002 5:50:53 AM PDT by William McKinley
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To: nickcarraway
Huh? Looked at the front page; the article takes up half a page.

They were less hysterical in those days, i think and didn't need screaming headlines.
14 posted on 09/23/2002 9:00:52 AM PDT by swarthyguy
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To: William McKinley
No, I died.

You sure took your sweet time doing it, though. Eight days.

Next time, try to be more dramatic about it, and maybe you'll get your face on the half dollar coin.

15 posted on 09/23/2002 9:11:59 AM PDT by Dog Gone
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To: swarthyguy
Here's an example of some real reporting. How things have changed at the Times.
16 posted on 09/23/2002 9:26:30 AM PDT by skeeter
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To: Dog Gone
I wonder how different the world would be if McKinley had not been shot. Teddy Roosevelt may still have been elected in 1904, but would he have not run in 1908 had he not served out the majority of McKinley's second term? I bet he would have.

That would totally changed the dynamic of the 1912 election. Instead of Wilson facing a divided Republican camp, with conservatives staying with the incumbent Taft and the progressives following Roosevelt to a third party, it is likely that there would not have been a third party challenge- either Roosevelt would have run for a third term as a Republican or he wouldn't have run at all. In either case, it is likely we would never have had the disasterous Woodrow Wilson administration during World War I.

And without the way Wilson handled WWI, there may never have been a WWII, never have been a League of Nations (and the subsequent UN).

17 posted on 09/23/2002 9:29:34 AM PDT by William McKinley
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To: William McKinley
Yes, it's a very interesting exercise to consider what might have happened if something slightly different had occurred at one point in history.

It's very ironic that an anarchist's bullet probably led to Wilson's ascendancy and the world we have today.

18 posted on 09/23/2002 9:35:02 AM PDT by Dog Gone
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To: swarthyguy
The article itself is fairly long, but look how small the headline is. I don't think it's unreasonable to think that if the president is shot, it will be a banner headline.
19 posted on 09/23/2002 11:35:16 AM PDT by nickcarraway
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To: dighton
Did Oliver Stone release a movie based on this?

Seriously, though, Akira Kurosawa was a director who is missed. Kurosawa and Toshiro Mifune were a great director/actor team!

20 posted on 09/23/2002 11:40:24 AM PDT by Jonah Hex
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To: nickcarraway
Different time, place and perspective. You looking at it from the perspective of today, not of that time.

Plus, he did not die for eight days.

And there's certainly no dearth of information in the article; just the lack of a screaming, large type, hysterical headline.
21 posted on 09/23/2002 11:42:29 AM PDT by swarthyguy
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To: William McKinley
he was truly a great man, admirable in so many ways.

Yeah, but you got expelled from Allegheny College for putting a cow up in the Bently Hall belltower.

22 posted on 09/23/2002 11:46:41 AM PDT by Tijeras_Slim
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To: William McKinley
on can comment extensively and correctly about TR's poor domestic policy. he was a disaster in that regad.

but in foreign policy, he would have handled things quite a bit different than Wilson, the globalist socialist with a messianic complex.

and actually it is also conceivable that had TR not become pres till '04, and then again in '08, that the foreign policy crisis then brewing would have been the battle he needed in order to distract his attention from his poor domestic agenda.

TR after all is once and for all a fighter. if he had had a fight, perhaps he would have left behind his domestic agenda.

and i can guarantee you that out of the ash heap of WWI would not have come WWII if Wilson had never taken office.
23 posted on 09/23/2002 11:51:43 AM PDT by ConservativeDude
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To: swarthyguy
A couple ironies regarding Presidential assasinations:

- One of the four successful assassins and two of the four assasinated Presidents were from Northeast Ohio.

- Ronald Reagan is the only President to be shot (hit) while in office and survive. There is specualtion that he was more severely wounded than Lincoln, Garfield, or McKinley.


24 posted on 09/23/2002 12:00:26 PM PDT by E Rocc
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To: E Rocc
Uh, Nuke NE Ohio? /just kiddin....

I overlooked posting the article on the Garfield assassination. If you click on the source, you can find it.
25 posted on 09/23/2002 12:10:06 PM PDT by swarthyguy
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To: William McKinley

26 posted on 09/23/2002 12:10:09 PM PDT by xp38
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