At 4:07 p.m., Sept. 6, 1901, William McKinley, the 25th president of the United States was shot and mortally wounded at the Pan-American Exhibition in Buffalo, N.Y.
He was shot twice before a Hispanic African-American, James Parker, stopped the shooting. McKinley died eight days later at 2:15 a.m. Sat., Sept. 14, 1901.
According to a history of the presidents written by Frank Freidel and Hugh Sidey for the White House Historical Association, McKinley "was standing in a receiving line at the Buffalo Pan-American Exposition when a deranged anarchist shot him twice …."
Historians will forever argue over the exact cause of death; presumed by the autopsy to be "Gangrene of both walls of stomach and pancreas following gunshot wound," or if today's medicine would have saved him. That is, if they could have filled-out the paperwork and found his driver's license and insurance card in eight days.
The president was killed by Leon Czolgosz, a 28-year-old who had turned to anarchism after he lost his job as a result of the economic downturn known in 1893.
According to the New York Times, "Mr. Czolgosz was motivated by what he saw as the exploitation of America's working poor by the wealthy. History.com reports that Czolgosz "remained unrepentant. At his execution by electrocution on Oct. 29, 1901, his last words were 'I killed the president because he was the enemy of the good people—the working people.'"
Known today as "terrorism," in the waning years of the 1800s and early 1900s, the world stage cowered in fear of the anarchist movement as political, business and religious leaders were killed, buildings and government offices were bombed, factories and public places were violently occupied — on a routine basis.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation was assembled in 1908 from several anti-anarchist surveillance agencies consolidated under one umbrella. Many civil liberties and rights to privacy accepted as sacred today were routinely violated by the government in an effort to keep us safe and fight anarchism.
As for McKinley, he is one of eight presidents who have died in office. Four were killed by assassins and four died of various illnesses. Otherwise, his presidency seems to have been relegated to relative obscurity.
A March 4, 1997, article by Baltimore Sun writer, Joseph R.L. Sterne, cites McKinley as a "President worth remembering…. Neglected: William McKinley is often ranked in the middle of U.S. presidents or lower… He is largely forgotten today …"
History seems to have gone out of its way to ignore his presidency. That said, some will recognize McKinley as the president who came before our 26th president, Theodore Roosevelt took office. Or the president in office during the1898 Spanish-American War or the last Civil War veteran to serve as president, the president on the 500.00 dollar bill — or the political figure who definitely-defeated the progressive-Democrat and famed orator William Jennings Bryan — who visited Westminster in October 1900 and caused such a stir.