On September 14, 1901, President William McKinley succumbs to gunshot wounds inflicted by an assassin on September 6th. According to witnesses, McKinley's last words were those of the hymn "Nearer My God to Thee." McKinley was shaking hands in reception line at the Pan-American Exhibition in Buffalo, New York, when a 28-year-old anarchist named Leon Czolgosz approached him with a gun concealed in a handkerchief in his right hand.
McKinley assumed the handkerchief was an attempt by Czolgosz to hide a physical defect and kindly reached for the man's left hand. Czolgosz moved in close to the president and fired two shots into McKinley's chest. The assassin was attempting to fire a third bullet into the stricken president when aides wrestled him to the ground. McKinley suffered one superficial wound to the sternum and another bullet dangerously entered his abdomen. He was rushed into surgery and seemed to be on the mend by September 12th, but later that day, his condition worsened. On September 14th, McKinley died from gangrene that had remained undetected in the internal wound. Vice President Theodore Roosevelt was sworn in as president immediately following McKinley's death. Czolgosz confessed to his crime, but remained unrepentant. At his execution on October 29, 1901, his last words were "I killed the president because he was the enemy of the good people, the working people."
Michael Thomas Barry is a columnist for CrimeMagazine.com and author of Murder & Mayhem 52 Crimes that Shocked Early California 1849-1949. The book can be purchased from Amazon through the following link: