Sunday, January 9, 2011
The Man In The Crowd
It was morning, September 5, 1901. At the gates of the Pan-American exposition in Buffalo, New York stood a slight young man.
He was nondescript…just part of the crowd. He bought his ticket to the Grandest Of All World's Fairs.
He passed through the gates, and began a slow assessment of the Exposition grounds. He attended particularly to the layout of the walkways, the throngs of people, and the security guards.
Then this man found what he sought. A huge crowd had gathered to hear a speech delivered by then President William McKinley – maybe a fortunate few would be granted the opportunity to greet the President personally and shake his hand.
The man approached the throng of people waiting to glimpse the President. This man found himself, after a long wait, close enough to hear McKinley's speech.
The President rose and mounted the stand. The man pushed his way down to the front row and stood with the cheering people….. but he said nothing.
McKinley’s speech was of no importance. His goal was to get closer to the President but a guard appeared in front of him and blocked his chance.
Hundreds of people attempted to crowd up to the President's carriage after his address. The man was among them but he was forced back. The President drove away unaware of the man in the crowd left to cursed his bad luck.
The slight man returned to the Pan-American Exposition the next day. He awaited President McKinley’s return. The President was scheduled to greet people in the Temple of Music and the man was one of the first to enter.
When the President entered the Temple through a side door the man had positioned himself as close to the stage as possible.. The man hurried forward when the President prepared to shake hands with the people.
Warmly, with a smile on his face, the President took their hands. He gave a sharp downward jerk to each person's hand as he greeted them. Patiently, the man waited his turn to approach the President.
None noticed or remarked upon the fact that his hand was wrapped in a handkerchief and held close to his chest. It might have been an injury he was protecting.
The man reached the President. Without looking at McKinley’s face he extended his left hand as the smiling President reached out to take the man's right hand. The man pressed his hand against the President's chest and fired the gun he was concealing under the handkerchief. He fired twice, and would have fired again if not for the fact that he was tackled and driven to the ground.
"Am I shot?" he asked. And the guard replied, "I'm afraid that you are, Mr. President."
Immediately the assassin was tackled by secret service men and his weapon was torn from his hand by a squad of Exposition police.
He was beaten severely by Soldiers of the U.S. artillery who were present at the reception.
"Go easy on him boys." McKinley, slumped on the floor in terrible pain, whispered.
"My wife, be careful about her. Don't let her know."
As word of the assassination attempt spread out of the Temple of Music, a riot ensued from the thousands in attendance.
There was an immediate cry for the death of the assassin at their hands as people shoved their way into the Temple..
The scene got more and more out of control and the military was called upon to try and restore some order. The Pan-American Exposition police attempted to get the assassin off the grounds.
The assassin lay on the floor near where McKinley was dying
The President raised he right hand, red with his own blood, and placed it on the hand of his secretary. "Let no one hurt him," he gasped, and sank back into a chair. The man was carried away by the guards.
"What is your name?" asked the District Attorney.
"Leon Czolgosz." was the weak reply. ( pronounced choll-gosh)
"Did you mean to kill the President?" asked the D.A.
"What was the motive that induced you to commit this crime?"
"I am a disciple of Emma Goldman ( a leading Anarchist).
I killed the President because I done my duty. I did not feel that one man should have all this power while others have none."
On Saturday, September 14, Theodore Roosevelt received a telegram from John Hay . It read, “The President Died at Two-Fifteen This Morning.”
In the company of Senator Mark Hanna, his friend and political manager, the President died. His last words were lines from his favorite hymn, “Nearer My God to Thee.”