CZOLGOSZ, LEON F. (1873-29 Oct. 1901), the assassin of Pres. Wm. McKinley, was born in Detroit to Polish immigrants. The family settled in Cleveland in 1891. With less than 6 years of schooling, Czolgosz found work in the Newburgh Wire Mill in 1891, participated in a failed strike in 1893, and subsequently grew bitter toward RELIGION and capitalism, quit the mill in 1898, and did not work again. Czolgosz attempted to join the Liberty Club, a local anarchist group, but its leaders did not trust him. He apparently got the idea of shooting McKinley after reading of an anarchist's assassination of King Humbert I of Italy in 1900, although he later claimed a speech by noted anarchist Emma Goldman delivered at Cleveland's FRANKLIN CLUB in May 1901 incited him.

Knowing through advertisements that McKinley would visit the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo in Sept. 1901, Czolgosz left Cleveland in mid-1901 and on 31 Aug. rented a room in Buffalo. On 6 Sept., among a crowd waiting for the president in the exposition's Temple of Music, Czolgosz, who had concealed a revolver under a handkerchief wrapped about his hand, fired twice, hitting the president in the breastbone and abdomen. He was captured immediately. McKinley died of the abdominal wound 8 days later. Czolgosz was tried by the Supreme Court of the State of New York and found guilty of murder in 2 days. He was electrocuted at the Auburn (N.Y.) State Prison on 29 Oct. 1901 and buried in an unmarked grave on the prison grounds.

Johns, A. Wesley. The Man Who Shot McKinley (1970).

Article Categories