#25: Review of “The President and the Assassin” by Scott Miller (1897-1901)
McKinley was a friendly fellow. Spending most of his adult life in Canton, Ohio, he was our last President to have served in the Civil War. He was the 5th President to die while in office (William Henry Harrison, Zachary Taylor, Lincoln & Garfield).
The book focused on McKinley’s assassin, Leon Czolgosz, and McKinley’s Presidency. I found Leon’s life fascinating. Side-note: I’ve become increasingly interested in murder. Yes, you heard that right: I just admitted to a fascination with murder. I’m anti-murder, but pro My Favorite Murder podcast…anybody else out there a Murderino?? It’s this really fun podcast where 2 comedians delicately (& explicitly, so be warned!) talk through murder stories.
Leon was closely connected with Anarchism. His life felt lonely. He disapproved of labor conditions in America which were dismal (see Pullman Strike), so I think he felt accepted to a greater degree in the anarchist community. I definitely don’t agree with anarchism as a whole, but at the root of their discontent is a belief that the government isn’t the best solver of our problems which I think a lot of people today would agree with.
I’ll leave you with this quote from McKinley that made me wonder what should America’s stance be towards others?
McKinley said this in 1903 as a justification for why he believed it right to annex the Philippines:
My 1st response to this quote is disgust. It’s wrong to take anyone over (unless they’re really bad), especially in the name of God. As a Christian this particularly irks me, but it happened and this is not the only time in our history someone’s justified unjust ends in the name of a poor Middle-Eastern carpenter who claimed to be love Himself, Jesus.
Enough about what I think about all this…what do you think? Love to hear your thoughts!
Leon shot McKinley in Buffalo, NY on Sept 5, 1901…he died about a week later. Reminds me of Garfield, although McKinley almost finished his 1st term whereas Garfield died a couple months into his 1st term.
5 fun facts about William McKinley from the book
- The book mentions Francis Bellamy, a 35 year-old ex Baptist minister, who wrote the pledge of allegiance in 1892. He sat down to write it after dinner one night & it took him about 2 hours. That’s so cool to think about, is it not?!
- Imagine your wife/loved one being sick, being on the brink of war knowing that you’re navy’s in a pathetic condition and you’ve slept no more than 3 hours in the last 2 weeks…what does any normal person do feeling all this? You weep and that’s exactly what McKinley did. Do you think Trump’s cried since being President? I’m sure he has. I wish he’d do it just once in front of people. I think it’d encourage a lot of us (at least me).
- This Cuban revolutionary named Garcie tried to kill himself to avoid capture. The bullet traveled through his mouth and exited the center of his forehead AND HE SURVIVED…you John Wayne or something, buddy??
- McKinley was a lifelong Methodist. His favorite hymn was Nearer My God to Thee. I love this one!
- He was the 1st President to ride in an automobile.
-This utopian science fiction work that the book mentioned called Looking Backward: 2000-1887 by Edward Bellamy. I love me some science fiction & learning about utopian communities, so talk about a double whammy!
-I’m going to be posting more consistently on my insta, twitter, and tiktok (@hc3reads) sharing 1 quote/gobbit (interesting lesson learned) a few times a week & would love for you to follow along if you’re interested. I’m also hoping to give away more books that have changed me for the better & I hope would help you too!
-In an effort to help pay for those giveaway books & keep my site up & running, would you consider buying a fun sticker or t-shirt that I made? Check out my online store here!
Next up, the ole Rough Rider himself, Theodore Roosevelt!!
Much love to each of you in these trying times,