Hi, Scott, and welcome to the Straight Dope. Here’s the brief story of Leon Czoglosz. Czoglosz was born in the U.S. of Polish parents. He became interested in socialism and anarchism, becoming an anarchist himself, and closely following the anarchist movements in Europe. He met Emma Goldman, and spoke to her, as well as other prominent anarchist leaders, but apparently they considered him unstable. In 1901, he heard that President McKinley was going to appear at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, NY. Czoglosz traveled to Buffalo from Chicago. On Sept. 6, the McKinleys left Buffalo to go to Niagra Falls for the morning. He was due back in Buffalo to do a “meet and greet”…a public appearance where he would shake hands with citizens, at the Temple of Music at the Exposition. His advisors suggested against it, saying that 1. It was too insecure, 2. He had already fufilled his commitment to appear at the exposition, and 3. There was no way he could shake the hands of everyone who wanted to meet him. He just shrugged and said, “Well, they’ll know I tried, anyhow”, and went back. The event was insecure…there were just too many people for the police to check every one. Czoglosz approached the president, his hand, with revolver wrapped in a handkerchef like a bandage, and shot him in the stomach. The doctors were able to sew the president up, but not remove the bullet, and he died a week later of gangrene. When asked why he shot the President, Czoglosz said that “I am an Anarchist-a disciple of Emma Goldman. Her words set me on fire.”, insisting he worked alone. He was found guilty, and sentenced to death by electrocution. His last words were “I killed the President because he was the enemy of the good people-the good working people. I am not
sorry for my crime.”
It doesn’t seem that there was a conspiracy. Czoglosz seemed to see himself as the American Gaetono Bresci (who had assassinated King Humbert of Italy).