William McKinley was the 25th President of the United States. Born in Niles, Ohio in 1843, he was president from March 1897 to September, 1901.

Along comes Leon Frank Czolgosz…..yeah, I couldn’t pronounce it either, so I had to look it up. His last name is most commonly pronounced “ZOLE-goce”. He’s the one who took it upon himself to assassinate McKinley.

Czolgosz was born in Alpena, Michigan in 1873. In 1878, the family moved to Detroit. By the time he was ten, the family had moved again, this time to the Michigan town of Posen. In his late teens, he moved out of state and found various jobs in Pennsylvania and Ohio.

The turning point that aided and helped his decision to assassinate the president stemmed from the economic crash of 1893. The factory he worked in closed for a bit and the bosses decided to lower wages. Since that depletion of funds personally affected him, his attitude toward working for a living radically changed. His belief in the willingness & unfairness of the wealthy to take advantage and exploit the poor led him into interests of socialism and anarchy.

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And he was putting all that blame and responsibility on the government. So who best to go after than the President of the United States himself?

On September 6, 1901, Czolgosz showed up in Buffalo, New York where McKinley was to speak at the Pan-American Exposition. As McKinley welcomed and greeted his guests one-by-one in a receiving line, Czolgosz took his spot in line. When his turn to meet the president came, McKinley put his hand out for a handshake, Czolgosz pushed it away and shot him in the stomach with a gun concealed under a handkerchief. The bullets didn’t kill him, but eight days later, gangrene had set in and McKinley passed away from the infection.

Before Czolgosz was executed, 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. I am sorry I could not see my father." On October 29, 1901, after three jolts of 1,800 volts, Czolgosz was dead.

Prison authorities poured sulfuric acid into Czolgosz's coffin in order to get the body disposed of as fast as possible. Twelve hours later, the body had mostly disintegrated. His clothes were burned and personal belongings disposed of, in order to deter anyone from exploiting Czolgosz with cheap displays.

His remains were not taken back to Michigan. What was left of him was taken to Soule Cemetery in the Cayuga County town of Sennett, New York.

The Michigan Man Who Killed President McKinley

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