7 Amazing, Little Known Facts Surrounding President McKinley’s Assassination

The Assassin’s Body: Destroyed or Preserved? 

Silence in New York City and The McKinley Islands

The McKinley Islands? It could have been, had Congress passed a bill to rename The Philippine Islands after the assassination of the 25th President of the United States, William McKinley.

The Assassination

McKinley assassinationOn September 6, 1901 President McKinley was holding a reception in the Temple of Music at the Pan-American Exposition held in Buffalo, New York. Leon Czolgosz, an anarchist, was in the greeting line and he approached McKinley with hand wrapped up to his right wrist in a handkerchief. As McKinley extended his hand to shake Czolgosz’s left hand, Czolgosz fired two shots at nearly point blank range, one that glanced off McKinley’s breastbone and never entered his body, the other penetrating his stomach.

After initial grave concerns by attending doctors and an operation to remove the bullet,  McKinley began showing signs of recovery after a couple of days. McKinley was declared in steady press releases by his doctors to be constantly improving in condition, when he suddenly took a  turn for the worse on September 13 and died from his wounds at the home of John G. Milburn, in Buffalo in the early morning hours of September 14, 1901.

Seven little known, interesting facts surrounding McKinley’s assassination

1. Friday’s

Four Presidents’ have been shot to death: Abraham Lincoln (1865), James A. Garfield (1881), William McKinley (1901), and John F. Kennedy (1963). Garfield was shot on Saturday, the other three were shot on a Friday.

2. The Mystery Bullet

An immediate operation was performed to remove the bullet that was lodged somewhere in McKinley’s body. Dr. Matthew D. Mann dealing with layers of the president’s fat could not find it, so he sewed the President back up. The bullet was believed by the surgeons to most probably have lodged in the muscles of the president’s back, a location too perilous to explore during the initial operation. That bullet, passing through vital organs caused an infection that  resulted in his death. At the autopsy the surgeons probed for nearly an hour and a half trying to locate the bullet that had taken the life of the president.

It was never found. The doctors were so mystified at McKinley’s quick decline and death that some doctors were certain that the bullet had been dipped in poison. It was not. Unknown to medical professionals back then, doctors and scholars today believe the president died of pancreatic necrosis.

3. Watch What You Say About The President

In the days following the shooting, people speaking out against McKinley were threatened, fired from their jobs, and beaten. It was definitely not a time to be labeled an “anarchist.”

In Manhattan on September 7, a well dressed young man riled up a crowd on 125th Street and Seventh Avenue to come with him to Paterson, NJ to “exterminate the anarchists.” As the police looked on without interfering, over 100 people came with him as he boarded the elevated to go to Paterson “to kill 10,000 anarchists if President McKinley dies.”

Anarchists as a group were suspected in a vast conspiracy and rounded up for questioning. Antonio Maggio a coronet player and anarchist had made a prediction the previous year while living in Kansas City, MO, that the President would be killed by anarchists. Maggio was arrested in Silver City, NM on September 9 for his prediction. Cleared of wrong-doing, Maggio would go on to play a very important part in the development of American Rhythm and Blues and early Jazz. Maggio composed the first known song with “blues” in the title in 1908 when he wrote, “I Got the Blues.”

In the small town of Scottsville, NY on September 6, in front of the local hotel, someone cried out “McKinley’s been  shot.” A stranger said, “That’s all right, he ought to have been long ago.” A crowd gathered around the stranger and chased him down an alley where he escaped. A posse was formed to find the man and kill him.

On September 8, in Chicopee, KA, anarchists held jubilation meetings to give thanks for the shooting of McKinley. Patriots invaded the meeting and several shots were fired at the anarchists.

In Pittsburgh, PA on September 10 an unknown foreigner was driven out of town and threatened with lynching if he returned for expressing gratification over the shooting of McKinley

On September 11 in Danbury, CT, suspected anarchist Albert Weber was dismissed from his job as a hatmaker at the factory of T.C. Millard and Co. when his co-workers refused to work with him. His workmates claimed Weber said, “I am only sorry that Czolgosz did not shoot higher.”

The press did not receive a free pass either. In New York City on September 12 anarchist and editor of Die Freiheit, was arrested for an editorial he wrote on September 7.

After the president died, a sailor J.W. Stoll was beaten by his shipmates when he heard of the president’s death and he said, “The _____ ought to have been killed.”  The executive officer of the ship charged Stoll with treason and had him locked in the brig. Stoll later claimed he was referring to Czolgosz, not McKinley.

On September 15 in Saratoga, NY fire commissioners discharged fireman John Doulin for uttering remarks derogatory to President McKinley.

In Huntington, IN on September 15, Joseph A. Wildman a United Brethren minister was tarred and feathered by his congregation after calling McKinley a “political demagogue” from the pulpit.

On September 16, in Newark NJ, anarchist Victor Zagarsky was sentenced to 90 days in prison for toasting McKinley’s death and drinking to the health of Czolgosz.

William Davis a shoemaker from Troy, New York made sneering remarks about a magistrate wearing a McKinley mourning band in New York City on September 18. He was arrested by the magistrate and sentenced to two months at Blackwell’s Island.

4. Assassin Leon Czolgosz’s Trial Took Just Over 8 Hours

Over two days, September 23 and 24 the jury heard evidence including accounts of Czolgosz’s confession and statements of witnesses. Czolgosz admitted shooting the president and his lawyers presented his actions as those of an insane man. The jury rejected that argument. The trial consumed a little over eight hours. They returned a guilty verdict in just over 20 minutes of deliberation. On September 26, Czolgosz was sentenced to death. It was 20 days after McKinley was shot and only 12 days after he died. Czolgosz was executed by electrocution October 29, 1901, six weeks after McKinley’s death.

5. Destroy The Body

After meeting with his family prior to his execution Czolgosz was offered a priest to confer with. He had met with two priests earlier. He vehemently said, “No. Damn them. Don’t send them here again. I don’t want them. And don’t you have any praying over me when I’m dead. I don’t want it. I don’t want any of their damned religion.”

Czolgosz’s family originally wanted the body. The warden convinced his family that would be a bad idea, that relic hunters would disturb his grave or even worse there were entrepreneurs that would want to display the body for money. His family agreed that he would receive a decent burial and that the prison would take care of the funeral arrangements.

When Leon Czolgosz was buried in the Auburn prison cemetery where he was executed, the decision was made to have his body destroyed. The local crematorium refused to undertake the job.

After Czolgosz’s autopsy, he was placed in a plain pine box which was lowered into the ground which had been prepared with quicklime. The lid was removed and two barrels  of quicklime were placed over the body. Then sulphuric acid was poured on top of that. Then another two layers of quicklime.  When these two substances are combined a chemical reaction occurs which creates plaster of paris and water. It is entirely possible that the body of Czolgosz was preserved in perpetuity accidentally.

6.  New York, The Silent City 

At  3:30 p.m. on September 19, the day of McKinley’s funeral in Canton, OH, everything came to stop in New York City.

The city was veiled in black, as public and office buildings, homes and businesses were draped with funeral bunting in all neighborhoods. The chief thoroughfares were thronged with people and at the appointed hour everything came to a standstill.

For a few moments railroad and elevated trains, surface streetcars, water craft and even carriages stood still. Their occupants sat or stood in silence and removed their hats. Trains stopped whether they were at stations or not. Cabs pulled their horses over. Ferryboats. steamboats and tugs stopped in midstream and drifted. Office building elevators stopped running. Every pedestrian stopped where they were and stood in silence for the full five minutes.

Across the city church bells tolled to mark off the minutes. The West 30th Street police station closed its doors for five minutes, marking the first time the doors had been closed since 1869. The officers and reserves came out to the front of the building where Sergeant Todd read the Lord’s Prayer. Telegraph wires across the country halted all messages for five full minutes. In Union Square a band played “Nearer My God To Thee” followed by “Taps” as thousands listened with heads bared and bowed in absolute silence.

7. The McKinley Islands

A proposal was put forth to rename the Philippine archipelago after the late president. From The New York Tribune:

Washington. Sept. 29 —A suggestion, emanating from a high source, and which is meeting with widespread favor, is to change the name of the Philippine Islands to the McKinley Islands. The object is, of course, to perpetuate the name and glory of the martyred President and his administration. It is intended to bring the proposition before the next Congress, and it is not doubted that it will be accepted without question if presented in the proper manner.

The appropriateness of the suggestion is generally conceded, as. save for the foresight and persistence of President McKinley, the Philippines might to-day occupy a different and far less intimate relation to the United States than is now being shaped for them. It is pointed out that this proposed change would link his name with the government of the country for all time and also would be a constant and conspicuous reminder to future generations throughout the world that it was in his administration that the republic expanded its beneficent influence to the Orient and there established in enduring for its institutions and systems.

The proposition, though at present entirely tentative, contemplates a complete change of nomenclature in the whole archipelago. For example, the entire group is to be named the McKinley Islands, and the process of Americanization is to be carried out to the minutest detail by giving to the different islands the names of distinguished Americans of the past and present time. This part of the scheme embraces the idea of bestowing upon the different islands and provinces the names of the men most prominently identified with the acquisition and management of the islands. For instance, the members of the American Commission which negotiated the Paris Treaty would thus be honored, as well as the names of Admiral Dewey, General Law,  Governor Taft, General Otis, Secretary Root and others.  It is expected that within a few days the proposition will take a sufficiently definite shape to warrant its promoters permitting the use of their names in its advocacy.

33 thoughts on “7 Amazing, Little Known Facts Surrounding President McKinley’s Assassination

  1. LlaTi Wonk

    McKinley had a secretary who was not named Garfield, and Garfield had a secretary who was not named McKinley. Don’t tell me that’s a coincidence!


    The problem with this article is that it does not address the “stuff” EVERYBODY should be concerned about… whether there was a CONSPIRACY involved in the President’s assassination. Consider the most glaringly indicative circumstance: McKinley was SURROUNDED by Secret Service agents and Buffalo police officers. Yet a man standing in line to shake his hand and SUSPICIOUSLY having a handkerchief wrapped around one hand was ALLOWED to approach him! Even then Secret Service protective protocol dictated that NO ONE having their hand(s) concealed could approach the President, MUCH LESS to TOUCH HIM!!
    Yet this man was standing in line for who knows how long with one hand OBVIOUSLY suspiciously concealed (why would he have a HANDKERCHIEF of all things wrapped around his hand?!) affording plenty of time and opportunity for alert SS agents AND policeman scanning the crowd for just such SUSPICIOUSLY ABERRANT appearances to have approached and questioned him and either demand he remove the handkerchief (thus of course exposing his weapon) OR be REMOVED from the place. BUT THEY DIDN’T DO IT!! WHY?? EVEN IF we attribute this oversight to simple human mistake, they should at least have JUMPED ON HIM AS SOON AS he began to raise his covered hand when he stood in front of the President. AGAIN, THEY DIDN’T REACT UNTIL AFTER McKinley was shot…… TWICE!!

    And consider this lesser suspicious but equally valid factor… McKinley’s vice-president was none other than FREEMASON Theodore Roosevelt. Roosevelt had the connections BOTH national AND local to arrange such a conspiracy. He was a NEW YORKER from New York City, where he had served as police commissioner. And as president, Roosevelt pushed through the construction of the Panama Canal ILLEGALLY against the REFUSAL to Congress grant authorization and funding. Nevertheless, Roosevelt ordered the Army Corps of Engineers to begin construction WITHOUT it! McKinley was ALSO an “imperialist” president BUT he did things “by the book”…. NOT declaring war on Spain himself to fight for Cuba but letting the Congress CONSTITUTIONALLY do it. “Bully” Roosevelt was NOT a “by the book” president and relied on the sheer force of personality to get things done. He apparently saw McKinley as too “weak” to get done what most needed to be done for ECONOMIC reasons in Panama. THIS is what got his head put up there on Mt. Rushmore. NO educated person would equate him as president with the likes of Washington, Lincoln, and Jefferson…. yet nevertheless THERE HE IS! WHY?? Because as Jefferson did with arranging the purchase of the western Louisiana Territory and initiating the Lewis and Clark expedition to explore it, Roosevelt opened the eastern AND WESTERN OCEANS to transoceanic trade with the canal across the Panamanian isthmus! THAT is the SOLE reason for his head being up there.

    It’s time the TRUE nature of the McKinley assassination was investigated and revealed because it was CONSPIRATORIAL like ALL the other presidential assassinations AND attempted assassinations.

    1. WT Meritt

      President McKinley was the first President to be killed in the home state of the next President, his Vice President. Since then there have been three more presidential incidents in the home state of the next President or the home state of the brother of the next President, all connected to Vice Presidents. The next two were the Kennedy assassinations in the home state of the next President, Kennedys Vice President Lyndon Johnson and former Vice President Richard Nixon. The last one saw Al Gore defeated by a voting controversy in the political home state of the brother of the next President, the son of a Vice President, Bush41, who was defeated by Bill Clonton and Al Gore for President in 1992.
      To many to be a coincidence? Yes, they should all be re-investigated. The lead investigator for the FBI for both Kennedy investigations, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover was facing mandatory government retirement by both Kennedys if they had lived but Johnson made his “30 year friend and 19 year next door neighbor”, Hoover, FBI Director for life, 4 1/2
      months after JFK’s assassination while Hoover was investigating Johnson for any involvement in the assassination. Now you know why the FBI evidence in the Kennedy assassinations can’t be trusted out of conflict of interest. Sirhan is still alive. Was he a patsy too? Investigate!

    2. Sean Dix

      Hi Richard I found your comment very interesting and would love to correspond with you. If you want to review a current open conspiracy google my name or better yet watch these videos in the link at 2:22 you will see a police officer come up and shake my hand after reading the documents i gave him the day before. He said he believed they tried to kill me and wished he could help but it was over his head.
      P.S. I have a file on the McKinley assassination you might be interested in. I can e-mail it to you.
      Sean Dix My E-mail is Dixppi@att.net
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8GIBS-67MmU Watch at 2:22
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yx7Rcl3Ny4E Long Version
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h7hZzYC7_tU Short Version

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  4. Roger Richardson Bermufa

    McKinley should go down in history as the crooked president he was. Stop marking people great that weren’t worth the dirt it took to make them. What will be said when trump destroys everything. I guess they’ll idolise this crook as well.

  5. Robert John Mclucas

    What you don’t know about the William McKinley assassination will soon fill volumes. Watch the works and writings of Robert John McLucas. His next book will reveal how relevant things of 1901 are not unlike things of present day. One question that always mystified me is why the Doctors sewed McKinleys’ wound up tight instead of the well known procedure of letting the wound drain letting the Doctor smell for gangrene . The mention in the 1901 newspaper said they were preparing to use the all new Edison X-ray machine but no mention if they really did. I go by facts mentioned at that moments newspapers headlines. So many bazaar actions where being made by people in high office at the time of McKinley’s death its is hard to believe it was not a full blown conspiracy.The facts that will be exposed creates a worm hole effect to the present day. What a wicked “Web” they weaved by first designing to deceive.

    1. Pie

      They did use the X Ray machine, but because of the metal table McKinley was on, it didn’t work, and the doctors couldn’t figure it out.

    2. walter jastrzab

      They did not use Edisons X-ray machine on President McKinley for fear of the harm the mysterious x-rays might do to the president. Instead of the X=ray machine nurses held mirrors near the window to redirect sunlight into the area giving the dr. a better view of the wounded area.

  6. Andre Dotseth

    I think McKinley is on a $500 bill. I could propose an underlying assumption which assume they got rid of those motherf**kers with a specific cause in mind. A suitcase of $100 dollar bills weighs a couple hundred pounds. An individual could reduce that sum substantially with larger bills. One could actually acquire the faith to move mountains but you would have to bring a shovel in today’s political climate. Global warming is just the tip of the iceberg. Grass doesn’t have any roots. Maybe if you hold the wings of this bird we can pluck this chicken. Do you really want to know the difference between a republican and a democrat? The republicans have rooms in their homes full of old baby furniture and boxes of diabetic needles laying around. The democrats taught the Cambodians how to manufacture plastic and the like during the Vietnam war in sweatshops; then sell them to Brazil for a dollar a piece. Now South America is exfoliating the rain-forest. Perhaps cartels will engage in humanitarian efforts and buy property in the amazon creating reserves to stop over production of cattle and the clearing of rain-forest trees which are irreplaceable. 90% of the world oxygen supply is produced in the upper canopy of the trees in the rain-forest. Some is produced by green algae in swamps and bogs. I would consider getting high again. I support lovers of life and people that will step up to the plate for mankind a take a swing. We need affirmative action. Maybe the Spanish need to win the war, so to speak this time in the good name of McKinley Life is too short . Putting people in cages just to prove a silly point is a little childish. So is getting high. Its kid of a toss up. Stuff nobody cares about…. Somebody obviously cares about this stuff. Take a deep breath Hold it in! Drug addiction is a medical concern not a crime. Let us free to be people of God.

  7. Ayden Cross

    OMG … Will you people ever stop blaming President Obama for everything you don’t like? The requests to rename Mt McKinley started long before President Obama was even born and when he signed the legislation approving it he had the approval of both of Alaska’s Republican controlled Senate and House of Representatives and the State’s governor who was also a Republican. Do your homework.

  8. Pingback: More oddities | The McKinley Birthplace Museum

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  11. Robert Anderson

    Where was McKinley when he died? Was he at the Milburn House, the hospital or somewhere else? I’ve heard many possibilities, and there is no historic marker in Buffalo that talks about it. Thank you

      1. Ron

        Yeah and our dear President Obama is further trying to erase his history by renaming Mount Mckinley as if he and other good Presidents never existed.

        Damn revisionist liars

        1. Cy Price

          Mt. Denali was the name before it was changed to McKinley. Don’t blame Obama for that. Oh, wait, you blame Obama for everything!

          1. Roy Lewis

            Mr. Price:
            I agree with you, sir.
            Having Just finished reading the article, found here:


            I thought briefly of sharing it on Twitter.

            On second thought, I would never want anyone to suggest -in any way – was I was indirectly suggesting to anyone this tragedy be repeated anywhere. It’s a crazy world.

            Having moved to Buffalo just five years ago, I am interested in WNY history of many types, especially Industrial History. That’s something WNY has in great depth!


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