2015: The President and the Assassin

The President and the Assassin, Scott Miller

So, I recently was in Buffalo at the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Site National Historic Park* (not to be confused with the William McKinley Assassination site, which is about two miles away and is for sure not a National Park), and I saw this book for sale.  Having 1) just read The Destiny of the Republic and loved it, and realizing that my entire knowlege of the McKinley assassination comes courtesy of one Mr. Stephen Sondheim ("At the Temple of Music near the Fountain of Abundance at the Great Pan American Exposition in Buffalo . . . in Buffalo"), I decided to buy it and bone up.  Great choice.  This is well-written popular history, and it not only filled in the gaps of my knowledge about the McKinley assassination, I also learned more about the anarchism movement of the late nineteenth century/early twentieth century, and about the absolute bullshit nonsense that was the Spanish American War.  I mean, don't get me wrong, I had a general sense that the Spanish American War was bullshit imperialist nonsense, but after reading this book, I have a specific understanding of the ways in which it was bullshit imperialist nonsense.  

The book is reasonably well written, and treads a nice line between giving you real history and little interesting factoids.  I recommend it for history buffs, for sure.  Great read, etc. But now I am going to talk about the substance of the book.  I'm talking about William McKinley.  When I read the book about the Garfield assassination, I was left thinking that America had really lost out when Garfield was shot.  Even though we don't think about him much (there isn't even a plaque  where he was shot!) he was a great guy! Progressive (for his time at least), self-made, war hero, etc.  McKinley, well, not so much.  He was like, the W of the turn of the century.  Handsome, friendly, glad handler ("the kind of guy you'd like to drink a beer with").  100% in the pocket of big business.  Owned part and parcel by Marc Hanna.  And, an imperialist to boot.  Seriously, all those qualms you have about Teddy R? Like, well, he founded the National Parks, but he wanted to take over the Philippeanes? McKinley stood for everything bad TR stood for, but none of good stuff (trust bustin' food and drug safety being totally boss and cool).  I am OF COURSE not saying that Leon Czolgaz should have shot McKinley.  All death is terrible and murder is terrible and I am against it.  But, I would say this is the only Presidential Assassination where we definitely got an upgrade.  Sorry big Bill.

Also, I have to include this - William Howard Taft told a story about Ida McKinley (who was a neurastheniac for sure, though she had a sad life even before her husband was shot).  She was prone to fits, and once they were are a party where she started to oddly hiss.  Her husband just put a hankercheif over her face and kept on talking!!! WHAT?!  Not a fan.

Categories: The United States President project 

*Watch this space for a NPS blog on the site once my husband uploads the photos from his phone!

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017