21 Apr 21
“Franz Ferdinand had stated his intention to introduce reforms favorable to Serbs. Had he survived to ascend the throne, he would have made revolution unnecessary. In plain terms, he was killed because he was going to give the rebels precisely what they were demanding!
Yet, they needed a ‘despot’ in the palace in order to seize it.
What’s good for ‘reform’ is bad for the ‘reformers’”
Loren D Estleman
Civil War veteran, William McKinley, was the third American President to be murdered by an assassin.
Lincoln in 1865 was the first. Lincoln died nine hours after being shot in the head, never regaining consciousness. The assassin was Confederate sympathizer, John Wilkes Booth, subsequently shot to death during a massive manhunt.
James A Garfield in 1881 was the second. Garfield served as President only four months. After he was shot, he lived for another two months, but never recovered. Like McKinley, he died of advancing infection which could not be controlled.
Garfield’s assassin was delusional political wannabe, Charles J Guiteau. Guiteau was arrested immediately, tried, sentenced to death, and subsequently hanged. His execution took place just nine months after he fired the (ultimately) fatal shots, and five months after his conviction, sentencing, and assorted (unsuccessful) appeals.
Neither Lincoln, nor Garfield enjoyed any kind of organized, continuous security detail.
Leon F Czolgosz approached and shot President McKinley at nearly contact range, using a thirty-two caliber Iver Johnson revolver (today on display at the Buffalo History Museum) on 6 Sept 1901.
The McKinley assassination took place at a trade exposition in Buffalo, NY. McKinley had a “security detail,” of sorts, but he did not take it, nor the possibility of a personal attack, seriously, and he loved meeting citizens personally and getting close enough to shake their hands.
Czolgosz approached McKinley as part of a reception line and extended his right hand, which was wrapped in a handkerchief. Seeing this, McKinley assumed Czolgosz’s right hand was injured, so he reached for his left hand. The revolver was concealed within the handkerchief.
Czolgosz fired two shots in rapid succession. One bullet grazed McKinley’s waist. The other entered his abdomen. It never exited and was never recovered.
Czolgosz, immediately jumped and enthusiastically pommeled by both security guards and bystanders, was subsequently wrestled to the ground. McKinley, though wounded, commanded that the beating of Czolgosz stop!
Czolgosz was tried, convicted, and executed (electric chair) less than two months after he fired the fatal shot(s).
During the Civil War, abdominal wounds often represented a death-sentence, particularly when the large bowel was compromised, and dirty fingers were subsequently used to probe wounds. But, by the turn of the Century, surgery was much more hygienic (though still far from what it is today), so McKinley, and most close to him, initially did not regard this wound as particularly serious, and a complete recovery appeared likely.
In fact, McKinley himself remained optimistic and upbeat through the entire ordeal! However, deadly infection had set-in and could not be controlled with medical technology of the day.
McKinley died two weeks after he was shot.
Up until then, Theodore Roosevelt had been an obscure political player and a “compromise” running-mate for McKinley.
Suddenly, he was president, and several thing happened, which we are living with to this day!
All future presidents would enjoy continuous protection, provided by a staff of specifically-assigned bodyguards. Congress immediately passed legislation officially tasking the Secret Service with this responsibility.
Curiously, the Secret Service (then part of the Treasury Department, part of Homeland Security since 2003) , founded in 1865 to combat widespread counterfeiting of paper currency at the end of the Civil War, suddenly found itself in the bodyguard business! Its protective scope has since been vastly expanded.
There was a worldwide “mini-depression,” some called it an “economic panic,” that lasted from 1893 to 1897, certainly not the first, nor the last! Many businesses went under, and many lost jobs. Czolgosz was one of them.
McKinley was elected in the middle of it, promptly turned the economy around (with the help of the Spanish-American War), and was thereafter immensely popular, at least with citizens who benefited from national prosperity associated with the McKinley Administration.
But, Czolgosz became involved with the “Anarchist Movement.” Anarchists, as the name suggests, believed all governments were inherently corrupt, overbearing, and unnecessary, and followers were not above violence in promoting their cause!
In Europe, Anarchists had assassinated more than a few officials and members of royal houses, so they had few friends there, nor among American politicians.
With McKinley’s untimely death, newly-inaugurated President Theodore Roosevelt declared:
“When compared with the suppression of anarchy, every other question sinks into insignificance.”
That was a hint!
Thus, an Anarchist movement founder, Emma Goldman, was immediately arrested, as were other outspoken Anarchists. However, most were soon released, as no connection with McKinley’s assassination was ever established.
But, fear of Anarchists led to assorted government “surveillance programs.” Most were ultimately consolidated
into the “Bureau of Investigation,” or “BOI,” in 1908, organized under DOJ.
When fear of Anarchists eventually faded, the BOI wasted no time in finding other missions for itself!
The Volstead Act (Prohibition, 1920-1933) manufactured a whole new generation of violent gangsters, and BOI was hot on their trails, being renamed “The United States Bureau of Investigation,” or “USBI” in 1932. In 1993, the name was again changed, this time to “The Division of Investigation,” or “DOI.”
With repeal of Prohibition, but with Japanese and German spies behind every tree, the DOI straightaway got hot on their trails too, thus turning its attention to protecting the Homeland from foreign intrigue.
In 1935, the DOI became “The Federal Bureau of Investigation,” or “FBI.” That name has remained thus ever since!
And today, the FBI (vastly expanded from 1908) protects us from terrorists.
Unplanned events, and our reaction to them, drives history, as we see.
It’s been said, “Giving money and power to bureaucrats is like giving booze and car keys to teenage boys.”
Largely true!
Governments grow, planned or not, which probably means that no civilization, not even ours, can ever be permanent, as my esteemed friend and colleague, Larry Mudgett, has pointed out.
It’s either expanding or declining, but never static!
Ours is declining!
“How can anyone govern a nation that has two hundred and forty-six different kinds of cheese?”
Charles de Gaulle (talking about France)