By: Scott RossPublished: October 29, 2022

Leon Czolgosz

Born in Detroit in 1873, Leon Czolgosz fancied himself both a socialist and an anarchist, as is too often the style of the time. By the close of the 19th century, he was living at home and sponging off his parents. If he'd been born 125 years later, he'd've been in the basement with a T-1 trunk link so he could download the Snyder Cut and play Call of Duty while cursing his terminal virginity.

Czolgosz desperately hated the US government, so when King Umberto I of Italy was assassinated on July 29, 1900, by fellow anarchist Gaetano Bresci a lightbulb went off in Czolgosz's head.

A month later, Czolgosz traveled to Buffalo, checked into a hotel, bought a .32 calibre revolver and waited for President William McKinley to arrive for an appearance at the Pan-American Exposition on September 6. When the day arrived, McKinley stood at the head of a receiving line, shaking hands with the hoi polloi.

When Czolgosz got to the head of the line, he swatted McKinley's hand away and fired twice into the president's belly. One bullet bounced off a button, the other lodged in McKinley's stomach. The wound wasn't fatal, but the ensuing infection was and on September 14, McKinley died.

Because these were the glory days of justice, when the courts weren't yet bogged down with things like "idiotic, driveling delay," in the words of newspaperman Murat Halstead, Czolgosz was indicted on the 16th, his trial started on the 23rd, he was found guilty on the 24th and sentenced to have "pass through the body of said Leon F. Czolgosz a current of electricity of sufficient intensity to cause death, and that the application of the said current of electricity be continued until he, the said Leon F. Czolgosz, be dead."

That sentence was carried out on October 29, but not before Czolgosz made a final statement that cleared up any question of remorse, saying "I killed President Mckinley because I done my duty. I don't believe one man should have so much service and another man should have none."


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