“So enchanting was the vision of a stateless society, without government, without law, without ownership of property, in which, corrupt institutions having been swept away, man would be free to be good as God intended him, that six heads of state were assassinated for its sake in the twenty years before 1914. They were President Carnot of France in 1894, Premier Canovas of Spain in 1897, Empress Elizabeth of Austria in 1898, King Humbert of Italy in 1900, President Mc Kinley of the United States in 1901, and another Premier of Spain, Canalejas, in 1912. Not one could qualify as a tyrant. Their deaths were the gestures of desperate or deluded men to call attention to the anarchist idea. “
So writes Barbara Tuchman in her book “The Proud Tower” about the world just before World War One. She goes some way in describing the world-wide epidemic of political terrorism that swept the globe in those years, in a way which is very similar to the wave of Muslim terrorism that currently threatens the peace and stability of the free world. This wave culminated with the shooting on September 6 of 1901 of United States President William Mc Kinley. The President had been at the Pan American Exposition in Buffalo and had been gunned down by by the crazed anarchist Leon Czolgosz and, his wounds eventually took his life on this day, September 14, 1901.
William McKinley is Elected President
Born on Jan. 29, 1843, in Niles, Ohio, William McKinley (below) had served in the Civil War and got himself elected to the U.S. House of Representatives at the age of 34. Tariffs – taxes imposed on imported goods and services – were a very hot political issue at that time, and McKinley became a leading Republican authority on the idea of protective tariffs during his 14 years in the House. But the McKinley Tariff became very controversial and he was redistricted out of his House seat in 1890. Still, McKinley was elected to
two terms as governor of Ohio in 1891 and ’93. By 1896, he had emerged as the leading Republican candidate for president and with the help of his ally, the wealthy industrialist Mark Hanna, McKinley was elected President in 1896 over the fiery democratic orator William Jennings Bryan by a huge margin. During his first term, McKinley became a protector of big business interests and promoted the gold standard of currency. But it was in matters of foreign policy that his administration had its most long lasting effects. He lent U.S. support to the rebels in Cuba who were fighting for independence from the Spanish empire. This resulted in the thorough thrashing of Spain in the Spanish American War (April to August of 1898), and the loss of what remained of the old Spanish Empire in Cuba and the Philippines. For the first time, the U.S. became an imperial power, and was on her way to becoming a world power. All of this could be said to have enraged these anarchists, but it is unlikely that anything would have satisfied them in their weird world view anyway. Tuchman continues:
The Anarchist Movement
“No single individual was the hero of the movement that swallowed up these lives. The Idea was its hero. It was, as a historian of revolt has called it, ‘a daydream of desperate romantics.’ It had its theorists and thinkers, men of intellect, sincere and earnest, who loved humanity. It also had its tools, the little men whom misfortune or despair or the anger degradation and hopelessness of poverty made susceptible to the Idea until they became possessed by it and were driven to act. These became the assassins. Between the two groups there was no contact. The thinkers in press and pamphlet constructed marvelous paper models of the Anarchist millennium; poured out tirades of hate and invective upon the ruling class and its despised ally, the bourgeoisie; issued trumpet calls for action, for a ‘propaganda of the deed’ to accomplish the enemy’s overthrow. Whom were they calling? What deed were they asking for? They did not say precisely. Unknown to them, down in the lower depths of society lonely men were listening. They heard echoes of the tirades and the trumpets and caught a glimpse of the shining millennium that promised a life without hunger and without a boss. Suddenly one of them, with a sense of injury or a sense of mission, would rise up, go out and kill – and sacrifice his own life on the altar of the Idea.”
Anarchist of Yesterday = Islamic Terrorists of Today
Yes, there was a time in the past, just a little over a century ago wherein the bright-eyed mystics of a particular faith went on espousing how that faith would magically rid the world of all of it’s demons. And in that same way, the Islamic Terrorist leaders of today preach a global jihad; a war in which by the way they rarely put themselves personally at risk. The Anarchists of old rarely went beyond their dewey-eyed philosophy into the real world inhabited by the hate-filled
dim-wits whom they exhorted to suicidal attacks against the rest of us. In this same way the hate-filled apostles of world-wide Jihad preach to angry mobs, and terrorist splinter groups calling for attacks against Embassies, individuals, or even fast-food restaurants… anything representing what they hate: freedom and the prosperity it fosters. But they rarely ever risk themselves in the vicious cycle of death into which they throw their young people and their anonymous malcontents. The pattern of today is remarkably similar to the pattern of 100 years ago.
President McKinley is Shot on September 6, 1901.
So it was with McKinley’s murderer. With his new running mate, Theodore Roosevelt – who had been the trouble-making reforming Governor of New York, whom New York party boss Thomas Platt had contrived to kick upstairs into the oblivion of the Vice Presidency —
McKinley won the presidency by huge margins over (yet again) William Jennings Bryan. McKinley was attending the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York. On September 6, while standing in a receiving line, McKinley was approached by Czolgosz, an unemployed Polish-American who had a .32 caliber revolver in his hand which was wrapped in a handkerchief. The psycho shot our president twice at close range. One bullet was deflected by a button on McKinleys suit. Unfortunately, the other entered the presidents stomach, passed through the kidneys, and lodged in his back. When he was operated on, doctors failed to find the bullet, and gangrene soon spread throughout his body. For several days it looked as if McKinley might pull through. But his health suddenly took a severe turn for the worse on the 13’th, and early on the morning of this date, he died. Czolgosz ranted on in his confession about the poor man, Emma Goldman and free love. The jury at his trial deliberated one hour before passing a verdict of guilty. He went to the chair on October 1 of that year. And now “that damned cowboy” as party boss Mark Hanna called him, was President!!
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The Proud Tower: A Portrait of the World Before the War: 1890-1914 by Tuchman, Barbara by Barbara Tuchman, MacMillan Publ. Co., New York, 1962.
The Life and Times of Theodore Roosevelt by Stefan Lorant, Doubleday & Co., New York, 1959.