November 23, 2014 / by admin / American History / No Comments

The President and the Assassin: McKinley, Terror, and Empire at the Dawn of the American Century

The President and the Assassin: McKinley, Terror, and Empire at the Dawn of the American Century

Scott Miller

Language: English

Pages: 448

ISBN: 0812979281

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

In 1901, as America tallied its gains from a period of unprecedented imperial expansion, an assassin’s bullet shattered the nation’s confidence. The shocking murder of President William McKinley threw into stark relief the emerging new world order of what would come to be known as the American Century. The President and the Assassin is the story of the momentous years leading up to that event, and of the very different paths that brought together two of the most compelling figures of the era: President William McKinley and Leon Czolgosz, the anarchist who murdered him.

The two men seemed to live in eerily parallel Americas. McKinley was to his contemporaries an enigma, a president whose conflicted feelings about imperialism reflected the country’s own. Under its popular Republican commander-in-chief, the United States was undergoing an uneasy transition from a simple agrarian society to an industrial powerhouse spreading its influence overseas by force of arms. Czolgosz was on the losing end of the economic changes taking place—a first-generation Polish immigrant and factory worker sickened by a government that seemed focused solely on making the rich richer. With a deft narrative hand, journalist Scott Miller chronicles how these two men, each pursuing what he considered the right and honorable path, collided in violence at the 1901 Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York.

Along the way, readers meet a veritable who’s who of turn-of-the-century America: John Hay, McKinley’s visionary secretary of state, whose diplomatic efforts paved the way for a half century of Western exploitation of China; Emma Goldman, the radical anarchist whose incendiary rhetoric inspired Czolgosz to dare the unthinkable; and Theodore Roosevelt, the vainglorious vice president whose 1898 charge up San Juan Hill in Cuba is but one of many thrilling military adventures recounted here.

Rich with relevance to our own era, The President and the Assassin holds a mirror up to a fascinating period of upheaval when the titans of industry grew fat, speculators sought fortune abroad, and desperate souls turned to terrorism in a vain attempt to thwart the juggernaut of change.

Praise for The President and the Assassin
“[A] panoramic tour de force . . . Miller has a good eye, trained by years of journalism, for telling details and enriching anecdotes.”—The Washington Independent Review of Books
“Even without the intrinsic draw of the 1901 presidential assassination that shapes its pages, Scott Miller’s The President and the Assassin [is] absorbing reading. . . . What makes the book compelling is [that] so many circumstances and events of the earlier time have parallels in our own.”—The Oregonian
“A marvelous work of history, wonderfully written.”—Fareed Zakaria, author of The Post-American World
“A real triumph.”—BookPage
“Fast-moving and richly detailed.”—The Buffalo News
“[A] compelling read.”—The Boston Globe
One of Newsweek’s 10 Must-Read Summer Books

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6. Morgan, William McKinley and His America, 311. 7. Leech, In the Days of McKinley, 27. 8. Morgan, William McKinley and His America, 82. 9. Ibid., 83. 10. Foraker, I Would Live It Again, 256–59. Foraker clearly lost no love for Ida and recounts several examples of the First Lady’s rudeness and petulance. 11. Whitcomb and Whitcomb, Real Life at the White House, 209. 12. Letters from McKinley to Ida, 1880. On file at the McKinley Presidential Library, Canton, Ohio, in the “McKinley

Tragedy, 188. 6. Busch, “Haymarket Riot and the Trial of the Anarchists,” 250–58. 7. Adamic, Dynamite, 72. 8. Calmer, Labor Agitator, 91. 9. Lum, Concise History of the Great Trial of the Chicago Anarchists, 94. 10. Green, Death in the Haymarket, 123. 11. Calmer, Labor Agitator, 92. 12. Green, Death in the Haymarket, 186. 13. Parsons, Life of Albert R. Parsons, 214. 14. “Rioting and Bloodshed in the Streets of Chicago,” The New York Times, May 5, 1886. 15. McClean, Rise and Fall of

Theodore Roosevelt, 640. 8. Ibid., 643. 9. Roosevelt, Rough Riders, 11. 10. Ibid., 63. 11. Millis, Martial Spirit, 208. 12. Cosmas, Army for Empire, 193. 13. Musicant, Empire by Default, 268. 14. Alger, Spanish-American War, 66–68. 15. Musicant, Empire by Default, 249. 16. Davis, “Rocking-Chair Period,” 132. 17. Brown, Correspondents’ War, 211. 18. Davis, “Rocking-Chair Period,” 132. 19. “Spain’s Fleet Steams Toward American Waters,” The New York Herald, May 1, 1898. 20.

extra boiler on line at all times to power the hydraulic turrets.6 Yet in keeping with the stated friendly purpose of his trip, the captain had allowed officers to go ashore and had joined them many times himself. Twice he attended bullfights, once to see Mazzantini, the famous gentleman bullfighter from Spain. He found it a depressing affair. “To comprehend the Spanish bull fight, it should be considered a savage sport passed down from generation to generation from a remote period when human

fired a handful of shells into the fort to see if they could wake anybody up. There was no response. While Glass pondered what to do, his men spotted two small boats flying Spanish flags rowing in their direction. Aboard were the island’s Spanish military leader, Lieutenant Garcia Guiterrez; an army health officer, Surgeon Romero; and a native, Francis Portusac, who claimed to have become a naturalized American citizen in Chicago in 1888.29 Fearing little from the strange group, Glass saw to it

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