Summary

Birth:
May 1873 1
Alpena, Michigan 1
Death:
29 Oct 1901 1
Auburn, New York, U.S. 1
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Personal Details

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Full Name:
Leon Frank Czolgosz 1
Also known as:
Leon Czolgosz 1
Birth:
May 1873 1
Alpena, Michigan 1
Male 1
Death:
29 Oct 1901 1
Auburn, New York, U.S. 1
Cause: Executed-electrocution 1
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Birth:
Mother: Mary Nowak 1
Father: Paul Czolgosz 1
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Occupation:
Steel Worker 1
Race or Ethnicity:
Polish 1

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Stories

Leon Frank Czolgosz

 

Leon Czolgosz, the son of Polish-Russian immigrants, was born in DetroitMichigan, in 1873. His parents had six other children and in 1881 it was decided to move to a small farm near Cleveland in 1881. Czolgosz found work in a wire mill but in 1898 he suffered a mental breakdown and returned to the family farm.

Czolgosz rejected his family's Roman Catholic beliefs and in 1900 became excited by the news that the Italian immigrant, Gaetano Bresci, had returned to Italy and assassinatedKing Umberto. He kept newspapers cuttings of the assassination and started to readanarchist newspapers.

On May 6, 1901, Czolgosz travelled to Cleveland to hear Emma Goldman make a speech at the Federal Liberal Club. Afterwards Czolgosz spoke briefly to Goldman. He also followed her back to Chicago and attended other meetings where she made speeches onanarchism. Abraham Isaak became convinced that Czolgosz was a spy and issued a warning about him in his journal, the Free Society.

While in Chicago Czolgosz read that President William McKinley was planning to visit the Pan American Exposition in Buffalo. On 3rd September Czolgosz bought a pistol and two days later was in the audience when McKinley gave a speech at the Temple of Music. Although surrounded by fifty bodyguards, Czolgosz was able to walk up to McKinley and fire two shots at him. Hit in the chest and abdomen, McKinley shouted out "Be easy with him, boys" as secret service agents beat Czolgosz with fists and pistol butts.

Leon Czolgosz after assassinating
William McKinley in September, 1900.

William McKinley was taken to hospital where it was discovered that the chest wound was superficial but the other bullet had torn through the stomach wall. For the first few days his condition improved and newspapers reported that he would recover. However, the path of the bullet that had passed through the wall of the stomach and his kidney, had turned gangrenous and he died on the 14th September, 1901.

When questioned Czolgosz claimed he had been incited to kill McKinley by the speeches of Emma Goldman. She was arrested and imprisoned for questioning. When she was finally released she shocked the public by stating that: "He (Czolgosz) had committed the act for no personal reasons or gain. He did it for what is his ideal: the good of the people. That is why my sympathies are with him." However, as Bill Falkowski pointed out: "He (Czolgosz) was roundly denounced by spokespersons of the Left, with the lone sympathetic exception of Emma Goldman, who nonetheless advised against individual acts of political violence."

Leon Czolgosz was tried and found guilty of killing McKinley. Before being executed on 20th October, 1901, Czolgosz remarked that: "I killed the President because he was the enemy of the good people - the good working people. I am not sorry for my crime."

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