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Murdering McKinley by Eric Rauchway attempts to portray both sides fairly of the political assassination of William McKinley. He does not attempt to sway the reader one way or the other. He presents evidence from both the defense and prosecution. Evidence that supports both theories. The prosecution's theory that Leon Czolgosz was sane as opposed to the defense claiming that he was indeed insane. On September 6, 1901 a man by the name of Leon Czolgosz shot president William McKinley with a .32 caliber pistol at the Pan -American Exposition in Buffalo, New York. He fired twice into the president hitting him in the chest and stomach. Initially he seemed to be recovering from his wounds but then he took a turn for the worst and died six days later on September 14, 1901. Leon Czolgosz was one of eight children, two boys and six girls. His family fled to America fleeing persecution in Prussia against Polish Catholics. His father Paul settled in Michigan in 1873. After a few months he sent for his family and settled in Detroit. But the Czolgosz's kept seeking a place more like the home they had left behind. His mother Mary died in 1883. They left the farm they had purchased in Posen and headed back to Alpena. At this time Leon was ten when he enrolled in school there. He was considered very bright and was allowed to remain in school until he reached the age of sixteen. The law during that time only required children to attend until the age of fourteen. Leon's world was one of disillusionment. The land of freedom had failed him, reneging on it's promise of equality (167). He came to believe his American dream would never come to pass. Democracy and individualism were only used as a guise to cover up a capitalistic society. He saw corruption all around him. The Czolgoszes and especially Leon had bought into the American dream. If he had never drunk so deeply of it's promise he could never have fallen so far into disillusionment (166). The depression of 1893 shook Leon Czolgosz to the core. He had lost his job and his good name. But the men in politics and the mill owners only continued to prosper. No matter what economic turns took place. Leon soon lost his faith. His brother Waldeck said he became deeply depressed. It is said that he prayed to God fervently for some kind of economic justice. He and his brother Waldeck even sought out a priest who advised them “they would be helped if they would pray” (167). Leon became more and more unhappy. Nineteenth century migrants felt pushed about by mighty forces herding them off the land, lumping them together into cities and factories (116). Only Leon's desperate act lifted his family's story out of the masses. I do not believe Leon Czolgosz was insane. He had become a recluse spending most of his time reading socialist and anarchist papers. This clearly became a fixation for him. He seemed to believe in a kind of utopian society that he had read about in a novel by Edward Bellamy called Looking Backward. In this book the social classes worked together for a common good in a peaceful fashion. Americans all came together to end competition and Leon loved it. It is even said he studied it for eight years. He seemed to lose himself in its pages. It offered him an escape from the capitalistic society he felt he was surrounded by. It was thought that anarchism preyed on such minds. Czolgosz was considered to be above average intelligence but only a laborer and therefore grew discontented. He began to search out reasons for his dissatisfaction (87). Most Americans thought of anarchism as the politics of terrorism and violence (17). Leon Czolgosz was never a member of any formal anarchist organization. At one point he was even suspected of being a spy due to his clumsy manner when approaching known anarchist such as Emma Goldman. He was very impressed by her when he heard her speak in 1901. Anarchist believed the system of capitalism was...
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