In the history of the United States, 45 individuals served as president of the country. Out of the 45, eight presidents have died in office. Of these, four died a natural death, while four were assassinated. Which presidents were assassinated?
Four presidents of the United States have been slain by assassins, and all for a multitude of reasons – according to their killers. The only four presidents of the United States of America who have ever been assassinated are Abraham Lincoln, James Garfield, William McKinley, and John F. Kennedy. These are the names of the assassinated presidents who made permanent and substantial marks on the history of the United States of America.
Between 1865 and 1963, these four presidents were assassinated. Eerily enough, they died within a century of one another, or 98 years to be exact, making these assassinations wildly close in terms of time. You might have heard of some of these names, but one of the most popular instances by far is that of Abraham Lincoln.
Who Was the First President That Was Assassinated?
The name Abraham Lincoln is likely familiar to you if you’ve ever heard of a president being assassinated while serving in the White House. President Abraham Lincoln was the first president to be killed in the United States. Lincoln was the first President to be assassinated, on Good Friday, April 14, 1865, at a theater performance that he had initially declined to attend.
Originally General Grant was supposed to attend this particular performance, but was unable to make it; therefore Lincoln went to the play against his better judgment and it resulted in him unknowingly facilitating his own death which would be forever known as the first U.S. Presidential assassination. Abraham Lincoln was murdered by John Wilkes Booth in 1865.
Why Was Abraham Lincoln Killed by John Wilkes Booth?
Booth shamelessly assassinated Lincoln because he believed that Lincoln would overthrow the Constitution and destroy the south. Wilkes Booth, and many other people at the time, were threatened by Lincoln’s push to abolish slavery.
Just after Lincoln’s reelection in November 1864, Booth came up with a plan to kidnap him and take him to Richmond, where he could be exchanged for some of the Confederate prisoners who were being held in northern prisons at the time of the attack.
Booth asked a lot of his friends in Washington to help him with his schemes. At some point, Booth gave up acting so he could focus on these operations. He spent more than $10,000 on equipment for his operation as well as paying his accomplices. After several failed attempts to capture Lincoln, Booth’s friends quit – but Booth was still determined to take out Lincoln on his own.
When Booth learned that Lincoln and his wife were to see the play Our American Cousin with commanding general Ulysses S. Grant at Ford’s Theater, he exploited his connections as an actor to get admission to the president’s box. On the night of April 14, 1865, the joy of Union victory came to a halt when President Abraham Lincoln was shot by Booth while enjoying a play at Ford’s Theater.
Booth’s meticulous preparations for his escape were successful, but only for a short period of time. The most wanted criminal in the United States, with a $100,000 reward on his head, managed to evade capture for 12 days and escape capture. Booth walked out the back entrance of Ford’s Theatre and into the street.
In the blink of an eye, he mounted a hired horse he had left behind and rode as far away from Washington as he possibly could. He eventually made it to Virginia, where he’d be caught by Union soldiers. While soldiers attempted to capture Booth and his accomplice, Booth was shot by American soldier Boston Corbett. After being shot, this action resulted in the death of John Wilkes Booth.
Why Was James Garfield Assassinated?
James Abram Garfield was the 20th President of the United States. His presidency was one of the shortest terms served as it lasted only six months. Garfield’s term started on March 4th, 1881, and lasted up until his death six months later. Before his Presidential term, he was a lawyer, as well as a civil war leader. He also served in the United States House of Representatives for multiple terms. He was the second of four Presidents to be assassinated.
Garfield was shot by Charles Guiteau in 1881. After stalking Garfield for many days, Guiteau finally caught up to Garfield at the Baltimore and Potomac railway station in Washington, D.C. Guiteau was angered by Garfield and felt betrayed. Time would reveal that Guiteau was a frustrated political aspirant who has been campaigning against Garfield. President Garfield was shot twice by Guiteau, with the first bullet brushing his arm and the second hitting him in the back. Guiteau was captured by police after he attempted to flee the railway station where he shot President Garfield.
An attorney who may have suffered from schizophrenia, Guiteau believed he was entitled to a government position because he delivered several speeches in support of Garfield during the presidential campaign of 1880. After Guiteau suffered numerous unsuccessful attempts to get an ambassadorship with the United States government, Secretary of State James Blaine ordered him not to return. Guiteau’s rejection put him on a road of revenge that culminated in his assassination of President James Garfield in 1881.
Ironically enough, Garfield was not killed instantly after the shooting. The president’s body was harmed by an infection that developed as a result of his repeated inappropriate evaluation of his wounds and lack of understanding of antiseptic medication. Garfield died on September 19, 1881, 79 days after being shot by Guiteau. As a result, Guiteau was officially hanged in July 1862 after being found guilty.
Why Was William McKinley Assassinated?
William McKinley served as the 25th President of the United States from 1897 until his death in an assassination attempt in 1901. During the Spanish-American War of 1898, McKinley was a tough and effective commander-in-chief, using the war powers of his office to exert control over the situation. By the middle of July 1898, the United States had seized Cuba and the Philippines, partly as a result of his efforts.
Leon Frank Czolgosz was an anarchist and steelworker who lived in the United States during the early twentieth century. President William McKinley was shot and killed by him in Buffalo, New York, on September 6, 1901, and he is best known for that act. The president passed away on September 14th after his wound became infected. Leon Czolgosz planned to promote anarchism in the United States as a result of his personal beliefs about the inequities between low-wage employees and government leaders.
Before assassinating the president, Czolgosz had a mental breakdown due to his obsession with inequality. A fascination with anarchist Gaetano Bresci, who killed Italian king Umberto I because of the king’s repressive policies, is said to have developed in Czolgosz, who appears to have spent most of his spare time reading radical texts.
In the summer of 1901, Czolgosz relocated to Buffalo, New York. There he would attend the Pan-American Exposition, which was held there. On September 6, McKinley hosted a meet-and-greet at the Temple of Music, which was part of the exhibition. When it came time for Czolgosz to meet with President McKinley after waiting in line, he fired two bullets at the president.
Czolgosz was seized right away and admitted guilt immediately after. It was originally thought that Czolgosz had ties to other well-known anarchists, like Emma Goldman, and that it was impossible for him to have acted alone. Despite conspiracy rumors, it was discovered that Czolgosz had planned the assassination on his own.
When all was said and done, he was transferred to Auburn State Prison in west-central New York, where he died on October 29, 1901, from electrocution, according to historical documents. According to reports, he claimed that the president was “the enemy of the good people—the working people” and that he assassinated him as a result of this. In the course of investigating, it was discovered that Czolgosz’s body had been soaked in sulfuric acid before being buried in an unmarked grave at the prison, causing it to disintegrate.
Why Was John F. Kennedy Assassinated?
Last, but most certainly not least is John F. Kennedy. The mysteries and conspiracies around the death of John F. Kennedy have lasted many years and don’t seem like they will go away anytime soon. On November 22, 1963, one of America’s most beloved presidents was assassinated. While JFK was visiting Texas, he was brutally assassinated in broad daylight on a motorcade, all while his wife Jackie sat right next to him. Lee Harvey Oswald was the brutal assailant who killed John F. Kennedy.
The reason why John F. Kennedy was assassinated may be due to the fact that Lee Harvey Oswald supported and had connections to the Communist Party and connections with the Soviet Union. During his time in office, John F. Kennedy was outspoken and vocal about his opposition to the communists.
Although Lee Harvey Oswald was born as a United States Citizen and was even a former U.S. Marine, it did not stop him from leaving the USA to go to the Soviet Union only days after being discharged by the military. Oswald attempted but failed to become a citizen while in the Soviet Union. In 1962, he was allowed to return to the United States with his wife and infant daughter after working in Minsk and marrying his wife, a Soviet woman.
Ironically, that same year was when a U-2 spy plane from the United States flew over the island of Cuba and discreetly photographed Soviet nuclear missile facilities under construction. President John F. Kennedy did not want the Soviet Union or Cuba to be aware that the missiles had been detected, since he believed they would be used against them. He met with his advisors in private for several days in order to better understand the issue.
Shortly after, President John F. Kennedy delivered a televised address to the American people on October 22, 1962, informing them of the involvement of Soviet missile bases on the island of Cuba. When the United States established a naval blockade around Cuba, tensions erupted, and the rest of the world began to wonder whether the situation could be resolved peacefully.
After returning to North America, Lee Harvey Oswald went back to work and found a job in a Texas school book depository facility. This would be the same building that he’d utilize to later murder the president. On November 22, 1963, while JFK was visiting Texas for political reasons, he was assassinated by Oswald as he drove through downtown Dallas, Texas via a presidential motorcade.
Both Kennedy and Texas Governor John Connally were injured as a result of the incident. Thirty minutes later, Kennedy passed away at Parkland Hospital. Governor Connally was able to return to full health. Lee Harvey Oswald was caught in a movie theater on November 22nd; just hours after the shooting took place. On November 24th, Oswald was shot and killed by Jack Ruby, while officials were transporting him to a more secure prison facility at the time.
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Kimberly Anne is a freelance writer and editor. She is working on her first novel and poetry compilation. You can check out her work at www.kimberlyanneinc.com or follow her on social media @kimberlyanneinc