This Day in the Law
October 29

President McKinley's Assassin Put to Death (1901)

On October 29, 1901, Leon Czolgosz was executed at Auburn Prison in New York. Czolgosz was the man responsible for assassinating President William McKinley in Buffalo, New York.

President McKinley attended the Pan-American Exhibition in Buffalo, New York, on September 6, 1901. As he was making his way through a reception line, he reached out to shake the left hand of Leon Czolgosz. Upon doing so, Czolgosz, who was concealing a gun under a handkerchief in his right hand, fired two shots into President McKinley’s chest. The assassin attempted to fire a third shot, but was unsuccessful due to being tackled to the ground by the military and secret service members. Eight days later, President McKinley died from gangrene, a condition that was a direct result of the shooting. Vice President Theodore Roosevelt was sworn in as President of the United States.

On September 23, 1901, the trial of the anarchist responsible for the assassination of President McKinley began. At 10:00 a.m., Leon Czolgosz appeared before Justice Truman C. White at the Supreme Court in Buffalo, New York. A finding of guilt was made, and the twenty-eight-year-old was sentenced to death by electrocution.

On October 29, 1901, just five weeks after the conclusion of his trial, Leon Czolgosz made his way to the electrocution chamber at Auburn Prison. His last words were "I killed the president because he was the enemy of the good people—the working people."