Americans are familiar with the assassinations of Presidents Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy. Not as well-known, however, are the names of the two other US presidents who were assassinated while in office: James Garfield and William McKinley.
While driving through Ohio recently, I noticed signs for the town of Niles, which claimed boasting rights as the birthplace of McKinley, our nation's 25th president. Curious, I took the exit ramp and stopped in to tour the National McKinley Birthplace Memorial.
Dramatic columns welcomed me into a stately courtyard, with a marble McKinley presiding. Flanking it to either side was the museum and the library.
William McKinley enlisted in the Union Army and fought in the Civil War.
His commanding officer was fellow-Ohioan and future US president, Rutherford B. Hayes.
McKinley was the first president to
-use campaign buttons.
-have his inauguration ceremony filmed.
-ride in an automobile during his office.
Engraved in the base of the statue:
Born in Niles, Ohio Jan 29th 1843
Died in Buffalo, NY Sept 14th 1901
Just six months into his second term as President, McKinley went to the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, NY. While greeting the crowd and shaking hands with well-wishers, he was shot twice in the abdomen. Surgery was performed, but infection set in, and he died 10 days later. Vice President Teddy Roosevelt became the 26th President of the United States.
Inside the museum, in one of a number of a glass display cases, is this plaque with McKinley's last words:
William McKinley was buried in Canton, Ohio.
His portrait had been on the US $500 bill, which was last printed in 1934.