The main factors that are presented in the book include how the assassination affected America and its society, Roosevelt’s response to the assassination and his succession to the presidency, the reasons for committing the murder, and the evidence that supports the cases of the assassin and the district attorney. I found this book to be a well-organized and accurate account of the assassination as well as the surrounding events. I found the events that occurred to be extremely wrong and hurtful to the American society.
The means by which the assassin achieved the political changes that he desired were completely immoral and threatening to America. Rauchway describes William McKinley’s assassination in the year of 1901 by explaining to the reader the motives of the assassin, the reaction of the district attorney and society, and the response that Roosevelt had to suddenly becoming the President of the United States. On September 6, 1901 President William McKinley was tragically assassinated at the Pan American Exposition in Buffalo, NY by Leon F. Czolgosz. President McKinley ran the politics of state supported capitalism. He was a strong conservative, which was reflected in his successes of reopening factories and putting individuals back to work. Czolgosz disliked McKinley’s politics and wanted McKinley himself to fall in order to prove America was vulnerable and to strip the American people of any illusions of safety. Although the motives behind Czolgosz’s actions were completely immoral, he did have well supported logic behind these actions.
The case ultimately went to trial, and the district attorney tried to prove that the assassin succumbed to radicalism through his anger of his social standing. Some would argue that Czolgosz was mentally insane and delusional and that he should receive mercy. At the time of the assassination the American society was becoming more urban and more complex, leading people to have less control over their own fates. People soon began to believe that a sane and healthy social environment would lead to a sane and healthy United States population.
Movements to sustain these ideas grew and flourished during the time of Roosevelt’s presidency. This led to liberal political ideology, which soon became kno wn as progressivism. The main impact that McKinley’s assassination had on Americans was that it pressured them to be more clear and up front on their opinions of a working class which included a large number of immigrants. It also encouraged the people to voice their opinion on race in the developing democracy.
The organization of the text and manner by which the facts were presented by the author made it easy to follow and understand. I found the book to be unbiased while representing all sides of the argument fairly. The book contains evidence of the details given and the author sometimes uses other historians to back uphisevidenceasagoodwaytosupporthisstatements. Tome,therealbenefitof reading this book was that it helped to expand my knowledge of the actual events of the assassination as well the effects that it had upon America and Roosevelt’s new role as President.
I feel that the arguments presented by Rauchway regarding whether or not the assassination was a positive or negative experience for America were mostly equal. After reading the book I gained a better understanding of the affects of the murder. I am able to understand that although McKinley’s death was a tragedy, ultimately America was able to flourish through the progressivism supported through Roosevelt’s policies. However, I feel very strongly that Czolgosz’s act of murder was completely inhumane and very disrespectful to America and its people.
As a whole, the book was a very well written description of the murder of William Mckinley and of the affects it imposed on the country. The murder of McKinley had many lasting impacts on American society. Through the assassination, America recieved a push towards progressivism, and became a wake up call to American politics. Although it was a misfortunate act which was committed, it did help America to grow and become stronger as a nation. Roosevelt took a strong stance as the new President and bravely faced the challenge of leading America with courage and knowledge.
He acted upon constituent’s fears so that they would become supporters of his efforts to rid radical dissent. Some say Czolgosz acted upon his own insanity, however his decisions were based on logic and his life ended in the electric chair and his remains were doused in sulfuric acid. When he committed the crime he was aware that there would be extreme consequences for his actions. This showed America how far some people would go to achieve the political changes they desired.
As Americans today look back on the tragic event, it is seen as one of the most devastating days in American history. However, in the end America found the strength and courage to push through the sorrow and hurt and eventually grow from the death that birthed a new nation. Eric Rauchway presents this tragic event in American history with a hopeful and optimistic tone as he emphasizes the positive growth that America managed to obtain through Roosevelt’s policies. His account is easy to understand yet still challenges the reader to think more deeply about the implications of the event.