Sunday, November 07, 2004


The scene of the assassination of President William McKinley, September 6, 1901 in Buffalo, NY.

I read somewhere recently that Bush political adviser Karl Rove views the current Administration as a political analogue of the McKinley Administration. I don't know how accurate this is (either that Rove thinks this way or, if he does, the viability of the historical analogy), but it gives me occasion to point out one of the darkest moments in Buffalo's history. President McKinley was in Buffalo, visiting the Pan American Exposition of 1901, when he was shot by an anarchist named Leon Czolgosz. McKinley died eight days later, and his young Vice President, Theodore Roosevelt, assumed the office of President.

What's interesting is that in Buffalo, the PanAm Expo of 1901 is still held as one of the city's greatest historical moments, even in spite of the fact that a President of the United States was assassinated there. Buffalo actually has a pretty interesting Presidential history: two Presidents (Millard Fillmore and Grover Cleveland) came from here, and another (McKinley) came here and never left alive. I find Cleveland's example particularly interesting, given our focus on "qualifications" whenever we have an election these days. I recall the skepticism that George W. Bush could possibly be qualified for the Presidency after just six years as Governor of Texas. But after serving as Sheriff of Erie County for a number of years, Cleveland was elected Mayor of Buffalo in 1882; just a year later he was elected Governor of New York; and just two years after that he was elected to the first of his two (non-consecutive) terms as President of the United States. Wow. Talk about the "fast track".

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