It was a mere six weeks before the assassination of America’s 25th President that an unemployed, somewhat mentally unstable factory worker wrote a note to an ex-colleague of his that could have given some indication as to his intentions. The only line that make sense from Leon Czolgosz’s note – which is in the possession of the Shapell Manuscript Foundation – was the one that said, “there is a streetcar to Buffalo in his new town, and it’s just a nickel ride.”It was in Buffalo – at the Pan-American Exposition – where William McKinley fell to his death following two shots to his body by Czolgosz’s .32 caliber revolver. He fired one shot into his stomach and the other into his chest.
History of Pan-American Exposition
Buffalo, NY, was home to a world fair. In 1901, between May 1 to November 2, it took place at the Pan-American Exposition. The Pan-American Exposition Company which organized the event, had been set up just four years earlier.Originally the Exposition was not even meant to happen in Buffalo. Cayuga Island was first selected because of how close it is to Niagara Falls, which anyway had always been attracting many tourists. But all that changed following the outbreak of the Spanish-American War in 1898. But it still wasn’t so easy to get the location change to Buffalo; Niagara Falls wasn’t happy. But there were actually two reasons the Pan-American Exposition ultimately went to Buffalo: first, due to the size of its population (approximately 350,000) and second, due to its impressive navigational links – with its good railroad connections, this would mean an easier way of accessing the city. Thus Congress made a pledge of $500,000 for Buffalo to be home to the Exposition.
Czolgosz in Buffalo
Had the Pan-American Exposition been held at Cayuga Island, Czolgosz would have no doubt planned on traveling there (even if the ride would have been pricier) and that would be reflected in his note held by the Shapell Manuscript Foundation today.