Skip to main content

tv   Q A  CSPAN  July 4, 2011 6:00am-7:00am EDT

6:00 am
i'm going to go to pay king, moscow, and that's how we're going to bring back peace in vietnam and in the world. >> watch this discussion from the u.s. navy memorial in washington, d.c., tonight, 8:00 p.m. eastern on c-span. blackberry users, now you can access our programming with the c-span radio app with four audio streams of our programming, public affairs, nonfiction books, and american history all commercial free. you can also listen to our signature programs each week. it's all available round-the-clock, wherever you are. download it free from blackberry app world. >> this week on "q & a," a story that tells the story of life in america at the turn of the 20th century when president william mckinley was shot by an
6:01 am
assassin. >> scott miller, why did you decide to do a book on the assassination of william mckinley? >> it was a fascinating point in american history. after the states, by the turn of the century, it's the america that we would know today. there's just a tremendous enthusiasm and patriotism in this period. i think it makes it very romantic. you look through american society, and you see it in the industry. of course we think of the tycoons and the trusts. but there was a proliferation of new products. you'd be hard-pressed to go to a grocery store now where you didn't see products on the aisles that came from this period. pillsbury, armor meats meats,
6:02 am
coke, ivory soap, and right on down the line. the same could be said about the arts really reflected this period as well. john phillips sousa was busy writing and capturing this period, "stars and stripes forever" became the mantra. >> who was leon show gone -- shogon and why did he use an alias? >> he was the assassin. he had worked in a steal factory. his steel company decided they were going to redepuse wages. this was the pattern. the union probably wasn't the
6:03 am
most sophisticated in the world. they were going to go on strike which didn't seem like a particularly good idea. and they were put on a blacklist. so all of these workers were out of work. remember, this was a time there was no unemployment insurance no help from the union. they were just out on the street. czolgost z was out for six months until he realized that everybody pretty much at his company was let go. they needed to go back and give a false name. he chose fred niemann. there was no i.d. or anything like that. he was so rehired under the alias. and it was an alias that he continued to use throughout the rest of his life. and it kind of became confusing as the years went on about who was fred niemann and who was leon czolgosz. >> we'll come back to him as an individual. but what day did he assassinate president mckinry? >> september 6, 1901.
6:04 am
that was at an exposition in buffalo, new york. mckinley had done there a couple of days previous. he was concluding a summer vacation in canton. he was intending to go up to this exposition in buffalo, pan american exposition, it was called. it was kind of a working vacation. he was going to deliver a lig speech. he also went up to niagara falls. it was a bit of a victory lap. his presidency had been quite a success to that point. when will, czolgosz decided only several days before mckinley arrived that he was going to kill him. he had gone out and bought a pivotal. he followed mckinley's before abouts in the newspapers which were reported in great defail where the president was going to be. and he began tracking him. >> let me stop you a second. where did he come from to? where did he live when this happened in buffalo? >> this is part of the mystery. he had left -- he was living with his family on a farm in ohio. just laysing about. not doing very much.
6:05 am
he had fithely -- finally left around summer anytime 1901. where he had gone was a bit of of a mystery. he told his family various stories. he could kind of surface and offer explanations. but it was a bit ung clear. we do know that for some reason he decided to go to buffalo. the buffalo area. maybe just to see the fair. he didn't have it in his head at this point to kill the president, though he had these sorts of ideas. and so he had been in buffalo for several days before he decided that he was going to kill the president and began to track him throughout the fair. >> how did the president get to buffalo? where did he come from snnch he took a train from canton where he had spent the summer. >> ohio? >> yeah, canton, ohio. his wife was, throughout her adult life had been a bit of an invalid and subject to all sorts of attacks and seizures. they kind of felt like they needed to get her to canton
6:06 am
where she could relax. she was making quite good progress. so they came to the fair just really at the end of their summer vacation. >> where did he stay in the buffalo area? >> he stayed at the home of the organizer of fair, the millburn house, it was called. apparently it was a beautiful house, on delaware street in buffalo. beautiful stately streets. mckinley enjoyed just going up and down the streets for walks. he was staying at his private home, attending the fair, and then back to the private residence. >> where did czolgosz stay? >> he was at a hotel, a kind of boardinghouse. i think he introduced himself as fred niemann there. the people in the hotel thought he was a curious guy. he would degree during the day. nobody really knew where. he didn't interact with the people around the hotel bar. once he was known to have had a whiskey or something. but kind of just stayed in his room, read the newspapers. once he woke up a german army
6:07 am
officer when czolgosz was rooting around the mid -- middle of the night. he was planning his attack. he went to the local hardware store to purchase a gun. he practiced wrapping his hand in a handkerchief. he was going to conceal the gun in the hand keer chief and stick it in his pocket. >> what kind of a gun was it? >> i think it was a .45. >> where is it now? >> i believe it's in a museum in buffalo. >> so how he can know where the president was going to be? you mentioned the niagara falls trip. how far is niagara falls from buffalo? >> not very far. mckinley had gone thrutch earlier that day. he had looked around. as i said, it was something of a working holiday for him. he kind of clamored around, taking in the falls and the countryside. hey very nice lunch at a hotel. the organizers had allowed time for him to have a cigar. he was a great cigar smoker. so he and his wife returned from niagara falls.
6:08 am
his wife had gone to the millburn house to relax. mckinley had one official stop that day. gofsing to the fair at 4:00. the temple of music. he was going to do a meet and greet for about 10 minutes was all. members of public had lined up hours ahead. they had been warned that this was going to happen. this was a real treat to be able to shake the hand of the president so mckinley was there waiting for him. a very quiet setting. a bach sonata was playing in the background. there was a fair bit of security around. >> had he given a speech? >> he had given a speech the day before to over 100,000 people. a huge crowd. people thought it was really one of the best speeches that he ever gave. he kind of outlined his agenda for going forward and the importance of the united states continuing to focus on improving the economy and commerce.
6:09 am
czolgosz tracked him there and actually got a place in the front row. he told the police after he was arrested that he was debating about whether to try and shoot him then. it was a huge crowd. he was worried that he wouldn't be able to draw his pistol. he was on the outer edge of the range. he had some marksmanship experience as a hunter back on his parents' farm in ohio. but he was worried someone would jump once they saw the pistol drawn. so he was debating this with himself during the speech. and then disappeared. >> president mckinley was how old on that day? >> 54, i believe. >> and czolgosz was how old? >> in his mid 20's. >> and how about secret service in those days? we had already had two presidents killed, garfield and lincoln. this would have been the third president. was there secret service? >> there were a couple of secret service agents. they had local buffalo police that were tracking mckinley's
6:10 am
movements around town. and in this temple of music, visitors had to go along, kind of through a cordon of army officers -- not officers, but army soldiers. there were several secret service officer and police. and then also organizers of the fair. they were there to keep an eye on things. they were meant to botch the crowd. >> this is a small point. but when he gave his speech the day before, did they have electronic -- this d they have sound systems then? >> i don't think so i don't know about that. >> 100,000 people. >> yeah. i don't know. >> go back to the day that he was shot. how did czolgosz get up to the front of the line? >> he got there early in the day. it was a very hot day. it was a very late summer day in buffalo. >> september 6. >> yes. people were dobbing their brows which often lent credence to his idea of wrapping the pistol in a handkerchief.
6:11 am
so he was there in line. waited some time. when the doors were opened, there was a gentleman in front of him that kind of captured the attention of the police. this guy was kind of a dark complexioned, southern european. police thought for some reason he looked a little suspicious. apparently they were quite focused on this guy when he got up to mckinley and they went to shake hands, this visitor took an inordinate amount of time to release the president's hand so the people around mckinley were a bit concerned. they were moving him forward to shovel him along when czolgosz stepped forward. >> what was president mckinley's reputation when it came to being in public arenas and shaking hands with people? >> he was a terrific person when it came to one-on-one visits. he loved it. he had his own handshake called the mckinley grip where he could grab somebody's fingers and not allow them to squeeze
6:12 am
too hard back. then he would kind of shuffle them along. he was clocked in how quickly he could move people through the receiving line. he said he loved this thing much more than delivering speeches so he was actually warned twice, you know, maybe we should take it off the agenda. because there were lingering security concerns but he said, don't worry about it nobody wants to hurt me. he just enjoyed meeting people one-on-one so much. >> what time in the afternoon? >> shortly after 4:00 when he was shot. >> so how was the actual assassination attempt done? >> czolgosz stepped forward. he was point blank range, really. he withdrew the pistol, stuck it in mckinley's chest. and mckinley even then didn't know what was in his hand ker chef. -- handkerchief. the first shot apparently -- or one of the two shots hit a button or hit the president in the breast plate. that bullet actually fell out on the way -- or in the
6:13 am
operating theater. the other bullet, the second one, went deep into his stomach or through his stomach and lodged, apparently, in the muscles in his back. it was never found, even in the autopsy to this day people could never locate the bullet. when the second shot occurred, people in line, soldiers, secret service all dived on czolgosz. there was quite a powerful man just behind him who was working at the fair but had some police training. he jumped on him. the police were hitting people. they pulled him to his feet a couple of times, smacked him in the face. he would fall down again. they probably could have just killed him right there. they were enraged. mckinley, who was always a terrific guy, urged the police to take it easy on czolgosz. and they gave up on their attack and pulled anytime a back room, kind of dazed and bleeding. >> what did czolgosz say after
6:14 am
he shot him? >> he didn't say anything right away. he was taken into police custody and gave a confession that evening. it was always a bit of a mystery. you could never really understand what he was saying. he gave various accounts. his most famous quote was "i done my duty." he had taken it upon himself -- he felt the president had too much power. i don't think he harbored a personal hatred of mckinley, but he hated the position that the president had attained and what it represented. so he was in jail and was constantly interrogated about what his motives had been. he basically said he thought the president was too powerful and that he needed to strike a blow for the working man. >> what did they do with the president after he was shot? >> he was taken, interestingly, in a small electric, powered vehicle to a hospital that was
6:15 am
on the fair grounds. the hospital is really better equipped for people with upset stomaches, sunburns, bruised knees. they certainly didn't expect to have a presidential assassination on their hands. they did the best they could, the nurses that were there. they put out a call for surgeons at the fair grounds who were around buffalo. they eventually found someone, quite a renown surgeon though he had no experience with gunshot wounds. he rushed there. he had been at the barber. they probed the president's wounds. but the circumstances -- they didn't have the equipment. even for those days they didn't have all the equipment they would like. the lighting was very poor. someone actually had to hold a mirror and angle the sun's rays into the wounds. there was an x-ray machine that was on display at the fair grounds, just a scompermental one. they decided against using it.
6:16 am
i think it was probably too new for them. they were worried that the president would go into shock so they wanted to get the surgery over as quickly as possible. so they actually did the cutting right there at the fairgrounds. rather than go into the hospital. it was something that was sort of controversial after the president died and they were trying to decide what might have been done. after that, he was taken to the millburn house where he compob with his wife. >> you talked about his wife having illness problems. how did they deal with her? she wasn't there when this happened. >> right. she had suffered from all sorts of epileptic attacks and fits since, i think, pretty much her mid 20's when she had lost both her children and her mother to disease and illness. and the president was very concerned about her. that was one of the first words that he said after he was shot, "be careful how you break this to my wife."
6:17 am
they waited. they didn't tell her right away. they did the surgery, took him to the house before they informed ida, his wife, what had happened. she took the initial news with remarkable calm and strength. if helped -- it helped that mckinley initially seemed to be improving. >> so he was shot september 6. when did he die and why did he die? >> about a week later. he was well on his way to recovery. he was sitting up in bed and starting to have some solid foods. he was reading the newspapers and asking about current events . at the time of the shooting all the senior political figures in the country rushed to buffalo where they comforted him and ida it appeared that he was well enough that a lot of them left. in fact, theodore roosevelt, who was vice president and was quite concerned, felt that things were stable enough for him to go on vacation. he went off high into the mountains and figured that everything was fine.
6:18 am
the president deteriorated very quickly. apparently some blood poisoning and gangrene from the wound set in. in a space of about 24 hours he passed. it was quite a shock to everyone. >> theodore roosevelt, our youngest president ever, 42 years old at that time, with a sworn in. where and how did he find out about the death? >> roosevelt, as i said, was in the mountains. he was having his lunch on a lake when members of his party saw -- saw a ranger coming up the trail i think at that point everybody knew that there was bad news. roosevelt rushed to buffalo. took a train and arrive there had. the president had died. he was sworn in right away in buffalo. >> what happened to leon
6:19 am
czolgosz? >> he spent some time in jail. it was a little awkward. people didn't know quite what to charge him with first. he shot the president. of course, if you had him committed in assassination, it was only when the president died that they knew what he was going to be charged with. i think at that point everybody just wanted to have the trial over with as quickly as possible. it lasted all of two days, including the formation of the jury. czolgosz admitted his guilty guilt. they had to go through a trial anyway for a crime of this significance. he said basically nothing during his trial. he refused the defense counsel that was provided for him. the defense counsel to ex-judges wanted nothing to do with it. they didn't want to diche the murder of the president and did it kind of grudgingly so his defense was pro funktry. but he didn't -- czolgosz was not really interested in helping. so after two days he was found guilty, sentenced to death, and
6:20 am
sometime there after sent to the electric chair. >> i think i i got only 40-some days from the actual bullet shot until the time he was killed. >> right. >> we couldn't have anything close to that these days >> it was remarkable. especially considering how quickly the trial began. once they knew that they were going to try the murderer of the president, it all proceeded with incredible speed. i think the thinking was that they just wanted to get it over with. it was a sick and sorry chapter in american history. there was no doubt about what had happened. the guy admitted to it. there was really no point in keeping -- it's too bad that he wasn't interviewed further. the record of his interviews is note as rich as you might like. and czolgosz did clam up and at various times refused to talk to anybody or the reporters or to the police so it was sort of sketchy.
6:21 am
you know, how he spent his time. >> i read your bibly yog if i in the back and there were a lot of books written about the mckinley assassination or presidency. where did you go for account? >> i did a lot of research at the mckinley presidential library in canton, ohio. they have a great collection of materials. i did some work there. what i tried to do with the assassination was really look at both characters. and throughout the book it's going to build on two pillars, one mckinley, and one the assassin, and trying to explain the assassin in the context of the anarchist philosophy that he believed in. >> you have spent 20 years overseas, if i understand right. how did you find your way? where do you live today? >> in seattle. >> so how did you find your way after all the experience you had as a reporter to this story? >> i was really interested in
6:22 am
this time period. it's just such a magical time in american history. i wanted to find a good story that would illustrate a lot of the currents that were flowing in american society then. there were economic currents. kind of the mood of the people. i think for the first time americans were starting to look beyond their own borders. the census of 1890 declared the western frontier to be closed. this was a tremendous shock to the american psyche. this was part our midst since the days of the pilgrims this expanding frontier. people began to think, ok, if we're filling up north america, what's next? let's look at the pacific and china in particular. so i was looking for a story that would show all of these events that were going on. i became interested in mckinley as a way of doing that. he's a bit overshadowed i think by theodore roosevelt who is this landmark figure. very charismatic. if you look at mckinley's
6:23 am
presidency, it's very fascinating. he led the u.s. into war with spain. he annexed hawaii, took over puerto rico. he started war in the philippines. american troops were there. he was a horrific war. he sent marines to china, put down the box rebellion so a tremendous amount of trauma. then the other part that attract med was his assassin. in my research i discovered a couple of psychologists had decided after czolgosz was executed, these two psychologists believed that maybe he had been insane. so what they tried to do was reconstruct his life as much as they could. they interviewed people he had worked with, family members. this was really kind of tainting the picture of the assassin what clinch it for me were the anarchist leanings of
6:24 am
czolgosz and where that came from. >> how did he become an an arkist? >> it was an evolving process. think it probably began around 1893, 1894, when he was laid off from his job in the steel mill. he was quite unhappy during that time about what had happened. i think he felt that companies had acquired too much power. because he had done everything right. he worked hard. he felt like he deserved better. so he ghana tending meetings of social revolutionaries, of anarchists. he was sent -- he sent away to new york for books. he was raised in a catholic family. he was of polish origin. tried to look for guidance from the bible or from preasts. didn't find any it just throde confrontation. and even after he got his job back, these ideas stuck in his head. he kept on attending meetings.
6:25 am
he was always a curious figure at some of these meetings he would go to. for some he would sit in the back and not say a word. everybody wondered what he was doing there. and other times there were reports that he would just spat off and talk endlessly. he was just a strange character, very much kept to himself. >> where was he when he started attending these meetings? >> cleveland. >> who were first people that he followed? >> i think he immersed himself in the overall ideology. at this time he would have learned about the two most famous anarchists to this period. the first was a guy named albert parsons who had grown newspaper texas. he was the typical sort of anarchist in the u.s. in the 1860's. was usually german. they had been kicked out of the country there by the government. the typical anarchist was sort of heavy set, ruffled suit,
6:26 am
scruffy beard. parsons was a bit of a dandy. dyed his hair black, always wore nice clothes. he kind of became the leader of the anarchist community in chicago. a whole subculture of anarchist there. they had their own picnics, concerts, sporting events. >> what did they believe? >> all sorts of things. it was kind of various stripes of anarchism. there were even among people who called them self anarchists, there was various views about the best way to proceed about whether anarchists should vote or not. whether they should reform from within or push back against if all. it was a fairly he can eclectic group of people that he gathered around him. it was at one of his speeches in 1896 or 1886, rather, in the haymarket square in chicago that he had finished speak. it was a rainy and stormy night. he had finished his speech,
6:27 am
gathered his wy and children. they had left to go to a bar to get out of the rain when a cordon of policemen arrived. someone on the sidewalk, and we don't know who to this day, lit a device. looks like a bomb from a roadrunner cartoon. i've seen reconstructions with it. it is it into the police. one policeman was killed. a number of others were wounded. but the police just panicked and began shooting wildly into the crowd. unfortunately they wound up hitting each other more than the people in the crowd. eight policemen died in all, though mostly from friendly fire. it was a devastate ago tack. there were rumors an arkists were going to take over city hall, take over the city. take over the entire nation. so there was a massive witch-hunt, manhunt to round up people.
6:28 am
they finally charged eight anarchists with murder for the policemen and four were hanged for it. >> when did leon czolgosz meet emma goldman? >> that was many maine, 1901. goldman was on a speaking tour. she was a terrific speaker and crisscrossed the country delivering speeches about anarchism. >> where was she from? >> she was originally from russia. she was a russian immigrant who had come to new york looking for a job in the textile mills or a seem tress. -- seamstress. she had left there, gone to new york where she had kind of fallen in with other an arkists, kind of a new york group of an arkists. she had made a name for herself when her boyfriend, alexander burkman, had attempted to murder a steel executive. the executive survived the attack. burkman was sent to prison for
6:29 am
a long time. and goldman really kind of basked in the glory of the trial that followed. she became something of a famous figure after that. she was able to gather large crowds as she traveled the country, delivered speeches. she was always arrested and thrown in jail. whatever city service in. the police would usher her to the city line and kick her out of town. >> the emma goldman story and her boyfriend attacked henry clay fricke. where was fricke? what was his job? and how did he attack him? you tell that story in the book. >> sure. fricke was one of the leading steel executives in the country. burkman was unhappy with how he was treating his work force and had planned to tack him in his office. so he and emma attempted to
6:30 am
raise money to buy a gun and possibly a bomb to do this with. burkman was very keen that he could maybe blow himself up and fricke up in the manner of another anarchist who had died. so burkman was able to get an appointment with fricke. burkman claimed that he was a representative of a labor company that would help him find workers. so he gained access to his office. and incredibly he pulled out a gun, shot fricke twice in the neck, one on each side. fricke was with another executive. some sort of scuffle ensued. they were wrestle willing around an the floor. burkman stabbed him several times in the leg with a knife he concealed, stabbed fricke. a carpenter who was working nearby heard what was going on, rushed in, and hit burkman on the head with a hammer. which subdued him mom tearm. -- momentarily. as they were laying there, they
6:31 am
noticed burkman was chewing on something. they reached in his mouth and discovered a explosive cart redge in his mouth which they quickly removed. he was hoping to blow him civil up. fricke was an amazing guy. after the attack he refused anesthesia while a doctor probed around, removed a bullet. and went back to his office, did a bank loan, wrote a couple of letters, and, in fact, lived quite a long time after that. >> you say 28 years. >> yeah. incredible. >> when i was reading your book, i kept thinking this sounds an awful lot like today. what was 1893, whatever you want to call it, great depression, all about? >> that was a financial panic. and the u.s., since the early 1870's, had been subject to one economic spasm after another. a bank would collapse. companies that were depending on the banks for loans would collapse.
6:32 am
these things peppered with agonizing regularity. the 1893 win was a typical sort of cause. but just the depths of it were more severe. people were scratching their heads about what had caused it all. economics then was an even more difficult to understand science than it is now. there were all sorts of theories about money supply and various ideas. but nobody quite knew what was solution to these things was. >> no social security in those days. no income tax. >> yeah. yeah. >> let me ask about yourself. we'll come back to this. where were you born? >> i was born in seattle. and spent about 20 years overseas as a journalist for reuters. in asia and in europe. >> where this those areas? >> i was in tokyo for five
6:33 am
years. i was in the u.k. for a little over a year. in germany for eight or nine years, i think. i was in brussels for four years. >> why did you get out of that business? >> well, i enjoyed journalism i think i was kind of looking for something new. my wife and i were trying to decide what our next posting would be. we had sort of personal reasons for wanting to go to seattle at that time, where we both were from. it just made sense that this was a good time to move back home. >> how do you make your living? >> i write the books. fortunately my wife has a real job which is always handy. >> what does she do? >> she works for the bill and melinda gates foundation. >> this book is what for you how many have you done? >> that's the first one. >> do you miss the daily journalism? >> i do. i miss the adventures of it. journalism gives you entre to all sorts of activities and
6:34 am
events that i don't really get to do in other walks of life, to just go and attach yourself to somebody for a couple of days in an exotic or interesting location. i miss that sort of thing. and i miss the colleagues, of course, working in a busy newsroom. writing books has its own pleasures, but it's a different pace. you have to get used to the lifestyle. >> how long did it take to you do this book from research to end? >> about from the time we sold the idea, probably three and a half, four years. >> you mentioned the value of the presidential library. there are mckinleys in canton, ohio. if you had to name something else that made the most impact on you as you went about finding this information, what would you say it is? >> the historical society had papers that were prepared, as i mentioned, the psychologists who studied the life of czolgosz.
6:35 am
they had these papers on file. they were helpful in tracking that down. there were a lot of things before i did this book. "the proud tower," i read that years and years ago. she had a section in there about the an arkist. that was really first time i had ever heard of this philosophy. >> over the last hundred years or so, how much has been wrong what's been written about the assassination itself? much? >> i think it's generally been there's probably a lot of misinformation right off the bat. i think it was eventually sorted out. newspapers were rushing to get the print. there was various accounts ever what had happened. who had done what. the trial itself helped clear that up. probably mckinley's life and presidency had been subject of
6:36 am
a fair bit of study in the decades that followed and revision. but the assassination itself, i think once kind of the dust cleared, the historians got it pretty well right and agreed on the details. >> a couple of weeks ago when jim grant was here talking about his book on thomas reid, speaker of the house, he was also talking about william mckinley running against him even didn't make it. how long did william mckinley spend in the house of representatives? >> a fair bit of time. he climbed from being just a junior congressman and really made a name for himself in congress on the subject of troists. which even now are a fairly arcane topic. they were a huge issue in the united states at this time. they were an important source of revenue for a government that didn't have a lot of other means of supporting itself. they were also seen as a way, maybe as an instrument, for the u.s. to gain access to foreign markets. mckinley was from an area that
6:37 am
depended on foreign trade to an extent. the steel industry was very big in ohio at that time. so it was something he felt co-deliver for his constituents. it also suited him personally. as a student, he was a harder worker than he was bright. he was a bright guy, no doubt. but what he really brought to the party was just a willingness to really get down to it. so going over these was something that really appealed to him. also, there was a tremendous amount of negotiating over tariff tables and what industry -- you know, all the industries wanted some sort of protection. there was lots of horse-trading, deal making. this really appealed to mckinley and was something he acceled at. >> given what you know, if he were here today, a republican like he was then, would he fit in the party? >> it's a really good question. i don't think so. because his personality was such that he was a very modest
6:38 am
guy who liked to work behind the scenes. i don't think anybody can produce a mckinley quote. he didn't give great speeches. co-deliver them, but there was no great word smithing. he liked to work behind the scenes, kind of pull the strings of the different actors . he was a little bit of a yes man. told people what they liked to hear. but he was very pragmatic. he wasn't very idealogical. extremely religious. but he just wanted to get good policy done a lot of times. i think maybe he was a little too prague platic and a little too behind the skeens for today. >> karl rove who is well known as one of the top aids to president george w. bush, used to talk about mckinley. there were suggestion that karl rove was the mark hannah to george bush, mark kwlan to william mckinley. who was mark hannah and do you
6:39 am
agree? >> there's probably something to it. mark hannah was one of mckinley's life-long friends. he's one of the few major business figure that the mckinleys spent considerable time with. freffs ohio. he kind of discovered mckinley when he was governor of ohio. hannah had many different business interests. he was a tremendous businessman. he was interested in politics. but he just didn't want to climb the ladder. he kind of picked mckinley out as somebody he could mentor and connect to the right people and really hold mckinley's hand when he ran in 1896. mckinley repaid the favor by helping him get in the senate when he was elected. hannah was desperate to become a senator, which mckinley helped him achieve. they remained good friends. >> how did william mckinley get into the span-american war, and
6:40 am
what was it? >> this was kind of one of the hard things to figure out about mckinley. the war and how he reacted to it. when he entered the white house, he was very aware that there was a revolution going on in cuba. there were cuban revolutionaries who wanted to kick the spanish out. spain had ruled for 400 years. and normally this might not have been such a big deal. there were revolutions and things happening all the time that the u.s. didn't pay a lot of attention to. but i think because it was close, 90 miles off the tip of florida, because of the thinking of the time, americans were becoming more interested in asserting themselves in what was happening overseas. the american public seized on this revolution and really there was a tremendous groundswell of support for the revolutionaries. there were speeches and rallies . petitions were signed and sent
6:41 am
to congress pleading for congress and the president to support the revolutionaries. there was one little boy who was 10 years old, took off marching down some railroad tracks to cuba. just a tremendous support for helping the revolutionaries. when mckinley entered the white house, he fought in the civil war and said he had seen enough bloodshed and wasn't really anxious. he was concerned about where all of this was going. he didn't want the u.s. to get involved in military action there i think he privately sided with the revolutionaries. but owe wanted to keep it at arm's length. of course, he made the decision to send the u.s.'s maine to havana which mysteriously exploded, sank with a couple hundred of deaths. the feeling throughout the country was certainly that the spanish had done 24 -- this, the terrible act which was probably the understandable
6:42 am
conclusion. mckinley felt there was not enough evidence. he waited for the navy to prepare a report on it. even then he thought he might be able to negotiate a solution with the spanish and finally declared war. decided he was going to send the troops down. we know about teddy roosevelt immediately resigned and formed the rough riders. we all know about their running up san juan hill from our history books. >> did they get any resistance at the top of the hill? >> it was quite a bloody battle. the american troops were forced to line up at the base of the san juan heights which were actually two hills. they had to wait for orders before they could rush, make their advance. and the spanish sat you will on the hills and picked them off one at a time. it was ghastly. did we lose many americans? >> yeah. from a percentage standpoint it was quite a costly charge.
6:43 am
roosevelt remained on his horse. it was a suicide run for roosevelt to stay on his horse. they went up this hill. there was one story of him stopping. a soldier was hide in the bush. roosevelt said, come on, let's get-going. and just then a bullet struck the soldier and dropped dead. it was miraculous that roosevelt would survive that. >> william mckinley lost his vpt who died during the first term. did that role play down in cuba have anything to do with him being picked for vice president in mckinley's second term? >> i think it helped it gave roosevelt a tremendous amount of profile. but mckinley really didn't choose him. bizarrely when his vice president died, mckinley said to the republican party, i'll let you decide who the vice president will be. roosevelt strangely went around the country or at least the eastern seaboard saying i don't want to be vice president. the job is beneath me. he began to do this so loudly
6:44 am
that people began to wonder if maybe he had just the opposite in mind. there's a story of him going down to washington and going to john hay, secretary of state, and saying, i don't want to be vice president. and hay kind of snickering. what game is he playing? and roosevelt turned up at the republican convention wearing a hat that looked like a roughrider's hat. think he was quite pleased when he was actually named to be vice president. >> what was the result of the war in cuba? >> there were two battles. the battle of san juan hill. and then the spanish fleet that the americans were after, which was at the harbor in santiago. shortly there after tried to make a run for it. and the u.s. fleet had blockaded them. that effectively ended the resistance in cuba itself. there were other spanish
6:45 am
soldiers but at that point had no resupply. after those two battles the war in cuba was effectively over. of course, there had been a battle in the philippines which was kind of the other major battle of the war. did spain own the philippines then? >> they did it was their primary colony in the pacific. it was somewhat strange that mckinley decided we needed to launch an attack in the philippines. our dispute was very much centered about cuba. the navy included attack in the philippines as part of its work plans from early on. and they decided that commodore dooley would lead the american fleet into ma knell i can't harbor. the u.s. lost a single sailor from heat exhaustion. i think we killed about 400 spaniards, sent their fleet to the bottom. our ships suffered nothing but
6:46 am
superficial damage. that was the first engagement of war and excited the american public tremendously. >> why did we annex, or how did we annex, or both, hawaii? >> hawaii was seen as an important stop on the way to the pacific. mckinley was thinking at this time it would be nice to hold a port in the philippines. not so much that we would have a foothold on philippines itself but because of china. this was seen as an american hong kong. just a couple of days' sail from the chinese coast. and china was -- for a lot of people it was almost a panacea for economic ills of the country. but we needed to have a port until the philippines where our merchant ships and naval ships could repair and take on fuel. but you needed stepping stones in those days. so hawaii had been eager to
6:47 am
become part of the united states for some time. mckinley obliged. particularly in what looked like the japanese, maybe were sniffing around it. so we took hawaii. and then also took guam which was also a spanish colony, in a comic little bat st. the poor spaniards there didn't even know a war was on when a u.s. navy ship showed up and fired a couple of shots. the spaniards rowed out in a boat and said, we're sorry, but we can't return your salute. the american captain said, we weren't saluting you, we were shelling you. the spanish were, why are you shelling us? they were quickly informed the countries were at war. and, in fact, they were american prisoners much to their astonishment. so we captured guam with just a couple of shots. >> philosophically why did we want all of this and what made
6:48 am
us think that the philippines, guam, hawaii, puerto rico, cuba, all of these places should have something to do with us? >> mckinley was not interested in foreign conquest when he entered the white house. in his inaugural speech he talked -- he didn't talk about any sort of takeover the country. he told an important politician that there would be no jingo nonsense in my administration. but he was also very worried about the economy. the idea began to develop that american industry could produce too much stuff. that there had been such a concentration of industry. and companies had become so efficient that there was just a surplus of goods. in fact, it's really interesting reading the
6:49 am
comments from executives at this time saying, you know, the laws of supply in demand were true a couple hundred years ago or a hundred years ago but not now. nobody could have seen how much investment is required now. when there was an economic downturn, companies didn't ratchet that production. they just produced even more, trying to force their competitors out of business. by tacking on the price. so we had some tremendous surplus of goods. it terrified economists and ordinary people. what are we going to do with all of this? foreign markets were really seen as maybe the one way out of it. and in particular, china. it was untapped. europe had only got into it a little bit. there weren't great inroads of manufactured goods like america could offer. there were all sorts of calculations about how if we could just capture a certain
6:50 am
amount of the china market it would solve all of our troubles. so that was the interest in the pasivic. in cuba, we kept troops there after the war. this was something that astonished a lot of people with mckinley who had been reluctant about war. he kept soldiers there. we had more in cuba after the war than in the battle to take it over. i think there were security issues. he was concerned about the revolutionaries, how organized and educated they were. he was afraid maybe they couldn't govern the country adequately and that maybe a european power would intercede. there would be some sort of vacuum. but he was also very interested in the west of cuba. natural resources, agriculture. almost as soon as the peace treaty was signed, american businessmen got on ships and just dissended on cuba. there's great stories of cubans watching these yankees dissend with map in hand and looking
6:51 am
for things to invest in. think that's what mckinley wanted. that cuba could be an important economic engine, contributor to our economy. >> the an arkists sound like terrorists when you read your stories about them. was there any connection to a foreign country? >> not really. though a lot of them came from umpe. -- europe. >> [indiscernible] >> he was from prush i can't though his family was of olpish -- polish ancestry. they probably would have considered them pols. >> was he born here? >> he was born months, months after his mother arrived in detroit. and had grown up around michigan. he lived near pittsburgh and cleveland. >> how big a movement was the anarchist movement? >> it had been growing. this was one of the things that i learned about in my research that i didn't know that much
6:52 am
about the anarch yivet movement in the united states in the mid to late 1900's. but it wasn't a huge number of people. but americans certainly knew of them an feared them. anarchism as ideology dates back to the greeks and before. it's very appealing that there should be no authority and everybody should be able to pursue their own interests. in the 1840's and 1850's in europe, particularly in europe, poem began to look at it as a possible solution toot economic ills of that time of the industrial revolution of there was a lot of thinking about how to make society more fair. and anarchism was one of them. >> emma goldman, what happened to her? where was she on the day of the assassination attempt? it turned out to be successful, gut she know about this?
6:53 am
had she been close to leon czolgosz? >> they had met only once. they had met only once after the per speech. czolgosz tracked her down. she was in chicago. just turned up on her doorstep and introduced himself, said i want to learn more about anarchism. she rode with him to the train station. they talked a little bit. there's varying accounts of what she thought of him i think she felt a little bit of sympathy for him. also thought he was a bit strange, didn't know what to make of him. at the train station, she sort of handed him to have some friends of hers. he's interested in learning more about anarchism. she knew nothing, apparently about at sass nation in advance . she said that she only learned -- itemly -- actually, she the
6:54 am
good -- got a job selling paper and was on a sales call. she learned the president had been assassinated but didn't 2340e who had done it. she looked down at a newspaper on the defection and saw a picture of czolgosz who introduced him sem under a different name, and she recognized him. she began to read the newspapers and learned that the police were looking for her and that they arrested a number of anarchists so she quickly went to chicago. she decided she would probably need money for her legal defense so she was going to sell a newspaper interview. she didn't turn herself in right away. she wanted to give a newspaper interview that she would charge for. she was apprehended. she was in the bathtub i've friend when police learned where she was. they came barging into the
6:55 am
apartment, found her there. she put on a little kimono when she heard what was going on. they said, you know, we're whoa looking for emma goldman. she first thought she could get away with it. she said, oh i'm a swedish maid or nanny or something. the police scoured the apartment not know s it was her. this is her account, i should say. finally she was convinced that she should give herself up and she did. she was arrested. she was never implicated in playing a part in the assassination. >> did anybody pay her for the interview? >> i don't -- she never gave the interview, so i don't think she got paid. did they pay for interviews back in those days? >> i think sometimes they did. >> everything in the book sounds a lot like today. >> that was one of the things when i started the book, i was really looking for an interesting story in an interesting time. it was really only in the process of doing research that i began to see these parallels in a newspaper that reviewed
6:56 am
the book, referred to these early parallels with what's going on. you see it with the an arkists of that time. they had decided -- actually had a meeting in the 1880's that maybe violence would be required in order to advance their philosophy. they called it the propaganda of the deed. so you kind of hear them talking in those days. it does sound very modern. they felt that maybe violence was required because society was treating them unfairly. that the powers in business and government had conspired against them and were arresting and executing them so for them to resort to violence was leveling the playing field. >> where would you put out of our 44 presidencies where would you put william mckinley. >> it's a great parlor game for historians. i think most agree he wasn't a great president. certainly on the order with lincoln and roosevelt.
6:57 am
i think part of it is because as admirable as he was in a lot of ways, he probably wasn't a great leader. he didn't get out in front. he was effective working behind the scenes, but can you read about his time in office, and you don't really see a president that is out there charting a course. in the end, it happened. and it happened the way that he wanted. but you don't see a clear, idealogical path from his presidency. so for that -- also, i think he got himself into predicaments he didn't want to be in. the war in the philippines. that was something that was out of character for him. that he wouldn't have wanted to have done. >> we're out of time. do you have another book you're working on? >> i do. >> what's the subject matter? >> i'll tell you later. >> is it history? >> it is. it's more narrative history. i love the subject. i think that history is so fascinating because it really
6:58 am
happened. it's a great story. and it also explains a lot about ourselves today. >> one wick question good b that. what year? what years? >> am i interested in? >> yeah. >> i'm interested in the 1930's. >> the book is "the president and the assassin." our guest is seattle-based scott miller. thank you very much. >> thanks so much for having me. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2011] >> for free transcripts or to give us your combhents this program, visit us at
6:59 am
>> next, your calls and comments on "washington journal. then sandra day o'connor takes part in a discussion and on what unites and divides americans. after that, an actor talks about his new foundation dedicated to helping veterans. >> c-span has launched a new easy to navigate web site for politics in the 2012 presidential race with the latest c-span events on the campaign trail, by a practical information on the attendance, twitter feeds and facebook updates, and links to a c-span media partners in the early primary caucus states. a visit us at >> this morning, colin colin examines american attitudes about patriotism. then prof. bruce fleming discusses


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on