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The Assassinated US Presidents Facts vs. Theories



When it comes to numerous conspiracy theories related to the U.S. presidential assassinations, various experts have tried to explain the mindset of the people who create them and believe in them.

As they put it, people have a need to rationalize a major political event such as a president assassination by an even bigger cause. That’s why those who love conspiracy theories are inclined to devise plots that include ominous motifs and an array of organizers and executors. It is easier for them to do this than to believe the “lone gunman” scenario.

On the other hand, official records in cases of the four assassinated presidents of the USA show that some of them were politically motivated, but there were assassination attempts that had no political background at all.

Abraham Lincoln’s Assassination at a Theater

One of the American presidents killed for political reasons was one of the greatest presidential figures in U.S. history, Abraham Lincoln. President Abraham Lincoln was shot at a theater while he was watching a play. His killer, John Wilkes Booth, was an actor and a fervent Confederate supporter that was allegedly in contact with their secret service. Booth’s original idea was to kidnap Lincoln and exchange him for Confederate prisoners.

Lincoln’s speech, which he gave several days before the tragic event and which promoted African Americans’ right to vote, enraged Booth, so he decided to murder the president. Lincoln was shot in the head as he was sitting at his theater booth. At first, Booth’s plan included killing both the vice president and the secretary of state, but his accomplices failed to follow through. Booth was on the run for 12 days before he was caught and killed by Union soldiers.

Abraham Lincoln’s Assassination at a Theater

Assassination at Potomac Railway Station

Another assassinated U.S. president was James Garfield, who was shot only months after he entered the White House. The murderer, Charles J. Guiteau, waited at the Potomac Railway Station for President Garfield to arrive and then fired two shots; one of them turned out to be fatal.

Guiteau was arrested soon after and was sentenced to death. Allegedly, this presidential assassination had no political background since the experts declared the assassin mentally unstable due to his bipolar disorder. He was a seriously ill person who had been stalking president Garfield for several weeks before the assassination, trying to get a position in diplomacy.

The Murder of President McKinley

President William McKinley, who was in the office at the beginning of the 20th century, didn’t survive an assassination attempt. He was attending the Pan American exhibition when his assassin Leon Czolgosz approached him and shot him twice.

President McKinley died of a fatal wound, and the angry crowd managed to throw Czolgosz to the ground. The mob would have killed him if the police hadn’t intervened.

The trial was over with quickly since he refused to defend himself. This tragic event led to one essential decision related to the safety of U.S. presidents. From this tragic event on, the secret service was in charge of protecting the president.

JFK Assassination — the First Televised Assassination

John F. Kennedy was the fourth and the last American president murdered during his mandate. This was the first fully covered presidential assassination as this tragic event and everything around it was breaking news on television for weeks.

President Kennedy was shot during his visit to Dallas on November 22, 1963, as he was coming from the airport. The assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, fired several shots at the president from the sixth floor of a building that overlooked the road. Later that day, Oswald was arrested after he killed a Texan police officer.

The fact that JFK was one of the beloved U.S. presidents, as well as a series of inexplicable circumstances that followed his murder, was fertile ground for numerous conspiracy theories that stood the test of time.

The most puzzling and shocking event that followed was the killing of Oswald during his transport from custody to the court. Jack Ruby, accused of this murder, died in prison a couple of years later, waiting for his retrial. There were so many other inconsistencies in official reports and records that made people dig deeper into motives for killing Kennedy.

One of the people who believe that the CIA stood behind the Kennedy assassination is a famous, and also controversial, film director, Oliver Stone. He made the film “JFK” that tackles most of these theories.

John F. Kennedy Assassination

The List of Presidents That Survived Deadly Attacks

There were seven other presidential assassination attempts that failed. We are going to present a short list of U.S. presidents who survived the attempts.

  1. Andrew Jackson escaped death when his assassin’s gun misfired. The man who tried to kill the president was Richard Lawrence, a house painter who ended up in an insane asylum after being found guilty for attempting to murder the president.
  2. Theodore Roosevelt came into the office after the assassinated president McKinely, and although his second presidential mandate ended, he was going for the third one as an independent candidate on October 14, 1912 when he miraculously survived a murder attempt. Even though his assassin was precise, the bullet hit a glass case and a copy of the wordy speech he was about to give that day.
  3. Franklin Roosevelt also escaped death in 1933. Giuseppe Zangara attempted to kill the president as he was giving his speech in Miami. There is a theory that says that the actual target was Chicago Mayor Anton J. Cermak.
  4. Harry Truman was another American president whose life was endangered in 1950. Two political activists from Puerto Rico, Oscar Collazo and Griselio Torresola made an insane surge on the house where Truman was staying at the time. The Puerto Rican assassins had failed due to the fast and determined response of the presidential security. One of the attackers was shot and killed, and the other one was sentenced to death. Truman abolished him though, and he was deported back to his homeland where he died in 1994.
  5. One of the most controversial American presidents, Richard Nixon, might have ended a victim of an assassin in 1972. Fortunately for Nixon, the presidential security successfully prevented the shooter from executing his plan.
  6. Gerald Ford became a target of an assassin in 1975. The assassin was one of the followers of notorious Charles Manson. She said that she wanted to kill the president because she fought against pollution.
  7. Ronald Reagan was another American president who survived the assassination in 1981 when a mentally disturbed John Hinckley Jr. fired shots at him in front of the Hilton Hotel in Washington D.C. As he claimed, he did this to impress a famous superstar Jodie Foster. He was sent to a mental institution instead of prison.

What Has the History of Presidential Assassination Taught Us?

The history of presidential assassinations and failed attempts is as long as the history of the U.S. as an independent country. There were always people plotting to murder American presidents.

Little has changed from President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination to the modern era of George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump who were also targeted by assassins. Only the diligence and thorough work of the secret service has prevented these ominous plans from coming through.

From all that we’ve learned, most of the assassins had some serious mental issues rather than political reasons for killing the American presidents. We can say then, that these people were driven more by their delusional and deranged minds and not some political cause.

Also, the Kennedy assassination was the first example of completely media covered murder. This kind of media attention may have caused a countereffect as many of these assassins just wanted to get their five minutes on prime time TV.

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