Publisher description for Murdering McKinley : the making of Theodore Roosevelt's America / Eric Rauchway.

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How an assassin, a dead President, and Theodore Roosevelt defined the Progressive Era.

When President McKinley was murdered at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York on September 6, 1901, Americans were bereaved and frightened. Eric Rauchway's important new interpretive study, Murdering McKinley, carefully re-creates Leon Czolgosz's hastily conducted trial, and then richly reconstructs the circumstances in which a Boston alienist, Dr. Vernon Briggs, doggedly set out to discover why Czolgosz rose up to kill his President.

Dr. Briggs was hardly alone in wanting answers. As Rauchway shows, Vice President Roosevelt, thrust into the Presidency as a result, was no less worried about the reasons for McKinley's untimely death, and he was determined to dispel and contain them. Indeed, the shadow of McKinley's murder hangs over all of Roosevelt's Progressive era reforms. Neither Briggs nor Roosevelt, nor most Americans at the time, knew the reasons for Czolgosz's crime and though Theodore Roosevelt encouraged the popular notion that it was a political crime as well as a deranged one, Rauchway shows that this was not exactly the truth. Only his careful sifting of long-ignored evidence provides the answer: incorrectly diagnosing himself with syphilis, Czolgosz had given himself months to live, and, a latecomer to the radical left, he decided to take the most powerful man in America with him. That power passed to Roosevelt, who saw in the circumstances of his sudden ascent the means to remake America.

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