How the Assassination of McKinley Gave Birth to the Secret Service | History

NARRATOR: On September 6, 1901
President William McKinley was shot. Eight days later, he died. Teddy Roosevelt became president
and the first president to have around the clock
Secret Service protection. But why did it take
Congress 25 presidencies and three assassinations
to make that happen? To answer that,
we have to go back to the end of the
Civil War when America had some real money problems. By 1865, up to one half of
American money in circulation was fake. So on April 14, 1865,
President Abraham Lincoln authorized the creation
of a government agency to fight counterfeiting. He called it the Secret Service. Later that night, Lincoln
would be assassinated. But that wasn’t enough to
convince Congress to give the president his own police. And it wasn’t enough, in
1881, when President James A. Garfield was assassinated. Because, for the most
part, Congress feared centralized power
more than they feared for the president’s life. Congress had hesitated to create
a national law enforcement agency, preferring to leave
matters of law and order to the individual states. But toward the end
of the 19th century, these attitudes began
to change as America grew into an economic and
imperialist powerhouse. McKinley’s presidency,
in particular, was marked by unparalleled
industrial and territorial expansion. But as America grew
in size and power, so, too, did the threats against it. Anarchists who advocated
for stateless societies had been staging attacks
against powerful governments across the world
since the 1870s, including one that
sparked Chicago’s Haymarket Riot in 1886. Leaders at the
national level grew more concerned about
the president’s safety, fearing he may be a target. So the Secret Service stepped
in to unofficially protect the president, when needed. When President McKinley attended
the Pan American Exposition in Buffalo in
September of 1901, he had a fair amount of security,
18 exposition guards, seven soldiers provided by
the 73rd Seacoast Artillery, and three Secret Service agents. McKinley, though, like many
presidents before and after, found protection
mostly annoying, believing it got in between
the president and the people. So when Americans lined up
to shake hands with McKinley on September 6, he nixed the
standard two guards next to him in exchange for his
secretary and the president of the Exposition. That was a big mistake, because
in line to meet the president that day was a lone
anarchist who may have also suffered from mental illness. When his turn came to
shake hands with McKinley, he instead drew a gun hidden
beneath his handkerchief and shot the president twice,
point blank in the stomach. [music playing] [camera flashes] His name was Leon Czolgosz. And that’s important. Because while he was a
natural born American citizen, Leon Czolgosz didn’t quite
have the same Anglo-Saxon ring as John Wilkes Booth. And this foreign-looking
name added to the perception that anarchism was coming into
America through foreigners, leading to the passage of the
1903 Immigration Act, which allowed anyone
associated with anarchism to be barred or expelled. It became the first federal
law since the 1798 Alien and Sedition Acts,
authorizing deportation and exclusion based on a
person’s ideological beliefs and associations. McKinley’s death also
confirmed the real fear that US presidents
would be targeted for political assassinations,
spurring the expansion of the Secret Service to
officially include protecting our nation’s leaders, which was
a smart move because as America rose in power through the
20th century, so, too, would the number of threads
against its presidents. [music playing]

17 Replies to “How the Assassination of McKinley Gave Birth to the Secret Service | History”

  1. Everyone loves to talk about the conspiracies about Kennedy's death, but no one likes to mention the conspiracies about Mckinley's death.

  2. While somewhat informative it's real purpose was to take a jab at limiting immigration and the fact that change caused by immigrants legal & illegal should not be controlled by congress. Leftist indoctrination film.

  3. Thank you for this informative and well produced video..especially I thank you for NOT using that disgusting A.I. voice…

  4. Territorial expansion means starting wars,killing many people and locking a princess in her room till Hawaii was there’s.

  5. Too bad it took three presidential assassinations for the country to do something regarding president’s safety. Not to mention several assassination attempts as well.

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