The dawn of the 20th century is one of the most controversial periods in the history of the USA. In his book Murdering McKinley: The Making of Theodore Roosevelt’s America, Eric Rauchway explores the details of the accident which occurred on September 6, 1901, because this event led to the radical changes in the U.S. political course.
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Focusing on the aspects of the murder of the U.S. President William McKinley by Leon Czolgosz, Rauchway also describes the particular features of the political and social life in the USA at the beginning of the 20th century.
The author presents the full story of McKinley’s murder in his book, paying much attention to the details of that day, the consequences of the murder for the killer, the personality of Leon Czolgosz, his motives, and to the global effects for the country’s further political development which was connected now with the personality of Theodore Roosevelt.
Thus, the book covers the shift from McKinley’s conservative period to Roosevelt’s Progressive Era, where the murdered President, his killer, and his successor become the influential historical personalities.
Thus, Eric Rauchway states that the political modernization which came with Theodore Roosevelt was the result of killing McKinley by a person who suffered significantly during the period of McKinley administration, and that is why the President had two killers who deprived him of life and power.
Eric Rauchway’s discussion of the aspects of the murder, the personality of the killer and the following consequences of the accident for the politics and social sphere is based on the documents which are related to the period under analysis and on Dr. Lloyd Vernon Briggs’ diaries in which the details of Leon Czolgosz’s life fixed. Dr. Lloyd Vernon Briggs was a psychologist who developed his investigation of the aspects of Czolgosz’s case, concentrating on his motivation and reasons for murdering McKinley.
The results of Briggs’ research are important for creating the picture of the social environment in which Czolgosz lived and which affected him to kill the President. Having summarized Briggs’ notes, Rauchway presents the story of an average American whose life conditions are so poor that he intends to kill the President as the source of social problems, being mentally sane, but physically sick and hoping for the coming death.
The murder of William McKinley became the turning point for changing the features of the conservative political course during the late 19th century to the dynamic and modernized beginning of the 20th century. To explain the characteristic features of the shift from the point of the life of an average American, Rauchway concentrates on the life of Leon Czolgosz in the context of significant social events.
Thus, at the beginning of the 20th century, the American society rethought the outcomes of the industrial revolution which had a lot of positive and negative effects. Rauchway pays attention to the fact that the family of Leon Czolgosz was among those numerous families in the USA which experienced all the negative effects of the revolution.
Concentrating on the fact that all the events have their causes and consequences, Rauchway discusses the murder of McKinley as a specific consequence of Czolgosz’s sufferings because he positioned himself as an anarchist. Moreover, the death of one President gave the start for the other President’s activity. In his book, Rauchway explores the first results of the President’s progressive direction and modernization of society, accentuating the range of Roosevelt’s methods to achieve the goal.
The author states that Roosevelt’s reforms and transformation of the political course was too radical, and it was supported only with references to the possible threats of the further anarchists’ actions. That is why, it was typical for the public to think of Leon Czolgosz as an anarchist in order to explain his motives.
Eric Rauchway’s Murdering McKinley: The Making of Theodore Roosevelt’s America is worth reading, and it should be discussed by the audience because of the fact the author presents a rather provocative vision of the events which characterized the period between the 19th and 20th century in the USA.
Thus, Rauchway discusses the problem of murdering McKinley and the aspects of Roosevelt’s development of his course from several perspectives. Stating that McKinley had two killers, Rauchway pays attention to both figures. Analyzing the features of Leon Czolgosz’s life and his possible motives for murdering the President, the author presents the picture of the real America in the late 19th century when the social development depended on the aspects of the industrial revolution.
Examining the elements of Roosevelt’s Progressive Era, Rauchway provides the discussion of the consequences of murdering McKinley because the murder could be considered as the trigger for beginning the active transformation of the past system and for providing modernization of the society and politics.
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Moreover, the author successfully combines the discussion of all the controversial questions in the sphere of politics, economy, and social life. Furthermore, Rauchway also provides the answers, describing the aspects of Czolgosz’s case.