10 Assassinated Politicians Not Named Kennedy

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Huey Long was a populist politician from Louisiana who was shot by an assassin on Sept. 8, 1935 and died two days later. His funeral at the state capitol in Baton Rouge attracted tens of thousands of mourners.

Long is part of a relatively long list of American politicians who have been murdered for their beliefs or their policies (or their corruption) since the founding of the republic in 1789. Among them have been four presidents, one state governor, 14 members of Congress, and a plethora of city mayors. The Kennedy brothers, John and Robert, are perhaps the most famous, but here are 10 other American politicians who have been assassinated throughout America’s short history:

10. Abraham Lincoln. Let’s get the easy one out of the way: Abraham Lincoln was shot in a theatre by John Wilkes Booth shortly after the surrender of the Confederacy to the Union. Everybody knows this story, so here is a link to an interesting, controversial aspect of the Lincoln presidency by historian Phil Magness. Enjoy!

9. Thomas C Hindman. Hindman was a Congressman from Arkansas who was assassinated in 1868 for being too open to the Reconstruction efforts of Republicans (Hindman was a Democrat). Not too unpredictable so far, but here’s the kicker: Hindman was a Confederate war hero who fled to Mexico City after the Civil War, where he stayed for two years and worked as a coffee planter. He came back to the States after the French-installed “emperor” of Mexico, Maximilian I, was executed and subsequently ran for Congress in Arkansas (he was a representative in the House prior to the Civil War). His platform was a Reconstruction-friendly one, which earned him the ire of the local elites. To make matters worse for Hindman, he was one of the few Confederates not pardoned by President Lyndon Johnson, which meant his presence on American soil was illegal. On Sept. 27, 1868, Hindman was shot by numerous assassins in his home and he died a few hours later.

8. James M Hinds. Another Congressman from Arkansas, Hinds was a Republican carpetbagger who had no qualms about sticking his Yankee thumb into the eyes of his constituents. Originally from Minnesota, Hinds was the first Congressman to be assassinated while in office. A member of the local Ku Klux Klan was identified as the shooter, but he was never prosecuted or even arrested.

7. James A. Garfield. President Garfield was the second American executive to be assassinated while in office, and he died a horrible death. Rick Brownell has all the gory details in a recent Historiat post. Garfield was only President for 200 days, but spent nine terms in the House of Representatives and remains, to this day, the only sitting member of the House to be elected president.

6. Carter Harrison, Sr. A long-time mayor of Chicago, Harrison stood down the mob in Haymarket Square and was elected to five terms as mayor the Windy City. He also served two terms in the U.S. House of Representatives and was a distant cousin of American President William Henry Harrison. He was shot by a newspaper distributor after the latter believed he would receive a political appointment for supporting Harrison’s bid for mayor. When the appointment never came, the assassin gunned down Harrison in his home.

5. William Goebel. The only state governor to be assassinated while in office, Goebel was elected to the governorship of Kentucky in 1900 and served for four days before being gunned down by political opponents. A Democrat who was often accused of being self-serving, Goebel was widely criticized by members of his own party for weakening Democrats and thus strengthening the Republicans. Goebel claimed victory in a hotly contested election that divided Kentucky Democrats, and was shot before he was sworn to office. He lived for four days on his deathbed and was only able to issue one act: to dissolve a militia that his Republican rival had called up after the assassination. (The militia’s commander, a Republican, ignored the act.) Goebel had previously killed a banker in a duel. Live by the sword, die by the sword.

4. William McKinley. McKinley was gunned down by a left-anarchist in 1901, just six months into his second term as president of the United States. McKinley was a proponent of imperialism, protectionism, and the gold standard. He was the last president to serve in the Civil War. The U.S. annexed Hawaii and took Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines from Spain under McKinley’s tenure. McKinley died eight agonizing days after initially being shot, on Sept. 14.

3. Anton Cermak. Yet another mayor from Chicago, Cermak was shot by an assassin but hung on to life for 23 days before finally dying on March 6, 1933. Cermak was an immigrant from Austria-Hungary (in what is now the Czech Republic) and took on the Irish political machine (which was Republican at the time) in his bid to become mayor of the Windy City. Cermak’s patriotism, and his coalition-building among non-Irish elements in the Democratic Party were surpassed only by his achievement in convincing the city’s black population to switch from the Republican Party to the Democrats. Cermak took a bullet meant for Franklin D. Roosevelt in Miami, where the two politicians were in town for a political conference.

2. George Moscone. The mayor of San Francisco is now considered an afterthought to his more famous co-victim, Harvey Milk, and his more powerful successor, Dianne Feinstein, but Moscone’s leftist policies while mayor of San Francisco catapulted the famously left-wing city to its prominence as a bastion of leftism in the United States. The Peoples Temple movement, famous now for its mass suicide in Guyana and its part in killing Congressman Leo Ryan, led a “get out the vote” effort for Moscone and was accused of electoral fraud by Moscone’s conservative opponent.

1. Louis F. Edwards. The mayor of Long Beach, New York was gunned down by a police officer after Edwards supported the officer’s opponent in a labor union election. The assassination led to a complete overhaul of the mayoral system of politics in Long Beach, and today the city council hires a city manager to run day-to-day affairs. Edwards was shot on Nov. 15, 1939.

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