On September 6, 1901, President William McKinley held a public reception at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York. In the receiving line, holding a gun concealed by a handkerchief, was Leon Czolgosz, a young man with anarchist leanings. When he reached McKinley, Czolgosz fired two shots, one of which would prove fatal.
The backdrop of the assassination was among the largest of many world’s fairs held in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The Exposition celebrated American progress, highlighting the new technology electricity. Over 100,000 light bulbs outlined the Exposition’s building—on display inside were the latest inventions utilizing the new power source.
This new treatment of the McKinley assassination is the first to focus on the compelling story of the Exposition: its labor and construction challenges; the garish Midway; the fight for inclusion of an accurate African-American display to offset racist elements of the Midway; and the impressive exhibit halls.