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Assassinations and Attempts

The following is a chronological description of assassinations and attempts on major American political figures.

Assassination / Attempt Dates Location Summary
Abraham Lincoln April 14, 1865 Washington, D.C. On Good Friday evening, President and Mrs. Lincoln attended a performance at Ford’s Theater in Washington. At shortly after 10 o’clock, John Wilkes Booth entered the presidential box and shot Lincoln in the back of his head. Lincoln died April 15. Also see Lincoln Assassination.
William H. Seward April 14, 1865 Washington, D.C. Seward escaped assassination after he was stabbed in the throat during the Lincoln assassination plot. He recovered and continued to serve as secretary of state under Andrew Johnson.
James A. Garfield July 2, 1881 Washington, D.C. President Garfield was waiting at a train station for a trip to a college reunion; he was approached by a disappointed office seeker, Charles J. Guiteau, who fired two pistol shots into the president. The assassin proclaimed, "I am a Stalwart. Arthur is now president." Garfield hung on for 11 weeks before dying.
William McKinley September 6, 1901 Buffalo, New York President McKinley’s term as commander and chief was cut short when he was shot by anarchist Leon Czolgosz at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo. He died on September 14.
Theodore Roosevelt October 14, 1912 Milwaukee, Wisconsin Three weeks before the presidential election, Roosevelt was shot in the chest while delivering a speech in Milwaukee by a deranged saloonkeeper. The bullet was slowed and deflected by a folded 50-page speech and a metal glasses case that were in Roosevelt’s coat pocket.
Anton J. Cermak February 15, 1933 Miami, Florida (Bayfront Park) Shot by Giuseppe Zangara, who also attempted to take the life of Franklin D. Roosevelt; Cermak died of a gunshot wound to the stomach on March 6.
Franklin D. Roosevelt February 15, 1933 Miami, Florida The attempt on Roosevelt’s life fell short when Giuseppe Zangara fired six shots that missed Roosevelt, but hit Mayor of Chicago Anton J. Cermak.
Huey P. Long September 8, 1935 Baton Rouge, Louisiana U.S. Senator Long was shot by Dr. Carl A. Weiss; died September 10.
Harry S. Truman November 1, 1950 Washington, D.C. Two Puerto Rican nationalists attempted to shoot their way into Blair House, facing the White House.
John F. Kennedy November 22, 1963 Dallas, Texas President Kennedy, the First Lady, and Governor John B. Connelly were traveling in a convertible limousine on their way to speak at a meeting of the Citizens Council when Lee Harvey Oswald allegedly inflicted fatal head wounds to the president with a high-powered rifle. Gov. Connelly was wounded. Oswald was shot and killed two days later by Jack Ruby.
Malcolm X February 21, 1965 New York, New York Black activist Malcolm X (a.k.a. El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz) was shot and killed in a New York City auditorium; his assassins were never positively identified.
Martin Luther King Jr. April 4, 1968 Memphis, Tennessee While attending a civil rights demonstration, King was fatally shot from his motel room balcony by James Earl Ray; died the same day.
Robert F. Kennedy June 5, 1968 Los Angeles, California The New York Senator was gunned down in the kitchen of the Ambassador Hotel by Palestinian descendent Sirhan Bishara Sirhan; Robert died on June 6.
George C. Wallace May 15, 1972 Laurel, Maryland While campaigning for the U.S. presidency, the Alabama governor was shot four times by Arthur Herman Bremer. Three other people were wounded as well. The assassination attempt left Wallace paralyzed from the waist down.
Gerald R. Ford September 5, 1975 Sacramento, California Lynette Alice (Squeaky) Fromme pointed but did not fire a .45-caliber pistol at President Ford.
Gerald R. Ford September 22, 1975 San Francisco, California Sara Jane Moore attempted the assassination of President Ford with a single shot from a .38-caliber pistol. Ford escaped once again unharmed.
Vernon E. Jordan Jr. May 29, 1980 Fort Wayne, Indiana Jordan was shot and critically wounded by a sniper.
John Lennon December 8, 1980 New York, New York Anti-war activist John Lennon was assassinated by Mark David Chapman. High school student Chapman fired four flat-tipped .38-caliber rounds into Lennon’s back.
Ronald Reagan March 30, 1981 Washington, D.C. Just 69 days after taking office, President Ronald Reagan was shot in the left lung by John W. Hinckley Jr; three others also were wounded. Reagan made a speedy and politically stimulating recovery.

Attempts have been made by astrologers, who always love the chance to predict the past, to divine the power of the stars in presidential assassinations, including such arcane "facts" as the birth of the United States at 2:12 a.m. on July 4, 1776, in Philadelphia. Those who love horoscopes will continue to read them, even though astrology has not been able to predict an assasination attempt. Given current federal law, predicting an assasination may not even be legal.

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