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The Library of Congress > Teachers > Classroom Materials > Collection Connections > Portraits of the Presidents and First Ladies

[Detail] Major-General Zachary Taylor--President of the United States. 1848.

Assassinations

a) Sadly, four United States presidents have been assassinated -- Abraham Lincoln in 1865, James A. Garfield in 1881, William McKinley in 1901, and John F. Kennedy in 1963. There are images relating to the assassinations of Lincoln, Garfield, and McKinley in the collection. Students might use these images as springboards to find out the circumstances of each assassination including; the location of the tragic event, presumed causes, effects of the assassination, and presidential successors.

Search on assassination for images dealing with assassinations. Students will find this quote from a reward poster distributed after the murder of President Abraham Lincoln:

Reward

$100,000 reward! The murderer of our late beloved President, Abraham Lincoln, is still at large." [1865]

LIBERAL REWARD will be paid for any information that shall conduce to the arrest of either of the above-named criminals or their accomplices. All persons harboring or secreting the said persons, or either of them, or aiding or assisting their concealment or escape will be treated as accomplices in the murder of the President and the attempted assassination of the Secretary of State, and shall be subject to trial before a Military Commission and the punishment of DEATH. Let the stain of innocent blood be removed from the land by the arrest and punishment of the murderers. All good citizens are exhorted to aid public justice on this occasion. Every man should consider his own conscience charged with this solemn duty, and rest neither night nor day until it be accomplished. EDWIN M. STANTON, Secretary of War.

McKinley

Assassination of President McKinley. Czolgosz shoots President McKinley with a concealed revolver, at Pan-American Exposition reception, Sept. 6th, 1901. [c1905]

b) By viewing the following image, students will find that President William McKinley was assassinated at the 1901 Pan American Exposition (held in Buffalo, New York). With further research, they will discover that the day before McKinley was shot, he delivered an important speech modifying his high-tariff policy.

At a reception the next day, the assassin pretended to extend his hand in congratulations, but instead shot the president twice. Discuss the precautions that are designed to prevent assassinations today.

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