Scott Miller

  • Aired:  07/21/11
  •  | Views: 43,711

Scott Miller discusses his book "The President and the Assassin" and describes the otherwise cowardly anarchist who killed William McKinley. (6:50)

>> Jon: WELCOME BACK MY GUEST

TONIGHT, HE'S A WRITER.

HIS NEW BOOK IS CALLED THE

PRESIDENT AND THE AS ASSASSIN:

McKINLEY EMPIRE AT THE DAWN OF

THE CENTURY."

PLEASE WELCOME SCOTT MILLER.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR BEING

HERE.

[APPLAUSE]

THANK YOU FOR JOINING US.

>> MY PLEASURE.

>> WE'RE VERY EXCITED.

BIG McKINLEY FANS OUT THERE

TONIGHT.

[APPLAUSE]

I GOT TO TELL YOU, I KNOW I'M

NOT SUPPOSED TO JUDGE A BOOK BY

ITS COVER, BUT I GOT TO TELL

YOU, BEAUTIFULLY DONE.

McKINLEY GETS NO LOVE.

WHY DOES McKINLEY GET NO LOVE?

YOU HAVE YOUR ASSASSINATED

PRESIDENTS, YOUR LINCOLN, YOUR

KENNEDY, GARFIELD GETS A LITTLE

LOVE.

McKINLEY, NO LOVE.

THE LAST GUY IN THE TRIVIA

QUESTION.

>> HE HAD THE MISFORTUNE OF

BEING FOLLOWED BY ONE OF OUR

MOST BELOVED AND CHARISMATIC

PRESIDENTS, THEODORE ROSE VEL,

AND McKINLEY, BECAUSE HE WAS

ASSASSINATED, HE DIDN'T LEAVE A

LOT OF WRITTEN RECORD.

HIS WIFE WAS AN INHAVE A LID,

SHE DIDN'T SURVIVE TO WRITE VERY

MUCH.

IF YOU LOOK AT HIS FIVE YEARS IN

OFFICE FROM 1897 TO 1901, THEY

WERE FILLED WITH GREAT DRAMA,

GREAT EXCITEMENT.

HE LED THE U.S. INTO WAR WITH

SPAIN.

HE TOOK OVER CUBA, PUERTO RICO

AND...

>>

>> Jon: CHINA.

>> SMALL THINGS LIKE THAT.

GOT INTO NASTY WAR IN THE

PHILIPPINES.

IT WAS REALLY A DRAMATIC PERIOD

IN AMERICAN HISTORY.

>> Jon: AND BATTLED TERROR AT

HOME.

THE FELLA WHOS AS -- WHO

ASSASSINATED HIM DISCOVERED AN,

AISM A FEW YEARS BEFORE.

HE WAS VERY UPSET ABOUT THE

CONDITIONS THAT AMERICANS

LABORED UNDER AT THIS TIME IN

THE LATTER PART OF 1900s.

HE WAS LOOKING FOR A SOLUTION,

AND AN, ARCHISM APPEALED TO HIM.

HE WENT TO A SPEECH GIVEN BY

EMMITT GOLDMAN IN 1901, MAY

1901, WHERE HE WAS VERY

IMPRESSED.

HE SAID THAT HER WORDS MADE HIS

SKULL HURT HE WAS SO TAKEN BY

WHAT SHE SAID.

>> Jon: ALTHOUGH, TO BE FAIR,

HIS SKULL PROBABLY HURT

BEFOREHAND BECAUSE HE WAS A

LITTLE BIT OF A KNUCKLE HEAD.

>> HE WAS A BIT OF A LOANER.

>> Jon: I WAS STRUCK BY IT WAS

ONE OF THOSE SITUATIONS, USUALLY

EVEN IN THESE SITUATIONS, AN

ASSASSIN, THEY GO TO THE FAMILY.

EVERYBODY WHO IS FAMILY IS LIKE,

YEAH, WE NEVER LIKED THAT GUY.

HIS STEP DAD AND SISTER ARE

LIKE, YEAH, THAT GUY WAS NUTS.

I KNEW SOMETHING BAD WAS GOING

TO HAPPEN HERE.

>> IT WAS VERY SAD WHEN THE

NEWSPAPER REPORTERS DESCENDED ON

THE FAMILY.

HIS STEPMOTHER IN PARTICULAR WAS

LIKE, WE KNEW HE WAS NO GOOD.

>> Jon: YEAH.

>> THE ONLY THING THAT SURPRISED

HIM WAS THAT HE HAD ENOUGH

AMBITION AND ENERGY TO DO

SOMETHING LIKE THIS.

>> SHE SAID, THAT CAN'T BE HIM,

HE'S KIND OF A COWARD.

>> EXACTLY.

>> Jon: IT WAS CRAZY.

THE THEMES, YOU KNOW, WE ALWAYS

TRY AND LOOK BACK.

I ALWAYS LIKE TO IN MODERN TIMES

WE GET THIS SENSE THAT WE'RE ON

THE PRECIPICE OF, YOU KNOW,

UNPRECEDENTED DIFFICULTIES AND

TENUOUS TIMES.

PEOPLE BACK THEN COMPLAINED

ABOUT THE UNPRECEDENTED,

TENUOUS, DIFFICULT TIME, THE

VIOLENCE, THE TERROR, HOW WE HAD

LOST OUR MORAL COMPASS.

HOW OFTEN DOES THAT... IT

APPEARS TO HAVE REACHED A PEAK

AT THAT TIME.

>> PEOPLE, ORDINARY AMERICANS

WERE VERY AWARE AND VERY AFRAID

OF ANARCHISTS IN THE 1890s.

THERE HAD BEEN A STRING OF

ATTACKS IN EUROPE AGAINST ROYAL

HOUSEHOLD AND INDUSTRIALISTS.

IN THE U.S., FOUR ANARCHISTS

WERE HACKED BECAUSE OF THE

MURDER OF A CHICAGO POLICEMEN.

IT WAS A LOONY TOON BOMB, A

ROUND THING WAS A FUSE THEY HAD

THROWN IN, KILLED A POLICEMEN.

A COUPLE YEARS LATER ANARCHISTS

TRIED TO ASSASSINATE HENRY CLAY

FRICK, A STEEL MAGNATE.

>> THE STORY OF THE GENTLEMAN

WHO TRIED TO ASSASSINATE FRICK

WHERE HE BASICALLY MAKES AN

APPOINTMENT WITH FRICK, BURSTS

INTO HIS OFFICE, SHOOTS HIM

TWICE IN THE NECK, STABS HIM,

WRESTLES HIM...

>> UH-HUH.

>> Jon: GUY WALKS AWAY.

>> FRICK WAS ONE TOUGH GUY.

>> Jon: I WAS GOING TO SAY.

>> YES.

HE REFUSED ANAESTHESIA DURING

THE OPERATION WHEN THEY REMOVED

THE BULLETS FROM HIS NECK.

ONCE THEY STITCHED HIM UP, HE

WENT BACK TO HIS DESK AND

COMPLETED A BANK LOAN AND WROTE

A LETTER TO HIS MOM AND LIVED

FOR DECADES.

>> Jon: HERE'S THE CRAZY PART

ABOUT THE LETTER, IT DIDN'T

MENTION THE SHOOTING.

BUT IT'S LIKE, THEY'RE PROBING

HIS NECK, YEAH, THAT'S IT, THAT

HURTS.

UNBELIEVABLE.

IT'S ALSO INTERESTING HOW THE

SPEECH, YOU KNOW, ANARCHISTS

COULD SPEAK OPENLY ABOUT

PRAISING KILLING.

IT WAS A VERY DIFFERENT TIME IN

AMERICA.

YOU IMAGINE THAT THERE WAS LESS

FREEDOM OF SPEECH, BUT IN MANY

WAYS IT WAS MORE.

EMMITT GOLDMAN WHO HE SITES, HE

BASICALLY SAID, "I KILLED

McKINLEY BECAUSE EMMITT

GOLDMAN."

THINK OF HOW WE ARE IN THIS

SOCIETY, YET SHE STILL CONTINUED

TO GIVE SPEECHES.

>> IT WAS A VERY FINE LINE THAT

EMMITT GOLDMAN WALKED BETWEEN

DISAVOWING VIOLENCE AND THEN SHE

ALSO OCCASIONALLY WOULD SHOW

COMPASSION FOR ANARCHISTS WHO

HAD MURDERED SOMEBODY.

IT'S VERY DIFFICULT.

SHE WAS VERY FAMOUS AROUND THE

COUNTRY FOR GIVING SPEECHES.

SHE WAS OFTEN ARRESTED.

SHE KEPT A BOOK WITH HER BECAUSE

SHE SPENT SO MANY NIGHTS IN JAIL

SO SHE'D HAVE SOMETHING TO DO.

POLICE WOULD TAKE HER OUT OF

JAIL IN THE MORNING AND SEND HER

ON TO THE NEXT TOWN.

GET OUT OF OUR HAIR.

>> WERE THEY WORD SEARCHES?

JUMBLES?

JUST READING AND THAT SORT OF

THING?

>> YEAH.

>> Jon: IS McKINLEY'S

LEGACY, WOULD YOU SAY, THE FACT

THAT HIS ECONOMY USHERED US INTO

THE INDUSTRIAL AGE OR THAT HIS

WARRING USHERED US INTO THE

IMPERIAL AGE?

WHAT WOULD YOU SAY?

>> I WOULD THINK THAT THE

LATTER.

FOR THE FIRST TIME, UP UNTIL

HIM, UP UNTIL McKINLEY, THE

U.S. HAD BEEN VERY MUCH FOCUSED

ON SETTLING THE NORTH AMERICAN

CONTINENT.

WHEN HE WAS KILLED, FOR THE

FIRST TIME THE U.S. HAD

POSSESSIONS OVERSEAS.

WE HAD COLONIES.

THE PHILIPPINES WAS A VIRTUAL

COLONY.

WE HAD DEVELOPED A POLICY WITH

REGARD TO CHINA, THE OPEN-DOOR

POLICY, WHICH REALLY GUIDED OUR

POLICY IN THE FAR EAST RIGHT UP

UNTIL PEARL HARBOR.

SO HE REALLY INTRODUCED AMERICA

TO FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND PROVIDED

COMMITMENTS FOR US.

>> Jon: THAT'S THE NICEST WAY

I'VE EVER HEARD THAT PUT.

HE INTRODUCED US TO FOREIGN

AFFAIRS AND COMMITMENTS,

COMMITMENTS WE STILL ENJOY

TODAY.

[LAUGHTER]

"THE PRESIDENT AND THE ASSASSIN"

ON THE BOOKSHELVES NOW.

SCOTT MILLER, THANK YOU SO MUCH.

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