RESEARCH TO GO
Answers in brief
- James A. Garfield—20th President of the U.S, shot as he was boarding a train in Washington, D.C. on July 2, 1881 by Charles Guiteau who believed Garfield owed him a patronage job; he also thought Garfield’s political decisions would destroy the Republican party.
- John F. Kennedy—35th President of the U.S. shot on November 22, 1963 while riding in a motorcade in Dallas, Texas by Lee Harvey Oswald who was later shot by Jack Ruby; no clear motive was ever established and questions remain as to whether Oswald was the sole gunman; conspiracy theories abound to this day.
- Robert Kennedy—U.S. Senator and brother of J. F. Kennedy shot while exiting the kitchen of Ambassador Hotel in San Francisco after winning the California and South Dakota primaries on June 5, 1968 by Sirhan Sirhan; assassination was recorded on video although Sirhan’s lawyers claim he was framed; conspiracy theories on this and its connection to J. F. Kennedy’s assassination continue; Sirhan’s notes indicate he believed RFK needed to be sacrificed for the sake of poor, exploited people.
- Martin Luther King, Jr.—Civil Rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate shot on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, TN on April 4, 1968 by James Earl Ray; racism and a desire for notoriety have been offered as reasons but there is no definitive cause; conspiracy theories blame Fidel Castro, the mob, and others.
- Abraham Lincoln—16th President of the U.S. shot while watching a play from the balcony of Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C. on April 14, 1865 by John Wilkes Booth, an actor and strong supporter of the Confederacy; others were involved in the plot; Booth believed Lincoln would overturn the Constitution and destroy the South.
- William McKinley—25th President of the U.S. shot on September 6, 1901 while shaking hands inside the Temple of Music at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, NY by Leon Czolgosz, an anarchist; McKinley died eight days later from gangrene caused by the bullet wounds; Czolgosz felt the rich exploited the working poor.
- Malcolm X—Civil Rights activist and former leader of the Nation of Islam shot On February 21, 1965 while giving a speech in the Audubon Ballroom in New York City by Talmadge Hayer and two others (Norman 3X Butler and Thomas 15X Johnson were also found guilty of the murder); possible reasons include the Nation of Islam’s desire to punish Malcolm X for his leaving the organization, but no clear evidence exists and conspiracy theories continue.
- Benigno Aquino, Jr.—Philippine Senator and political opponent of dictator Ferdinand Marcos shot departing airplane on his return to the Philippines from his self-exile in the U.S.; Rolando Galman, killed at the site was later implicated; 25 military personnel and a civilian were charged in the assassination but acquitted; many believe Marcos was responsible for the killing.
- Benazir Bhutto—11th Prime Minister of Pakistan shot on December 27, 2007 in Rawalpindi, Pakistan while giving a speech to supporters; the assassin immediately blew himself up, killing many others; in 2013 Pervez Musharraf who had been Prime Minister at the time, was indicted for murder and conspiracy; his government had blamed Baitullah Mehsud, a Pakistani Taliban leader.
- Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria—Heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire shot on June 28, 1914 in Sarajevo, Bosnia while inspecting imperial armed forces in Bosnia-Herzegovina by Gavrilo Princip; Princip attempted to kill himself but was captured by police; he was a member of the Black Hand, nationalist Serbian secret society that felt Austro-Hungary was denying them freedom and their rights; Princip, under interrogation, gave the names of his co-conspirators and was given a 20-year prison sentence; the assassination led to the start of World War I.
- Mohandas (Mahatma) Gandhi—Indian non-violent political and spiritual leader shot as he entered a prayer meeting on January 30, 1948 by Nathuram Godse, a Hindu nationalist; Godse, along with other extremists thought Gandhi’s non-violent approach would lead to Muslims slaughtering Hindus; he and one other conspirator were sentenced to death, others involved in the plot received jail sentences.
- Nicholas II, Czar of Russia—Ruler of Russia shot on July 17, 1918 in Ekaterinburg, Russia while in confinement by Bolsheviks following his abdication; he and his family were executed to prevent their rescue by an advancing army of White Russians.
- Yitzhak Rabin—5th Prime Minister of Israel and peace advocate shot on November 4, 1995 in Tel-Aviv, Israel at the conclusion of a rally in support of the Oslo Accords by Yigal Amir, an opponent of peace with neighboring Arab countries; Amir is serving a life sentence (+ additional years for other charges) for murder.
- Anwar Sadat—3rd President of Egypt shot on October 6, 1981 during annual victory parade in Cairo, Egypt by several military men; the assassins were members of an offshoot of the Islamic Brotherhood which later developed ties to Al-Qaeda; their leader was opposed to the peace treaty Sadat has signed with Israel; the assassins were imprisoned but three escaped later, one was killed, one re-arrested, the fate of the other is unknown.
- Leon Trotsky—Russian Bolshevik leader living in exile fatally wounded by an ax on August, 20, 1940 outside Mexico City by Ramón Mercader, a Spanish communist possibly acting under the direction of Stalin; Trotsky was opposed to the bureaucratic state being built by Stalin, it’s rejection of democracy within the Party, and failure to develop adequate economic policies; Mercader received a 20-year prison sentence from a Mexican court.
- Thomas Becket–Archbishop of Canterbury under the reign of King Henry II hacked to death by swords on December 29, 1170 while in the Cathedral by knights probably responding to the King’s wish to have “someone rid [him] of this troublesome priest;”Becket had just excommunicated the Archbishop of York and other churchmen; Becket was raised to sainthood; King Henry II was exonerated from direct connection with the murder but had to supply 200 men for a crusade, be whipped by 80 monks, and cease attempting to try clerics in civil courts; the knights involved were excommunicated but sought absolution from the Pope who agreed but required them to serve 14 years in the Holy Land.
- Julius Caesar—Dictator of the Roman Empire and noted general stabbed on January 4, 44 BCE in at a meeting in hall by Pompey’s Theater in Rome by Senators Servilius Casca and Marcus Brutus who opposed Caesar’s appointing men loyal to him to act in his place when he went off to war; Octavian who was his heir was determined to get revenge and two years later the assassins committed suicide after learning Octavian’s forces had defeated theirs in a battle of Philippi.
- Henri IV, King of France—King of Navarre and France stabbed on May 14, 1610 while sitting in his coach by François Ravaillac; Henry IV had converted to Catholicism to satisfy the French and back to Protestantism was a benevolent monarch who was attempting to reconcile divisions in the country; Ravaillac was a fanatical Catholic.
- Jean Paul Marat—Politician and radical journalist during the French Revolution was stabbed while in the bathtub on July 13, 1793 by Charlotte Corday; he spent much time in his bath to ease a skin condition; Corday, a Girondist (favored ending the monarchy but not the Reign of Terror), was convinced he was France’s greatest enemy, waited for the police after stabbing Marat and was guillotined four days later.
- Philip II, King of Macedon—Greek king of Macedon and father of Alexander the Great killed October 336 BCE at Aegae, the Macedonian capital while entering the town’s theater to greet Greek diplomats by Pausanias of Orestis, one of his bodyguards; the assassination may have been caused by a belief Philip had denied him justice or instigated by Philip’s wife Olympias; Pausanias was captured and killed.