Fast Facts: Plots to Kill a President

Four American presidents have been assassinated and several others have had attempts made on their lives. Following is a breakdown of the violent acts and plots made against presidents:


Abraham Lincoln: shot and killed April 14, 1865

John Wilkes Booth, an actor and a Southern sympathizer during the Civil War, assassinated Lincoln during a performance of Our American Cousin at Ford's Theatre in Washington. Booth escaped but was found hiding in a barn where authorities shot and killed him. Others who were tied to an assassination conspiracy were executed.

James A. Garfield: shot July 2, 1881 and died Sept. 19, 1881

Charles J. Guiteau shot Garfield in the back at Union Station in Washington. The assassin apparently was upset at not getting a job in the Garfield administration and he wanted to put Vice President Chester A. Arthur into office. He was hanged for the crime.

William McKinkley: shot Sept. 6, 1901 and died Sept. 14

Leon Czolgosz, an anarchist, twice shot McKinley at the Pan-American Exposition being held in Buffalo, N.N. In a confession, Czologosz said he wanted to change the U.S. government. He was executed Oct. 29, 1901.

John F. Kennedy: shot and killed Nov. 22, 1963

Lee Harvey Oswald shot at Kennedy's car as it made its way through downtown Dallas. Besides hitting Kennedy, shots also injured Texas Gov. John Connolly. Oswald was apprehended but two days later he was shot and killed by Jack Ruby as authorities were transporting him. Despite allegations that Oswald was part of a conspiracy, the Warren Commission concluded he acted alone.

Attempted Assassinations

Andrew Jackson: Jan. 30, 1835.

Would-be assassin Richard Lawrence misfired twice at Jackson at the Capitol Building. He was found not guilty by reason of insanity and was sent to a mental institution, where he remained until his death in 1861.

Theodore Roosevelt: Oct. 13, 1912

No longer president, Roosevelt was in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, when he was shot by John Schrank. A prepared speech in Roosevelt's breast pocket, which was thick and folded slowed the bullet, and Roosevelt insisted on giving his speech with the bullet still inside him. Schrank was found legally insane was sent to an mental institution, where he remained until his death in 1943.

Franklin D. Roosevelt: Feb. 15, 1933

Giuseppe Zangara fired five shots at Roosevelt's motorcade in Miami Florida, one month before Roosevelt was to be sworn in. The mayor of Chicago, Anton Cermak, was killed in the barrage, and four people were wounded. Zangara was convicted of murder and executed.

Harry S. Truman: Nov. 1, 1950

Two men, Oscar Collazo and Griselio Torresola, ambushed the Blair House in Washington D.C., where Truman was temporarily residing. Torresola was killed by guards, while Collazo was wounded. Collazo was sentenced was sentenced to death, but Truman reduced the sentence to life in prison, and Jimmy Carter subsequently freed him in 1979.

Richard Nixon: Feb. 22, 1974

Samuel S. Byck plotted to kill Nixon by crashing a commercial airliner into the White House. After finding his attempt could not succeed, he shot the pilot and copilot, and then killed himself.

Gerald Ford: Sept. 5, 1975 and Sept. 22, 1975

Lynette Fromme, a disciple of Charles Manson, drew an unloaded revolver on Ford in Sacramento, California; she was sentenced to life in prison, where she remains. 17 days later, in San Francisco, California, Sara Jane Moore fired a revolver at Ford from 40 feet away. The shot missed Ford because a bystander grabbed Moore's arm. Moore was sentenced to life in prison.

Ronald Reagan: March 30, 1981

John Hinckley, Jr. fired six shots at Reagan in Washington, D.C. in an attempt to impress actress Jodie Foster. One bullet ruptured Reagan's lung and lodged close to his heart. Another bullet entered the brain of press secretary James Brady. Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of insanity, and remains in a mental institution in Washington.

Bill Clinton: Oct. 29, 1994

Francisco Martin Duran fired shots at the White House, believing that Clinton was among a group of men in dark suits. There were no injuries and Duran was sentenced to 40 years in prison.

George W. Bush: February 2001

Federal officials accuse Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, an American citizen, of plotting to kill Bush. The federal indictment said that in 2002 and 2003 Abu Ali and an unidentified co-conspirator discussed plans for Abu Ali to assassinate Bush. They discussed two scenarios, the indictment said: one in which Abu Ali "would get close enough to the president to shoot him on the street" and, alternatively, "an operation in which Abu Ali would detonate a car bomb."

Source Information: Wikipedia, U.S. Justice Department