The Connection Between Port Austin & Alpena, Michigan and the Assassinations of Two U.S. Presidents
History has an ironic, sometimes sardonic sense of humor.
Such is the case with two U.S. Presidents: James Garfield and William McKinley.
Let’s start with Garfield. He was not born in Michigan, he was from Ohio. However, one of his favorite places was in Michigan: Port Austin. Years before he was president, he would spend many vacation days in Port Austin…so many, that some people believed that was where he was from. In fact, a Port Austin hotel was named after him: The Garfield Inn, where he stayed many, many times in his earlier, pre-presidential years.
Legend states that it was at this inn where Garfield kicked off his campaign for president sometime in 1879/1880.
His campaign was successful, he was elected, and became president on March 4, 1881. Just six months later, he was shot by assassin Charles Guiteau in September 1881 but did not die immediately; his dying wish was to go back to Port Austin, a place that was near and dear to his heart. His affection and closeness for this particular Michigan town became so legendary, that Garfield was given an ‘honorary’ title as being a true Michigander.
Now, fast-forward twenty years, to September 1901 – twenty years to the month after Garfield died. It was in that year and month that another president was shot to death: William McKinley. The man who took him out was 23-year-old Leon Frank Czolgosz. No, McKinley was not from Michigan, but Czolgosz was from Alpena. You can read more about that here.
The ironic & sardonic part of this whole thing is that an honorary Michigander – a president – was shot and killed, and two decades later, to the month, another president was killed, but this time by a Michigander.
A brief photo gallery is below.
Garfield, McKinley, & Michigan
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