How to Explain Presidential Assassinations to Your Kids

An illustrated history of both real and would-be assassins and their presidential targets, children’s edition.

National Journal
Marina Koren
Add to Briefcase
Marina Koren
Sept. 20, 2013, 10:42 a.m.

Two years ago, when Bry­an Young ex­plained the as­sas­sin­a­tion of Ab­ra­ham Lin­coln to his 8-year-old daugh­ter after his trip to Ford’s Theatre in Wash­ing­ton, he was sur­prised by how fas­cin­ated she was.

“That was the first time she real­ized that pres­id­en­tial as­sas­sin­a­tion was a thing that could hap­pen and that it was a thing that had happened in his­tory,” Young said. “She wanted to know about who would do such a thing, and why would they do such a thing.”

Soon, Young can give his daugh­ter, and oth­er kids her age, the an­swers. In An Il­lus­trated His­tory of Pres­id­en­tial As­sas­sin­a­tions, out early next year, Young writes about U.S. pres­id­ents who sur­vived as­sas­sin­a­tion at­tempts (and the ones who didn’t) in a style that’s equal parts his­tory text­book and bed­time story.

The book be­gins with the first at­temp­ted as­sas­sin­a­tion of a pres­id­ent in U.S. his­tory. In 1835, Richard Lawrence, de­li­ri­ous from paint chem­ic­als and con­vinced he was meant to be King Richard III of Eng­land, shot at An­drew Jack­son after a con­gress­man’s fu­ner­al on Cap­it­ol Hill.

Jack­son was leav­ing the Cap­it­ol through the East Por­tico when Lawrence struck, fir­ing his first pis­tol…
…but it mis­fired!
Pulling his second pis­tol, he fired again…
…but it mis­fired, too!
Not one to take such ac­tions lightly, Jack­son hit Lawrence with his cane, chas­ing him around and hit­ting him un­til the on­look­ers could re­strain the would-be as­sas­sin. For­tu­nately for every­one, Con­gress­man Davy Crock­et, hero of the fron­ti­er, was there and was able to sub­due Lawrence with the oth­er on­look­ers.

The book doc­u­ments the most fam­ous as­sas­sin­a­tion vic­tims, like Ab­ra­ham Lin­coln, James Gar­field, Wil­li­am McKin­ley, and John F. Kennedy. It also chron­icles at­tempts with (un­der the cir­cum­stances) happy end­ings, like the time Theodore Roosevelt gave a 90-minute speech while bleed­ing from a gun­shot wound to the chest. And the time Samuel Byck hi­jacked a plane to fly in­to Richard Nix­on’s White House. And the time John Hinckley Jr. fired a bul­let that missed Ron­ald Re­agan’s heart by an inch.

Last month, Young began rais­ing money for the book on Kick­starter, a fun­drais­ing web­site. He reached his goal of $3,000 with­in 10 days. With less than a week to go un­til the cam­paign closes, the people of the In­ter­net have pledged $5,238. Young said he was sur­prised by the re­sponse, but thinks there are par­ents — and people in gen­er­al — like him out there who like see­ing his­tory pack­aged in a quirky way. Es­pe­cially polit­ic­al his­tory, which he says car­ries a cer­tain stigma.

“In today’s day and age with such a di­vis­ive polit­ic­al land­scape, I think people for­get that we have a shared his­tory, and that it doesn’t have to be di­vis­ive or un­com­fort­able,” Young said. “It can be in­ter­est­ing or fun even though the top­ic is grim.”

What We're Following See More »
TO CLOSE TEST SITES
North Korea Says It Will Suspend Nuclear Tests
2 hours ago
THE LATEST

"North Korea says it has suspended nuclear and long-range missile tests and plans to close its nuclear test site. The North’s official Korean Central News Agency said the suspension of nuclear and ICBM tests went into effect Saturday." The announcement comes shortly before Kim Jong Un "is set to meet South Korean President Moon Jae-in in a border truce village for a rare summit aimed at resolving the nuclear standoff with Pyongyang."

Source:
FOSTER FREISS TO MAKE ANNOUNCEMENT TODAY
GOP Megadonor Running For Governor In Wyoming
6 hours ago
THE LATEST

"Republican megadonor Foster Friess has told party leaders in Wyoming that he plans to run for governor," and is expected to make an announcement this afternoon. Friess has donated "millions of dollars to Republican candidates and causes over the last decade, according to federal campaign finance records," including over "$1.7 million to boost Santorum's [presidential] campaign" in 2016. Gov. Matt Mead (R) is term-limited, and "a handful of Republicans are running in an open primary to succeed him in one of the reddest states in the country."

Source:
DEATH TOLL REACHES 38
Israeli Army Kills Four Palestinian Protestors
8 hours ago
THE LATEST

Four Palestinian protestors have been killed by Israeli fire near the Gaza-Israel border, bringing the death toll to 38, in what marks the "fourth consecutive week of Gaza's March of Return mass protests." The marches are part of a "month-and-a-half-long protest organized by Hamas near the border fence," which organizers have said will not stop before May 15. The marches are intended to emulate anti-apartheid protests in South Africa, and to commemorate the forced expulsion of Palestinians from their homes in 1948, during the establishment of the State of Israel.

Source:
NO TIMELINE SET
McCabe To Sue For Wrongful Termination, Defamation
8 hours ago
THE LATEST

"Former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe is looking to sue for defamation, wrongful termination and other possible civil claims, his lawyer told reporters Friday." McCabe's attorney Michael Bromwich said that his team "hasn't managed to find any witnesses to corroborate McCabe's version of the story," although they have not had enough time to do so. "McCabe’s lawyers are also seeking ways to release the emails between McCabe and Comey, which would offer insight into their communication about the leaks to the Wall Street Journal."

Source:
SEEKS COMPENSATORY DAMAGES
DNC Files Sweeping Lawsuit Over 2016 Election
9 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

"The Democratic National Committee filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit Friday against the Russian government, the Trump campaign and the WikiLeaks organization alleging a far-reaching conspiracy to disrupt the 2016 campaign and tilt the election to Donald Trump. The complaint, filed in federal district court in Manhattan, alleges that top Trump campaign officials conspired with the Russian government and its military spy agency to hurt Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and help Trump by hacking the computer networks of the Democratic Party and disseminating stolen material found there." The DNC is seeking "millions of dollars in compensation to offset damage it claims the party suffered from the hacks," and is arguing the cyberattack" undermined its ability to communicate with voters, collect donations and operate effectively as its employees faced personal harassment and, in some cases, death threats."

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login