Thursday, 13 March 2008

They Shot the Prime Minister (but not this one)

Most people know that its all too common for the leaders of the USA to be shot, but how much more interesting would school have been if they had told us about the killing of the British Prime Minister? On the 11th of May 1812, Prime Minister Spencer Perceval was shot and killed by John Bellingham in the lobby of the House of Commons. He remains the only Prime Minister to be assassinated.
The assassin was John Bellingham, a merchant who had incurred business debts in Russia. He had tried to recover compensation from the government for his losses, but was refused. He therefore sought revenge on a representative of that government. Perceval's body rested in 10 Downing Street for five days, mourned by his wife and twelve children. Bellingham was later tried and hung for Perceval's murder. His last words were, appropriately, 'Oh, I have been murdered'
He is quoted as saying during a debate on corrupt electoral practices: "I have nothing to say to the nothing that has been said." Sounds just like today.
What makes this topical is the recent killing of Benazir Bhutto (Prime Minister of Pakistan 1988-90 1993-6) . There is an unfortunate trend in the USA, where many Presidents have been killed or had lucky escapes. There has been press speculation about the possible assassination of candidate Obama, apparently unlike the other candidates he is already being protected.
USA Assassination Attempts
* Lincoln, Abraham (president of U.S.): Shot April 14, 1865, in Washington, DC, by John Wilkes Booth; died April 15.
* Garfield, James A. (president of U.S.): Shot July 2, 1881, in Washington, DC, by Charles J. Guiteau; died Sept. 19.
* McKinley, William (president of U.S.): Shot Sept. 6, 1901, in Buffalo by Leon Czolgosz; died Sept. 14.
* Roosevelt, Theodore (ex-president of U.S.): Escaped assassination (though shot) Oct. 14, 1912, in Milwaukee while campaigning for president.
* Roosevelt, Franklin D. (president-elect of U.S.): Escaped assassination unhurt Feb. 15, 1933, in Miami.
* Long, Huey P. (U.S. senator from Louisiana): Shot Sept. 8, 1935, in Baton Rouge by Dr. Carl A. Weiss; died Sept. 10.
* Truman, Harry S. (president of U.S.): Escaped assassination unhurt Nov. 1, 1950, in Washington, DC, as 2 Puerto Rican nationalists attempted to shoot their way into Blair House.
* Kennedy, John F. (president of U.S.): Shot Nov. 22, 1963, in Dallas, Tex., allegedly by Lee Harvey Oswald; died same day. Injured was Gov. John B. Connally of Texas. Oswald was shot and killed two days later by Jack Ruby.
* Malcolm X, also known as El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (black activist): Shot and killed in a New York City auditorium, Feb. 21, 1965; his killer(s) were never positively identified.
* King, Martin Luther, Jr. (civil rights leader): Shot April 4, 1968, in Memphis by James Earl Ray; died same day.
* Kennedy, Robert F. (U.S. senator from New York): Shot June 5, 1968, in Los Angeles by Sirhan Bishara Sirhan; died June 6.
* Ford, Gerald R. (president of U.S.): Escaped assassination attempt Sept. 5, 1975, in Sacramento, Calif., by Lynette Alice (Squeaky) Fromme, who pointed but did not fire .45-caliber pistol. Escaped assassination attempt in San Francisco, Calif., Sept. 22, 1975, by Sara Jane Moore, who fired one shot from a .38-caliber pistol that was deflected.
* Jordan, Vernon E., Jr. (civil rights leader): Shot and critically wounded in assassination attempt May 29, 1980, in Fort Wayne, Ind.
* Reagan, Ronald (president of U.S.): Shot in left lung in Washington by John W. Hinckley, Jr., on March 30, 1981; three others also wounded.

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