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Johann Friedrich Pfaff
Johann Friedrich Pfaff's father, Burkhard Pfaff, was chief financial counsellor of Württemberg while his mother was the daughter of a member of the exchequer of Württemberg. It was a family with a tradition of working as civil servants for the government of Württemberg.
Johann Friedrich was the second of his parents seven sons and, although perhaps the one to attain the greatest fame, he was certainly not the only one to excel in science. The youngest of the family, Johann Wilhelm Pfaff who was born in 1774 , also became a mathematician and held chairs in Würtzburg and Erlangen. The second youngest, Christoph Heinrich Pfaff was born in 1773 and, with interests in chemistry, medicine and pharmacy, he worked with Volta on electricity in animals.
There was a school in Stuttgart, the Hohe Karlsschule, which was run to train sons of government officials of Württemberg and Johann Friedrich attended this school from the age of nine. It was a rather uninspiring school, strong on discipline but less good academically. Pfaff did not learn much in the way of mathematics there despite attending the school until he was nearly twenty. When he left in the autumn of 1785 he had completed his studies in law, a fitting subject for a civil servant.
Despite a lack of training in mathematics at his school, Pfaff had studied mathematics on his own and began to study the works of Euler. He was encouraged to move toward scientific topics by the Duke of Württemberg, and he spent two years studying at the University of Göttingen where he was taught mathematics by Kästner and he also studied physics. From Göttingen, Pfaff moved to Berlin in the summer of 1787 . There he studied astronomy under J E Bode, and Pfaff wrote his first paper which was on a problem in astronomy.
In the spring of 1788 Pfaff set off on a journey to Vienna but he visited many universities on the way, in particular Halle, Jena, Helmstedt, Dresden, and Prague. Klügel was professor of mathematics at Helmstedt and he accepted a chair at Halle leaving the position at Helmstedt vacant. Pfaff's physics professor at Göttingen recommended him for the chair, and Pfaff submitted a dissertation on the occasion of his election as professor of mathematics at the University of Helmstedt. It was a tradition that new professors at the university there submitted an inaugural dissertation.
Pfaff's inaugural dissertation was titled Programma inaugurale in quo peculiarem differentialia investigandi rationem ex theoria functionum deducit Ⓣ . It investigates the use of some functional equations in order to calculate the differentials of logarithmic and trigonometrical functions as well as the binomial expansion and Taylor formula. This is studied in detail in [ 4 ] .
From his appointment in 1788 until 1810 Pfaff held the chair at Helmstedt. His appointment was approved by the Duke of Württemberg but it was not the best of positions, since it was poorly paid. He did good work building the strength of mathematics there and he put much effort into teaching and was successful in increasing the number of students of mathematics. One student who studied at Helmstedt was Gauss. After studying at Göttingen, Gauss came to Helmstedt in 1798 . He attended Pfaff's lectures and even lived in his house. Wussing writes in [ 1 ] :-
By the time Gauss studied with Pfaff at Helmstedt, the university was under threat of closure. Pfaff fought hard to prevent this and for a few years he was successful. Pfaff married in 1803 to Caroline Brand but sadly their first child died as an infant. By 1810 Pfaff's attempts to preserve the University of Helmstedt finally failed with the closure of the university. The staff were given a number of different choices as to which university they might move to, and Pfaff chose to move to Halle.
He was appointed to the chair of mathematics at Halle in 1810 and in 1812 , on the death of Klügel, he took on the directorship of the University Observatory too.
Pfaff did important work in analysis working on partial differential equations, special functions and the theory of series. He developed Taylor's Theorem using the form with remainder as given by Lagrange. In 1810 he contributed to the solution of a problem due to Gauss concerning the ellipse of greatest area which could be drawn inside a given quadrilateral.
His most important work on Pfaffian forms was published in 1815 when Pfaff was nearly fifty years old but its importance was not recognised until 1827 when Jacobi published a paper on Pfaff's method. This failure to recognise the importance of the work is strange, particularly given the very positive review which Gauss wrote of the work shortly after it was published. In the 1815 paper, which Pfaff submitted to the Berlin Academy on 11 May, he presented a transformation of a first-order partial differential equation into a differential system. This theory of equations in total differentials is undoubtedly Pfaff's most significant contribution. Wussing writes in [ 1 ] that this work by Pfaff:-
Julia F. Andrews, a specialist in Chinese art, was the first American art historian to conduct dissertation research in China after formal establishment of US-China relations in 1979. Her first book, Painters and Politics in the People's Republic of China, 1949-1979 (University of California Press,1994), which she wrote during her early years at Ohio State, won the Joseph Levenson Prize of the Association for Asian Studies (AAS) for the best book of the year on modern China. Her more recent book, Art of Modern China (co-authored with Kuiyi Shen), published by the University of California Press, 2012, received the biennial Humanities Book Prize of the International Convention of Asia Scholars (ICAS) in 2013.
In addition to teaching and writing, from time to time she curates an exhibition, and frequently contributes to exhibition catalogues. Most recently she co-curated Light Before Dawn: Unofficial Chinese Art, 1974-1985, at the Asia Society, Hong Kong Center (May 15-Sept. 1, 2013). She conceived one of the first American exhibitions of contemporary Chinese art, Fragmented Memory: The Chinese Avant-Garde in Exile, at OSU's Wexner Center for the Arts in 1993, and the Guggenheim Museum's ground-breaking 1998 exhibition, A Century in Crisis: Modernity and Tradition in the Art of Twentieth Century China, shown in New York and Bilbao.
Among her other projects have been “Pictorial Shanghai (Shanghai huabao, 1925-1933) and Creation of Shanghai’s Modern Visual Culture,” forthcoming in Journal of Art Studies (Taiwan), “Japanese Oil Paintings in the First Chinese National Fine Arts Exhibition of 1929 and the Development of Asian Modernism,” in Joshua Fogel, ed. Role of Japan in Modern Chinese Art (Berkeley, 2012) Blooming in the Shadows: Unofficial Chinese Art, 1974-1985 (New York: China Institute, 2011) “The Art of Revolutionary Romanticism, 1949-1965,” in Chinese Art in an Age of Revolution: Fu Baoshi (1904-1965), Anita Chung, ed. (Yale/Cleveland Museum of Art, 2011) “The Art of the Cultural Revolution,” in Richard King, ed. Art in Turmoil: The Chinese Cultural Revolution, 1966-1976 (Vancouver, 2010) “Art Under Mao, ‘Cai Guoqiang’s Maksimov Collection’ and China’s Twentieth Century,” in Josh Yiu, ed. Writing Modern Chinese Art (Seattle Art Museum, 2009) “Post-Mao, Post-Modern,” in Julia White, ed. Mahjong: Art, Film, and Change in China (Berkeley Art Museum, 2008) Chinese Painting on the Eve of the Communist Revolution: Chang Shu-chi and his Collection (Stanford, 2006) Schudy [Qiu Ti] (Nanjing, 2006) Sanyu, l'ecriture du corps (Paris: Museé Guimet, 2004) Between the Thunder and the Rain: Chinese Paintings from the Opium Wars to the Cultural Revolution, 1840–1979 (San Francisco, 2000) Word and Meaning: Six Contemporary Chinese Artists (Buffalo, 2000) and in 1997, an exhibition of original drawings from Shanghai People's Art Publishing House, Literature in Line: Lianhuanhua from China held at OSU's Cartoon Research Library.
In addition, she has recently been involved in collaborative web-supported projects, including “A New Approach to the Popular Press in China: Gender and Cultural Production, 1904-1937,” and “Picturing Utopia: the Iconography of Socialist Realism.”
She teaches undergraduate courses on Chinese and Japanese art and has led several study abroad programs in China. Her graduate seminars often focus on topics in Chinese painting or modern Chinese art her graduate students’ theses span topics in the arts of China, Taiwan, and Japan from the seventeenth through the twentieth centuries.
John Forbes Nash
John F Nash's father, also called John Forbes Nash so we shall refer to him as John Nash Senior, was a native of Texas. John Nash Senior was born in 1892 and had an unhappy childhood from which he escaped when he studied electrical engineering at Texas Agricultural and Mechanical. After military service in France during World War I, John Nash Senior lectured on electrical engineering for a year at the University of Texas before joining the Appalachian Power Company in Bluefield, West Virginia. John F Nash's mother, Margaret Virginia Martin, was known as Virginia. She had a university education, studying languages at the Martha Washington College and then at West Virginia University. She was a school teacher for ten years before meeting John Nash Senior, and the two were married on 6 September 1924 .
Johnny Nash, as he was called by his family, was born in Bluefield Sanitarium and baptised into the Episcopal Church. He was [ 2 ] :-
but he was brought up in a loving family surrounded by close relations who showed him much affection. After a couple of years Johnny had a sister when Martha was born. He seems to have shown a lot of interest in books when he was young but little interest in playing with other children. It was not because of lack of children that Johnny behaved in this way, for Martha and her cousins played the usual childhood games: cutting patterns out of books, playing hide-and-seek in the attic, playing football. However while the others played together Johnny played by himself with toy airplanes and matchbox cars.
His mother responded by enthusiastically encouraging Johnny's education, both by seeing that he got good schooling and also by teaching him herself. Johnny's father responded by treating him like an adult, giving him science books when other parents might give their children colouring books.
Johnny's teachers at school certainly did not recognise his genius, and it would appear that he gave them little reason to realise that he had extraordinary talents. They were more conscious of his lack of social skills and, because of this, labelled him as backward. Although it is easy to be wise after the event, it now would appear that he was extremely bored at school. By the time he was about twelve years old he was showing great interest in carrying out scientific experiments in his room at home. It is fairly clear that he learnt more at home than he did at school.
Martha seems to have been a remarkably normal child while Johnny seemed different from other children. She wrote later in life ( see [ 2 ] ) :-
His parents encouraged him to take part in social activities and he did not refuse, but sports, dances, visits to relatives and similar events he treated as tedious distractions from his books and experiments.
Nash first showed an interest in mathematics when he was about 14 years old. Quite how he came to read E T Bell's Men of Mathematics is unclear but certainly this book inspired him. He tried, and succeeded, in proving for himself results due to Fermat which Bell stated in his book. The excitement that Nash found here was in contrast to the mathematics that he studied at school which failed to interest him.
He entered Bluefield College in 1941 and there he took mathematics courses as well as science courses, in particular studying chemistry, which was a favourite topic. He began to show abilities in mathematics, particularly in problem solving, but still with hardly any friends and behaving in a somewhat eccentric manner, this only added to his fellow pupils view of him as peculiar. He did not consider a career in mathematics at this time, however, which is not surprising since it was an unusual profession. Rather he assumed that he would study electrical engineering and follow his father but he continued to conduct his own chemistry experiments and was involved in making explosives which led to the death of one of his fellow pupils. [ 2 ] :-
He caricatured classmates he disliked with weird cartoons, enjoyed torturing animals, and once tried to get his sister to sit in a chair he had wired up with batteries.
Nash won a scholarship in the George Westinghouse Competition and was accepted by the Carnegie Institute of Technology ( now Carnegie-Mellon University ) which he entered in June 1945 with the intention of taking a degree in chemical engineering. Soon, however, his growing interest in mathematics had him take courses on tensor calculus and relativity. There he came in contact with John Synge who had recently been appointed as Head of the Mathematics Department and taught the relativity course. Synge and the other mathematics professors quickly recognised Nash's remarkable mathematical talents and persuaded him to become a mathematics specialist. They realised that he had the talent to become a professional mathematician and strongly encouraged him.
Nash quickly aspired to great things in mathematics. He took the William Lowell Putnam Mathematics Competition twice but, although he did well, he did not make the top five. It was a failure in Nash's eyes and one which he took badly. The Putnam Mathematics Competition was not the only thing going badly for Nash. Although his mathematics professors heaped praise on him, his fellow students found him a very strange person. Physically he was strong and this saved him from being bullied, but his fellow students took delight in making fun of Nash who they saw as an awkward immature person displaying childish tantrums. One of his fellow students wrote:-
He showed homosexual tendencies, climbing into bed with the other boys who reacted by making fun of the fact that he was attracted to boys and humiliated him. They played cruel pranks on him and he reacted by asking his fellow students to challenge him with mathematics problems. He ended up doing the homework of many of the students.
Nash received a BA and an MA in mathematics in 1948 . By this time he had been accepted into the mathematics programme at Harvard, Princeton, Chicago and Michigan. He felt that Harvard was the leading university and so he wanted to go there, but on the other hand their offer to him was less generous than that of Princeton. Nash felt that Princeton were keen that he went there while he felt that his lack of success in the Putnam Mathematics Competition meant that Harvard were less enthusiastic. He took a while to make his decision, while he was encouraged by Synge and his other professors to accept Princeton. When Lefschetz offered him the most prestigious Fellowship that Princeton had, Nash made his decision to study there.
In September 1948 Nash entered Princeton where he showed an interest in a broad range of pure mathematics: topology, algebraic geometry, game theory and logic were among his interests but he seems to have avoided attending lectures. Usually those who decide not to learn through lectures turn to books but this appears not to be so for Nash, who decided not to learn mathematics "second-hand" but rather to develop topics himself. In many ways this approach was successful for it did contribute to him developing into one of the most original of mathematicians who would attack a problem in a totally novel way.
In 1949 , while studying for his doctorate, he wrote a paper which 45 years later was to win a Nobel prize for economics. During this period Nash established the mathematical principles of game theory. P Ordeshook wrote:-
In fact the game "Nash" was almost identical to Hex which had been invented independently by Piet Hein in Denmark.
Here are three comments from fellow students:-
Nash was out of the ordinary. If he was in a room with twenty people, and they were talking, if you asked an observer who struck you as odd it would have been Nash. It was not anything he consciously did. It was his bearing. His aloofness.
Nash was totally spooky. He wouldn't look at you. he'd take a lot of time answering a question. If he thought the question was foolish he wouldn't answer at all. He had no affect. It was a mixture of pride and something else. He was so isolated but there really was underneath it all a warmth and appreciation of people.
A lot of us would discount what Nash said. . I wouldn't want to listen. You didn't feel comfortable with the person.
He had ideas and was very sure they were important. He went to see Einstein not long after he arrived in Princeton and told him about an idea he had regarding gravity. After explaining complicated mathematics to Einstein for about an hour, Einstein advised him to go and learn more physics. Apparently a physicist did publish a similar idea some years later.
In 1950 Nash received his doctorate from Princeton with a thesis entitled Non-cooperative Games. In the summer of that year he worked for the RAND Corporation where his work on game theory made him a leading expert on the Cold War conflict which dominated RAND's work. He worked there from time to time over the next few years as the Corporation tried to apply game theory to military and diplomatic strategy. Back at Princeton in the autumn of 1950 he began to work seriously on pure mathematical problems. It might seem that someone who had just introduced ideas which would, one day, be considered worthy of a Nobel Prize would have no problems finding an academic post. However, Nash's work was not seen at the time to be of outstanding importance and he saw that he needed to make his mark in other ways. We should also note that it was not really a move towards pure mathematics for he had always considered himself a pure mathematician. He had already obtained results on manifolds and algebraic varieties before writing his thesis on game theory. His famous theorem, that any compact real manifold is diffeomorphic to a component of a real-algebraic variety, was thought of by Nash as a possible result to fall back on if his work on game theory was not considered suitable for a doctoral thesis. He said in a recent interview:-
In 1952 Nash published Real Algebraic Manifolds in the Annals of Mathematics. The most important result in this paper is that two real algebraic manifolds are equivalent if and only if they are analytically homeomorphic. Although publication of this paper on manifolds established him as a leading mathematician, not everyone at Princeton was prepared to see him join the Faculty there. This was nothing to do with his mathematical ability which everyone accepted as outstanding, but rather some mathematicians such as Artin felt that they could not have Nash as a colleague due to his aggressive personality.
Halmos received the following letter in early 1953 from Warren Ambrose relating to Nash ( see for example [ 2 ] ) :-
Nash continued to develop this work in the paper The imbedding problem for Riemannian manifolds published in 1956 . This paper contains his famous deep implicit function theorem. After this Nash worked on ideas that would appear in his paper Continuity of solutions of parabolic and elliptic equations which was published in the American Journal of Mathematics in 1958 . Nash, however, was very disappointed when he discovered that E De Giorgi had proved similar results by completely different methods.
The outstanding results which Nash had obtained in the course of a few years put him into contention for a 1958 Fields Medal but since his work on parabolic and elliptic equations was still unpublished when the Committee made their decisions he did not make it. One imagines that the Committee would have expected him to be a leading contender, perhaps even a virtual certainty, for a 1962 Fields Medal but mental illness destroyed his career long before those decisions were made.
During his time at MIT Nash began to have personal problems with his life which were in addition to the social difficulties he had always suffered. Colleagues said:-
Nash did not want to marry Eleanor although she tried hard to persuade him. In the summer of 1954 , while working for RAND, Nash was arrested in a police operation to trap homosexuals. He was dismissed from RAND.
One of Nash's students at MIT, Alicia Larde, became friendly with him and by the summer of 1955 they were seeing each other regularly. He also had a special friendship with a male graduate student at this time: Jack Bricker. Eleanor found out about Alicia in the spring of 1956 when she came to Nash's house and found him in bed with Alicia. Nash said to a friend:-
Alicia did not seem too upset at discovering that Nash had a child with Eleanor and deduced that since the affair had been going on for three years, Nash was probably not serious about her. In 1956 Nash's parents found out about his continuing affair with Eleanor and about his son John David Stier. The shock may have contributed to the death of Nash's father soon after, but even if it did not Nash may have blamed himself. In February of 1957 Nash married Alicia by the autumn of 1958 she was pregnant but, a couple of months later near the end of 1958 , Nash's mental state became very disturbed.
At a New Year's Party Nash appeared at midnight dressed only with a nappy and a sash with " 1959 " written on it. He spent most of the evening curled up, like the baby he was dressed as, on his wife's lap. Some described his behaviour as stranger than usual. On 4 January he was back at the university and started to teach his game theory course. His opening comments to the class were:-
One student immediately dropped the course! Nash asked a graduate student to take over his course and vanished for a couple of weeks. When he returned he walked into the common room with a copy of the New York Times saying that it contained encrypted messages from outer space that were meant only for him. For a few days people thought he was playing an elaborate private joke.
Norbert Wiener was one of the first to recognize that Nash's extreme eccentricities and personality problems were actually symptoms of a medical disorder. After months of bizarre behaviour, Alicia had her husband involuntarily hospitalised at McLean Hospital, a private psychiatric hospital outside of Boston. Upon his release, Nash abruptly resigned from MIT, withdrew his pension, and went to Europe, where he intended to renounce his US citizenship. Alicia left her newborn son with her mother, and followed the ill Nash. She then had Nash deported - back to the United States.
After their return, the two settled in Princeton where Alicia took a job. Nash's illness continued, transforming him into a frightening figure. He spent most of his time hanging around on the Princeton campus, talking about himself in the third person as Johann von Nassau, writing nonsensical postcards and making phone calls to former colleagues. They stoically listened to his endless discussions of numerology and world political affairs. Her husband's worsening condition depressed Alicia more and more.
In January 1961 the despondent Alicia, John's mother, and his sister Martha made the difficult decision to commit him to Trenton State Hospital in New Jersey where he endured insulin-coma therapy, an aggressive and risky treatment, five days a week for a month and a half. A long sad episode followed which included periods of hospital treatment, temporary recovery, then further treatment. Alicia divorced Nash in 1962 . Nash spent a while with Eleanor and John David. In 1970 Alicia tried to help him taking him in as a boarder, but he appeared to be lost to the world, removed from ordinary society, although he spent much of his time in the Mathematics Department at Princeton. The book [ 2 ] is highly recommended for its moving account of Nash's mental sufferings.
Slowly over many years Nash recovered. He delivered a paper at the tenth World Congress of Psychiatry in 1996 describing his illness it is reported in [ 3 ] . He was described in 1958 as the:-
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Andrews, Charles Freer (1871-1940)
Born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, in northeast England, Andrews was educated in Birmingham and at Cambridge University. He was ordained an Anglican deacon in 1896 and priest in 1897. In 1904, after three years of urban mission work in London and four years of teaching in Cambridge, he began a decade of teaching at St. Stephen’s College, Delhi, as a missionary with the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. In these years he was moderately high church in theology and passionately anticapitalist in economic politics. For a short time he joined S. E. Stokes and Sundar Singh in a quasi-Franciscan missionary fellowship, but the experiment did not last. In 1912 Andrews met the Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore in London, and two years later he resigned his teaching post and joined Tagore in his ashram. In 1914 he also began an association with Mohandas K. Gandhi which was to last for the remainder of his life. He was now at the service of India, especially India’s poor, traveling, lecturing, writing, and lobbying on their behalf wherever they happened to be as a result of indentured labor policies, most notably in Fiji and in South Africa. He was always a ready and lucid writer, and his books include an autobiography, What I Owe to Christ (1932), several volumes on Indian social and religious topics, and studies of Gandhi and Sundar Singh. In a period when Europeans and Indians often found personal relationships difficult, Andrews made many Indian friends. Early in his career he had been one of those who succeeded in having S. K. Rudra appointed principal of St. Stephen’s College, and throughout his career he was a warm supporter of the Indian national movement. His friendships with Gandhi and Tagore were close and mutual. Gandhi, in particular, often cited Andrews as a model Christian missionary who never proselytized but was always prepared to serve the people of India. Andrews’s theology began in the style of “high church pietism” with a strong social component, though in later years he moved more in a Quaker direction and his writing became more devotional in tone. He was also influenced in the 1930s by Frank Buchman’s Oxford Group Movement. In 1936 he resumed his Anglican ministry. He died in Calcutta.
Eric J. Sharpe, “Andrews, Charles Freer,” in Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, ed. Gerald H. Anderson (New York: Macmillan Reference USA, 1998), 22-23.
This article is reprinted from Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, Macmillan Reference USA, copyright © 1998 Gerald H. Anderson, by permission of Macmillan Reference USA, New York, NY. All rights reserved.
Andrews, C. F. Alexander Duff: Pioneer of Missionary Education. New York: George H. Doran, [1922?].
_____. Christ and Labour. London: Student Christian Movement, 1924.
_____. Documents Relating to the Indian Question. Cape Town: Cape Times, 1914.
_____. Mahatma Gandhi’s Ideas, Including Selections from his Writings. New York: Macmillan Co., 1930.
_____. North India. London: A.R. Mowbray & Co., Ltd., 1908.
_____. The Relation of Christianity to the Conflict between Capital and Labour. Burney Prize Essay. London: Methuen & Co. 1894.
_____. The Renaissance in India: It’s Missionary Aspect. London: Young People’s Missionary Movement, 1912.
_____. The Rise and Growth of Congress in India, 1832-1920. Meerut: Meenakshi Prakashan, 1967.
_____. Sadhu Sundar Singh: A Personal Memoir. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1934.
_____. What I Owe to Christ. New York: Abingdon Press, 1932.
Gandhi, Mahatma, Charles Freer Andrews, and David Mcl Gracie. Gandhi and Charlie: The Story of a Friendship: As Told Through the Letters and Writings of Mohandas K. Gandhi and Rev’d Charles Freer Andrews. Cambridge, Mass.: Cowley Publications, 1989.
Chaturvedi, Bernarsidas and Marjorie Sykes. Charles Freer Andrews: A Narrative. London: George Allen & Unwin, 1949.
O’Connor, Daniel. The Testimony of C. F. Andrews. Madras: Published for the Christian Institute for the Study of Religion and Society, Bangalore, by Christian Literature Society, 1974.
_____. Gospel, Raj, and Swaraj: The Missionary Years of C.F. Andrews 1910-1914. Frankfurt am Main: P. Lang, 1990.
Sharpe, Eric J. “C. F. Andrews.” In Mission Legacies: Biographical Studies of Leaders of the Modern Missionary Movement, edited by Gerald H. Anderson et al. Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 1994. Pp. 316-323.
Tinker, Hugh. The Ordeal of Love: C.F. Andrews and India. Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1980.
“In Singapore, 1924” and “The Writer at Work, about 1935.” In Chaturvedi, Bernarsidas and Marjorie Sykes. Charles Freer Andrews: A Narrative. London: George Allen & Unwin, 1949.
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The Assassination of President William McKinley
Buffalo’s Pan-American Exposition boasted everything from a nine-ton elephant to a 389-foot 𠇎lectric Tower” powered by nearby Niagara Falls, but few attractions had generated as much excitement as the two-day visit of President William McKinley. The 58-year-old was fresh off of guiding the United States to victory in the Spanish-American War, and he had entered his second term of office as one of the most popular Chief Executives in decades. On September 5, a record crowd of 116,000 filed into the World’s Fair to watch McKinley give a speech. That same evening, the Expo put on a patriotic fireworks display that culminated with a burst of pyrotechnics that spelled out the words, “Welcome President McKinley, Chief of our Nation and Our Empire.”
McKinley’s final scheduled appearance at the Expo began the following day, September 6, when he attended a public meet-and-greet at a theater called the Temple of Music. The affable commander in chief rarely missed an opportunity to meet his constituents, but this particular event had worried his staff members, some of whom feared that an assassin might take the opportunity to strike. The president’s personal secretary, George B. Cortelyou, had even tried to cancel the reception on two separate occasions. Both times, McKinley had insisted that it remain on the schedule.
The Temple of Music at the Pan-American Exposition, site of the assassination of President McKinley. (Credit: Public Domain)
Despite the sweltering late-summer heat, a long line of people waited outside the Temple of Music when the reception began at 4 p.m. As the theater’s organist played a Bach sonata, the visitors slowly filed inside, many of them eager for a chance to meet the president and shake his hand. Near the front of the line stood 28-year-old Leon Czolgosz, a shy and brooding former steel worker. An avowed anarchist, Czolgosz had arrived in Buffalo only a few days earlier and purchased a .32 caliber Iver Johnson revolver—the same type of weapon that another anarchist had used to assassinate the Italian King Umberto I the previous summer. He now waited with the gun wrapped in a white handkerchief and concealed inside his jacket pocket. “It was in my heart there was no escape for me,” Czolgosz later said. 𠇊ll those people seemed bowing to the great ruler. I made up my mind to kill that ruler.”
McKinley’s anxious staff had added police and soldiers to his usual complement of Secret Service agents, but the security detail took little notice of Czolgosz as he strode up to the president at around 4:07 p.m. When McKinley smiled and extended his hand, Czolgosz raised his pistol—still wrapped in its white handkerchief𠅊nd fired two shots at point blank range.
“There was an instant of almost complete silence, like the hush that follows a clap of thunder,” the New York Times later wrote. “The president stood stock still, a look of hesitancy, almost of bewilderment, on his face. Then he retreated a step while a pallor began to steal over his features. The multitude seemed only partially aware that something serious had happened.”
The stillness was only broken when James 𠇋ig Jim” Parker, a tall African American man who had been waiting in line, punched Czolgosz and prevented him from firing a third shot. A host of soldiers and detectives also pounced on the assassin and began beating him to a pulp. It took an order from McKinley before they finally stopped and dragged Czolgosz from the room. By then, blood was pouring from the president’s stomach and darkening his white formal vest. “My wife,” he managed to say to Cortelyou. careful how you tell her—oh, be careful!”
Mugshots of Leon Czolgosz after his arrest for the assassination of President William McKinley in 1901. (Credit: Public Domain)
Just a few minutes after the shooting, McKinley was carried from the Temple of Music and taken to the Pan-American Exposition’s hospital. The only qualified doctor that could be found was a gynecologist, but the president was nevertheless rushed into the operating theater for emergency surgery. One of the bullets appeared to have ricocheted off one of McKinley’s suit buttons and hit his sternum, causing only minor damage. The other had struck his abdomen and passed clean through his stomach. The surgeon managed to suture the stomach wounds and stop the bleeding, but he was unable to locate the bullet, which he assumed was lodged somewhere in the president’s back.
Even with the .32 caliber slug still inside him, McKinley seemed to be on the mend in the days after the shooting. Doctors gave enthusiastic updates on his condition as he convalesced in the Expo’s president’s home, and newspapers reported that he was awake, alert and even reading the newspaper. Vice President Theodore Roosevelt was so pleased with McKinley’s progress that he took off on a camping trip in the Adirondack Mountains. “You may say that I am absolutely sure the president will recover,” he told reporters. By September 13, however, McKinley’s condition had become increasingly desperate. Gangrene had formed on the walls of the president’s stomach and brought on a severe case of blood poisoning. In a matter of hours, he grew weak and began losing consciousness. At 2:15 a.m. on September 14, he died with his wife Ida by his side.
By the time of McKinley’s death, Leon Czolgosz had already spent several days in a Buffalo jail cell undergoing interrogation by police. The Michigan native said he had pulled the trigger out of a desire to contribute to the anarchist cause. “I don’t believe in the Republican form of government, and I don’t believe we should have any rulers,” he said in his confession. “It is right to kill them.” Czolgosz claimed that he had stalked McKinley across Buffalo for two days and had nearly shot him during his arrival at the train station and his September 5 speech at the fairgrounds. He was also adamant that he had acted alone. “I killed President McKinley because I done my duty,” he declared.
Assassination of president William McKinley. (Credit: Roger Viollet Collection / Getty Images)
Czolgosz was only nominally connected to the American anarchist movementrtain groups had even suspected him of being a police spy𠅋ut his confession led to a sweeping roundup of political radicals. In Chicago, a dozen staff members from the anarchist newspaper 𠇏ree Society” were arrested. On September 10, police also picked up the anarchist firebrand Emma Goldman, whose speeches Czolgosz had cited as a key influence in his decision to assassinate McKinley. Goldman and the others were all eventually released, but justice came swiftly for Czolgosz. His murder trial began on September 23𠅊 little more than a week after McKinley’s demise𠅊nd he was found guilty and sentenced to death just three days later. On October 29, 1901, Czolgosz was executed by the electric chair at New York’s Auburn Prison. “I killed the president for the good of the laboring people, the good people,” he said in the moments before the sentence was carried out. “I am not sorry for my crime.”
While William McKinley was eventually overshadowed by his more famous successor, Theodore Roosevelt, his assassination prompted a worldwide outpouring of grief. In Europe, the British King Edward VII and other monarchs declared national periods of mourning for the fallen president. A sea of sympathizers later came to view McKinley’s body as it lay in state in the Capitol Rotunda on September 17, and whole cities ground to a halt to pay their respects as his funeral train passed by on its way to his final resting place in Canton, Ohio. In 1907, the president’s remains were moved to a sprawling tomb complex featuring a domed mausoleum. The memorial includes a bronze statue that depicts McKinley giving his final speech at the Pan-American Exposition on September 5, 1901—the day before his fateful meeting with Leon Czolgosz.
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The raiders set a train car on fire to try to ignite a covered railway bridge and thwart pursuit.
“Jump off and scatter! Every man for himself!”
George Wilson, Perry Shadrack, and the 16 other Union men hiding in the locomotive boxcar recognized the voice as that of James Andrews, the civilian spy who commanded the clandestine mission they had volunteered for a few days prior. Each of them knew what jumping meant trapped behind enemy lines in northern Georgia, escape back to Union forces in Tennessee would be almost impossible given that they had no maps of the surrounding terrain, and would be hunted by Confederate personnel on the train that was fast closing in on them.
However, with their stolen locomotive, the General, running out of steam, remaining on board would surely seal their fate. As grim as the odds were, bailing out was the best option left—six hours and 90 miles after hijacking the train near Marietta, GA. Within seconds, Wilson, Shadrack, and the others leaped from the General, scattering as quickly as possible into the surrounding wood line.
In many respects, the story of the Medal of Honor, America’s highest award for combat heroism, begins with these men. They were the heroes behind the legendary “Great Locomotive Chase” the first combat action which resulted in the creation of the Medal of Honor. However, although Wilson and Shadrack were eligible for the Medal and performed the same acts of heroism as the 19 other recipients from this bold yet failed mission, the two men have yet to receive the Medal of Honor, despite years of effort to correct this injustice by descendants, active duty military personnel, members of Congress, and other patriotic Americans.
In the spring of 1862, plans were under way for the Union Army to capture Chattanooga, TN. Although the city’s population was approximately only 5,000 people, the town was strategically important to the Confederates because two rail lines intersected there. Over two-thirds of all American railroad lines were laid in the North, therefore, any stretch of Southern track was at a premium for the Confederate army.
Against this backdrop, James Andrews, a civilian spy for the Union, devised a daring, unconventional plan: to steal a Confederate train and drive it through northern Georgia, destroying railroad track, burning bridges, and cutting telegraph wires before returning to Union lines near Chattanooga. The goal was to isolate Chattanooga as a prelude to Union forces attacking and seizing the town. In April 1862, while Brigadier General Ormsby Mitchel and his division of Ohio Soldiers were encamped near Shelbyville, TN., Andrews approached Mitchel and sold him on the plan. Before long, Union commanders covertly asked for one volunteer from each company of Joshua Sill’s brigade. None of the men were provided details of the top secret operation. Wilson and Shadrack were among the volunteers, whose numbers would swell to 22 soldiers and two civilians.
Shortly after nightfall Andrews rendezvoused with his team, who had changed into civilian clothes, in the woods a mile outside of Shelbyville. He briefed them on the mission, emphasizing that capture likely meant execution as spies. When Wilson, Shadrack, and the others were given the chance to back out, none did so. With that, the Andrews Raiders set out for Chattanooga, traveling in smaller groups to avoid arousing enemy suspicion.
They traveled under the guise of being Kentuckians heading south to join the Confederate Army. Despite no prior espionage training, they were able to traverse 100 miles in enemy territory in only three days despite storms, mountains, enemy soldiers, and hostile civilians.
The raiders met up in Chattanooga where they purchased train tickets to Marietta, GA. From there, the men secured lodging before rousing early on the morning of April 12, 1862 for a final review of their plan. At the train station, they boarded the train named General and began their ride north. When the General stopped eight miles later at Big Shanty, the Raiders made their move. Despite thousands of Confederate soldiers encamped within view, the Union men calmly uncoupled the locomotive, tender, and three empty boxcars from the rest of the train. William Knight, who had experience operating locomotives, manned the General while Wilson, Shadrack, and the others hid themselves in one of the empty boxcars. Finally, Andrews whispered, “Let us go now, boys,” and minutes later, Knight shot the General away from Big Shanty, much to the surprise of the Confederate soldiers and civilians around them.
The raiders dashed north towards Chattanooga, all the while severing Confederate lines of communication. Believing that the greatest moment of danger was the engine heist itself, the men breathed a collective sigh of relief, convinced that the remainder of their mission would proceed smoothly until they returned to the safety of Union forces in Tennessee.
Due to this belief, they advanced with caution to avoid arousing suspicion among the Southerners they would encounter. As such, the men kept the speed of the locomotive down to that of a normal passenger train, and had a cover story ready as to why they had to proceed through subsequent stations without delay.
Unfortunately for Wilson, Shadrack, and their comrades, the mission would soon unravel.
The Rebels were in pursuit from Big Shanty. After setting off on foot and later securing a crude rail car they pushed with their feet, the Southerners eventually secured another locomotive further north along the line and gave chase. While the pursuers closed in, the Yankees were still stopping to cut wire and destroy track. Furthermore, they faced an hour delay at one station when they were directed to let a southbound train pass. Recent rainfall also prevented the men from burning bridges after crossing them. These factors collectively disrupted the raiders’ plan and gave the Southerners’ the chance to catch them before Andrews and his men could return the General behind Union lines in Tennessee.
As a result, the Confederates soon closed the distance of the two trains to within rifle range. Realizing the danger, Andrews and his men opened up to maximum speed. The “Great Locomotive Chase” was on.
The Northerners, however, were unable to resupply wood sufficient to keep the fires hot in the General. Wilson, Shadrack, and others in the boxcar threw onto the track anything that would act as an obstacle, all the while giving Andrews and Knight whatever combustible materials they could get their hands on. In spite of these efforts, the stolen engine began to lose steam. Ninety miles and six hours after blazing out of Big Shanty, the raiders abandoned the General and scattered into the woods some 15 miles short of Chattanooga. Wilson, Shadrack, and their fellow raiders were all captured within a few days.
In the weeks to come, the raiders were moved around the South to different jails. After their initial imprisonment in Chattanooga, the raiders were relocated to Atlanta before being transferred back to Chattanooga. Upon their return, they were separated into two groups, with 12 men (including Wilson and Shadrack) being transferred to Knoxville, TN. All throughout, the men endured the hostility of Southern civilians as well as abysmal living conditions, marked by torture, scant food, and cells plagued by vermin and stifling heat. In Chattanooga, they were housed in a cell so grossly undersized that the only way for the raiders to fit was to “spoon” each other while shackled together. Nicknamed by the raid’s survivors as the “hell hole,” the memory of it would come to haunt them in the years following.
On May 31, 1862, the raiders’ worst nightmare started to be realized when Confederate authorities sentenced James Andrews to death without a trial. A week later, he hung from the gallows. The rest of the men housed in Knoxville were charged for being spies. The men were represented by a local law firm, but the trials were mainly for show. In reality, the guilty verdict was a foregone conclusion.
The Rebels succeeded in trying Wilson, Shadrack, and five other of the Union men before the proceedings were disrupted by the approach of the Union army. As a result, the raiders in Knoxville were moved to Atlanta, where they were once again reunited with their comrades.
For a brief while, the Ohioans held out hope that they had gained a stay in their executions, but such optimism proved fleeting when on June 18, the seven who had been tried were suddenly informed that they were to be executed immediately. As Wilson, Shadrack, and the five others were led off to the gallows, they passed off trinkets and other personal effects in the hope that their fellow raiders would eventually return the items to their families. Although heroic men made up the Andrews Raiders, they wept as they said their final good-byes to their condemned friends.
On the day of the execution, Rebel guards argued for the honor of being the hang-man. Surrounded by jeering crowds, Perry Shadrack, George Wilson, and their five brothers-in-arms died from at the end of a rope in Atlanta on 18 June, 1862.
The deaths of Wilson, Shadrack, and their six comrades, fortunately, would be the last executions to take place, partly due to indecisiveness among the Rebel leadership as to if the trials should resume. During that time, eight of the Raiders escaped shortly after the hangings and returned to Union lines and negotiations between the North and South on including the Raiders in a prisoner exchange was successful. The survivors’ ordeal was far from over, though. In the months to come, they were moved between various Southern prisons, experiencing the deprivations of Civil War prisoner of war camps. The six remaining prisoners were eventually released in a prisoner exchange in the spring of 1863. When Secretary of War Edwin Stanton summoned them to the War Department on 25 March, 1863, he was so moved by their account of the ordeal that he presented them with the first Medals of Honor in recognition of their bravery and sacrifices for the Union. It is for this reason that National Medal of Honor Day is celebrated annually on the 25 of March.
Wilson and Shadrack were eventually laid to rest in Chattanooga National Cemetery, alongside the other six Raiders who were also executed in Atlanta. In the years to come, more Medals of Honor would be presented to members of the “Great Locomotive Chase,” to include personnel who escaped from Confederate captivity and found their way back to Union lines, as well as some of the men who died in Atlanta with Wilson and Shadrack.
However, for reasons that have been lost to history, Wilson and Shadrack have never received our nation’s highest award for combat heroism, and this injustice continues to the present day in spite of efforts to correct it by descendants, military personnel, members of Congress and their staffers, and other concerned citizens.
Of the 24 men who participated in the mission, 19 have received the Medal. In addition to Wilson and Shadrack, these non-recipients include civilians James Andrews and William Campbell, who were ineligible because the Medal’s regulations at the time limited its presentation only to military members. Additionally, Sam Llewellyn of the 10th Ohio Infantry Regiment turned it down because he felt he did not deserve it since he failed to reach the rendezvous point in Marietta on time and thus was not part of the theft of the General.
Wilson and Shadrack’s unrecognized valor has not completely escaped notice, as evidenced by Sections 564 and 565 of the 2008 Department of Defense Authorization Bill, which “authorized and requested” that the President award the Medal to Wilson and Shadrack. However, even though 2008 was over eight years ago, the Pentagon has not completed this action.
As we approach the 155th anniversary of Wilson and Shadrack’s deaths, one can only hope that the nation they gave their lives to defend will finally bestow upon them the recognition they have waited far too long to receive.