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Assassinations, Threats, and the American Presidency

From Andrew Jackson to Barack Obama

Ronald L. Feinman

Throughout American history, Presidents and Presidential candidates have faced countless assassination threats and attempts on their lives. These threats have extended not only to sitting Presidents and candidates but also to Presidents-elect and former Presidents. Assassinations, Threats, and the American Presidency: From Andrew Jackson to Barack Obama walks through Presidential history, looking at the countless assassination threats and attempts that have occurred throughout history.

Historian Ronald L. Feinman discusses the Presidencies of sixteen Presidents, as well as three important candidates and five living Presidents today, and how they were directly threatened with assassination, ranging from the first known threat to Andrew Jackson in 1833, to threats to Barack Obama in late 2014. All nineteen of these Presidents and candidates were threatened with assassination—six being killed, three wounded, and ten unhurt. Additionally, he reveals information about some failed attempts, which, had they been successful, could have resulted in fifteen different men who would have become President of the United States. Which ones would have been able to fill the responsibilities? Which ones would have been disastrous in the Oval Office?

Assassination attempts, both successful and failures have been part of our political culture for over 180 years, and the problem of Presidential security, safety and protection remains a serious problem today. With the President being faced with countless death threats, the Secret Service and FBI are forced to employ all kinds of technological methods to protect our Chief Executive and his family, as well as other top officials in the line of succession. Feinman brings to light how these agencies have grown, both technologically and physically, to counter these attacks. He, also, sheds light on how these threats to our Presidency have devastated, changed, and grown our United States into what it is today.

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Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Pages: 274Size: 6 x 9
978-1-4422-3121-4 • Hardback • August 2015 • $38.00 • (£24.95)
978-1-4422-7951-3 • Paperback • March 2017 • $17.95 • (£11.95)
978-1-4422-3122-1 • eBook • August 2015 • $16.00 • (£10.95)
Ronald L. Feinman, PhD, specializes in twentieth-century American history, with emphasis on political and diplomatic history. He has taught courses at Florida Atlantic University on America 1900–1945; FDR and the New Deal Era; U.S. 1945 to the present; and America in the 1960s. Feinman is also the author of Twilight of Progressivism: The Western Republican Senators and the New Deal. He currently writes for the blog www.theprogressiveprofessor.com.
Chapter 1: Andrew Jackson at the U.S. Capitol
Chapter 2: Abraham Lincoln at Ford’s Theatre
Chapter 3: James A. Garfield at the D.C. Railroad Station
Chapter 4: William McKinley at the Buffalo Pan American Exposition
Chapter 5: Theodore Roosevelt at the Milwaukee Gilpatrick Hotel
Chapter 6: Franklin D. Roosevelt at Miami Bayfront Park
Chapter 7: Huey P. Long at the Louisiana State Capitol
Chapter 8: Harry S Truman at Blair House
Chapter 9: John F. Kennedy at Dealey Plaza
Chapter 10: Robert F. Kennedy at the Los Angeles Ambassador Hotel
Chapter 11: George C. Wallace at Laurel, Maryland Shopping Center
Chapter 12: Richard M. Nixon and the Baltimore Airport Incident
Chapter 13: Gerald R. Ford at Sacramento and San Francisco
Chapter 14: Ronald Reagan at the Washington Hilton Hotel
Chapter 15: Late 20
th Century Presidents and Assassination Threats
Chapter 16: 21
st Century Presidents and Assassination Threats
Chapter 17: 15 “Might Have Been” Presidents in History
Selected Bibliography
Historian Feinman sets out to show just how dangerous the job of U.S. president can be, detailing 19 different assassination attempts on sitting presidents as well as aspirants to the office. Readers are likely familiar with the political climates and events surrounding the notorious murders of Presidents Lincoln, McKinley (whose assassination resulted in the decision to provide the President with constant protection by the Secret Service), and Kennedy as well as the attempted assassinations of Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan. They may be more surprised to learn that Hamas planted roadside bombs along a route that former President Jimmy Carter was traveling on in the Middle East in June 2009, and that a similar plan had been concocted by Saddam Hussein to assassinate George H.W. Bush in June 1993. It’s a sobering read, made even more poignant by Feinman’s rich assessment of each president’s contributions and accomplishments, as well as speculation on what could have been had victims survived or vice versa. Regardless of the reader’s political affiliation or leanings, they’re sure to come away with a deeper respect for U.S. presidents and those sworn to protect them.
Publishers Weekly

The Presidents of the United States and their families have constituted something close to American royalty. We avidly follow their personal, as well political, successes and failures, their brushes with greatness and tragedy. As national leaders and symbols, presidents walk on contested ground, arousing the best and worst of passions. Ronald L. Feinman examines the darkest of those passions. His look at successful and failed assassination attempts reminds us of the dangers of the office and provides us with a walk through presidential history.
Randy Roberts, Distinguished Professor of History, Purdue University

Feinman’s excellent work reminds us that assassination has been part of our political culture throughout American history. With a deft pen, he draws us into the world of our nation’s highest office and chronicles the evolution of the sordid business of plotting and killing the Chief Executive, as well as the methods to counter such acts.
Stephen D. Engle, Professor of History, Florida Atlantic University; Director of the Alan B. Larkin Symposium on the American Presidency