List of Assassinated Presidents in History

All over the world, politicians compete fiercely for political power. But after rising to the helm of national affairs, the quest to serve the masses isn’t always full of roses. Some politicians, after landing their hands on the state coffers, go on to make positive impact on the lives of their people. Below we take a look at some very famous national leaders from around the world that were assassinated while in office.

Top 10 Assassinated Presidents and Leaders in History

The United States of America is one country that has mourned presidential assassinations on 4 different occasions — the slain US presidents are; Abraham Lincoln, James Garfield, F. Kennedy, and William McKinley. Moving beyond America, the assassination of the following world leaders also received wide historical coverage — Archduke Franz Ferdinand (Austria-Hungary), Muammar Gaddafi (Libya), Thomas Sankara (Burkina Faso), Marie François Sadi Carnot (France), Francisco I. Madero (Mexico), and Mahatma Gandhi of India.

Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln

Assassinated Presidents | Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States

Abraham Lincoln, the 16th US president,  showed deep love for America and the world by virtue of his preservation of American unity (during the Civil War). Lincoln is also revered for his tireless work in ending the enslavement of African Americans in the U.S. Despite his selfless service to humanity, Lincoln faced a painful death.

On April 14, 1865, an assassin known as John Wilkes Booth had gathered information that President Lincoln would be attending a show at the Ford’s Theater. Booth gained access to the theater and realized that the president was seated without bodyguards. Lo and behold, he pulled the trigger on Lincoln’s head. Booth fled the scene and remained on the run for about two weeks before he was shot and killed by security personnel.

William McKinley

William McKinley Assassination

25th President of the United States, William McKinley

He was America’s 25th president. During McKinley’s tenure, Americans locked horns with Spain in an 1898 conflict. The conflict ended with America wining and acquiring territories such as Guam and Puerto Rico. Following the completion of his successful first term and the good outcomes of the American-Spanish War, McKinley was re-elected as president during the 1900 U.S. Presidential election.

After his inauguration in 1901, the president embarked on a tour in the western states in September. He would end the trip with an exposition speech at Buffalo, New York. As crowds gathered and took turns in greeting the president, Leon Czolgosz, who had concealed a weapon, shot McKinley twice when he had a chance. The president died in a Buffalo hospital a week later. Assassin Leon Czolgosz was executed by an electric chair on October 29, 1901.

After the death of President McKinley on September 14, 1901, Vice President Theodore Roosevelt was sworn in as the 26th U.S. President of the United States.

James A. Garfield

James A. Garfield

20th President of the U.S. James A. Garfield was assassinated in 1981

He was the 20th U.S. president. Garfield’s tenure was one of the shortest in US history. On July 2, 1881, Garfield was shot by Charles J. Guiteau while the president was at a Washington train station. Garfield had planned to visit his sick wife in New Jersey. After being shot in the back, the president lived for 80 days before succumbing to his injuries.

Charles J. Guiteau, the shooter, was hanged to death. He appeared to be mentally unstable when he said that shooting the president was the will of the Lord.

John F. Kennedy

JFK assassination

Assassinated Presidents | John F. Kennedy was the 35th President of the United States

John F. Kennedy’s murder was received with deep shock and national mourning. Coming into power in 1961 as America’s 35th president, Kennedy was struck down in the town of Dallas, Texas, while he rode in presidential convertible with his pretty wife First Lady Jacqueline. It was November 22, 1963— hiding from the 6th floor of a book depository, the assassin, Lee Harvey  Oswald, fired at the presidential motorcade, killing J. F. Kennedy. Two days later, Jack Ruby shot Oswald to death and avenged Kennedy’s murder.

Read More: JFK Assassination: Theories and Key Facts 

Mummar Gaddafi

Muammar Gaddafi

Muammar Gaddafi, former Libyan dictator, was killed in 2011

Before his death in 2011, Gaddafi was a stubborn Libyan leader (more like an autocratic president). He refused to step down from power despite facing relentless troops of the National Transition Council (NTC). On October 20, 2011, during the Battle of Sirte, the rebels assassinated Muammar Gaddafi and ended his tyrannical rule.

Thomas Sankara

Great African leaders

Assassinated Presidents | Former Burkina Faso leader Thomas Sankara

Between 1983 & 1987, Sankara was a young president of Burkina Faso. Such was his commitment to socialistic ideologies that many historians see him as the African Che Guevara. The political instability of the Upper Volta (present-day Burkina Faso) and the suffering of the masses provided an opportunity for Sankara to rise to power in a 1983 coup.

Standing against imperialism, Sankara instituted socioeconomic reforms in Burkina Faso. On October 15, 1987, Sankara was assassinated by a team of armed forces sent by Blaise Campaore. In many parts of Africa, Thomas Sankara is commonly revered as one of Africa’s greatest leaders of the 20th century.

Marie Francois Sadi Carnot

Marie Francois Sadi Carnot death

Marie Francois Sadi Carnot

Marie Francois was the president of France between December 1887 & June 1894. He was nearing the peak of his political popularity when he met his untimely death in 1894. On June 24, the president was stabbed to death by Sante Gerenimo  when he went to Lyon to deliver a speech. The stabbing destroyed his liver; President Francois Sadi Carnot succumbed to his wounds the following day, June 25, 1894. For killing the president, Gerenimo was executed.

Francisco I. Madero

Francisco I. Madero's death

Francisco I. Madero’s was killed in 1913

Madero was a Mexican politician who assumed the presidential office on November 6, 1911, after the ouster of ex-president Porifirio Díaz. Madero made the biggest mistake of his life when he failed to appoint General Pascual Orozco Jr. to his cabinet. Worse of all his decisions, Madero also snubbed Francisco Vázquez by not giving him a slot as vice president.

Orozco and Francisco’s brother Vázquez soon became Madero’s foes. The army waged a long struggle to take power from the politically naive Madero. In February 1913, Madero was captured and executed by his political opponents led by General Huerta.

Archduke Franz Ferdinand

Archduke Franz Ferdinand's death

Assassinated Presidents and leaders | Archduke Franz Ferdinand

The murder of Austria-Hungarian heir Archduke Franz, is one of the most famous assassination incidences that has painted all the walls of history. On June 28, 1914, Ferdinand and his wife were shot dead by Gavrilo Princip when they visited Sarajevo, Bosnia. It is commonly believed that the assassination of Archduke Franz is what sparked a wave of war declarations on Serbia, which eventually led to the First World War.

Mahatma Ghandi

Mahatma Gandhi assassination

Assassinated World Leaders | Mahatma Gandhi

He was an Indian nationalist who was instrumental in India’s Independence from the British. Ghandhi was a successful writer, a lawyer and a symbol of civil rights activism and freedom. He was the president of the Indian National Congress — the party that declared India’s Independence in 1930.

Despite his peace-loving character Gandhi, age 78, was assassinated by Nathuram Godse on January 30, 1948. He was at a prayer ground in New Delhi when the assassin, pretending to greet Ghandi, hit him with bullets.

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