Ida Mckinley: Religion, Social Issues and Reform

Skill: High School/College
Time Required: Three Weeks


On September 6, 1901, President McKinley was due at 3:00 PM to stand in a reception line at the Temple of Music within the Pan-American Expo of 1901.    His secretary, George Cortelyou tried to persuade the President to cancel the engagement because, he argued, the President would only be able to shake a fraction of the hands.  President McKinley responded, “Well, they’ll know I tried.”  Five minutes into the process, Cortelyou began shutting down the event and ordered the doors locked.  In the last group of people to shake hands with the President was an anarchist by the name of Leon Czolgosz who shot the President instead of shaking his hand.   Seven days later the President died with his wife, Ida McKinley by his side.


In this lesson, students will gain an understanding of the politics behind the killing of President McKinley, as well as the anarchist movements that continue to exist worldwide.

Materials Required:

Access to the Internet and/or access to a public library.


Begin the lesson by providing a brief explanation of anarchism.  In this explanation five key points would be advantageous:  

  • Anarchists oppose power and authority  
  • Propaganda of the deed – decisive actions of individuals, sometimes violent, inspire the masses to action.  
  • A famous propaganda of the deed was the assassination of President McKinley, who was engaged in expansionism, in making the U.S. a world power.  
  • The Haymarket Affair was an event in the history of the United States in which anarchists instigated a propaganda of the deed, but those found guilty were found guilty because of their beliefs.  
  • Anarchy is the umbrella term for many different anarchist philosophies.  

Divide the class into nine groups.  Each group is responsible for one of the following groups:  

  • Anarchist communism
  • Anarcho-capitalism
  • Anarcho-primitivism
  • Anarcho-syndicalism
  • Christian anarchism
  • Collectivist anarchism
  • Eco-anarchism
  • Individualist anarchism
  • Mutualism  

Each group, upon gaining an understanding of their form of anarchy must then divide in half.  One half of the group will argue for their particular form of anarchy; the other half of the group will argue against their particular form of anarchy. 

Debates on each type of anarchy should occur in front of the class.  

One final note of caution, the information written by and about anarchists can be controversial, including advocacy for violence.  Students should be closely supervised during this project and frequent class discussions should occur during the research process.  

Extending the Lesson:

To extend this lesson, have each student select a form of anarchy and write a short story describing the United States if the group’s dreams come true.

Sources & Resources:

   Andrews, J. A. and James, Bob.  What is Communism & Other Anarchist Essays. Fullerton: Libertarian Resources, 1984.  
   Chomsky, Noam and Pateman, Barry.  Chomsky on Anarchism.  Oakland: AK Press, 2005. 
   Eltzbacher, Paul and Byington, Steven.  The Great Anarchists: Ideas and Teachings of Seven Major Thinkers.  Mineola: Dover Publications, 2004. 
   Foster, Thomas W.  The Taoists and the Amish: Kindred Expressions of Eco-anarchism.  Springer: Ecosystems, 1987. 
   Friedman, David D.  The Machinery of Freedom: A Guide of Radical Capitalism.  Chicago: Open Court Publishing Company, 1989. 
   Hoffman, Abbie.  Steal this Book.  New York: Four Walls Eight Windows, 2002. 
   Goldman, Emma.  Anarchism and Other Essays.  London: Dover Publications, 1969. 
   Guerin, Daniel and Klopper, Mary.  Anarchism: From Theory to Practice. New York:  Monthly Review Press, 1970. 
   Kropotkin, Peter.  Anarchism: A Collection of Revolutionary Writings.  London: Dover Publications, 2002. 
   Kropotkin, Peter.  Anarchism and Anarchist.  London: Freedom Press, 1987. 
   McLean, G. The Rise and Fall of Anarchy in American.  Chicagor: R.G. Badoux & Co., 1886. 
   Meltzer, Albert.  Anarchism:  Arguments For and Against.  San Francisco: Cienfuegos, 1981. 
   Niebuhr, Reinhold and Lovin, Robin W.  The Nature and Destiny of Man: A Christian Interpretation: Human Nature.  London: Westminster John Knox Press, 1996. 
   Niebuhr, Reinhold, Schweiker, William.  The Responsible Self: An Essay in Christian Moral Philosophy.   London: Westminster John Knox Press, 1999. 
   Powell, William.  The Anarchist Cookbook.  El Dorado: Ozark Pr Llc, 1003. 
   Rocker, Rudolf.  Anarchism and Anarcho-Syndicalism.  London: Freedom Press, 1988. 
   Rocker, Rudolf.  Anarcho-Syndicalism. London: Pluto Press, 1998. 
   Wasserman, Harvey.  Revolution for the Hell of It: The Book that Earned Abbie Hoffman a 5 Year Prison Term at the Chicago Conspiracy Trial.  New York: Thunder’s Mouth Press, 2005.
Anarchism by Wikipedia

Chicago Anarchists on Trial

Anarchy Archives

Anarchist Resources

Anarchy Authors

Anarchist Library


This lesson was written by Debra L. Clark, Kent State University.