Negative Interest

Some good news, for a change

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The Edge of the American West is back after a hiatus of almost a year. To celebrate the return to blogging of Eric Rauchway and company, here’s one of my favorite excerpts from Rauchway’s excellent 2003 book Murdering McKinley: The Making of Theodore Roosevelt’s America. This segment tells the story of Jim Parker, the black man who tackled President McKinley’s anarchist assassin and became something of a folk hero:

Parker himself related his story to reporters, modestly at first, and then with increasing pleasure in the attention. In the days after the attack, crowds of citizens and visitors gathered in clots in Buffalo’s public spaces. In an era before radio, people hungry for information jammed the streets in front of telegraph and newspaper offices and in the city’s open squares, seeking news of the investigation and a chance to share their emotions and experiences. Wherever Parker went, they recognized him and pressed him for his story. Caught by a group in the street four days after the episode, he told how he had hit the assassin and tackled him, bearing him to the floor with the weight of his body – with, indeed, the very waistcoat he was now wearing. Onlookers begged for a piece of the historic vest. When he gave one, but balked at giving more, someone offered twenty-five cents for a piece, which he sold. A richer bidder offered a dollar for a button, and Parker sold it, too. No sooner had he auctioned off the heroic button than he was fending off bids for his shoes, with which he had kicked the killer. A reporter for the Washington Evening Star, who observed the episode, remarked that though Parker stood six foot six, “if Parker had been twenty feet tall with a waistcoat reaching from his chin to his toes, with buttons every inch of it on the way, the supply would not have been sufficient to the demand.”


Written by negativeinterest

November 2, 2011 at 12:38 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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