U.S. presidential assassinations and attempts

From Abraham Lincoln to Barack Obama, a look at presidential assassinations and failed attempts.

Andrew Jackson


Richard Lawrence’s two bullets aimed at President Jackson misfired in Washington on Jan. 30, 1835. Lawrence was apprehended and later deemed insane and institutionalized.

Abraham Lincoln

(Associated Press)

President Lincoln was shot by John Wilkes Booth while attending an evening performance at Ford’s Theatre in Washington with his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln. He died the next day.

James A. Garfield

(Library of Congress)

President Garfield was only four months into his term when lawyer Charles J. Guiteau shot him. Garfield died on Sept. 19, 1881. Guiteau was tried and found guilty. He was hanged on June 30, 1882.

William McKinley

(Library of Congress)

The 25th president, William McKinley, was visiting the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, N.Y., when he was shot twice by anarchist Leon Czolgosz. McKinley died on Sept. 14, 1901. Czolgosz was sentenced to death and electrocuted on Oct. 29, 1901. After McKinley’s death, the Secret Service officially took responsibility for protecting U.S. presidents.

Theodore Roosevelt

Roosevelt in 1915.
Roosevelt in 1915. (Associated Press)

President Roosevelt was shot at while about to give a speech in Milwaukee. During his speech, Roosevelt said, “It takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose.” He survived the attack, and the bullet remained in his body until his death in 1919. The shooter, John F. Schrank, was found insane.

Franklin D. Roosevelt

(Associated Press)

Though he had not been sworn into office yet, Roosevelt was shot at five times while at a speaking engagement in Miami. Bricklayer Giuseppe Zangara fired the shots wildly, wounding four and killing Chicago Mayor Anton Cermak. Zangara was found guilty of murder and executed on March 20, 1933.

Harry S. Truman

(Associated Press)

Two supporters of Puerto Rican independence, Oscar Collazo and Griselio Torresola, targeted President Truman when he was staying at a house in Washington while the White House was undergoing renovation. The violent attempt resulted in the death of a White House police officer and Torresola. Collazo was sentenced to life in prison. Truman was unharmed.

John F. Kennedy


President Kennedy was fatally shot on Nov. 22, 1963, while riding in a motorcade in Dallas.

Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested shortly after at the Texas Theater. On Nov. 24, Oswald was shot and killed before live television cameras in the basement of Dallas police headquarters by Dallas nightclub operator Jack Ruby.

Photos: The assassination of President Kennedy

Richard Nixon


Samuel Byck, an unemployed former tire salesman, tried to hijack a plane out of Baltimore-Washington International Airport to crash it into the White House, but his plans were foiled. He shot the pilot and co-pilot and eventually shot himself. Sean Penn starred in a dramatization of the events in the 2004 film “The Assassination of Richard Nixon.”

Gerald Ford


President Ford survived two assassination attempts in the same month. On Sept. 5, 1975, Lynette Fromme, a follower of Charles Manson, fired a pistol at the president in a crowd in Sacramento, but Ford was unharmed. On Sept. 22, Sara Jane Moore pulled a revolver on Ford in San Francisco. Both were sentenced to life in prison.

Jimmy Carter

(Associated Press)

President Carter was about to give a speech in Los Angeles when Secret Service agents detained Raymond Lee Harvey, who authorities said had a starter pistol with blank rounds in his pockets.

Ronald Reagan

John Hinckley Jr. shot and wounded President Reagan and three others outside a hotel in Washington. Hinckley said his motivation was to show his feelings for actress Jodie Foster. He was found insane and committed to a mental hospital. He is seeking more time outside the facility.

George H.W. Bush

(Associated Press)

President George H.W. Bush was not in office when 16 men plotted to kill him with a car bomb while he was at a speaking engagement at Kuwait University. Kuwaiti officials found the bomb and arrested the would-be assassins.

Bill Clinton

President Clinton escaped a bombing attempt in November 1996 while visiting the Philippines for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum. The Secret Service was able to divert his motorcade. It was later revealed that terrorist Osama bin Laden was behind the plot.

George W. Bush


Robert Pickett, an accountant from Evanston, Ind., shot at the White House when the president was inside. President Bush was unharmed. A Secret Service officer shot Pickett, who was later sentenced to three years in prison.

Barack Obama

Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez was arrested and charged with the attempted assassination of President Obama near the National Mall. Obama was not at the White House at the time. The Idaho man, still detained, said he believed Obama was “the devil” and had to be “taken care of.”