Sometimes having opinions costs you. Sometimes you’re a victim because of your mistakes. Or sometimes you’re just going to fall unfortunate to somebody with a lot of revenge on their mind. In the case of these people, that cost them their life. Welcome to the first blog of samuelwilliscroft.wordpress.com, and today we’re counting down the Top 10 Assassinations Ever. The List is based on the iconic status and impact of the Murder, its place throughout history, the abrupt nature of the assassination and of course the motive or unique way of killing the -victim. Join us as we count from Malcolm X to J.F.K, and learn about the assassinations of the unfortunate victims.
10. Spencer Percival (November 1st 1762-May 11th 1812)
Nicknamed ‘Little P’, Spencer Percival remains the only British Prime Minister to have been assassinated. Spencer Percival was the British Prime Minister from 1809-1812. However, his reign was cut short when John Bellingham, a failing businessman who blamed the government for ruining his business by not supplying him with the correct financial needs, walked into the House of Commons and shot the Prime Minister through the heart with a dueling pistol. Percival uttered his last words “I am murdered, I am murdered,” before collapsing and dying. On the 18th May Bellingham was finally hanged.
9.Bobby Kennedy (November 20th 1925-June 6th 1968)
In 1963, John F Kennedy was infamously assassinated by a still unknown assassin. From that point on, America was in chaos. 5 years later, in 1968, America was in an even more disorderly state. The ongoing Vietnam War was escalating, the political protests were becoming more intense, and Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, which widened the gap between the races. People wanted change, and R.F.K. stepped up, and declared that he was ready to lead the nation in the dark times. He was very controversial, due to his oppositions of the Vietnam War, and his open criticism of the president, Lyndon Johnson. But, in just a few months, Kennedy was winning every presidential campaign he was in. On June 5th, he claimed victory, running for presidency and became the man people had to beat. But later that day, as Kennedy walked away from the crowd, Kennedy was shot by his assassin, Sirhan Sirhan, and died the next day.
8. Alexander Litvinenko (August 30th 1962- November 23rd 2006)
Alexander Litvinenko was a useful source to journalists interested in the mechanics of Russia, but he was secretly being paid by MI6 (The British Secret Intelligence Service) and the Spanish Secret Service, in return for him feeding them information. In 2006, Litvinenko was flying to Spain with Andrei Lugovoi, the main suspect for his murder, and on 1st November, in a London restaurant, he took tea with him and another Russian, Dmitri Kovtun. In a very short time, he started vomiting and became very ill. He was rushed to hospital, and peoples’ concern slowly grew for Litvinenko. It was later revealed he had been poisoned, and he was described as being in very bad shape.
On 17th November, He was transferred to a London hospital, as his condition became worse.
He died 6 days later. And here’s the twist: it was radiation poisoning.
7. Malcolm X (May 19th 1925- February 2st 1965)
Malcolm X provided inspiration for many people, but, he also sparked controversy and made enemies with his people. He was influenced and taught about black pride from an early age, as his family had to move around frequently due to white supremacy. While in prison for burglary, he converted to Islam, and was paroled in 1952. In 1959, X started broadcasting his own speeches on TV, and made the most of whatever chance he had, especially toward teenagers, however, instead of believing in racial equality like other activists such as Martin Luther King Jr., he believed that blacks were supreme to whites, and that they should use any method of defence, which included violence, which was also what other activists preached against.
The chemistry between him and the world became tenser, and he even started to criticize his own people, saying that they were “dissatisfied with the white people, and the Negros that were trying to help them.” Following John F. Kennedy’s assassination, he made sarcastic remarks about the assassination, and his reputation was destroyed in the Islamic nation. Following this, amid ongoing death threats, he left the group and formed his own religion, and he opened his eyes and reached out with other peace activists, as a means to form a solution to racism. In short, he turned to teamwork. 1 year Later On February 21st, he was shot by an alleged three individuals, two of whom have maintained their innocence, although Talmadge Hayer pleaded guilty. The other assassins have never been caught but people are certain there were others involved.
6. Julius Caesar (100 BC- March 15th 44 BC)
He came, he saw, he died. This is the earliest assassination of our list. But let’s go back to the beginning. It was the job of the senate in the Roman times to make the major political decisions, and Caesar relied on his friend Marcus Licinus Crassus ( who was one of the richest men in Rome) to provide with the funds to manipulate people in obeying him. However, while Caesar was away conquering Gaul, Crassus died in battle, so The Senate tried to strip Caesar of his command. So, cleverly obeying the difficult laws put against him, he returned with the thirteenth legion, and after a few years he was the incontestable ruler of Rome, and he even managed to exceed his own power by providing land for his soldiers, giving life to the calendar and even clearing out debts from debtors. However Caesar declared himself dictator for life, which angered many of the Senate, who decided that they didn’t want to go back to the time of dictators. There were more than sixty conspirators, and on March 15th, Caesar was assassinated, 23 times in the back. People thought that Rome would be restored with Caesar’s assassinations, but it didn’t as most people were fond of Caesar’s rule of the Empire. And then after his death, Rome eventually spiraled into a Civil War.
5. John Lennon (October 9th 1940- December 8th 1980)
“Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I needn’t argue about that. I’m right and I’ll be proved right. We’re more popular than Jesus now. I don’t know which will go first, rock ‘n’ roll or Christianity. Jesus was all right but his disciples were thick and ordinary. It’s them twisting it that ruins it for me.”
Those were the words uttered by The Beatles member John Lennon on March 4th 1966 in an interview with Maureen Cleave from the Evening Standard.
And those were the words that turned his killer against him.
After those words had been uttered, word spread like wildfire, and his speech was a lightning rod for controversy. And there was one man called Mark David Chapman, who was a born-again Christian. He idolized John Lennon’s music, and was a big fan of it. But when he heard that comment, he became angry and violent against his one and only music hero. He and his fellow Christian friends got together and sang Imagine, a song written by Lennon, in different lyrics- ‘Imagine John Lennon was dead.’
2 Events happened in Mark Chapman’s life, in the years leading up to Lennon’s death. Mark’s friend Michael McFarlane recommended a book to Chapman called Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. In the book, a boy who, in thinking that his world seems to be full of fakes, runs away a wanderer to New York. He imagines that there are thousands of children wandering around in a big field, and that he is the biggest and oldest in the field, and that they were alone. And he was standing on top of a cliff. And if they ran off, he had jump off and catch them. He had to be The Catcher in the Rye. And another thing. Chapman and his colleagues talked one day, and Chapman said “We’re all going to get together again. One day one of us is going to be somebody. About five years from now, one of us will do something famous, and it will bring us all together.”
It was December 1975.
December 8th 1980. John Lennon was signing autographs. While this was going on, Mark Chapman softly shouted John Lennon. Later that day, Chapman shot Lennon four times in front of Lennon’s wife, Yoko Ono. He died from the shots. Chapman was said to have been angered that the musician preached love and peace, yet he still had millions. Chapman’s psychologically intense, controversial and bizarre story still continues to befuddle people today.
4. Abraham Lincoln (February 12th 1809- April 15th 1865)
On 9th April 1865, The Major Confederate Army surrendered to the Union. This was to mark the ending of the Civil War. However, the Civil War did not end just there. Fascinatingly, a man called Wilmer McLean was unhappy with his area at that time, so he moved from North/South Virginia to Appomattox Court House, and coincidentally, the fighters had decided that was a nice place for a battlefield so they had used that place to fight, and the first major land battle occurred right after he moved in, and the last battle occurred right inside his house. Due to the small area that this took place in, many people thought the battle was still enraging, (more specifically, around 175,000 people), and continuing to fight on. Also note that there was no easy way of communication at that time, so it would have been understandable that this many people still had no idea of this latest defeat. And there was a man who was on the side of the Major Confederate army, and took this as a great defeat for them, but who, in his mind, thought that they could still make a comeback. And his name was John Wilkes Booth.
John Wilkes Booth was conversing with his Confederate-supporting peers and suggested that the only way to win the war ways to assassinate not only the president Abraham Lincoln, but also the Vice President Andrew Johnson, The Secretary of State William H. Seward, and the Union Leader Ulysses S. Grant. The science behind Wilkes Booths’ plan was that if all the people waiting to become President are assassinated, it will maybe knock the whole Union Party off their toes, so the multitude who were still fighting could have a shot at independence and the Confederate would still have a chance.
So at April 14th 1865, Abraham Lincoln was watching a play at Ford’s Theatre. Unfortunately for his assassin, Booth’s friends were drinking together, which let down the plan, so Booth was the only one who managed to execute his plan. Booth had experience, yet also coincidentally, at theatre, so he was very intelligent in his plan. Whilst everybody was clapping and laughing at a probably funny joke that had been cracked, Wilkes took his chance to assassinate the President and make a smooth getaway. Wilkes only managed to assassinate the president though, and no-one else, but he still walked free as the only assassin, and Lincoln the only victim.
Abraham Lincoln is regarded as one of the most influential, if not the most influential president in U.S. History, campaigning for Human rights by freeing slaves and delivering powerful speeches and quotes such as,
“Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”
”A house divided against itself cannot stand.”
And “Four score and seven veal calves ago, my stomach was empty.” His assassination may have been nearly 150 years ago, but he is still one of the most influential Presidents in U.S. History.
3. Thomas Becket (December 21st 1118- December 29th 1170)
On December 19th 1154, Henry II was crowned King. In his rule, he transformed England for better, such as being the arguable founder of English Common Law, but what Henry is best remembered for is his fiery temper, that would eventually lead to the assassination of the Archbishop of Canterbury, which would end up with bloodshed in the House Of God.
Henry II was angry and frustrated at the judicial system. This was because if any priest was on trial, all they had to do was proclaim their innocence and they would be cleared. Henry argued with the bishops, as he wanted this law to be removed, and for the priests to be tried in his courts, not the kings’ courts. So Henry brought a friend called Thomas Becket in to try and get the law done his way. Thomas Becket and Henry Plantagenet were the best friends. They did everything together, such as going hunting. Henry II appointed Thomas Becket Archbishop of Canterbury in 1162, because he believed that Becket had enough worldliness to change the law in a way that Henry wanted.
Frankly, that was a disappointment to Henry.
When Becket was appointed Archbishop in 1162, he decided to take the job seriously and refused to change the jury system, arguing that the church had more power than the royalty. When Henry passed a law that all persons found guilty in a Church Court would be punished by a royal court, The Archbishop of Canterbury refused to put this law forward, and, knowing how short-tempered Becket was, he fled abroad for safety. Later Henry came to terms with what he had done, and tried to reconcile with Becket. But Becket refused to let Bygones be Bygones. Henry still wanted to change the jurisdiction system, and Becket still wouldn’t allow it. Soon Becket heard that The Archbishop of York and two other Bishops had taken sides with the king, so he excommunicated them. In other words, he excluded them from the participations of the church. When Henry heard about this, he became angry, and he is said to have shouted out ”Who will rid me of this troublesome Priest?”.
That outburst turned out to be fateful.
Four knights heard this and thought that Henry wanted Thomas Becket to be murdered. The knights came in full armor in the cathedral. They shouted ‘Where is Thomas Becket, Traitor to his king and country?’ Thomas Becket humbled himself and made no act of hiding himself, but instead coming down the stairs towards them, saying ‘Here I am, no traitor to the king but a servant of God.’ ‘You shall die this instant’ they cried.
It is said that various insults came back to torment Becket at the time of his death, and he shouted various silly insults at his murderers. The monks urged Becket to flee, but Becket stayed, as he had long since wished for martyrdom. The knights struck Becket with a hard blow to the head twice, near his brain. Then, just before the third blow, Becket said his final prayer, and said to the heavens ‘By God’s grace I am ready to die.’ And with that third blow, his brain was red with blood and his blood white with his brain. There had been bloodshed in the cathedral.
When Henry II heard that Becket had been murdered, he was distraught. He said that he never meant for Becket’s murder, and he spent two days shut inside a dark room not eating or drinking following the incident, and he realized that he could have avoided the incident by controlling his temper. To extend his punishment, he walked up and down the cathedral barefoot whilst the monks whipped his back. Many people did not want to have any connections to Henry after Becket’s murder, as they did not want to be linked to the man who was responsible for the murder of the Archbishop of Canterbury.
When the monks were uncovering Becket’s body for the burial, they discovered something extraordinary that nobody, not even the king, knew about. Underneath all of Thomas Becket’s rich, fine and conspicuous garments was a hair shirt. The hair shirt was an itchy, unpleasant garment that was worn by sincerely religious people to humble themselves before God, to show a great distaste in the worldliness they were proceeding in. There were thousands of lice and infestations crawling about Becket. That made everyone realize how dedicated he was before The Father.
Six Years after Beckets’ murder a monk called Abbas Benedictus (Benedict of Peterborough) was selling goods to rebuild a church. He was selling souvenirs from the site of Becket’s death, when it happened. He was selling a piece of Benedict’s blood-stained shirt, a flagpole with Becket’s blood on it, and cups of water with a drop of Becket’s blood. In fact, he sold so much water he was able to rebuild the church altogether! Henry II is remembered not for changing England for the better, but for being responsible for the death of the most important religious figure in the country. It is said that once, he was so angry, he rolled about on the floor and chewed the rushes in fury. And even after he died- the system was still unchanged.
2. John F. Kennedy (May 29th 1917-November 22nd 1963)
This really was A Nightmare on Elm Street, and perhaps the most infamous assassination of all time. In November 8th 1960 John F Kennedy was elected President in one of the most heated, televised and closest elections in American History. JFK (By his nickname) was one of the most controversial and famous candidates in U.S.A. records, but he won it by a fraction. J.F.K. provided inspiration for countless Americans, supporting in The Cold War, and even being the figure behind the encouragement for the Moon Landing, and opening NASA. But sadly, he didn’t live to see the landing happen. On November 22nd 1963, John Fitzgerald Kennedy was in his motorcade, riding through Dallas, Texas. He was greeting the crowds who had turned up to greet up, when he was inevitably shot by a sniper, two to four times, while going down Elm Street. Crowds were in shock when they heard the shots, and the world was in mourning of President’s Kennedy’s assassination. At 1:00 pm, President Kennedy died at Parkland Hospital. The first thing Bobby Kennedy, his brother, said after the shots was-
”Is it Jack?” (John F Kennedy). And he got the answer he feared of hearing.
A part of the world was lost at that day, and especially Americans and anyone who knew the President had been distressed by the tumultuous and sudden event, and America lost the President who had given them a lot of hope for the future. Even Cuba, whose attempts at building missiles had been foiled by JFK recently in the Cuban Missile Crisis, mourned his death. But even now, the assassin is unknown. The mystery thickened when Officer J.D. Tippit, who was serving with The Dallas Police Department, called in to Police Dispatch, just 45 minutes after JFK’s assassination. Within 10 minutes…
He was dead. At 1:55 pm Lee Harvey Oswald was interrogated by Police for questioning on the death of Officer Tippit. The day was to be very intense for his Police Department, with Detectives leading him through a hallway, and reporters crowding around impatiently but eagerly, shouting loudly in an almost protesting way, repeatedly targeting him with questions. Lee Harvey Oswald famously shouted out: ”I’m just a patsy!”
What does this mean? This adds mystery to the case, and there have been rumors speculated about Lee Harvey Oswald’s statement, but still no-one understands what he meant. After 1 day of interrogation, at 23:26, on November 22nd 1963, Lee Harvey Oswald was charged with the murder of Officer Tippit and John F Kennedy. But he wasn’t found guilty. On November 24th 1963, two days after J.F.K.’s assassination, while awaiting a prison transfer, Lee Harvey Oswald was fatally shot by Dallas nightclub owner Jack Ruby.
On January 3rd 1967, Ruby died in prison. J.F.K.’s assassin still remains unknown. Who was it? Was his assassin acting alone when he shot J.F.K, like the F.B.I concluded? Did Jack Ruby kill J.F.K? What did Lee Harvey Oswald mean by ”I’m just a patsy?” There are so many conspiracy theories about J.F.K’s murder, as no one actually knows what happened due to Lee Harvey Oswald’s shooting. Below, you will find some runners up that couldn’t make the list, and then we will be ready to unveil our number one pick.
Mahatma Gandhi (October 2nd 1869-January 30th 1948)
Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated on January 30th 1948. Gandhi was an inspiration to many people around the world, as he used non-violence as a method of protest. There were many attempts to take Gandhi’s life, however on January 30th 1948, it was Hindu extremist Nathuram Godse who eventually assassinated Gandhi. The world mourned a great leader, and Nathuram Godse was sentenced to the capital punishment which was hanging, however many have since begun to revere and honor Godse due to mass controversy surrounding Gandhi’s life.
Martin Luther King Jr. (January 15th 1929-April 4th 1968)
Martin Luther King Jr. was a Civil Rights Leader who longed for equal opportunity between the Black and White community. King had many quotable phrases and is perhaps best known for his 17 minute long ‘I have a dream’ speech. However, as he stood on the balcony of his hotel room on April 4th, he was assassinated by James Earl Ray. Unlike Martin Luther King’s target, which was to have equal opportunity between the races, his death caused riots and lengthened the gaps between the races, and also influenced radical African-American movements like The Black Panthers. What was even more intriguing was the words King spoke to a crowd in Memphis, Tennessee, the night before, in his ‘I’ve been to the Mountaintop speech”.
”I may not get there with you, but I want you to know that night that we as people, will get to The Promised Land”.
Harvey Milk (May 20th 1930-November 27th 1978)
Milk was the first open homosexual American to be chosen for public office in California, and that’s why some people blame his assassination to downright hate and discrimination. Dan White, his colleague, shot Milk in the heat of the moment, and he was found guilty of unintentionally assassinating Milk as a result of diminished capacity. The Former San Francisco Supervisor Milk was also a gay-rights activist, and his ascension in politics had come at a crucial time for gays around the world. Whilst most psychiatrists at the time regarded homosexuality as a mental illness, the Mayor George Moscone was a beneficial supporter of gay-rights, and had employed lots of homosexuals to important positions in San Francisco. However, Dan White was opposite Moscone, and the idea of an up rise of gays and lesbians troubled him, as well as the idea becoming more acceptable. White subsequently resigned from the board, justifying himself with a reason that his salary was not supportive enough for his family. However, he was encouraged to change his mind, and asked the Mayor to reappoint him. At this, Moscone refused, due to motivation by Milk and others around him that Moscone should choose a different, more unprejudiced member. White was devastated at this let-down. On November 27th 1978, White came into City Hall with a loaded revolver. He went to the Mayor’s office, and they began to argue, and when White’s job was once again denied, he shot the Moscone twice in the head and chest. Then he shot Milk twice in the head and chest and once in the back. White handed himself into the police station, he was found guilty, and a turbulent time ensued.
Leon Trotsky (November 7th 1879-August 21st 1940)
Russian Marxist Revolutionary Leon Trotsky was a key prominent figure in Russia’s fight for humanity, and was assassinated for speaking out against Stalinism. From an early age, Trotsky spoke about socialism, and tried to bring together Russian workers as one. Soon, he met fellow revolutionary, Vladimir Lenin. They were both members of the Bolsheviks, a successful Revolutionary party. Lenin was leader and Trotsky was vice. But the Bolsheviks were immediately besieged on all sides, so the Bolsheviks needed to create an army. And Trotsky was the right person to do that. However, on January 21st 1924, Lenin tragically died, and people began the search for Lenin’s successor. Trotsky saw himself as the obvious candidate to be Lenin’s heir. He was not only Lenin’s vice but had also played a crucial role in the Civil War, by building up the Red Army which prevailed against the white Russian forces, so therefore Trotsky thought that the people would choose him, but his intellectual arrogance befell him. He was easily outflanked by Soviet Joseph Stalin. Stalin started to gradually decrease his power, and in 1929, Trotsky was completely banished from the Soviet Union. So, he moved to Mexico and started to speak out against Stalin’s controversial leadership. On 20th August 1940, Stalin ordered one of his assassins to kill Trotsky. He was stabbed with an icepick and fatally wounded. He died shortly after, the next day. Below you will find our number one pick.
1. Archduke Franz Ferdinand (December 18th 1863- June 28th 1914)
At the most prestigious spot on the blog is the Event that kicked of a chain of events that started The Great War (World War I), and held top spot for the most famous and successful assassination, and the most famous failed assassination attempt in history.
On June 28th 1914 Franz Ferdinand was shot in the jugular vein by Gavrilo Princip, one of the conspirators for the earlier in the day, botched assassination attempt. Upon finally assassinating the Austrian Prince, Princip boldly proclaimed the words:
”I am a Yugoslav nationalist, aiming for the unification of all Yugoslavs, and I do not care what form of state, but it must be freed from Austria.”
You’re probably reading this and thinking- what does he mean? Well let me go back to the beginning and tell you. In 1908, Austria formally annexed Bosnia and Herzegovina. The countries had already been occupying Austria since The Ottomans were being pushed out of Hungary, but as The Ottomans were being pushed out of The Balkans, it restored hope of integrating (i.e. bringing together) the Yugoslavian nation. However, due to the annexing of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Yugoslavians couldn’t inhabit Austria, so the hopes of reunifying the Yugoslavian nation were dashed. So what Princip meant was protesting in hope of rekindling his nation.
The Botched Assassination Attempt
Earlier in the day, There was another attempt on Franz Ferdinand’s life, and the backstory of the assassination is absolutely riveting, because it absolutely fails.
So, Franz Ferdinand was in Saraevjo (Bosnia) and about seven individuals were trying to assassinate him. One man tried to throw a bomb at his car, then missed and was arrested, and the Archduke escaped unwounded. After the assassination, another man, after realising how bad the attempt had gone, tried to bit in a cyanide capsule, then jump into a river. However, the cyanide capsule had gone bad, and the river was only four inches deep, so he didn’t die. After this Gavrilio Princip was sitting in a cafe, eating a sandwich (supposedly) and thinking about how badly the attempt had gone. However, the route that Ferinand was going to take had changed, but the driver didn’t know that, so Princip bumped into Ferdinand again. Once the driver had realised he had taken a more dangerous route, he tried to back up, which made the situation worse because the car started to stall, so Princip actually put the mythical sandwich down, walked up, and use the chance he had to successfully kill Ferdinand. This time Princip managed to shoot Ferdinand.
There was a thin stream of blood streaming down Ferdinand’s face. He wiped the blood away from his mouth with a handkerchief, and his wife cried ‘For God sake what’s happened to you?’, and she didn’t realize it, but she’d been shot as well. Then she slid of the seat with her face between her knees, lying on the floor. Franz reacted with the startled words ‘Sophie, Sophie, don’t die! Stay alive for the children!’ Count Franz von Harrach, who witnessed the assassination, seized the Archduke by his collar to stop his head dropping forward, and asked the Archduke if he was in great pain. He replied ”it’s nothing.” He gradually lost consciousness, but he still repeated ”it’s nothing.” And those were his last words. This assassination was very significant, as Franz Ferdinand was the air to the Austro-Hungarian throne, so you can imagine how important the whole assassination was. This was the murder that would lead to one of the bloodiest wars in all of World history, and left over 37 million dead.
After this, the Austrians did not take this nationalistic movement likely. The Serbians inhabited part of where the Yugoslavians could have stayed, but The Serbians were reluctant to comply to this request, so they tried, but their attempt wasn’t good enough, so one month later Austria declared War on Serbia. Then the Russians started to mobilize. After this, other Alliances came into effect, and this led up to World War I.
End of Blog
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