ASSASSINATION OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS: AN ANALYSIS OF THE LITERATURE

RAYMOND ALOYSIUS MCCAFFREY, Fordham University

Abstract

The thesis focus lies in an analysis of the literature devoted to ten assassination events involving six American Presidents, three Presidential Candidates and one President-elect. The study provides initially a background history tracing the growth of the assassination phenomenon. The crux of the problem is to classify the literature so as to facilitate a determination of the varacity of four hypotheses. In reviewing the literature, particular attention is given to separating various aspects such as supported and non-supported theories, eyewitness accounts and second hand reports, changes in perspective, scholarly and unscholarly studies, proven and unproven facts and theories and counter-theories. Four hypotheses were formulated as follows: (1) A period of extreme domestic, social and political conflict in the United States generates a greater volume of literature than does a period of relative tranquility when an assassination episode occurs. (2) The tendency toward conspiratorial theories is greater during the former period. (3) Availability of accused assassin for interrogation and medical/psychiatric examination after the event, if he is taken alive and remains alive, may be of considerable influence in holding down development of volume of literature and speculation around conspiracy. (4) The more powerful and prestigious the office of the president appears during a given period in history, the greater the likelihood of assassination attempts on the incumbent.^ The procedure entailed research into a wide spectrum of literature dealing with the assassination episodes and surrounding eras. The volume of literature including that which attributed the assassination to conspiracy was evaluated. Study was made of the assassin's availability for interrogation in the assassination aftermath to determine influence on conspiracy, speculation and effect on literature volume. Presidential power and prestige was analyzed during the various eras of the ten presidential targets discussed. The findings indicate that a period of domestic, social, political conflict generate a greater volume of literature and conspiratorial theories when a presidential assassination event occurs. The third hypothesis was supported in that it was found that when the assassin remained alive, the subsequent literature and conspiratorial speculation remained small. The investigative research of the source material only partially supported the last hypothesis. ^

Subject Area

Sociology, Criminology and Penology

Recommended Citation

RAYMOND ALOYSIUS MCCAFFREY, "ASSASSINATION OF AMERICAN PRESIDENTS: AN ANALYSIS OF THE LITERATURE" (January 1, 1982). ETD Collection for Fordham University. Paper AAI8213247.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI8213247

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