History Podcasts

The 4 Successful (And Hundreds of Unsuccessful) Assassination Attempts of U.S. Presidents-Mel Ayton

The 4 Successful (And Hundreds of Unsuccessful) Assassination Attempts of U.S. Presidents-Mel Ayton

In American history, four U.S. Presidents have been murdered at the hands of an assassin. In each case the assassinations changed the course of American history.

But most historians have overlooked or downplayed the many threats modern presidents have faced, and survived. In this episode I talk with Mel Ayton , author of the book Hunting the President: Threats, Plots and Assassination Attempts-From FDR to Obama, who has looked at the largely forgotten-or never-before revealed-malicious attempts to slay America's leaders.

We talk about the profiles of a typical would-be assassin and what they think they have to gain by slaying the U.S. president. Mel also has many stories, including:

  • How an armed, would-be assassin stalked President Roosevelt and spent ten days waiting across the street from the White House for his chance to shoot him
  • How the Secret Service foiled a plot by a Cuban immigrant who told coworkers he was going to shoot LBJ from a window overlooking the president's motorcade route
  • How a deranged man broke into Reagan's California home and attempted to strangle the former president before he was subdued by Secret Service agents.
  • The relationships presidents held with their protectors and the effect it had on the Secret Service's mission

RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE

Hunting the President: Threats, Plots and Assassination Attempts-From FDR to Obama

Mel Ayton's website

ABOUT MEL AYTON

Mel Ayton is the author of numerous books and articles. He has a B.A. degree in Politics and History and a post-graduate degree - M.A. (Dunelm) - from Durham University. The author is also a former Fulbright Teacher in the United States, Deputy Headmaster and college lecturer.

In 2003 Mel Ayton acted as the historical adviser for the BBC's television documentary,The Kennedy Dynasty.