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The history of presidential assassinations in the United States

River to River, hosted by Ben Kieffer

While morbid, attempts to kill U.S. presidents have fascinated audiences since the first attempt on Andrew Jackson in 1835. We dig into instances across time and what they signify.

A federal judge said John W. Hinckley Jr., who tried to assassinate President Ronald Reagan in 1981, would be unconditionally released from prison later this month. U.S. history is full of attempts and precious few successful assassinations of the president.

Today on River to River, Ben Kieffer sits down with presidential historians to walk through a history of presidential assassinations in the United States.


  • Tim Walch, presidential historian and retired director of the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum in West Branch
  • Tim Naftali, former director at the Nixon Library, co-author of Impeachment: An American History
Ben Kieffer is the host of IPR's River to River
Zachary Oren Smith is a reporter covering Eastern Iowa
Samantha McIntosh is a talk show producer at Iowa Public Radio. Prior to IPR, Samantha worked as a reporter for radio stations in southeast and west central Iowa under M&H Broadcasting, and before that she was a weekend music host for GO 96.3 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.