William Craig (Secret Service)

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William Craig (1855–1902) was the first agent of the United States Secret Service killed in the line of duty.


He was born in Scotland in November 1855. He was fair-haired, blue-eyed and stood 6 foot 4 and weighed 260 pounds. He spent 12 years in the British military and was honorably discharged and immigrated to Chicago's South Side at the age of 38. He joined the Secret Service in 1900.

After the assassination of President William McKinley, the Secret Service was given the task of presidential protection. Craig was killed on September 3, 1902, when a speeding trolley car rammed into the open horse-drawn carriage carrying President Theodore Roosevelt in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. Also in the car were Massachusetts governor Winthrop M. Crane and presidential assistant George B. Cortelyou. The President received only superficial cuts and bruises. The President said: "The man who was killed was one of whom I was fond and whom I greatly prized for his loyalty and faithfulness."

Craig was buried in Oak Woods Cemetery, Chicago.

Selected coverage[edit]

  • Washington Post; September 4, 1902; Killed at His Post of Duty. Secret Service Officer Craig Was the President's Shadow. Followed Him on His Walks and Drives About Washington and Accompanied Him on Out-of-town Trips. Everywhere yesterday were heard expressions of sorrow at the fate of William Craig, the Secret Service officer, who was the only member of the President's party to receive fatal injuries in the accident at Pittsfield. Scores of officials whose business takes them frequently to the White House had a kind word to say of the officer, who during his term of duty in Washington had made hundreds of friends.
  • New York Times; September 4, 1902; Presidents Landau Struck by Car; Mr. Roosevelt Thrown Out, But Escapes with Slight Injuries. Secret Service Agent Killed. Driver of the Carriage Taken to a Pittsfield Hospital in a Serious Condition. Accident Occurred Soon After the Drive from Pittsfield to Lenox Had Begun. Pittsfield, Massachusetts, September 3, 1902. The carriage in which President Roosevelt, accompanied by Governor Crane, Secretary Cortelyou, and others, was being driven from this place to Lenox this morning was struck by a trolley car at the foot of Howard's Hill, and instantly demolished.
  • New York Times; September 7, 1902; Funeral for William Craig.
  • New York Times; September 10, 1902; Investigation Into Accident by Which the President's Carriage Was Demolished. Pittsfield, Massachusetts, September 9, 1902; General interest in the accident which befell the Presidential party while passing over South Street, this city, on Wednesday of last week, when an electric car demolished the landau containing President Roosevelt and Gov. Crane and killed Secret Service Agent William Craig, was renewed today.
  • Chicago Sun Times; September 2, 2002; Secret Service honors its first hero. Shortly after the third assassination of an American president in 36 years, Chicagoan William Craig was tapped to be one of the first entrusted with the safety of future leaders. A giant of a man at 6 feet 4 inches (1.93 m) tall and 260 pounds, Craig quickly earned the respect of President Theodore Roosevelt, who was at first wary of having men shadow his every move. But within less than a year of taking over as the president's bodyguard, Craig was killed in the line of duty September 3, 1902, when a trolley hit the carriage in which he and Roosevelt rode. Tuesday, exactly 100 years later, the Secret Service will pay tribute to Craig, the first agent ...
  • Chicago Tribune; September 3, 2002; William Craig's cemetery plaque had stood unnoticed for years, hidden behind bushes and facing a concrete wall topped with barbed wire. His name had been blurred after a century. But Craig's anonymity ended Tuesday with a cemetery procession of bagpipes and drums, along with a crowd of police, Secret Service officials and Craig's family, who honored the first Secret Service agent to die while protecting a United States president.

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