On June 24, 1894, the Italian anarchist Sante Geronimo Caserio assassinated French President Carnot in Lyon during his presidency. It was a period of frequent anarchist attacks on the world’s top officials, such as heads of state and monarchs. For example, Luigi Lucheni killed in 1898 the Austrian Empress Elizabeth (Sissi), Gaetano Bresci in 1900 the Italian King Umberto I of the Savoy dynasty, Leon Czolgosz in 1901 the American President William McKinley, Michele Angiolillo in 1897 the Spanish Prime Minister Antonio Manáno Cáno of the Prime Minister of Spain, José Canalejas. Many other anarchist assassination attempts have been made in Europe and the United States.
French President Marie François Sadi Carnot came from a politically very influential family. His father was a French senator and minister, and his grandfather was one of the main politicians during the French Revolution, as well as a war minister during the time of Napoleon Bonaparte. He was killed at the height of his popularity, right after giving a political speech at a banquet in Lyon. Caserio approached the president, who was sitting in the car at the time, shaking hands with fans. When a smiling Carnot held out his hand, Caserio shook his hand, and at the same time stabbed him in the heart with his other hand. He was immediately defeated, but it was too late for the president.
At the time of his assassination, President Carnot was 56 years old. His killer Sante Geronimo Caserio was a 20-year-old baker (his father named him in honor of the Indian chief Geronimo). He did not deny responsibility at all after his arrest. In fact, he personally described the way he stabbed the president to death when he was in a carriage. He claimed that his motive was revenge for the deaths of two executed anarchist bombers. He refused to seek pardon from the judges or allude to his insanity. He was sentenced to death and executed by guillotine in Lyon the same year, less than two months after the assassination he committed.