May 11 - 1812 - The Assassination of Spencer Perceval
Only one Prime Minister of the United Kingdom has ever been assassinated while in office, and Spencer Perceval did not really have the profile of a politician who gets assassinated. Then again, his assassin John Bellingham was not the kind of political ideologue or unbalanced individual who has the profile of a person who commits an assassination. Perceval was an extremely capable politician who managed to have a rapid rise in politics through sheer ability. A committed evangelical, equally opposed to reform, Catholic emancipation, the slave trade, and Napoleon, Perceval was the Prime Minister who had to deal with a reversal of fortune in the Napoleonic Wars and the madness of King George III. Yet by 1812, he seemed to be righting his administration. John Bellingham made the future of Perceval's government an open question. Bellingham shot Perceval because he thought he still deserved redress for being arrested and imprisoned in Russia while being an agent for a British firm there. More stunningly, Bellingham calmly allowed himself to be arrested after assassinating Perceval. This led to a conversation about his sanity. Nonetheless, within a week, Bellingham was tried, convicted, and executed by hanging for assassinating the Prime Minister.