On the 14th of April, 1865, five days after the surrender of General Lee closed
the long drama of the Civil War, President Lincoln fell the victim of an
assassin. It was to the fierce passions engendered by the war that he owed his
death. On the 2d of July, I88I, President Garfield also fell before an
assassin's weapon. Here, too, passion had been excited, and his death was a
lamentable incident in the history of the great Civil Service Reform. On
September 6, I90I, President McKinley, the third of America's rulers to fall by
the hand of an assassin, suffered a similar fate. But his murder was the more
flagrant and unpardonable in that there was not a shadow of warrant for the
dastardly deed. He fell at the end of a career as President distinguished for
its brilliant success; fell when the country had attained the most prosperous
stage in its whole history; fell while attending a great celebration of the
progress of civilization in America, and while surrounded by a multitude of his
admiring and applauding fellow-citizens. Never was known a deeper treachery, a
fouler outrage, a baser crime than that of the unmentionable wretch who shot the
honored head of a great nation while grasping his hand in seeming friendship and
This fatal act occurred six months after President McKinley took his seat a
second time as the executive head of the great Republic of the West, and a
suitable preliminary to the story of his death will be that of the public
incidents of his second administration.
We may briefly describe the election campaign of I900, whose result so strongly
indicated the sentiment of admiration of the American people for the man who had
held the helm of the ship of state during four years of warlike event and public
excitement. In the Republican National Convention, assembled at Philadelphia on
the I9th of June, 1900, the feeling of the party was decisively expressed by
William McKinley's unanimous nomination on the first ballot. A similar honor was
paid to the candidate for Vice-President, Theodore Roosevelt, the only vote not
cast for him being his own. This unanimous nomination of the candidates for both
President and Vice-President on the first ballot was, we believe, the only
instance of the kind in American history.
William J. Bryan, McKinley's opponent in I896, was his opponent still, his
associate for Vice-President being Adlai E. Stevenson, who had served for one
term in that office under President Cleveland. The election campaign was
significant in the fact that the old party war-cries, so prominent in the past,
now sank into insignificance, new and burning issues having risen to take their
place. For forty years the tariff question had stood in the fore-ground, being
for most of that period the main subject of controversy between the two great
parties. Now it sank out of sight so completely that it was hardly mentioned in
the campaign. The question of free silver coinage, the leading issue in I896,
was now also of declining interest. The finances of the country were in such a
flourishing state that no voting capital could be made out of this question.
While the country was being flooded with free gold, no stringent demand for free
silver could be aroused.
In this decline of the old questions, new ones came into prominence, the main
points in debate being the Trusts and the policy of so-called Imperialism. The
Democratic party maintained that the vast development of great combinations of
capital, known as Trusts, with their threatened enslavement of the hosts of
industry, had taken place under Republican auspices and support, and that their
opponents were the sustainers of monopoly. Yet this allegation was difficult to
prove. The Trusts were commercial, not political enterprises. No laws had been
recently passed in their favor, while laws had been passed looking to their
suppression. Both parties condemned them in their platforms. It was, therefore,
not easy to hold the Republicans responsible for this growing evil, or to make
the Trust a leading issue in the campaign, though this was strongly attempted.
A second prominent question in controversy was that of Imperialism versus Anti-
Imperialism; the policy of expansion adopted by the administration in its effort
to subdue and control the people of the Philippines, and the sentiment of the
opponents to this policy. Opposition to the war in the Philippines had grown to
such proportions that Anti-Imperialism was taken up as a leading principle of
the Democratic platform, and in the campaign that followed the orators
thundered, with all the eloquence at their command, upon the exciting problem of
the conquest or the independence of the Filipinos.
In the election campaign President McKinley remained at home. He had his record
to speak for him, and addressed only those who visited him at Canton. Mr. Bryan,
on the contrary, traversed the country widely, speaking with his remarkable
oratorical ability and his extraordinary powers of endurance. His favorite
theme, especially towards the end of the campaign, was the trust evil and the
plutocratic tendencies of the Republican government, against which he poured
forth burning denunciations.
When election day came its result showed decisively the feeling of the people
upon the question at issue. McKinley was chosen President by a much larger
majority than in I896, he receiving the great majority of I37 electoral votes,
42 more than in I896. The popular vote was 7,206,777 for McKinley against
6,374,397 for Bryan.
William McKinley was thus a second time chosen President of the United States,
and went on in the duties of his great office without a break, and with nothing
to warn him of the coming fatal end to his distinguished career. And Theodore
Roosevelt, who had reluctantly consented to be the candidate for Vice-President,
fully expected to spend four years in honorable retirement as presiding officer
of the Senate, no vision arising to notify him that within a year he would be
ranked among the sovereign rulers of the earth.
Thus fate moves on, and no man can foresee what lies hidden for him on its
unfolding scroll. The past spreads out behind us fully revealed; the face of the
future is deeply veiled. Whether joy or sorrow, fortune or ruin, life or death
await us in the coming time, no man can tell. Destiny hides its decrees until
the time for their accomplishment is at hand.
On the 4th of March, I901, President McKinley was again inaugurated into his
great office, with every promise before him of guiding the ship of state safely
over the unstable seas of public events. Everything seemed propitious.
Prosperity ruled supreme in the land. The depression which had prevailed some
years before was now replaced by a magnificent activity; money poured into the
national treasury much more rapidly than it flowed out; in city and country
alike an extraordinary outburst of industrial energy was manifest, and on the
seas a mighty fleet of merchantmen bore the product of our factories and fields
to the most remote quarters of the earth. It was especially in commerce that the
activity of our people displayed itself. The United States had become the
granary of Europe, the generous "Lady Bountiful" who gave of her abundance to
the thronging millions of the earth. And the exports of foodstuffs were closely
competed with by those of manufactured goods, while imports fell off to such an
extent that in the fiscal year ending June 30, I90I, the balance of trade in our
favor reached the magnificent total of $664,900,011, a phenomenon unequalled and
even undreamed of in the preceding history of the world.
In the political world affairs seemed equally propitious. After two years of
warfare the struggle in the Philippines was practically at an end, some dregs of
guerrilla resistance alone remaining, while the people were widely returning to
the pursuits of quiet industry and accepting with seeming satisfaction the
American rule. The Taft Commission, appointed by President McKinley to establish
a liberal form of government in the islands, was meeting with great success in
its work, and a large number of teachers had been sent out to carry the blessing
of education to the islanders, and thus give them the highest boon in the power
of this country to bestow. Thus the question of Imperialism, so prominent during
the year just passed, was fast dying out before the logic of events.
The difficulties which had arisen in Cuba and Porto Rico were similarly
approaching an amicable settlement; the former by the acceptance of the Platt
amendment which fixed the relations between this country and Cuba; the latter by
the decision of the Supreme Court, which definitely settled the commercial
relations of the United States and her new dependencies. The latest notable
event in President McKinley's official career was his proclamation, in July,
1901, that all import and export duties on the trade of Porto Rico with the
United States were abolished, and that commercially as well as politically that
island had been taken into the family circle of the United States. He had
proposed proclaiming a full system of civil government in the Philippine Islands
on July 4, 1901, but this was delayed awaiting a decision of the Supreme Court
concerning our commercial relations with those islands. But a partial system was
put in operation on that date.
Thus it was as the executive head of a nation practically at peace with the
world, the most prosperous and acknowledged as one of the most prominent and
commanding nations of the earth, that William McKinley took his seat on March 4,
1901. With his administration unchanged, his well-tried heads of departments
still in office, the sky clear above him, the last floating clouds of the
troubles which had darkened his late administration fast vanishing, all looked
hopeful for a quiet and peaceful period in office, unvexed by the political
cares which had made his past term anything but a bed of roses.
The principal event of his new administration was indeed a private rather than a
public one. Shortly after his inauguration he projected a tour of the country
far more extensive than had been undertaken by any President before him, its
limits being the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans on the east and west, the great
lakes and the Gulf of Mexico on the north and south. His purpose was to be
present at the approaching launch of the battle-ship Ohio in San Francisco, that
city being reached by a journey through the South, while the return was to be
made by the northern route.
On April 29 the President and his party left Washington in a special train, the
most admirably equipped one that railroad art could provide. Every convenience
and luxury and all the appliances for comfort known in travel were supplied,
while the utmost pains were taken to insure ease and safety upon the many lines
of rail to be traversed. The early part of the route led through the Southern
States to New Orleans, the President being received everywhere with a generous
welcome and warm enthusiasm which spoke volumes for the growing unity of
sentiment in the country. His well-chosen responses to the addresses of welcome
added greatly to the kindly feeling manifested by the people, and there was no
indication that there had ever been any sentiment of disunion between the two
great sections of the country.
In truth, sectionalism had been rapidly dying out during President McKinley's
administration. The Spanish war, with the warm rapport which it brought about
between North and South, had gone far to develop the sentiment of union. The
sections were drawn together by the common tie of the war and the brotherhood of
the camp. The personal influence of the President had much to do with this
change of feeling, which he warmly exerted himself to bring about, and his
gratification at the result was shown by him in words spoken at Atlanta during
the Exposition in that city:-
"Reunited-One country again and one country forever! Proclaim it from the press
and the pulpit; teach it in the schools; write it across the skies! The world
sees and feels it; it cheers every heart North and South, and brightens the life
of every American home! Let nothing ever stain it again! At peace with all the
world and with each other, what can stand in the pathway of our progress and
His brief addresses during his journey south were well calculated to strengthen
this sentiment, and in New Orleans the warmth of his welcome spoke strongly for
the feelings of the Southern people. From that city his route lay through Texas
and the thinly-settled territories beyond, until the agricultural Paradise of
California was reached. Here the enthusiasm of his reception in the Southern
States was repeated, and his journey through that fertile land was virtually
over a bed of bloom, the profuse flowery wealth of California's gardens and
fields being showered at every point where the President halted in his route.
Unfortunately, the fatigue of the journey proved too much for the delicate
health of Mrs. McKinley, and after San Francisco was reached she became so
violently ill that for several days her life was despaired of. During this
perilous interval the President, whose love for his wife was as warm then as on
the day in which they were wedded, could not be drawn from her side, while his
evident distress added to the respect with which he was everywhere regarded.
"The world loves a lover." The people deeply sympathized with their President in
an affection which had persisted undiminished during thirty years of married
life, and felt for him in the affliction which now hung over him like a threat.
Fortunately the stricken woman began to mend, and her husband was able to leave
her side long enough to take part in the ceremonies at the launch of the Ohio.
But the projected return trip had to be abandoned, and the enfeebled "Lady of
the White House" was brought back to Washington by the shortest route, attended
to at every point, with the most anxious and assiduous care, by her loving
Another important event of McKinley's second term-one vitally important in its
effect upon his career-was the Pan-American Exposition, a great display of
products of the countries of the two Americas, its purpose being to show the
progress of the western continent in the nineteenth century, to bring closer
together, commercially and socially, the various countries of that continent,
and to promote friendly intercourse between their peoples.
The Exposition was held at Buffalo, New York, from May 1 to November 1, 1901. It
covered an area of three hundred and fifty acres, the ground chosen including
the most beautiful portions of Delaware Park. The grounds and buildings, when
completed, presented a magnificent scene. While on a smaller scale than the
World's Fairs at Philadelphia and Chicago, the buildings were unsurpassed in
architectural beauty. Instead of being pure white in hue, as at Chicago,
brilliant colors and rich tints were freely used, giving a glowing effect to the
artistically designed buildings. The general style of the architecture was a
free treatment of the Spanish Renaissance, this style being adopted in
compliment to the Spanish-American countries which participated so largely in
the display. There were attractive hydraulic and fountain arrangements which
added greatly to the general effect of the installation.
The acknowledged leading feature of the Exposition was its elaborate and
magnificent electrical display. Buffalo being in close connection by conducting
wires with the enormous electrical plant at Niagara, it possessed unequalled
facilities in this direction, and of these a generous advantage was taken. The
Electric Tower, 375 feet high, a stately and beautiful building, was the centre-
piece of the Exposition, and the effect, as the light was gradually turned on
when evening approached, and finally poured out suddenly from thousands of
lamps, flooding with brilliance all the buildings within view, was so over-
whelmingly beautiful that no observer could put his feelings in adequate words.
This is not all. There were varied-colored electric fountains of striking
beauty. There were winding canals, strange and beautiful grottoes and caverns,
cascades, towers, domes and pinnacles, not the least among the objects of
attraction being the Midway, a diversified collection of curious displays of
varied character, such as has become an essential feature of all recent
enterprises of this character.
The Pan-American Exposition needed one thing to make it complete, the presence
of the nation's ruler. President McKinley was warmly invited by the Exposition
authorities to pay it a visit, and with his usual warm sympathy in all the
affairs of the people, and readiness to yield to any reasonable request, he
accepted the invitation-unhappily so, as the event proved. In anticipation of
his visit, and in accordance with the custom of setting aside certain days as
special occasions, September 5 was fixed as President's Day. As usual, this fact
was widely advertised, with the expectation of attracting an immense multitude
of people to the Exposition on that day.
President McKinley left Canton on Wednesday, the 4th of September-exactly two
weeks before his sad return to his Ohio home. In the full vigor of life and the
buoyancy of health, cheered on his departure by loving friends and admiring
neighbors, he set out in the best of spirits on the last journey of his life,
accompanied by his wife and a number of relatives and friends.
The Exposition had from the first received the earnest support of the President,
to whom it seemed a new link in the chain of friendship and mutual support that
was to bind the American republics into one great family of nations. He was,
therefore, glad of the opportunity to aid the enterprise by his presence and to
speak words of appreciation and encouragement of the purpose to which it was
President's Day dawned bright and clear, the air moderately cool, and the
weather in all respects very promising. The city was gayly decorated with flags
and bunting, and banners were stretched across the leading avenues, many of them
bearing expressive words of welcome to the nation's chief. The President had
been entertained since his arrival on the previous day at the house of Mr. John
G. Milburn, president of the Exposition, who accompanied him when he set out at
10 o'clock on the following morning to make his visit of ceremony to the
Exposition grounds. Mrs. McKinley walked by his side.
A welcoming burst of cheers greeted their appearance, the President responding
by bowing and lifting his hat. He entered, with Mrs. McKinley, the first of the
awaiting carriages, Mr. Milburn and Mrs. William Hammond, of the Board of Women
Managers, following in the second. The two carriages, surrounded by an escort of
twenty mounted police and twenty members of the signal corps, were driven
briskly to the Lincoln Parkway entrance to the Exposition grounds, other
carriages and tallyhoes following and the people cheering as the President
At the entrance to the grounds the party was met by detachments of the United
States Marines, the Seacoast Artillery and the New York State Infantry, and a
President's salute of twenty-one guns was fired. A stand had been erected in the
esplanade from which the President was to deliver his address. Around it was
gathered the greatest throng which the Exposition had yet seen, the vast
multitude filling the broad space and overflowing to the Court of Fountains. In
the stands on each side of that of the President many distinguished men and
women were seated, among them representatives of most of the American republics.
Ringing cheers greeted President McKinley as he was escorted to the stand, and
when Mr. Milburn introduced him with the brief words, "Ladies and Gentlemen: The
President," there broke out such a roar of welcome and approbation that several
minutes passed before the President could speak. The address that followed was
one of the highest interest, not alone as the last speech of one of America's
leading orators, but for the new policy which it outlined, and which President
Roosevelt afterwards promised to make the policy of the nation. We give in full
this inspiring address:-
"President Milburn, Director-General Buchanan, Commissioners, Ladies and
"I am glad to be again in the city of Buffalo and exchange greetings with her
people, to whose generous hospitality I am not a stranger, and with whose good
will I have been repeatedly and signally honored. To-day I have additional
satisfaction in meeting and giving welcome to the foreign representatives
assembled here, whose presence and participation in this Exposition have
contributed in so marked a degree to its interest and success. To the
Commissioners of the Dominion of Canada and the British colonies, the French
colonies, the Republics of Mexico and of Central and South America, and the
commissioners of Cuba and Porto Rico, who share with us in this undertaking, we
give the hand of fellowship and felicitate with them upon the triumphs of art,
science, education and manufacture, which the old has bequeathed to the new
"Expositions are the timekeepers of progress. They record the world's
advancement. They stimulate the energy, enterprise and intellect of the people,
and quicken human genius. They go into the home. They broaden and brighten the
daily life of the people. They open mighty storehouses of information to the
student. Every exposition, great or small, has helped to some onward step.
Comparison of ideas is always educational, and as such instructs the brain and
hand of man. Friendly rivalry follows, which is the spur to industrial
improvement, the inspiration to useful invention and to high endeavor in all
departments of human activity. It exacts a study of the wants, comforts and even
the whims of the people and recognizes the efficacy of high quality and new
prices to win their favor.
"The quest for trade is an incentive to men of business to devise, invent,
improve and economize in the cost of production. Business life, whether among
ourselves, or with other people, is ever a sharp struggle for success. It will
be none the less so in the future. Without competition, we would be clinging to
the clumsy and antiquated processes of farming and manufacture and the methods
of business of long ago, and the twentieth would be no further advanced than the
eighteenth century. But though commercial competitors we are, commercial enemies
we must not be.
"The Pan-American Exposition has done its work thoroughly, presenting in its
exhibits evidences of the highest skill, and illustrating the progress of the
human family in the Western Hemisphere. This portion of the earth has no cause
for humiliation for the part it has performed in the march of civilization. It
has not accomplished everything; far from it. It has simply done its best, and
without vanity or boastfulness, and recognizing the manifold achievements of
others, it invites the friendly rivalry of all the powers in the peaceful
pursuits of the trade of commerce, and will co-operate with all in advancing the
highest and best interests of humanity. The wisdom and energy of all the nations
are none too great for the world's work. The success of art, science, industry
and invention is an international asset and a common glory.
"After all, how near one to the other is every part of the world! Modern
inventions have brought into close relation widely separated peoples and made
them better acquainted. Geographic and political divisions will continue to
exist, but distances have been effaced. Swift ships and fast trains are becoming
cosmopolitan. They invade fields which a few years ago were impenetrable. The
world's products are exchanged as never before, and with increasing
transportation facilities come increasing knowledge and larger trade. Prices are
fixed with mathematical precision by supply and demand. The world's selling
prices are regulated by market and crop reports. We travel greater distances in
a shorter space of time and with more ease than was ever dreamed of by the
fathers. Isolation is no longer possible or desirable. The same important news
is read, though in different languages, the same day in all Christendom.
"The telegraph keeps us advised of what is occurring everywhere, and the press
foreshadows, with more or less accuracy, the plans and purposes of the nations.
Market prices of products and of securities are hourly known in every commercial
mart, and the investments of the people extend beyond their own national
boundaries into the remotest parts of the earth. Vast transactions are conducted
and international exchanges are made by the tick of the cable. Every event of
interest is immediately bulletined. The quick gathering and transmission of
news, like rapid transit, are of recent origin, and are only made possible by
the genius of the inventor and the courage of the investor. It took a special
messenger of the Government, with every facility known at the time for rapid
travel, nineteen days to go from the city of Washington to New Orleans with a
message to General Jackson that the war with England had ceased and a treaty of
peace had been signed. How different now.
"We reached General Miles in Porto Rico by cable, and he was able through the
military telegraph to stop his army on the firing line with the message that the
United States and Spain had signed a protocol suspending hostilities. We knew
almost instantly of the first shots fired at Santigo, and the subsequent
surrender of the Spanish forces was known at Washington within less than an hour
of its consummation. The first ship of Cervera's fleet had hardly emerged from
that historic harbor when the fact was flashed to our capital, and the swift
destruction that followed was announced immediately through the wonderful medium
"So accustomed are we to safe and easy communication with distant lands that its
temporary interruption, even in ordinary times, results in loss and
inconvenience. We shall never forget the days of anxious waiting and awful
suspense when no information was permitted to be sent from Peking, and the
diplomatic representatives of the nations in China, cut off from all
communication, inside and outside of the walled capital, were surrounded by an
angry and misguided mob, that threatened their lives; nor the joy that thrilled
the world when a single message from the government of the United States brought
through our Minister the first news of the safety of the besieged diplomats.
"At the beginning of the nineteenth century there was not a mile of steam
railroad on the globe. Now there are enough miles to make the circuit many
times. Then there was not a line of electric telegraph; now we have a vast
mileage traversing all lands and all seas. God and man have linked the nations
together. No nation can longer be indifferent to any other. And as we are
brought more and more in touch with each other the less occasion is there for
misunderstanding, and the stronger the disposition, when we have differences, to
adjust them in the court of arbitration, which is the noblest form for the
settlement of international disputes.
"My fellow-citizens, trade statistics indicate that this country is in a state
of unexampled prosperity. The figures are almost appalling. They show that we
are utilizing our fields and forests and mines, and that we are furnishing
profitable employment to the millions of workingmen throughout the United
States, bringing comfort and happiness to their homes, and making it possible to
lay by savings for old age and disability. That all the people are participating
in this great prosperity is seen in every American community and shown by the
enormous and unprecedented deposits in our savings banks. Our duty is the care
and the security of these deposits, and their safe investment demands the
highest integrity and the best business capacity of those in charge of these
depositories of the people's earnings.
"We have a vast and intricate business, built up through years of toil and
struggle, in which every part of the country has its stake, which will not
permit of either neglect or of undue selfishness. No narrow, sordid policy will
subserve it. The greatest skill and wisdom on the part of manufacturers and
producers will be required to hold and increase it. Our industrial enterprises,
which have grown to such great proportions, affect the homes and occupations of
the people and the welfare of the country. Our capacity to produce has developed
so enormously and our products have so multiplied that the problem of more
markets requires our urgent and immediate attention. Only a broad and
enlightened policy will keep what we have. No other policy will get more. In
these times of marvellous business energy and gain we ought to be looking to the
future, strengthening the weak places in our industrial and commercial systems,
that we may be ready for any storm or strain.
"By sensible trade arrangements which will not interrupt our home production, we
shall extend the outlets for our increasing surplus. A system which provides a
mutual exchange of commodities is manifestly essential to the continued and
healthful growth of our export trade. We must not response in fancied security
that we can forever sell everything and buy little or nothing. If such a thing
were possible, it would not be best for us or for those with whom we deal. We
should take from our customers such of their products as we can use without harm
to our industries and labor. Reciprocity is the natural outgrowth of our
wonderful industrial development, under the domestic policy now firmly
established. What we produce beyond our domestic consumption must have a vent
abroad. The excess must be relieved through a foreign outlet, and we should sell
everywhere we can and buy wherever the buying will enlarge our sales and
productions, and thereby make a greater demand for home labor.
"The period of exclusiveness is past. The expansion of our trade and commerce is
the pressing problem. Commercial wars are unprofitable. A policy of good will
and friendly trade relations will prevent reprisals. Reciprocity treaties are in
harmony with the spirit of the times; measures of retaliation are not. If
perchance some of our tariffs are no longer needed for revenue or to encourage
and protect our industries at home, why should they not be employed to extend
and promote our markets abroad?
"Then, too, we have inadequate steamship service. New lines of steamers have
already been put in commission between the Pacific coast ports of the United
States and those of the western coasts of Mexico and Central and South America.
These should be followed up with direct steamship lines between the eastern
coast of the United States and South American ports. One of the needs of the
times is direct commercial lines from our vast fields of production to the
fields of consumption that we have but barely touched. Next in advantage to
having the thing to sell is to have the convenience to carry it to the buyer. We
must encourage our merchant marine. We must have more ships. They must be under
the American flag, built and manned and owned by Americans. These will not only
be profitable in a commercial sense; they will be messengers of peace and amity
wherever they go. We must build the Isthmian canal, which will unite the two
oceans and give a straight line of water communication with the western coasts
of Central and South America and Mexico. The construction of a Pacific cable
cannot longer be postponed.
"In the furtherance of these objects of national interest and concern, you are
performing an important part. This Exposition would have touched the heart of
that American statesman whose mind was ever alert and thought ever constant for
a larger commerce and a truer fraternity of the republics of the New World. His
broad American spirit is felt and manifested here. He needs no identification to
an assemblage of Americans anywhere, for the name of Blaine is inseparably
associated with the Pan-American movement which find this practical and
substantial expression, and which we all hope will be firmly advanced by the
Pan-American Congress that assembles this autumn in the capital of Mexico. The
good work will go on. It cannot be stopped. These buildings will disappear; this
creation of art and beauty and industry will perish from sight, but their
influence will remain to `Make it live beyond its too short living, with praises
"Who can tell the new thoughts that have been awakened, the ambitions fired and
the high achievements that will be wrought through this Exposition? Gentlemen,
let us ever remember that our interest is in accord, not conflict, and that our
real eminence rests in the victories of peace, not those of war. We hope that
all who are represented here may be moved to higher and nobler effort for their
own and the world's good, and that out of this city may come, not only greater
commerce and trade for us all, but, more essential than these, relations of
mutual respect, confidence and friendship which will deepen and endure.
"Our earnest prayer is that God will graciously vouchsafe prosperity, happiness
and peace to all our neighbors, and like blessings to all the peoples and powers
The suggestive words of the orator were frequently interrupted by applause,
especially those referring to treaties of reciprocity with other countries, to
the Isthmian canal and the Pacific cable, and to the work of Blaine in
developing the Pan-American idea. At its conclusion hundreds of persons broke
through the lines and the President held an impromptu reception for fifteen
minutes, shaking hands with all who approached him.
This formal ceremony was followed by a tour round the Exposition grounds and
through the buildings, in which the distinguished visitor showed a full
appreciation of the beauty of the edifices and their surroundings and the
excellence and significance of the display.
The earlier hours of the following day, Friday, the 6th of September, were
occupied by the President and his party in a visit to Niagara. It was afternoon
when the again visited the Exposition, Mrs. McKinley not accompanying him on
this occasion, as the journey of the morning had wearied her. Driving to the
side entrance of the Temple of Music, one of the Exposition buildings, the
President, attended by Mr. Milburn, George B. Cortelyou, his private secretary,
and several others, entered the building, the party being greeted with a warm
outburst of applause from the throng of people that filled the structure.
The purpose of the visit was to hold an informal public reception, and with this
intent the President took a position near the edge of the raised platform, on
which stood the great pipe organ, at the east side of the structure. The
ceremony began with a brief address from President Milburn. Preparations were
then made for the reception, Mr. Milburn standing on the left and Secretary
Cortelyou on the right of the President, while Secret-Service Agents Foster and
Ireland stood close by, there being left a passage a few feet in width for the
movement of the people who wished to grasp the hand of the Executive.
It was about 4 o'clock. The throng in the Temple of Music was in the most
cheerful humor, a frame of mind which was reflected in the demeanor of the
President, who laughingly chatted with Mr. Milburn and awaited with smiling face
the ordeal of handshaking through which he was to pass.
A long line of people was formed, extending in circles through the hall and out
upon the avenue, and at a signal the movement began. An old man with silvery-
white hair was the first to reach the President, and the little girl he carried
on his shoulder received a warm salutation.
The crowd had been pouring through hardly more than five minutes, when the
organist brought from his powerful instrument its loudest notes, drowning even
the scuffle of feet. About half of the people who passed the President were
women and children. To every child the President bent over, shook hands warmly
and said some kind words, so as to make the young heart glad. As each person
passed he was viewed critically by the secret-service men. Their hands were
watched, their faces and actions noted.
Fully a hundred persons had passed when a man approached who differed from the
others mainly in having his right hand covered with a handkerchief, as if it had
been injured and was bandaged. He was a rather tall, boyish-looking person, with
smooth, somewhat pointed face, apparently of foreign origin. There seemed no
reason to suspect him, and the secret-service men let him pass on, quite
unsuspicious of the fact that a loaded pistol lay concealed by the innocent
A young girl had just been greeted, and the President turned with a smile to the
newcomer, extending his right hand to grasp the left of the man before him. At
that instant the throng in the temple was startled by the sound of two pistol
shots, so close together as to be almost simultaneous. At the same moment the
President staggered backward, with pallid face, and a fierce commotion began at
the spot where he had stood. The stranger had suddenly held a pistol almost
against his breast and fired two shots in rapid succession.
Before he could fire again the secret-service men flung themselves upon him,
bearing him to the floor. It was stated that a negro named Parker, who was near
the assassin in the line, was the first to strike him and seize his pistol hand,
but this was discredited by the evidence at the assassin's trial. In truth, the
commotion and excitement were so great that the exact details of the struggle
were difficult to obtain, and several conflicting stories were told. All that
can be said with assurance is that the assailant was hurled to the floor, the
pistol struck from his hand, and blows rained upon him by the infuriated
detectives and soldiers. Then the multitude began to realize the significance of
the scene, and a murmur arose, spread and swelled to a hum of confusion, then
grew to a pandemonium of noises. The crowds that a moment before had stood mute
and motionless as in bewildered ignorance of the enormity of the thing, now with
a single impulse surged forward, while a hoarse cry swelled up from a thousand
throats and a thousand men rushed forward to lay hands upon the perpetrator of
the crime. For a moment the confusion was terrible.
Inside on a slightly raised rostrum was enacted within those few feverish
moments a tragic incident, so dramatic in character, so thrilling in its
intensity, that few who looked on will ever be able to give a succinct account
of what really did transpire. Even the actors who were playing the principal
roles came out of it with blanched faces, trembling limbs and throbbing hearts,
while their minds were filled with a tumult of conflicting emotions, which could
not be classified into a lucid narrative of events as they really happened.
While the struggle was going on the wounded President was assisted to a chair by
Mr. Milburn and his secretary. His face was very white, but he made no outcry
and sank back with one hand holding his abdomen and the other fumbling at his
breast. His eyes were open, and he was clearly conscious of all that had
He looked up into President Milburn's face and gasped "Cortelyou." The
President's secretary bent over him. "Cortelyou," said the President, "my wife.
Be careful about her. Don't let her know."
Moved by pain he writhed to the left, and then his eyes fell on the prostrate
form of his would-be-murderer, who lay on the floor, helpless beneath the blows
of the guard. The President raised his right hand and placed it on the shoulder
of his secretary. "Let no one hurt him," he said, and then sank back in the
Cortelyou ordered the guard to take the assassin out of the President's sight.
The outer garments of the wounded man were then hastily loosened, and when a
crimson stream was seen flowing down his breast and leaving its telltale stain
upon the white surface of the linen, the fears of those around him were
An ambulance from the Exposition Hospital was summoned immediately and the
President, still conscious, sank upon the stretcher. Secretary Cortelyou and Mr.
Milburn rode with him in the ambulance, and in nine minutes after the shooting
the President lay in the Exposition Hospital, awaiting the arrival of surgeons,
who had been summoned from all parts of the city and by special train from
The President continued conscious and conversed with Mr. Cortelyou and Mr.
Milburn on his way to the hospital.
"I am sorry," he said, "to have been the cause of trouble to the Exposition."
The character of President McKinley was clearly conveyed in the first three
remarks uttered by him. None of these referred to himself; the first having in
view the distress of his wife, the second the safety of his assailant, the third
the good of the Exposition. It was a manifestation of unselfishness such as has
seldom been witnessed under such circumstances.
Meanwhile the assassin had been removed into a side room of the Temple. Here he
was searched, but nothing of importance was found upon him. When first
questioned he remained silent, but finally gave his name as Neiman and said that
he came from Detroit. He further declared that he was an Anarchist and said that
he had only done his duty. It was subsequently learned that his true name was
Leon Czolgosz, and that he was a resident of Cleveland, of Polish descent,
though born in America. The excitement of the multitude was now taking the form
of a desire to lynch the murderer, and it was with no small difficulty that the
police forced their way with their prisoner through the infuriated multitude,
and conveyed him to a cell at the police headquarters.
While this was going on, several of the physicians summoned had hurried to the
President's side. A rapid examination proved that one bullet had merely grazed
the left breast, leaving an unimportant wound. The other, on the contrary, had
penetrated the abdomen, inflicting a wound which the high pulse of the patient
indicated to be dangerous. A hasty consultation ensued, and the physicians
decided that an immediate operation was imperative. "Gentlemen," said the
President, on being informed of this decision, "I want you to do whatever in
your judgment you think is necessary."
Dr. M. B. Mann, an eminent physician of Buffalo, then took charge of the
operation; ether was administered to the President, and as soon as he became
unconscious an incision five inches long was made in the abdomen through the
aperture made by the bullet, and the stomach was drawn out and examined. It was
found that the bullet had passed through this organ, the forward hole being
clean cut, the posterior one large and jagged. The bullet could not be found; it
had apparently buried itself in the tissues beyond.
The wounds in the stomach were quickly sewn up with silk sutures, the abdominal
cavity washed with a salt solution, and the operating cut closed, sewn up, and
dressed with an antiseptic solution. The body was then wrapped in sheets, around
which blankets were folded, and the patient, still unconscious, was placed in an
ambulance and conveyed to the mansion of Mr. Milburn, on Delaware Avenue. Hardly
two hours had passed since the firing of the deadly shot.
Meanwhile the news of the dastardly crime had been flashed by telegraph from end
to end of the land, and the whole country was plunged into grief by the terrible
news. Members of the Cabinet took early trains for Buffalo, and Vice-President
Roosevelt, who was then on a hunting excursion in Vermont, and who heard of the
crime with intense emotion, made all haste to reach the same centre of interest
The news of the assault was gently broken to Mrs. McKinley, who bore the shock
with more fortitude than was hoped for. Without delay the Milburn mansion was
equipped with electric wires and made the centre of a telegraph office, from
which bulletins, giving the public full information of the condition of the
exalted patient, were issued at frequent intervals.
From the start the news was reassuring. At noon of Saturday Dr. Parke announced
that the President's chances of recovery were excellent, and all the bulletins
breathed a spirit of hopefulness. The only disturbing feature was the continued
high pulse and temperature, but it was hoped that these would be but temporary.
Towards noon of Sunday, Mrs. McKinley entered the sick room. The President had
asked to see her. Both controlled their emotions, Mrs. McKinley displaying quite
as much fortitude as her stricken husband. She seated herself beside the
President's bed and took his hand. They said little. In each other's eyes they
seemed to read what each would say.
The President said quietly: "We must bear up. It will be better for both."
There were tears in her eyes as Mrs. McKinley bowed her head in assent.
Soon afterwards Dr. Rixey led her gently from the room.
A critical period was expected within seventy-two hours of the shooting, and was
looked for with anxiety and dread, despite the reassuring tidings which
continued to come from the President's bedside. As for the patient himself, he
bore up with remarkable fortitude, uttering no word of complaint, and even
joking with Dr. Mann.
"I hope with all my heart the operation will prove a success," said the doctor.
"Success!" answered the President; "Why, I will be down to breakfast in a day or
The critical period passed and all seemed going well. On Tuesday it was asserted
that convalescence had begun, and the whole country breathed more freely at the
news. None was more sanguine than the President himself. There had been some
slight suppuration from the wound in the chest, but this was cleansed and re-
dressed, and was thought of no importance. Such was the confidence felt that the
Vice-President, Senator Hanna, Secretaries Gage and Root, and Attorney-General
Knox left Buffalo. Even the experienced Dr. McBurney did the same, a fact which
strongly signified that all apprehension was at an end.
The story of the next two days is but an iteration and reiteration of the
temperature, pulse and respiration of the President. He was fed lightly upon
beef juice, as soon as his system would allow it, and on Thursday he was given a
piece of toast and some weak coffee, besides the beef juice and a cup of chicken
Then came a moment that was full of alarm. The bulletins announced that the
President's condition was without material change except that he suffered from
fatigue. "Fatigue" was a new word in the case, and it suggested the unknown to
the lay mind of the great outside world. Fear was widely felt that this change
presaged what many had contemplated in the privacy of their own thoughts, but
would not speak aloud-the death of the President.
Friday morning the country awakened to have this thought almost realized. The
earliest intelligence was that President McKinley was sinking. The members of
the family and friends had been summoned and the physicians were fearful of the
worst. Throughout the day the tidings were full of uncertainty. Late in the
afternoon of that day, one week almost to the hour from the time when the
attempt was made upon his life, it was rumored that "President McKinley is
The news was untrue, but it seemed as though it must be the shadow of what was
to follow. The President had been sinking rapidly, and his life was despaired
of, even by those attending him.
Those who had left Buffalo in confidence on Wednesday were summoned back in all
haste, especially Vice-President Roosevelt, whose return was imperative. He had
received news early Friday morning that all was going well, and had left the
Tahawus Club in the Adirondacks for a day's tramp over Mount Marcy. Some three
hours after his start, news of the President's critical condition reached the
Club and guides and runners were at once sent in all haste on the track of the
Vice-President's party. It was late afternoon before he was found, near the peak
of the lofty mountain. All that night a stagecoach rushed through the Adirondack
woods, bearing the nation's hope to the nearest railroad station, thirty-five
miles away. Not until the reached there, at 5:22 a. m., did he learn that the
President had been three hours dead. With all possible railroad speed swift
trains bore him to Buffalo, which city he reached at 1:40 on Saturday afternoon.
He reached there as President of the United States. President McKinley had never
rallied from the sinking spell that attacked him at 2 o'clock Friday afternoon.
The physicians sent out as hopeful bulletins as they could, but hope was dying
in the public heart. All, indeed, that could now be done was to seek to keep up
the heart's action by injections of saline solution and digitalis. Dr. McBurney
arrived a little before 8 o'clock, and shortly after his arrival oxygen was
administered. The patient aroused under its influence. He seemed to know that
the end was at hand, and asked to see his wife.
Mrs. McKinley entered the room and sank on her knees by the side of the bed, her
head bowed and both her husband's hands clasped in hers. Sobs shook her for a
moment; then she turned to Dr. Rixey and pleadingly said, "I know that you will
save him. I cannot let him go; the country cannot spare him."
The President was conscious of her presence and whispered his striking last
words: "Good-bye, all; good-bye. It is God's way. His will be done."
Then he lapsed into unconsciousness, and the physicians led his grief-stricken
wife from the room. There was no rallying after that impressive moment. As hour
after hour passed the last hope fled. Two o'clock came and it was evident that
life was now measured by minutes. At 2:15 Dr. Rixey bent forward and placed his
ear close to the President's breast.
"The President is dead," he said.
The martyred chief had passed away from life, without a struggle or a sign of
We must briefly give the succeeding events. An autopsy was held by the
physicians in attendance in a few hours after the President's death. The result
proved that recovery had been hopeless from the first. On examining the bullet
wounds in the stomach it was found that gangrene had attacked the surrounding
tissues. "There was no evidence of any attempt at repair on the part of nature,
and death resulted from the gangrene which affected the stomach around the
bullet wounds as well as the tissues around the further course of the bullet.
Death was unavoidable by any surgical or medical treatment, and was the direct
result of the bullet wound."
Such was the dictum of science. Recovery had been hopeless from the first.
Instead of healing, decay had set in, and life ebbed painlessly away. The bullet
was not found. It had buried itself so deeply that it could not be reached
without a mutilation of the honored body that the physicians did not think
There was one other event of that lamentable day which must be briefly told. Two
hours after the arrival of Vice-President Roosevelt in Buffalo he took the oath
of office as President of the United States, it being administered by United
States Judge John R. Hazel. Before performing this ceremony he made the
following remark to Secretary Root, one which had a quieting effect upon the
whole community, and made its influence manifest by the strong tone of financial
confidence that was manifested on the Stock Boards of the great cities:
"Mr. Secretary, I shall take the oath at once, at the request of the members of
the Cabinet, and in this hour of deep and terrible national bereavement I wish
to state that I shall continue absolutely unbroken the policy of President
McKinley for the peace, prosperity and honor of our beloved country."
He further strengthened public confidence by requesting the members of the
Cabinet to remain in office, and all went well with the business interests of
the great Republic.
Plans for the funeral of the murdered President were made without delay. It was
decided that the body should lie in state at the City Hall in Buffalo during
Sunday, after a private religious ceremony at the Milburn house. On Monday it
would be taken to Washington, reaching there that evening, and lying in state at
the Capitol on Tuesday. It would leave for Canton on Tuesday evening, reaching
there on Wednesday morning. There the final funeral services would be performed.
It was a stately procession that left the Milburn mansion shortly after noon on
Sunday, the 15th of September, and passed through streets filled with a vast
concourse of silent and sorrowing citizens. Reaching the City Hall, the coffin
was lifted from the hearse and borne to the catafalque which lay within.
On the coffin were the national colors, on top of which lay a wreath of American
Beauty Roses and one of white roses. The face of the President wore a look of
perfect peacefulness and was not greatly emaciated, though a sallow hue had
succeeded its usual pallor. At the right of the coffin, near its foot, stood the
new President of the nation, while near by were the Cabinet officials and
prominent citizens of Buffalo.
Rain had begun to fall heavily outside, but, despite this, the citizens of
Buffalo and visitors to the Exposition swept in thousands through the hall,
stopping to gaze in sorrow on the honored face, and passing gravely on. Between
1:30 and 10:30 of that day from 75,000 to 100,000 men, women and children passed
in sadness by. Then the casket was closed, the gates were locked, and a guard of
honor stood on duty through the night.
At early dawn of Monday, the body was taken to the funeral train, and started on
its long journey to the nation's Capital. Up over the Alleghanies, down into the
broad valley of the Susquehanna, on and on to the marble city on Potomac's
shores sped the swift crape-covered train, through a long line of bareheaded and
sorrowing people, who collected in thronging multitudes in every city, and
gathered in thin lines at hamlet and roadside throughout the extended route.
Everywhere signs of mourning were displayed and the grief of the people seemed
genuine and deep. A half million of people gazed on the funeral car as it swept
Washington reached, the coffin was borne to the White House, escorted by
soldiers and sailors and witnessed by a multitude that filled every inch of the
spacious Pennsylvania avenue. It was deposited in the East Room of the executive
mansion, where a guard of honor watched it through the night.
The last sad services at the nation's Capital took place on Tuesday, the 17th.
The funeral casket, on a black-carved hearse, drawn by six coal-black horses,
passed down the avenue towards the Capitol, followed by a procession that
included high dignitaries of State, members of Congress and representatives of
foreign nations, with military and civic organizations in numbers.
As the coffin was borne into the rotunda of the Capitol the band played the late
President's favorite hymn, "Nearer, My God, to Thee," while every head in the
vast throng was bared, and tears dimmed thousands of eyes.
The ceremonies in the Capitol were simple and dignified. There was no display of
pomp or splendor, but the greatest in the land paid their tributes of respect to
the dead ruler of the nation, the new President chief among them, and with him
all the members of President McKinley's Cabinet.
Prayers were spoken, and the two hymns which the President had most loved,
"Lead, Kindly Light," and "Nearer, My God, to Thee," were sweetly sung; the
funeral address being next delivered by Bishop Edward G. Andrews, of the
Methodist Episcopal Church, who had come from Ohio to speak these last words
over the remains of his lifelong friend and parishioner. The services over, the
waiting thousands filed through the Capitol, though, as at Buffalo, drenching
rain fell at intervals during the ceremony.
As evening fell a new funeral train began its long, sad journey, from Washington
to the President's home and final resting place at Canton, Ohio. During this
journey as during the former one thousands lined the road to gaze on the passing
car of death, all night long and till noon Wednesday, when the train reached its
The whole country round seemed waiting to receive it, and stood in reverent
silence as the coffin was borne to the Court House, where until evening the
people of President McKinley's home city passed in sorrow by his remains. In the
evening the coffin was borne to the dead ruler's late residence. Here it
remained until Thursday afternoon, the time fixed for the last sad rites.
The services were held in the Methodist Church which Mr. McKinley, as plain
citizen and as President, had so often attended. President Roosevelt and his
Cabinet occupied seats near the central aisle, and many of the dignitaries of
the nation were present. The services began with prayer and music, followed by
an eulogy from Rev. Dr. Manchester, the pastor and friend of the late President.
The singing of the hymn, "Nearer, My God, to Thee," closed the services.
On leaving the church the remains were received by the escort of troops, and the
column of march was resumed, passing between two solid lines of humanity to West
Lawn Cemetery, where the body was to be deposited in a funeral vault:
Bishop Joyce, of Minneapolis, slowly but reverently read the burial service of
the Methodist Episcopal Church. As his voice ceased there was a brief silence,
and then eight bugles sounded out the notes of the soldier's last call --
"taps." The notes of the bugles died slowly away, and as the honored body was
consigned to the vault there were few dry eyes among those who stood around.
Thus ended the solemn ceremony. The martyred President had gone to his long
home. Doubtless in many hearts the bugle sounds were echoed by his deep-meaning
last words: "It is God's way! His will be done!"