Source: Addresses, Educational and Patriotic
Source type: book
Document type: public address
Document title: “President McKinley”
Author(s): Northrop, Cyrus
Publisher: H. W. Wilson Company
Place of publication: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Year of publication: 1910
|Northrop, Cyrus. “President McKinley.” Addresses, Educational and Patriotic. Minneapolis: H. W. Wilson, 1910: pp. 459-64.|
|full text of address; excerpt of book|
|Cyrus Northrop (public addresses); William McKinley (memorial addresses); William McKinley (personal character); William McKinley (political character); presidential assassinations; McKinley assassination (personal response); Theodore Roosevelt.|
|James A. Garfield; Jesus Christ; Abraham Lincoln; William McKinley; Theodore Roosevelt; William H. Seward; Charles Sumner; Daniel Webster.|
“Remarks made extemporaneously at a public meeting in the Armory of the University of Minnesota, on the day of President McKinley’s burial, September 19th, 1901” (p. 459).
From title page: By Cyrus Northrop, LL. D., President of the University of Minnesota.
I suppose that enough has been said
to meet the requirements of this occasion, but the audience gathered here is
of a peculiar character; it is not an ordinary audience of citizens; it is an
audience largely made up of the students of the University, and my relation
is such to them that it justifies me in saying, at least, a few words to them.
While these lessons of wisdom have been laid before you, I can not forget the fact that the body of our departed president lies yonder in an Ohio town, waiting for burial; and I can not but feel and almost say in the language and spirit of the Roman orator “my heart is in the coffin there and I must pause till it come back to me.” I can not talk to you with the glib and ready tongue that I should perhaps have on other occasions. I must talk to you not from the intellect, but from the heart. The nation mourns; the great republic, that in these last few years of her life has listened to the wise counsel and judgment that have placed her among the nations of the earth, mourns; the great and good leader has been struck down and the people mourn. Lessons there are and many of them on every hand, but first of all it seems to me that President McKinley  was not only a great man, but a good man; and he was so great and so good that we should not ever have known it, had he not died in this way. You have been told that he did not possess the matchless eloquence of a Webster, the deep learning of a Sumner, and the unique power of a Lincoln, but that he was an all-round, symmetrical man with his faculties completely under his power; a born leader; a clean gentleman, so that after he became president he grew and developed himself and has exhibited a power in his actions that no one could foresee at the time of his election. Who thought when he took charge of this government’s affairs in a time of profound peace and prosperity that his term would be one of such momentous importance? At the stern behests of our people McKinley led us into a war with Spain; we conquered Spain; we took the Philippines; we annexed Hawaii; we appeased China; we settled the money question—all these problems and the great work of his administration seemed complete and then in the moment of his highest glory and complete achievement he is struck down by the bullet of an assassin.
On the morning of the 16th of April, 1865, as I was walking down Chapel Street in New Haven, I was met by a breathless messenger who said that Lincoln had been shot and the secretary of state, Seward, had barely escaped assassination. At such news the heart of the nation stood still, first in a moment of anger, then in the agony of indescribable sorrow such as this nation had never known before. But the slaves were free and the great principles for which this glorious government stands were secure. Lincoln, whose great heart had been full of sorrow for four  years, bearing upon his heart, as he did, the death of fathers, brothers, and friends, had gone out in the evening for recreation and relief from duty and at that hour the bullet of the assassin reaches him and he dies. On the 2nd of July, 1881 James A. Garfield, president of the United States, walks the platform in the depot of the city of Washington, rejoicing in the peace of the moment, as only such a man as he could rejoice, in the prospect of going back to Williams College which he dearly loved, to receive the congratulations that would not fail to be poured upon him by his friends, and it is in that moment of supreme joy that he is shot down, and you all know how the nation waited weeks and months in an agony of sorrow and anxiety as he went slowly down into the valley of the shadow of death.
Less than two weeks ago in the great Exposition at Buffalo the people of the country had gathered, not only to see the Exposition, but to meet and enjoy the genial presence of the president of the United States. Surrounded by the American people, loyal almost every one of them to their heart’s core, President McKinley was struck down by the bullet of an assassin and in less than two weeks is dead.
I am not here this afternoon to discuss the policy of the country. Friends, I believe in the United States of America; I believe in my country with all my heart. Born in the patriotism, religion, and wisdom of the fathers and saved by the sacrifices of the men and women whose souls were filled with such principles and honor as made our Union possible, it has been preserved and will be preserved by the loyal hearts of nearly 80,000,000 of people and will be sanctified by these national sorrows. I have no fear  for its future. But I want to live in a country where there is law; I want to live in a country where liberty is not license; where plots to murder are recognized as crime and are punished as crime. I do not believe that conspiracies to murder either the humblest citizen or the president of the republic are any part of the liberty for which our country stands.
I have said that President McKinley was a great man. I will not follow that thought further, but I wish to emphasize the thought that President McKinley was a good man, a good man. He honored his mother, that venerable lady that shared in the glory of his first inauguration; that had taught him from the first the principles of the Bible, and he honored her to the end of his life. He was a man who had no idea of gaining anything but in a right way; he was a man who would have scorned a gain or act of selfishness as dishonorable and disgraceful to himself, and it would have been.
Young men, you are going out into life soon, into its activities. Remember there is no path that leads to the highest honor but the path of rectitude; do that which is right; stand up always for the things that are good, pure, and true; do your part in bringing on the reign of righteousness; be something; be a power always for good; know what is right and stand for it every time, and your influence will be felt in the world. How many of the 80,000,000 of our people have such a standard God only can tell; but if the young men of the country will take the path to glory which is not through selfish and dishonorable ways, but is the path followed by, and marked out by the Lord Jesus Christ, there is a glorious future for this country, more glory than is possible for any  other country to attain, for our fathers have established a country of peace and freedom to every one who wishes liberty and justice. What privileges are not yours—there are none whatever. The nation is to-day in its spirit and loyalty to truth as liberal, as just, as beneficent as in the days of the fathers, and as such it will undoubtedly continue to be. A nation that honors the name of our blessed Lincoln is a nation that is going to maintain in their purity the institutions of the fathers. I have no fears for my country, for I believe in the people of the country, and I know that they will preserve what the fathers died to establish. The government goes on. Into McKinley’s place steps a young man forty-three years old and takes the executive chair; the youngest man that has ever been president of the United States; a man eminently worthy to take the place, and eminently able to fill the place that McKinley filled and to carry out the policy laid down by McKinley; a scholar, a college man, a man trained intellectually; a man who, when he had been trained, never forgot that he owed something to his country; who did not join the self-satisfied critics who find fault with the work of others, and do nothing to help; a man who will maintain the same political standard of honor as in the past, and will resolutely maintain law and order; he has proved himself eminently fitted to fill every position to which he has been called, and to meet any responsibility which may be laid upon him.
I deplore with the deepest sorrow the great calamity that has come upon us in the death of our good, grand, and dear President, but I thank God from the bottom of my heart for Theodore Roosevelt; I thank God for his life. He has been my ideal of the scholar  in politics; he has been an inspiration to me; he is destined to be an inspiration to me in the future, and I pray now in this closing moment that the blessings of God may be showered upon him and rest upon him in this sad and trying hour, and in the days to follow that God may guard him from the weapons of the assassin and make him a blessing to the country. God save the republic and make it great, grand, and good, and may the memory of our dear President, whose body to-day is to be laid in its last resting place, abide with us in all future time as an inspiration to a true and manly life in the service of our country.