Publication information

The Authentic Life of William McKinley
Source type: book
Document type: book chapter
Document title: “William McKinley, the Noble American: An Introduction” [chapter 1]
Author(s): McClure, Alexander K.; Morris, Charles
Edition: Memorial edition
Publisher: none given
Place of publication: none given
Year of publication: 1901
Pagination: 17-30 (excerpt below includes only pages 17-18 and 27-30)

McClure, Alexander K., and Charles Morris. “William McKinley, the Noble American: An Introduction” [chapter 1]. The Authentic Life of William McKinley. Memorial ed. [n.p.]: [n.p.], 1901: pp. 17-30.
excerpt of chapter
McKinley assassination; William McKinley (last public address).
Named persons
Leon Czolgosz; James A. Garfield; Abraham Lincoln; Ida McKinley; William McKinley.
The following excerpt comprises two nonconsecutive portions of this chapter (pp. 17-18 and pp. 27-30).

Page 31, following this chapter, features a photograph captioned as follows: “The President’s Last Speech at Buffalo.”

From title page: The Authentic Life of William McKinley, Our Third Martyr President: Together with a Life Sketch of Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th President of the United States; Also Memorial Tributes by Statesmen, Ministers, Orators and Rulers of All Countries; Profusely Illustrated with Reproductions from Original Photographs, Original Drawings and Special Pictures of the Family by Express Permission from the Owners.

From title page: Introduction and Biography by Alexander K. McClure, Author of the “Life and Times of Abraham Lincoln.”

From title page: The Life and Public Career by Charles Morris, LL.D., Author of the “Life of Queen Victoria.”

William McKinley, the Noble American: An Introduction

     FOR the third time in a period of little more than a generation, the assassin’s bullet has plunged the great republic of the world into the saddest bereavement. Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley; the three Presidents of the United States who would be selected from all the many who have filled that highest civil trust of the world as the most kindly and generous in disposition, and most free from enmity, have fallen by the hand of the assassin. Here in the freest government in the world, with the largest measure of general prosperity enjoyed by any people; under a government so gentle in its operations that it is unfelt in its exactions, and rises to its highest measure of grandeur only when the rights of the citizen or the honor of the nation are imperiled, it is most appalling to record the fall of rulers by unprovoked red-handed murder in a greater degree than has been experienced in any other nation of the world during the last forty years.
     It is not surprising that the grinding oppression of despotic governments under which many poverty-stricken subjects are driven to despair, should school the assassin for the terrible work of taking revenge upon rulers who live in boundless luxury; but here, where the President is himself one of the people, lives as they live, mingles with them as one of them, and is accessible to the humblest sovereign of the nation, only some fiend in human form, in [17][18] whose heart every instinct of manhood was strangled, could plot or execute the murder of the President of the United States.
     President McKinley was one of the gentlest and kindest of men. His life was a beautiful poem in many cantos, exhibiting every phase of the best and noblest attributes of human character. Even when racked with pain by the wound of the assassin, he spoke of his murderer only in terms of kindness, asking that he should be treated fairly, and he died as he lived, exhibiting the grandest qualities of Christian manhood. His last words were fitly uttered to the long-suffering, accomplished and devoted wife, at whose home altar there had never been a shadow of discord, and whose life was benignant with that beautiful affection that makes home the sanctuary of its worshippers. With his hand clasped in hers, and just when passing to final unconsciousness, he whispered the sentence that is now immortal: “God’s will, not ours, be done.”


     During McKinley’s journey to the Pacific he delivered a succession of speeches largely or wholly extemporized, which proved his [27][28] wonderful versatility and forcefulness as a disputant and orator. No purer, nobler or better lessons could be given in our schools for the study of our youth than the speeches delivered by McKinley from the time he left Washington until he reached San Francisco. There was not a trace of offensive partisanship in any of them. They were dignified, patriotic, eloquent and chivalrous without exception, and were more carefully studied and approved by the American people than any popular deliverances ever made by a President. When Mrs. McKinley’s health improved the President went with her to spend the Summer at their quiet home in Canton, Ohio, where they were universally beloved by their neighbors; and only the sense of public duty to which President McKinley ever responded, induced him to leave his charming home and home circle to visit the Pan-American Exposition at Buffalo. He was welcomed there as he had been in every part of the country, not only by overwhelming numbers, but by the heartiest applaudits of the people without distinction of party, and his address delivered at the Exposition will stand in literature among the choicest productions of American statemanship.
     The speech in its entirety exhibits the most careful and intelligent comprehension of the aims, duties and destiny of our free government, and it will certainly be accepted as a guide, not only by his immediate successor, but for rulers of all parties who may be charged with the destiny of the great republic of the world. His closing paragraph will stand side by side with the immortal deliverance of Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg. It is as follows:
     “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 concord, 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 [28][29] 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 of earth.”
     On the day following this address, the President yielded to the general desire for a public reception, so that the great mass of people present should have an opportunity to take him by the hand, and while thus receiving the multitude on the afternoon of Friday, September 6th, Leon F. Czolgosz, a young anarchist, approached him with his right hand covered by a handkerchief as if protecting a wound or sore, and extending his left hand to the President, speedily twice fired the pistol concealed in his right hand and two bullets entered the body of the victim. Additional shots would have been fired by the murderer had he not been struck and captured by those immediately about him. The President bore himself most courageously, but finally fell into the arms of his friends, while the murderer was hastened away to prison.
     The Emergency Hospital of the Exposition happened to be not only very complete in its equipment, but had connected with it surgeons and physicians of the ripest experience, and the President had the promptest and best treatment known to the profession. After the examinations had been made and an operation performed to aid in healing the breaches in the walls of the stomach, the physicians were hopeful that the distinguished patient might recover. The country was appalled by this third assassin who aimed at the life of the President of the Republic without having suffered any real or imaginary wrong from his victim, and intense anxiety was exhibited every hour of the day and night for the bulletins which came from the bedside of the people’s ruler. Day after day the reports were hopeful because no specially unfavorable features were developed, and four days after the wounds had been inflicted, the whole country rejoiced at the official reports from the surgeons in charge that the President was taking [29][30] food in the natural way and enjoying it and his strength rapidly increasing. Only one day later the shadows again gathered and the hearts of the millions of American people were bowed in woe by the report that most dangerous symptoms had suddenly developed and that the life of the President was trembling in the balance. From that time no hopeful report came from those who watched the tread of death where it would strike a great nation in its dearest hopes and affections, and finally, on Saturday morning, September 14th, at 2.15 A.M., the unconscious effigy of life that dimly flickered in the socket, quietly vanished in the darkness of death, leaving the last sweet utterance of President McKinley imperishably crystallized in the memory of all—“It is God’s way. His will be done, not ours.”