Source: The Authentic Life of William McKinley
Source type: book
Document type: book chapter
Document title: “Theodore Roosevelt—President and Man” [chapter 32]
Author(s): McClure, Alexander K.; Morris, Charles
Edition: Memorial Edition
Publisher: none given
Place of publication: none given
Year of publication: 1901
Pagination: 492-503 (excerpt below includes only pages 492-95)
|McClure, Alexander K., and Charles Morris. “Theodore Roosevelt—President and Man” [chapter 32]. The Authentic Life of William McKinley. Memorial ed. [n.p.]: [n.p.], 1901: pp. 492-503.|
|excerpt of chapter|
|Theodore Roosevelt (inauguration); Theodore Roosevelt (swearing in: persons present in Wilcox residence); Theodore Roosevelt (swearing in); Theodore Roosevelt (first official proclamation: full text).|
|Chester A. Arthur; George B. Cortelyou; Chauncey M. Depew; Millard Fillmore [misspelled below]; James A. Garfield; Albert Haight; William Henry Harrison; John Hay; John R. Hazel; Ethan A. Hitchcock; Andrew Johnson; Philander C. Knox; Abraham Lincoln; John D. Long; William McKinley; John G. Milburn; Theodore Roosevelt; Elihu Root; Zachary Taylor; John Tyler; Ansley Wilcox; James Wilson.|
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.”
Theodore Roosevelt—President and Man [excerpt]
BY the laws of the land the death of William McKinley at 2.15
A. M. on Friday the 14th
of September, elevated to the Presidency the Vice-President. This contingency
had occurred previously four times in our history. Two of our Presidents had
died a natural death during their term of office, William Henry Harrison, succeeded
by John Tyler, and Zachary Taylor, succeeded by Millard Filmore.
Then, two were assassinated, Abraham Lincoln, succeeded by Andrew Johnson, and James A. Garfield, succeeded by Chester A. Arthur.
William McKinley was the fifth President to die in office and to be succeeded by his associate.
ROOSEVELT TAKES THE OATH OF OFFICE
After Mr. Roosevelt’s arrival in
Buffalo he visited the Milburn house to see the face of his former friend and
chief and to comfort the widow. In the afternoon he was sworn in as President
at the house of his friend, Ansley Wilcox.
To this impressive ceremony came a few prominent officials and near friends. Among the first were Secretary Root, Attorney-General Knox and United States District Judge John R. Hazel, of Buffalo. The party proceeded immediately to the library of the house, where Mr. Roosevelt awaited them. They were closely followed by Secretaries Long, Hitchcock and Wilson, and the deceased President’s Secretary, Mr. Cortelyou, President Milburn, of the Exposition Company, Senator Depew, Justice Albert Haight, of the Court of Appeals, and others. Other friends of the Vice-  President entered the house within a few minutes, and at 3.35 o’clock Mr. Wilcox came out on the lawn and said to the press representatives that it was the desire of the Vice-President that they be admitted to the house to witness the solemn ceremony. A score, or more, of newspaper men walked noiselessly into the dusky library of the old house, where, with bowed heads, stood the members of the Cabinet and those who had been asked to be present. The room was as silent as the house of death itself. No word was spoken above a whisper. Several women were in the little room, and all stood with bowed heads, as if the presence of death were there.
A SOLEMN CEREMONY
The Vice-President stood on the
south side of the room, with his back to a small window, and the members of
the Cabinet and the men present stood in a circle facing him. For some time
Mr. Roosevelt talked earnestly with Secretary Root, whose friendship and counsel
he so highly valued. Then Secretary Root stepped back a few paces, and the Vice-President
stood motionless by the side of Judge Hazel. There was a dead silence of several
seconds, and then Secretary Root said:
“Mr. Vice-President,”—another long pause,—“I have been requested by all of the members of the Cabinet of the late President McKinley who are present in the city of Buffalo, being all except two, to request that for reasons of weight affecting the administration of the government you shall proceed without delay to take the constitutional oath of office as President of the United States.”
He spoke with great deliberation, and so still was the room that, had his words been uttered in whispers, they might easily have been heard by every one present.
Mr. Roosevelt’s face was stern and rigid. Lifting his eyes, he looked steadfastly into the face of the Secretary for a moment, and in a voice with marked firmness and all of his characteristic distinctness, replied: 
“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 I shall continue absolutely unbroken the policy of President McKinley for the peace, prosperity and honor of our beloved country.”
ADMINISTERING THE OATH
Judge Hazel then administered the
constitutional oath, Mr. Roosevelt repeating the sentences as spoken by the
“I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will, to the best of my ability preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
When the last words were said, President Roosevelt signed the document in the usual form. All was silent, and scarcely a movement of hand or foot was made during the solemn procedure. As soon as the oath was taken the President turned to the circle of Cabinet officers about him and said:
“I will ask the gentlemen of the Cabinet to stay that I may have a talk with them alone.”
The President then stepped out into the hall and shook hands with those who passed out. In a few seconds the library was cleared of all those except the members of the Cabinet, and there President Roosevelt sat down with them for his first Cabinet meeting.
President Roosevelt, on September
14th, issued the following proclamation as his first official act:
“By the President of the United States of America a proclamation:
“A terrible bereavement has befallen our people. The President of the United States has been struck down; a crime committed not only against the chief magistrate but against every law-abiding and liberty loving citizen. 
“President McKinley crowned a life of largest love for his fellowmen, of most earnest endeavor for their welfare, by a death of Christian fortitude; and both the way in which he lived his life and the way in which, in the supreme hour of trial, he met his death will remain forever a precious heritage of our people.
“It is meet that we, as a nation, express our abiding love and reverence for his life, our deep sorrow for his untimely death.
“Now, therefore, I, Theodore Roosevelt, President of the United States of America, do appoint Thursday next, September 19th, the day in which the body of the dead President will be laid in its last earthly resting place, as a day of mourning and prayer throughout the United States. I earnestly recommend all the people to assemble on that day in their respective places of divine worship, there to bow down in submission to the will of Almighty God, and to pay out of full hearts their homage of love and reverence to the great and good President whose death has smitten the nation with bitter grief.
“In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.
“Done at the city of Washington, the 14th day of September, A. D., one thousand nine hundred and one, and of the independence of the United States the one hundred and twenty-sixth.
By the President,
JOHN HAY, Secretary of State.”