Source: Addresses and Papers of Charles Evans Hughes
Source type: book
Document type: public address
Document title: “Speech at the Dedication of the McKinley Monument in Buffalo, September 5, 1907”
Author(s): Hughes, Charles Evans
Publisher: G. P. Putnam’s Sons
Place of publication: New York, New York
Year of publication: 1908
|Hughes, Charles Evans. “Speech at the Dedication of the McKinley Monument in Buffalo, September 5, 1907.” Addresses and Papers of Charles Evans Hughes. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1908: pp. 231-34.|
|full text of address; excerpt of book|
|Charles Evans Hughes (public addresses); McKinley memorial (Buffalo, NY: dedication); McKinley memorialization.|
Despite the attribution of authorship of this document herein to Hughes, readers should be aware that such attribution is based solely on his status as the “speaking voice” of the document rather than proof that he actually composed the text.
From title page: Addresses and Papers of Charles Evans Hughes, Governor of New York, 1906-1908.
From title page: With an Introduction by Jacob Gould Schurman, President of Cornell University.
Speech at the Dedication of the McKinley Monument in Buffalo, September 5, 1907
The memorials of a free people
are erected to commemorate public service and the distinction of noble character.
The conqueror, lustful of power, and the seeker after self-aggrandizement are
not counted among the heroes of democracy. The people honor those who, in their
service to their fellow men, honor humanity.
Here was marked the tragic termination of a great career. Here in an awful moment there were revealed in sudden lurid flash the opposing forces whose conflict is the history of mankind. At a time of rare prosperity, when American industry and commerce were celebrating their triumphs with every circumstance of proud display in a city of almost unprecedented progress, the powers of darkness moved to their attack and, in an infernal frenzy of hate, an abject creature struck down  the foremost and best-loved of American citizens. Never did evil commit a more dastardly deed. The victim was the chosen representative of the American people, no less representative in his death than in his life. The assassin’s blow was aimed at American institutions, represented in the head of the Nation, and McKinley fell because he was our President.
In memory of his martyrdom, in memory of an heroic death, in testimony to the futility of insensate envy and the lasting supremacy of law and order, in memory of a worthy life crowned by its sad sacrifice, this monument has been erected.
The vitality of democracy may be measured by the generosity of its tributes to fidelity and its appreciation of honorable motive and public spirit. The people must have faith in themselves, and the zeal which makes progress possible is not only intolerant of treachery to the public interest, but expresses itself in fine enthusiasm for the leaders who have justified the people’s confidence. Cynicism is a destroying canker. And in proportion as we revere those who in the past have borne the burdens of the Republic, gratefully recognize our indebtedness to their service, and profit by the lessons of their experience, shall we prove our capacity  to meet the demands and solve the problems of a later day. In our warm affection and our tender reverence for those great spirits who in the providence of God have led us as a people we find the surest basis for our present trust. An ungrateful republic cannot endure.
It is not my purpose in this brief exercise to attempt to recount the services of him in whose honor we meet. They are an imperishable part of the Nation’s history. Soldier, Representative, Governor, President—these were the stages of his distinguished career. Having fought gallantly in his youth, throughout the period of civil strife, to preserve the Union, it was his high privilege in his last years to preside over the destinies of the Nation when, with a revived and intensified National consciousness we assumed the enlarged and unexpected responsibilities which followed upon a war carried to notable victory under his leadership and supported by the people in an unselfish enthusiasm for the cause of humanity. It was his happy lot to be chosen the Chief Executive of the Nation after a contest which vindicated the sanity of the public judgment and established new confidence in the working of our popular institutions. With restored credit, the country under  his administration, quickly recovering from the depression of trade, entered upon a period of extraordinary expansion and prosperity. William McKinley sought patiently to learn the people’s will and faithfully to execute it.
It is a significant and gratifying characteristic of the American people that, more than the particular benefit conferred by service, they prize the virtues of character which in the course of service are exemplified. Fidelity to friendship, the exquisite grace of a husband’s devotion, the honor of manhood, the beauty of the forbearance of unwearied patience, endeared William McKinley to the hearts of his fellow citizens, and in their memory eclipse the glories of an administration flattering to American pride.
We may see but dimly into the future. We may be confused by the perplexities of our modern life, made the more difficult by the very riches of our inheritance, but as we set our course by the pole-star of truth and justice and conserve the ideals of character which our fathers have taught us to revere we shall not fail.