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Source: The Autobiography of Thomas Collier Platt
Source type: book
Document type: book chapter
Document title: “1900-1901” [chapter 19]
Author(s): Platt, Thomas Collier
Lang, Louis J.
B. W. Dodge and Company
Place of publication: New York, New York
Year of publication:
Pagination: 383-405 (excerpt below includes only pages 400-02)

Platt, Thomas Collier. “1900-1901” [chapter 19]. The Autobiography of Thomas Collier Platt. Comp. and ed. Louis J. Lang. New York: B. W. Dodge, 1910: pp. 383-405.
excerpt of chapter
McKinley assassination; McKinley assassination (personal response); Theodore Roosevelt (assumption of presidency).
Named persons
Leon Czolgosz [misspelled below]; James A. Garfield; Abraham Lincoln; William McKinley; Presley M. Rixey; Theodore Roosevelt.
From title page: With Twenty Portraits in Sepia Photogravure.

From title page: Compiled and Edited by Louis J. Lang, with Addenda.


1900-1901 [excerpt]



     Little did any of us dream that he would suffer the tragic fate of the great Emancipator.
     As a young man I was shocked at the news of the assassination of President Lincoln. As a politician and mature man I was horrified by the murder of Garfield. I was completely dazed—appalled—when September 6, 1901, a newspaper man informed me, while at dinner, that President McKinley was shot. At first I could not credit it. I could not conceive how a man who had perhaps fewer enemies than any President we ever had would be singled out for punishment. I recall, however, that when there came the astounding, distressing, sickening message from Buffalo describing how Anarchist Czolgoscz had put a pistol to the President’s heart, I exclaimed: “Had I been there, I should have forgotten there is a law against lynching.” I really could not control myself. Had there been a rope handy I should have helped to hang the brute to the nearest lamppost. [400][401]


     I said at the time, and I reassert it, that I do not believe in temporizing with assassins of public men. The speediest punishment should follow their crimes. The quicker the drumhead court-martial is summoned and the wretch punished to the fullest extent of the law, the better for the country and for society.
     When later in the day advices indicated that the President had partially recovered from the shock, and Dr. Rixey wired he would live, I could not repress a “Thank God!” and added: “Hereafter I am a belligerent McKinleyite.”
     How prayerfully and tearfully we watched the bulletins telling the latest phases of the great patient’s suffering! How millions of children in the nation’s schools lifted their hands to Heaven and implored God to save the President to them! We hoped those prayers would be answered. But a little more than a week after his prostration, President McKinley, a smile on his lips, and whispering: “Thy will be done,” passed to the above.
     The entire nation was in mourning. As if to add to the tragedy of the event, Roosevelt, who had been summoned to Buffalo to immediately take the oath of office as President, was reported lost in the Adirondacks. With his proverbial luck, however, he soon emerged, and after a thrilling carriage ride of thirty miles, caught a special [401][402] train, that whisked him to the bier of his predecessor.


     That the new President fully appreciated the deplorable circumstances under which he was elevated to the chieftainship of the nation, was manifested by him soon after he qualified. Then he issued this proclamation:
     “In this hour of deep and national bereavement, I wish to state that it shall be my aim to continue absolutely and without variance the policy of President McKinley, for the peace, prosperity and honor of our beloved country.”
     These lines did much to restore the confidence of the business community and allay the misapprehension some felt that a revolution in McKinley’s conduct of the Government was threatened.
     Though inclined to be spectacular, and the direct antithesis of McKinley in some methods of dealing with public problems, I desire to testify that Roosevelt kept the faith he pledged at Buffalo, September 14, 1901. He sincerely sought to follow in the footsteps of McKinley and proved himself one of our greatest Presidents. I may be pardoned if I remind my readers that but for my insistence upon his nomination for the Vice-Presidency, Roosevelt would certainly not have succeeded McKinley in 1901, and maybe he would never have been President of the United States.



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