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Publication information
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Source: Addresses
Source type: book
Document type: public address
Document title: “Eulogy of President William McKinley”
Author(s): Welsh, John T.
Publisher: none given
Place of publication: Portland, Oregon
Year of publication: 1915
Pagination: 7-21

 
Citation
Welsh, John T. “Eulogy of President William McKinley.” Addresses. Portland: [n.p.], 1915: pp. 7-21.
 
Transcription
full text of address; excerpt of book
 
Keywords
John T. Welsh (public addresses); William McKinley (memorial addresses); patriotism; McKinley assassination (personal response); William McKinley (personal history); William McKinley (political character); William McKinley (religious character); William McKinley (personal character).
 
Named persons
Alexander; Napoléon Bonaparte; John Wilkes Booth; Edmund Burke; Cecilius Calvert [identified as Lord Baltimore below]; Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra; Charlemagne; Henry Clay; Cnut [variant spelling below]; Oliver Cromwell; Leon Czolgosz [misspelled once below]; Marcus Didius Julianus; Armand Jean du Plessis [identified as Richelieu below]; Ralph Waldo Emerson; Edward Everett; Frederick I (Holy Roman Empire) [identified as Frederick Barbarossa below]; James A. Garfield; William Ewart Gladstone; Johann Wolfgang von Goethe; Henry Grattan; Charles J. Guiteau; Alexander Hamilton; Winfield Scott Hancock; Rutherford B. Hayes; Homer; Thomas Jefferson; Jesus Christ; Lajos Kossuth; Abraham Lincoln; Llywelyn ap Iorwerth [variant spelling below]; Louis XIII; William McKinley; John Milton; Molière; Moses; Daniel O’Connell; Paul; William Pitt (father) [identified as Chatham below]; Rollo; Rurik [variant spelling below]; Friedrich Schiller; Walter Scott; Richard Lalor Sheil [variant spelling below]; Philip Sheridan; Richard Brinsley Sheridan; Solomon; Virgil; William Wallace; Daniel Webster; Arthur Wellesley [identified as Wellington below]; John G. Whittier; William the Conqueror; Roger Williams.
 
Notes
“Delivered at Bale’s Opera House in South Bend, Washington, September 19, 1901, by Hon. John T. Welsh” (p. 7).

From copyright page: Printed by F. W. Baltes and Company, Portland, Oregon.

Alternate book title: Addresses by John T. Welsh.
 
Document

 

Eulogy of President William McKinley

A DESIRE for the approbation of others is innate in human nature, and it is equally true that there is a principle in us which arouses our esteem for a great character. However reluctant we may be to admit it, we all are hero worshipers. The man of intellect, the man of force, the man of action, secures our admiration. If a man be eminent in science, or in art; in literature, or in inventive skill; in statesmanship, or in war, we applaud him. The great, in every activity of human endeavor, command respect. Homage is paid to genius. But if the man of genius be of our own country or race or blood, then he more easily attracts our attention, more readily engages our affections, and more indelibly are the facts of his efforts and of his achievements impressed upon us. This, after all, is but patriotism, and patriotism is an attribute of the divinity in man.
     It is this patriotism that causes the Scandinavian to proudly recite the story of Ruric, the great Norseman, who was the founder of Russia; of Canute, the good Danish king, who became king of England; of Rollo and his followers, who [7][8] wrested territory from Gaul and gave to France some of her bravest knights and her greatest statesman; of William the Conqueror, who at the battle of Hastings won the English crown and demonstrated to the Saxon the invincibility of Norman warriors; and of those Scandinavian sons who braved the storms of the pathless seas and laid the foundation of the city of Dublin and other cities in Ireland, and who intermarried with the fair daughters of Erin and thus mixed their blood with the rich blood of the Celtic inhabitants of that beautiful isle.
     It is this same patriotism that causes the Briton to cherish the memory of Chatham and of Wellington; the Irishman that of O’Connell and of Grattan; the German that of Schiller and of Frederick Barbarossa; the Jew that of Moses and of Solomon; the Hungarian that of Kossuth; the Welshman that of Llewellyn; the Scotchman that of Wallace.
     He who in any path of life serves his country benefits mankind. That patriotism of a people which cherishes the memory and extols the virtues of those who have been of service to their country, in peace or in war, or of those who have added lustre or given renown to their race, is admirable. We are certain that he who serves his country or he who adds fame or glory, or gives honorable distinction to his race, is not forgotten, but by gratitude is repaid. The most precious gift which can be bestowed upon the excellent and worthy man is gratitude. He who receives it is enthused and aroused to higher aspirations, and those who bestow it are elevated. The knowledge of this [8][9] inspires and leads to patriotic service, heroic action and good deeds in behalf of race and of country.
     It is patriotism that brings us here today, to review the life and to pay a tribute of respect to the memory of our beloved President, who, in the supremacy of his power, in the performance of his duties, in the splendor and brilliancy of his career, was so untimely by the hand of an assassin cut down. The American flag which but a few days ago waved proudly in the atmosphere of heaven over a great and prosperous people today floats at half-mast. Every civilized nation of the world that admires moral greatness, cherishes successful statesmanship and loves constitutional liberty mourns with this republic.
     McKinley is the third President of the republic who has fallen by the hand of a malicious assassin. When Booth took the life of Lincoln he laid low a character possessing the wisdom of a Richelieu and the virtues, mercy and goodness of a Paul. When Guiteau slew Garfield a patriot was slain; and when Czologosz assassinated McKinley neither a despot nor a tyrant but a tender and sympathetic man and a patriotic statesman expired. Therefore, there is reason for our grief.
     When a man lives the time allotted to him by nature, and death ensues by the natural processes of decay, while we regret his departure we console ourselves that it is but the common fate of all. But when a tragedy as foul, as sad as the assassination of McKinley occurs it is difficult for us to be consoled, because we are bewildered by the awfulness of such an atrocious crime. [9][10]
     The Declaration of Independence contains an axiomatic truth when it declares “that all men are created equal.” It does not mean and it was not intended to convey the idea that there is no difference in the character or intellectual capacity of men. It has reference only to civil rights.
     In every garden of flowers there are those which are fairer to behold and more perfumed than the myriads which surround them; in every forest there are some giant trees which tower above the rest; and in every nation there are some men who, in purity of character, or greatness of intellect or in achievements, rise pre-eminent above the multitude. “One star differeth from another star in glory.”
     Nature is liberal to some men; on them she bestows her choicest gifts and adorns them with genius. Their greatness we cannot too fully appreciate. A commanding influence radiates from them, like light from a meridian sun. With sure and steady step they walk erect, while others fall and falter. The magnetism emitted from Great Men drives fear away, and inspiration gives to those who come within the radius of their genius. Sheridan, astride his favorite steed, dashing upon the battlefield, beheld his army in retreat, snatched victory from defeat by saying to his soldiers: “Turn, boys, turn, we’re going back.” When Napoleon escaped from the Island of Elba on his return to Paris to reasssume the reins of empire, the soldiers sent to retard his advance, when they beheld him, enraptured by his magnetic presence, joined his standard and rushed to his defense. [10][11]
     Emerson says: “That country is the fairest which is inhabited by the noblest minds.” God has so ordained that men of merit and of genius are not the children of any one particular country. No nation has a monopoly on character or of intellect. The land of Judea produced a Moses and a Solomon, as well as the grandest system of moral philosophy promulgated since the first morning of creation to the present hour. Homer, Virgil, Scott, Goethe, Milton, Cervantes, Moliere and Whittier were natives of different climes. Though dead they still live in the memory of men by virtue of the immortal thoughts which they gave to the world. Thus each bestowed honorable renown on the land of his birth.
     If a race or a country is to be judged or measured by the number of Great Men and Good Men which it produces, then this republic, although but in its infancy, occupies an enviable and leading place in the history of the ages. For our country has ever been blessed with great and good men, and among them history will assign to McKinley a conspicuous place.
     When a man attains a high and exalted position it is always relevant to inquire: “What were the means by which he obtained it?” Napoleon, by the sword, became Emperor of France. Didius Julianus purchased from the Praetorian guards, at public auction, the throne of an empire and thus became Emperor of Rome. Cromwell fanned the flames of bigotry and fanaticism, plunged his country into the horrors of revolution, beheaded his king, founded a dynasty, usurped a throne and thus became sole ruler of England. [11][12]
     What a contrast the life of McKinley presents to the lives of those who secured exalted positions by the caprice of fortune or by questionable methods. There was nothing spectacular or meteoric in his career. The able, moral and patriotic American with no tools but merit, and by no means save intelligent industry and strict integrity, carved out his own fortune and secured high place. At eighteen years of age he enlisted in the Union Army in the Civil War and fought with Hayes and with Hancock for the preservation of the Union. After he retired from the army, he studied and fitted himself for the law and was admitted to the bar. He was enjoying a successful and lucrative practice when he was elected to Congress. Thereafter his life was a public one, and he either served his native state as Governor or his country in Congress, until he became President.
     In the Congress of the United States, a legislative body in which he served for fourteen years, he was one of the foremost leaders of his party. He sincerely believed that a protective tariff was necessary to promote and maintain the manufacturing and industrial prosperity of the United States. This was a question upon which the two great political parties of our country differed in opinion. He was an acknowledged authority on that issue, and with all of the force and energy of his frank nature he advocated and labored for the enactment of and the maintenance upon the statutes of such a measure.
     McKinley, as an orator, was inferior to Webster and to Clay; neither did he possess the charming [12][13] eloquence of Shiel, or Grattan, nor did his language glow with the poetic imagery and classic purity of Edward Everett. But he was a pleasing and convincing speaker. He had a good voice and a magnetic presence. His argument was logical, his language was clear and forcible. He was intensely earnest, and he appealed to the judgment, rarely to the imagination, and never to the passions or prejudices of his audience. Conviction obtained by an appeal to passion and prejudice is momentary, but that secured by appealing to the reasoning faculties is permanent. The former is dispelled by the first flash of the light of reason, like night at the approach of the first rays of the morning sun. The latter withstands investigation and firmly remains. Differ in opinion, either in politics or religion, from narrow and bigoted men and you incur their displeasure or arouse their wrath. McKinley was without malice or resentment. Sincere and honest himself, he conceded to those whose views differed from his the same virtues which were a part of his own nature. Therefore, he never answered the argument of an opponent by assailing his character nor by questioning his motives. The cultured man never poisons his arrows nor indulges in vituperation in the forum of debate.
     Malice sears the heart and vindictiveness beclouds the judgment. He who directs his force and logic to the subject-matter, avoiding acrimonious epithets and personalities in the arena of debate, will more often convince, but, failing to convince, will retain the respect of his oppo- [13][14] nents, which is a thing not to be despised, but ever to be sought by those who desire success.
     The Puritans fled from the Old World to the New because they were persecuted on account of their religious opinions. Yet in the New World they denied to others that liberty which they claimed for themselves. They severely persecuted and banished from their settlements and colonies those who would not worship the same God in the same manner that they did.
     The American did not imbibe the intolerance of the Puritan, but he has more justly promulgated and adhered to the principles advocated by Roger Williams and Lord Baltimore, who were the first to put into practice, on American soil, the right of every man, without danger to life or to liberty, to select his own creed. The American of this age cares not whether a man be a Christian, a Jew or a Deist, if he be honest and sincere and his creed conduces to good morals and an upright life.
     Some men, however, use religion as a cloak to hide and cover the real promptings of a malignant heart; some for political purposes and some to gain an entrance into society. Their object is to deceive and thereby prey upon an unsuspecting public. Such men are hypocrites. Their motives are base. They enshroud themselves in a halo of sacredness in order that they may perfidiously revel in acts of infamy.
     McKinley was a devoutly pious man. Sincere in his Christian belief, he practiced the tenets of his creed. To inspire good thought, to lead to righteousness, to conduce to honorable conduct [14][15] and to elevate human life were the uses which he made of his religion. “The righteous hath hope in his death.” Consequently when death hovered about him, he did not fear to be weighed in the balance by a just God. He estimated his fellow man by their conduct and not by the name of their creed. He loved religious toleration and hated religious persecution. His life was a benediction. It is an inspiration to the young man. It demonstrates that the able, clad in the armor of moral virtue and integrity may, though born in the humble cottage of the toiler, obstacles overcome, success achieve and, better still, be of service to his country.
     A descendant of Irish, Scotch-Irish, English, German and Dutch ancestry, McKinley was a typical American. He had charity and sympathy in his soul. He possessed a wealth of humor, a charm of manner, depth and purity of thought. He was kind and affectionate, tender as the petal of a flower, gentle as a dove, but when the occasion demanded that the Bengal tiger be loosed he became inflexibly defiant, but no provocation could goad him into the vicious rudeness and relentless rage of the cultureless man. With his latest breath, Christ-like, he forgave his slayer. All of which attest that within him were blended the moral virtues of the royal blood of his progenitors.
     As Prosecuting Attorney, as Governor, as Congressman, as President, he faithfully performed his duties. His country’s good was his only ambition and, like Gladstone, he always strove to free the oppressed and to better the condition of man- [15][16] kind. He was, like Lincoln, charitable and sympathetic, and there was not a single trait in his nature suggestive of a despot or of a tyrant.
     Neither the attacks of a venal press nor the slanders of political opponents ever disturbed the peace and serenity of his mind. Narrow men, when they reach the heights of power and are armed with authority, lose their balance and fall into the abyss of ruin. Power and authority do not unduly elate nor change great souls. Occupying high and exalted positions, McKinley retained his tranquillity [sic] of mind, his honesty of purpose, and he never forgot that the place which he occupied was one of trust and confidence, given to him by his countrymen because they believed that he would faithfully serve them. He never proved false to a trust nor betrayed or deceived a friend.
     This is neither time nor place for a discussion of political questions, and I shall refrain from interjecting anything of a partisan nature into my discourse. It is perfectly proper, however, to state the facts.
     A condition of affairs almost as bad as troubled France when Richelieu became minister to Louis XIII prevailed here, when on March 4th, 1897, McKinley was inaugurated President. Whatever the causes may have been, the fact is that financial depression cursed the land.
     The wage-earner in vain sought work, while his children cried for bread. The capitalist, afraid to invest, hoarded in the vault his gold. The wheels of industry stood still and smoke was not ascending from the chimneys of manufacturing [16][17] establishments. The imports exceeded the exports and the balance of trade was on the wrong side of the republic’s ledger. Providence had not been unkind, for rains had fallen on fertile fields and rich harvests of golden grain had been gathered. Farms were covered with mortgages while their products rotted in granaries for want of a market. Merchants had failed. Banks had closed their doors. Dire distress everywhere prevailed over this fair land, and the American people were sorely discontented with the financial, industrial and economic condition of their country.
     The American people looked to McKinley for relief. There was that something in him which inspired confidence, and no one feared that he would commit a rash act. Although they may not have believed him to be a Jefferson or a Hamilton in statesmanship, they knew that he was not a visionary theorist nor a scheming politician, but that he was a conscientious, deliberate man who loved his country, and who desired to restrain the aggressions of the rich and to better the condition of the toiler. They knew that even if he did not have the music or the imagination of a poet, if he could not weigh and measure the spheres like an astronomer, if he did not possess the learning of Edward Everett nor the silver tongue of Richard Brinsley Sheridan, nor the philosophy of Edmund Burke, he did have a patriot’s heart, and that he was the greatest statesman of his time in America on questions relating to finance and commerce.
     The American people were not disappointed. For during his administration marvelous were [17][18] the changes that were wrought for the republic’s welfare. Capital now seeks investment. The streams, which but a few years ago flowed idly to the sea, now turn the wheels of industrial establishments. Labor is in demand and there is now work for the toiler to do, at the highest wages paid for service in the world. The necessaries of life are on every table and comfort blesses every home. Discontent has departed, confidence is supreme and prosperity everywhere prevails in the United States.
     Before the close of his first administration the commercial and industrial condition of this republic was, and still is, so great as to merit the admiration of Americans and the envy of rival commercial nations. McKinley did more than had ever before been accomplished in healing the discord which the Civil War had left between certain sections of our country.
     When he appointed as leaders and officers of our army in the Spanish-American War some of the brave and generous sons of the Sunny South, he exhibited the wisdom of a statesman, administered justice, and placed upon the altar of partisanship the God of Patriotism. When the American people beheld the sons of those who wore the blue and of those who wore the gray fighting shoulder to shoulder under and for their country’s flag, they appreciated, more than ever before, that sectional discord no longer disturbed the harmony of the republic.
     Cuba is free and the American flag waves over the Islands of Porto Rico and other islands of the sea, not as the flag of the oppressor, for every [18][19] star in its azure blue, proclaims that constitutional liberty and not despotic tyranny exists for man. Here there are no caste distinctions. Each has an equal opportunity. In every profession, in every vocation, ability, industry and integrity are the only arts and power which raise men to the summit of success. The republic was never more stable and liberty was never more secure.
     Why the President of a republic like ours, and why such a President as McKinley, at such a time as this, should be assassinated is beyond our comprehension, unless we realize the fact that his assassin was an anarchist. We pause and wonder why that demon of evil and of barbarism should enter the territorial limits of our country. Surely there is nothing in our form of government, nor in our laws, nor in the administration of our laws, that could justify the existence within our midst of that homicidal villain of ruthless destruction. There is nothing in any form of civil government, whether it be a republican, a pure democracy, a limited monarchy or an absolute one, that justifies the existence of anarchy. This malignant child of hatred is opposed to all civil government, to all law, to all order. The doctrines taught and advocated by the anachists [sic], if put into practice and if they became paramount, would destroy all civil government, subvert all law and order and rear in lieu of peace and security unbridled savagery.
     The bullet of Czolgosz was not intended merely to slay McKinley, the man, but to destroy the republic. Idle dreamers, unbalanced children of ruthless destruction, if you believe that your [19][20] doctrines shall ever gain a place in this republic, you mistake the character and temperament of the American people.
     The realization of the fact that such a viper as anarchy exists within our territorial limits will arouse the American people to greater vigilance, and to a determination that down must come the red flag of anarchy; that its altar must be demolished, and that its pernicious creed must be obliterated. The republic will survive the death of McKinley; it is not ephemeral, but is eternal.
     In the Middle Ages there arose a man whose intellectual capacity appears at this distant day to have been more than human. He was a great soldier, a profound statesman, a just jurist, a patron of learning, a promoter of civilization and a lover of the human race; his name was Charlemagne. When he was called to the throne of France, civilization was in eclipse. Barbarism reigned in Europe. There were turmoil and violence but no peace or security. The weapons of savage men were used to plunder and to pillage and brute force was law. All this he transformed. He subdued the barbarian, suppressed anarchy and lawless rebellion, converted savage men, warring and robber tribes to the creed of Christ. A devotee of science and belles-lettres, of music and languages, he founded schools, established colleges and universities.
     The fierce and turbulent Saxons, Slavs, Huns, Lombards and Arabs were by the force of his genius brought and held together with the Franks, for the advancement of civilization. Since the fall of the Roman Empire, no monarch ever [20][21] waived his scepter over such a large domain, nor exercised such influence or power as did he, yet upon his death his empire, like that of the Alexander the Great, fell into fragments. The perpetuity of the Empire of Charlemagne rested upon the genius of that illustrious and peerless man.
     The stability of the Empire of Alexander the Great depended upon the sword of the great Macedonian, and when his remains were confined to an Egyptian tomb his empire perished.
     But the stability of this republic does not depend upon the life nor upon the statesmanship of any man, nor does its fate rest upon the success of the sword of any warrior. When it was conceived, cruel despotism was dethroned and civil liberty was born.
     When the calm judgment of eternal justice shall have obliterated anarchy and consigned its principles to oblivion, as it surely will, our republic shall continue to be, to the end of time, what it now is, the land of “equal opportunity,” the home of civil liberty and the pride of peaceful, orderly, cultured and progressive men.

 

 


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