Publication information
view printer-friendly version
Source: Battling for the Right: The Life-Story of Theodore Roosevelt
Source type: book
Document type: book chapter
Document title: “A Vigorous Champion in the Presidential Chair” [chapter 8]
Author(s): Morris, Charles
Publisher: none given
Place of publication: none given
Year of publication: 1910
Pagination: 63-68 (excerpt below includes only pages 63-65)

Morris, Charles. “A Vigorous Champion in the Presidential Chair” [chapter 8]. Battling for the Right: The Life-Story of Theodore Roosevelt. [n.p.]: [n.p.], 1910: pp. 63-68.
excerpt of chapter
McKinley assassination; Theodore Roosevelt (at Adirondacks); Theodore Roosevelt (journey: Adirondacks to Buffalo, NY: 13-14 Sept. 1901); Theodore Roosevelt (assumption of presidency).
Named persons
Millard Fillmore [misspelled below]; Ulysses S. Grant; William Henry Harrison; John R. Hazel; Ethan A. Hitchcock; Andrew Johnson; Philander C. Knox; John D. Long; William McKinley; Theodore Roosevelt; Elihu Root; John Tyler; James Wilson.
Title from cover: Battling for the Right: The Life Story of Theodore Roosevelt: Including an Account of His African Expedition.

From title page: Battling for the Right: The Life-Story of Theodore Roosevelt: Including His Early Life Struggles and Victorious Public Career; His Principles and Policies; The Story of His African Trip; His Memorable Journey Through Europe; And His Leadership in the Battle for Human Rights.

From title page: By Charles Morris, Author of “Our Presidents,” “The Life of William McKinley,” “History of the United States,” etc.


A Vigorous Champion in the Presidential Chair [excerpt]

ON the 6th of September, 1901, a lamentable act took place, one of those tragic occurrences that are apt to arise from the mad ferment of modern life. President McKinley, while shaking hands in friendly spirit with his fellow-citizens in the great hall of the Buffalo Exposition, was foully shot down by a half-insane Anarchist, whose hand the victim had just cordially grasped.
     For a week the suffering martyr lay between life and death, for a time showing such signs of recovery that hope overspread the country, then rapidly sinking until death came to him in the early morning of the 14th. His sad passing away left Theodore Roosevelt President, a consummation no one had dreamed of when, against his will, he was induced to become a candidate for the Vice-Presidency.
     The death of McKinley was followed by an event of dramatic interest. For a time the recovery of the stricken President seemed so assured that Roosevelt felt secure in making a hunting excursion in the Adirondacks, for which he had previously arranged.
     When, on Friday, September 13th, word reached the Tahawas Club House, where the Vice-President had his headquarters, that the exalted victim was fast sinking, Roosevelt was not to be found. He had set out early that morning for a tramp in the mountains, and no one knew just where he was. Before starting he had received a despatch from Buffalo saying that the President was in splendid condition and not in the slightest danger. Under these circumstances he had felt it safe to venture upon his mountain stroll.
     The fresh and startling news caused guides and runners to be sent out in all directions, with orders to sound a general alarm and find the Vice-President as quickly as possible. Yet hours passed away and the afternoon was verging into early evening before the signals of the searchers were heard and answered and it became evident that the Roosevelt party was near at hand. [63][64]
     When Colonel Roosevelt was reached and the news of the critical condition of the President told him he could scarcely credit it. Startled and alarmed, he hurried back to the Tahawas Club House, feeling that he must hasten to Buffalo with the utmost despatch. But the nearest railroad station was thirty-five miles distant, and this distance had to be covered by stage, over a road rendered heavy by a recent thunderstorm.
     When he reached there the Adirondack Stage Line had a coach in readiness and had provided relays of horses covering the whole distance. All night long the stage coach, bearing its distinguished passenger rolled along through the woods, the latter part of the journey being through heavy forest timber, which rendered it one of actual peril.
     President McKinley had already passed away, though this news was not received until he reached the station at North Creek at 5.22 on the following morning. A special train awaited him and dashed away the moment it received the awaited passenger. The trip that followed was a record-breaking one, the speed in many instances exceeding a mile a minute. It was 1.40 p. m. when it pulled into the station at Buffalo, the President, as Roosevelt now was, going to the house where his deceased predecessor lay.
     That afternoon he took the oath of office as President of the United States, the oath being administered by Judge Hazel, in the presence of Secretaries Root, Long, Hitchcock and Wilson, Attorney-General Knox and other distinguished persons. The oath taken and the document signed, all the preliminaries were finished, and Theodore Roosevelt became the legally authorized President of the United States.
     Theodore Roosevelt was the youngest man in the history of the country to become President of the United States; he had not yet completed his forty-third year. The youngest before him being President Grant, who was forty-seven at the date of his first inauguration. The oldest was President Harrison, who took office at the age of sixty-eight. It was a heavy responsibility to fall on so young a man. How he would act in his new office was the anxious query asked by those who remembered the records of Presidents Tyler, Filmore and Johnson, who like him had begun as Vice-Presidents. President [64][65] McKinley stood for certain principles, certain promises to the people made in the platform of the year before. Could an impulsive man like Theodore Roosevelt, a man full of ideas and views of his own, be expected to carry out his predecessor’s policy? There was a distinct feeling of relief in the community when he came out with a declaration that this was what he proposed to do.
     Yet McKinley’s policy did not cover the whole range of legislation, and the remembrance of Roosevelt’s radical reform administration in New York was not altogether agreeable to the hide-bound conservatives or the class of shady politicians who had axes to grind. They felt that a man like this in the Presidential chair might prove like the proverbial bull in the china shop.



top of page