He Inaugurates a New Era [excerpt]
HE arrived at Buffalo at three o’clock that afternoon.
The members of the Cabinet, he was told, were awaiting him at the
house of Ansley Wilcox, on Delaware Avenue, where he had stayed
earlier in the week; but he asked to be driven first to the house
where the body of William McKinley was lying. The crowds on the
streets were dense, and cheered him as he was driven swiftly by.
He drew back to the rear of the coach. It did not seem to him the
time for cheering.
He found the members of the Cabinet
assembled at the Wilcox house, when he arrived. Only Secretary Gage
and Secretary Hay were absent. There were, besides, twenty or thirty
personal friends in the room. Elihu Root Secretary of War, drew
him aside. With arms on each other’s shoulders they conversed in
whispers in the bay-window.
Judge Hazel of the Federal Circuit
Court drew near.
The two men at the window turned.
Then the Secretary of War spoke.
“Mr. Vice-President—” he began. His
voice  broke. “I—” He dropped
his head and was silent for what seemed an endless time. The silence
was oppressive. No one stirred. A bird chirped suddenly outside.
Roosevelt’s eyes were brimming with
tears and his face was set in a stern effort at self-control. The
Secretary of War raised his head. His voice when he spoke was tremulous
with feeling, but his words were deliberate and clear. The members
of the Cabinet, he said, wished that, for reasons of state, he should
take the oath at once.
Roosevelt, too, had difficulty in
controlling his emotion and governing his voice. “I shall take the
oath at once in response to your request,” he said. “And in this
hour of deep and terrible bereavement I wish to state that it shall
be my aim to continue absolutely unbroken the policy of President
McKinley for the peace and prosperity of our beloved country.”
Then Judge Hazel administered the
“I do solemnly swear,” Roosevelt repeated,
holding his hand high, “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.”
And to that he added, with what one
of the men present called his “terrible earnestness”—“And thus
A half-hour later he held his first
“I wish each of you gentlemen,” he
said, “to remain as a member of my Cabinet. I need your 
advice and counsel. I tender you the office in the same manner that
I would tender it if I were entering upon the discharge of my duties
as the result of an election by the people, with this distinction,
however, that I cannot accept a declination.”
There were no declinations, though
the Secretaries had their own notions concerning the possibility
of a McKinley Cabinet becoming a Roosevelt Cabinet.
And so the country again had a President.
The anarchist had with his crime shaken the American people to the
depths, but not for an instant had he shaken the structure of orderly
government. A week passed by. The new President returned from the
funeral of his predecessor and took up his residence at the White
House. The business of the nation went on without a break.
It was only after months had passed
that men began dimly to realize that during the night of that wild
ride from Tahawus to North Creek an era had ended.