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Source: Colonel Alexander K. McClure’s Recollections of Half a Century
Source type: book
Document type: book chapter
Document title: “McKinley’s Triumph and Tragic Death”
Author(s): McClure, Alexander K.
Publisher: Salem Press Company
Place of publication: Salem, Massachusetts
Year of publication: 1902
Pagination: 145-53 (excerpt below includes only pages 145-46 and 152-53)

McClure, Alexander K. “McKinley’s Triumph and Tragic Death.” Colonel Alexander K. McClure’s Recollections of Half a Century. Salem: Salem Press, 1902: pp. 145-53.
excerpt of chapter
McKinley assassination; Theodore Roosevelt (assumption of presidency); presidential assassinations (comparison); Ida McKinley.
Named persons
John Wilkes Booth; Leon Czolgosz; James A. Garfield; Abraham Lincoln; William McKinley; Theodore Roosevelt.
The following excerpt comprises two nonconsecutive portions of this chapter (pp. 145-46 and pp. 152-53). Omission of text within the excerpt is denoted with a bracketed indicator (e.g., [omit]).

From title page: Author of “Lincoln and Men of War Times,” “Our Presidents and How We Make Them,” “Three Thousand Miles Through the Rocky Mountains,” “The South,” “To the Pacific and Mexico.”


McKinley’s Triumph and Tragic Death

     The tragic death of President McKinley adds a sad chapter to the memories of the White House. On Friday afternoon, September 6, 1901, the President, when receiving the people in the Temple of Music at the Buffalo Exposition, was shot twice by Leon F. Czolgosz, an anarchist. He promptly received the best surgical care, and for some days there were hopes of his recovery, but he died on the 14th of September at 2.15 in the morning. It was once said by an eminent diplomat that Russia was “a despotism tempered by assassination,” but in the period of a single generation three Presidents of the United States have fallen by the bullet of the assassin.
     Vice President Roosevelt was absent on a hunting expedition in the Adirondacks when the President’s illness became severely critical, but he arrived on the day of the President’s death and was qualified for the succession. He had been summoned to the President’s bedside soon after the President had been shot, and remained for several days; and he left only when the bulletins of the physicians gave reasonable assurance of the President’s recovery. After taking the oath of office President Roosevelt in a tremulous voice said: “In this hour of deep national bereavement I wish to state that it shall be my aim to continue absolutely unbroken the policy of President McKinley for the peace, prosperity and honor of our beloved country.”
     President McKinley’s remains were taken to Washington and lay in state for a day in the rotunda of the Capitol, when the funeral cortege, accompanied by the new President, proceeded to Canton, where they finally received sepulture amidst the tears of the people. Although two Presidents, both greatly beloved, had fallen by the assassin’s hand before McKinley was made the victim of the red-handed murder of anarchy, no President of the republic ever died so universally lamented as William McKinley. Lincoln stands high over all in the affections of the [145][146] country and the world today, but when he fell by the bullet of Booth the nation was engaged in fraternal war, and in the North political prejudices and hatreds were intensified by sectional strife; and while the assassination of Lincoln was denounced, his death did not call out the universal fountains of sorrow, which gave expression to the country’s grief at the fall of McKinley. Garfield also fell in the midst of fierce factional strife within his own political household that estranged a large portion of his own party from approval of his Administration; but McKinley was stricken down by the anarchist when he had no violent partisan prejudices assailing him, and when political friend and foe united in testifying to the beneficent attributes of his public and private character. Even political criticism of the chief features of his Administration was heard in the feeblest tones, and throughout the entire land there was universal expression of not only respect but affection for the President of the Republic.


No [152][153] man ever broadened out more than William McKinley after he reached the Presidency, and if he had no other record to leave as a legacy to the country than his spontaneous addresses delivered during his journey to the Pacific coast, and his grandest of all deliverances at the Pan-American Exposition the day before he fell by the bullet of the assassin, he would stand out in American history as among the most lustrous of our statesmen.
     Every life has its shadows, and the greatest sorrow of the life of McKinley was the suffering of his frail, sweet, angel wife, who was never permitted, even by the gravest duties of State to go beyond his care. She made heroic efforts to perform part of the social duties which devolve upon the first lady of the land, but it was always by a fearful strain upon her feeble vital powers. To her the whole world was centred in her husband, whose affection for her has crystallized him in history as the ideal husband, and has given the nation and the world higher and nobler conceptions of the sanctity of home. She has unexpectedly survived the terrible shock of the murder of the one for whom alone she lived, and is now lingering in the darkly clouded home at Canton until “the shadows are a little longer grown.”



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