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Source: Complete Life of William McKinley and Story of His Assassination
Source type: book
Document type: book chapter
Document title: “Funeral Services in All Churches” [chapter 39]
Author(s): Everett, Marshall
Edition: Memorial edition
none given
Place of publication: none given
Year of publication:
Pagination: 395-403

Everett, Marshall. “Funeral Services in All Churches” [chapter 39]. Complete Life of William McKinley and Story of His Assassination. Memorial ed. [n.p.]: [n.p.], 1901: pp. 395-403.
full text of chapter; excerpt of book
McKinley funeral services; McKinley funeral services (Washington, DC); W. H. Chapman (benedictions); McKinley memorial services (Chicago, IL); Frank W. Gunsaulus (sermons); McKinley memorial services (New York, NY); Michael J. Lavelle (sermons); Frederick D. Power (sermons); Morgan Dix (sermons).
Named persons
Frank Bristol; W. H. Chapman; Michael Corrigan; John Adams Dix; Morgan Dix; James A. Garfield; Frank W. Gunsaulus; Jesus Christ; Michael J. Lavelle; Leo XIII; Abraham Lincoln; William McKinley; Peter; Frederick D. Power [last name wrong below]; George Washington.
From title page: Complete Life of William McKinley and Story of His Assassination: An Authentic and Official Memorial Edition, Containing Every Incident in the Career of the Immortal Statesman, Soldier, Orator and Patriot; Profusely Illustrated with Full-Page Photographs of the Assassination Scene, Portraits of President McKinley, His Cabinet, Famous Men of His Administration and Vivid Life-Like Pictures of Eventful Scenes in His Great and Grand Career.

From title page: By Marshall Everett, the Great Descriptive Writer and Friend of the Martyr President.


Funeral Services in All Churches




     While funeral services were being held over the remains of President McKinley on the Sunday after his death, every church edifice in the whole nation was the scene of a similar service. Without regard to sect or creed, without regard to location, far or near, high or low, in cathedral and in chapel, the words of preacher and the heartfelt sympathy of people rose in united worship to the God whom William McKinley had worshiped.
     Services in the Metropolitan Methodist Church at Washington, of which President McKinley was a member and constant attendant when at Washington, were of an unusually impressive character.
     The congregation present tested the capacity of the building, many persons being compelled to stand. Drapings of black covered the President’s pew, and these sombre habiliments of woe covered the pulpit, partly made of olive wood from Jerusalem. During the service the choir sang “Lead, Kindly Light,” and “Nearer, My God, to Thee,” favorites of the dead President, the vast congregation joining in both selections. Rev. Dr. F. M. Bristol, the pastor, was in Europe; but, Rev. W. H. Chapman delivered the sermon, taking his text from Jeremiah, “Judah mourneth.” In the course of his remarks Dr. Chapman said:
     “No safer, purer man than William McKinley has ever presided over this great republic and no man was ever more admired. Adorned was he with the highest and noblest virtues, which gave dignity and force to his character and moral beauty to his life. He was a Christian man and exemplified in his daily life the sublime principles of Christianity. From early manhood he had been identified with the Christian church, with that branch which we represent. It was the church of his mother, the church in which he had been trained from childhood, that he had received lessons which added to those imparted to him by his maternal parent laid the foundation for that solid, symmetrical character which he attained and for which he was distinguished.
     “Christianity nobly sustained him during his illness, enabling him to endure calmly and submissively. In his quiet moments, with eyes closed but not asleep, he said, ‘Nearer, my God, to Thee.’ To his beloved companion who bad trod with him for many years the path of life, bending over him [395][396] with tearful eyes and throbbing heart, near the parting hour, he said ‘Not our will, but God’s will be done,’ meaning ‘be resigned but trustful; leave all with the Lord and it shall be well with thee when I am gone.’ How peaceful and resigned he went into the valley, covered with splendid sunshine and found rest from his labors! He has left behind him, to his kindred and to us the rich legacy of a splendid character and an unsullied record. A life that says to others: ‘This is the way. Walk in it, the way that leads to moral wealth, far above all material wealth, and which leads at last to heaven and to God.’
     “We shall miss him in this sanctuary and look no more upon him in yonder pew devotional in worship and listening attentively to the precious word as if indeed it were manna to his soul and a refreshing stream from the fountain of life. But he worshiped today in the temple not made with hands, with many of those with whom he was wont to worship in the church below. May we all imitate his example, emulate his virtues and at the last be counted worthy of a place with him in the kingdom of heaven.”
     Rev. Dr. Frank W. Gunsaulus, of the Central Church, at Chicago, used these words:
     “The awful feature of this calamity is undisguised in the fact that it is a stroke against the enterprise of government, which is the noblest enterprise undertaken by man. It was a dagger thrust at the heart of civilization. It makes it all the more horrible and helps us to see the ghastly features of anarchy more truly when we reflect that the wound which it opened was through the now stilled heart of a man at once so loving, so loved and so lovable as the President. To so dishearten the whole of Christendom in its efforts toward public order, that wretch had to pierce through one of the fairest and sweetest lives the world has known. And it was this tender and noble man who believed so profoundly in the safety of free government. When anarchists were loud in 1893 the now silent orator eloquently said: ‘With patriotism in our hearts and the flag of our country in our hands there is no danger of anarchy.’ It is a frightful thing to believe that this confidence has been at all shaken, and it is the instant demand of our religion and our education that somehow they shall be made able to put patriotism into the hearts of the alien peoples and to get them to take hold sympathetically of our flag and love it, so that anarchy may be impossible. William McKinley’s kindly heart and generous spirit, his enormous public services, resulting in countless benefits to the poor man, his unswerving devotion to the principle that no minority is without rights, his purity and power are permanent forces [396][397] and realities which have been exalted upon an altar of martyrdom. The assassin supposed he could slay them from the high and heavenly place in which the citizens of the republic behold them. They will organize into a knightly personality and William McKinley will be the slayer of anarchy in America. From this time forward, whatever makes for anarchy must hide its treacherous face away from the light of him whom we loved. Slanderous lies as to the motives and character of those whom the nation has trusted with the reins of government, the vulgarity of newly acquired wealth which seems often to flaunt itself in the face of human need, the wild ravings of men who have no idea of loyalty to government and law, the thoughtless debate of theologians who have forgotten the simple dictates of Christian religion and the Godless enemies of public justice, all writhe away like serpents smitten with intolerable light as we think of the awful price we have paid and ever must pay if we fail to do our duty in upholding the flag and making it a symbol as sacred and as just as the cross of Christ. William McKinley has entered into the Holy of Holies bearing out sins. Let us awake to newness of life.”
     At St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York Archbishop Corrigan was too much moved to deliver the sermon, but throughout the sermon by Father Lavelle he knelt in prayer. Father Lavelle devoted his entire sermon to the life of President McKinley, and his words received the closest attention. He first read the open letter of the Archbishop to the clergy in his diocese asking for prayers for the late President, praising the latter’s virtues and condemning anarchy.
     “These words of our Archbishop,” he added, “express as complete as words can the sentiment of the American people in general and the Catholics as well on this day of national sorrow. I say as well as words can, because on occasions of this kind the very best words seem hollow and meaningless compared with the depth and vast significance that stirs the heart of the nation. William McKinley was one whose name, even if misfortune had not overtaken him, would have gone down to posterity as one of the greatest Presidents of the United States. This is conceded by all, those who opposed him politically as well. He was really the idol of the nation. We all voted for him either directly or indirectly. If we voted for his opponent we did so for the principle, not for the man, as no one had a better character than William McKinley.
     “He was a statesman who has left an indelible impression upon the history of this country and of the world, and before he was President the name [397][398] of William McKinley was better known outside of the United States and throughout the world than any other American. He was a man of large faith in God and of deep religious sense. He was devoid of bigotry. During two summers spent away from Washington he spent his vacation at Lake Champlain, in the immediate vicinity of the Catholic Summer School, and the courtesy and kindliness he showed was such as to bring him nearer to the hearts of all people there and make him seem as if he was one of them.
     “‘Justice will be done.’ That was the principal guiding star of his life; the aim and object that spurred him on to his duty. Well does he deserve a nation’s tears and gratitude. Does it not seem strange that a life so noble, a life without stain, at which the voice of calumny was never once lifted, should find an enemy capable of destroying the vital spark?”
     Father Lavelle then referred to anarchism and to the writings of Pope Leo XIII on the subject. At this time Archbishop Corrigan showed his deep emotion and kept his handkerchief pressed to his eyes for some time. In speaking of anarchists the Rev. Mr. Lavelle said:
     “These misguided creatures sometimes pretend to find a root of their false doctrines in the Scriptures themselves. Anarchy is as impossible as that five is equal to two. We trace the beginning of this inequality in God Himself. In our family, where the father and mother must be the head, this man, the anarchist, gets over the difficulty by destroying the family. If we wish to prevent a renewal of the calamity which we mourn to-day it is only through stronger faith in God. That is the bulwark of society and of this nation. You have noticed in the morning papers that the new President has issued a proclamation, asking the people to assemble in their places of worship on next Thursday and pray for our illustrious dead. In accordance with that proclamation our reverend Archbishop has set aside that day for services in this diocese. A special mass will be held in the Cathedral at 10 o’clock, and I beg all of you who can to come and pray with your hearts for this noble, true man, whom we have lost.
     “May we come to that service with the thought that the holy sacrifice may go up to God, asking for new strength for our people and for the unblemished hero who has gone—asking for the new President strength, health and God’s spirit, so that they may aid him in the proper discharge of his duties, and that never again in our history may we find that the head of our nation has been laid low by anarchy, jealousy or any other passion.”
     Time and again through the service, when the speaker’s words touched [398][399] upon the beauties of President McKinley’s life, the Archbishop was seen to bow his head in tears, while great sobs choked his frame.
     One of the notable incidents of the day was Rev. F. D. Powers’ sermon at the Vermont Avenue Christian church in Washington. He it was who conducted the funeral services over the body of President Garfield, in the rotunda of the capitol, twenty years ago. He chose as his text the words of Christ to Peter in the garden of Gethsemane: “The cup which my Father gave me, shall I not drink it?” He said in part:
     “Our beloved Christian President, in the terrible moment when the blow was struck, said: ‘Do him no harm; he does not know what he is doing.’ How true and wise and just and Christlike! And when he resigned himself to the faithful surgeons with that faith and majestic courage and magnificent simplicity that marked his character of life throughout, he said: ‘Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done,’ and passed into unconsciousness with those last words on his lips. Hear him, as all the glory of this world fades above his vision and the gates of the unseen are swinging wide, when he breathed the hymn, ‘Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee.’ Hear him as the last farewell is taken: ‘It is God’s way. His will be done.’ How he speaks to the nation! How he speaks to the ages! God holds the cup, and the draught is wholesome and needful. God help us to be ready, as he was! Death is a friend of ours, and we must be ever ready to entertain him. God make us strong in Him who said: ‘I am the resurrection and the life.’”
     Historic Trinity church, in New York, was crowded with worshippers. Rev. Morgan Dix, the pastor, is a son of that stern old Governor John A. Dix, who in an earlier day sounded the note of a vigorous policy: “If any man hauls down the American flag, shoot him on the spot.”
     Dr. Dix, before a congregation that filled every available seat and overflowed in the aisles, delivered a sermon that was a eulogy of the virtues and statesmanship of the late President, William McKinley. After denouncing the crime Dr. Dix severely arraigned anarchy as a danger which would destroy modern civilization, and recommended that action be taken to suppress it. In the liturgical part of the service which preceded the sermon the President’s favorite hymn, “Lead, Kindly Light,” was sung. Dr. Dix spoke in part as follows:
     “Men and brethren, eye to eye, hand to hand, heart to heart, we face each other now crying, ‘Woe is me!’ Woe for the common grief, woe worth the day and the tidings which it brings of destruction, desolation, death and [399][400] violence lording it over us all! We are one in our distress at the last calamity and national affliction, in horror at an unspeakable crime. And so suddenly has the blow been dealt that there has been no time to search for the words which one might wish to speak. Two things surely are filling our thoughts today. We are looking at the man; we are looking at the crime. As for the man, his warmest friends, his greatest admirers, could have asked for him no more brilliant apotheosis. Estimates have varied of him, his ability, his work. But millions have been praying as men seldom pray that his life might be precious in the sight of God; and far beyond our borders, and widely through foreign lands, others innumerable, our brethren in a common humanity, have been on their knees pleading for his life. This tells the story of his character, his acts, his greatness; the general consent of the wide world, from which there can be no appeal.
     “Our President was a great man in the highest sense in which that adjective can be applied. I am not speaking as a publicist, nor analyzing a political career; there is room for difference of judgment there; but there are other matters upon which we are all agreed. What is it to find in the highest place among us a man devout and faithful in his Christian profession, modest, calm, capable; a pattern of the domestic virtues, an example of right living? Has not the public, the great American nation, taken in the beauty first of that good, honest, loyal life? Is it not for this that the man has been beloved and mourned throughout our families and our homes?
     “What makes the Christian gentleman to begin with but simplicity and sincerity of life, courteous manners, dislike of pride and ostentation, abhorrence of display and vulgar show? So have we thought first of this man, and then we have followed his life through its varied phases. We have seen the quiet student, the soldier, the legislator, the executive officer; and, looking on, our admiration has grown more and more. We have seen him chosen by a vast popular movement to be the chief magistrate of the nation; we have scanned his conduct and acts during four years, among the most critical in the nation’s history, and as the result of such scrutiny in the broadest light that could be thrown upon his path, and under the severest criticism to which a public man can be subjected, we have seen him re-elected to his great office by a larger vote than ever amid the acclamation of the people and to the confusion of his adversaries.
     “All this we have seen. And then we have said: ‘In this system of ours we do not ask for a man who shall make and control, but for a man who shall wisely guide, oversee, direct; a man who catches the spirit of the [400][401] age, who knows the signs of the times, who interprets movements, and in his sound judgment shapes their course.’ Looking at the last four years, more full of vital issues to the nation than any since the days of Abraham Lincoln, we have seen wonderful things. A nation passing on from small to great, from narrow places to broad, the horizon enlarging all the while, the nation attaining its majority, the world looking on with amazement, great questions put and answered well, great principles settled, great deeds done for freedom and clarifying of evil, and instruction in sound views of government; one great, grand, forward, upward movement, dazzling the eyes and charming the senses and kindling hope. And at the head of all this a man—not as if he were the author of these things, but certainly the wise, prudent, earnest leader; such a leader as Providence, we believe, must have raised for that particular work and inclined us to put in that position. That was the man.
     “And up to Friday, September 6, that was the scene presented by our happy and highly favored land—a land blessed and contented, at peace and secure; never before so prosperous, never yet so honored abroad, never yet so hopeful, so confident; marching on its splendid path to greater things. And always at the head that good citizen, that earnest patriot, that wise head, that warm, affectionate heart, that friendly, fearless instance of the best that our American civilization has yet brought forth to help and cheer; trusted by a great people; strong, able, healthful, with his friends about him and the light of coming years in front. That was the fate of the people, and that was their will, and according to all ideas the will of the people is the law of the land, and he who gainsays is the enemy of the sovereign people. So stood matters a week ago last Friday.
     “And now what shall we say?
     “The crime; what was it? That high treason against the sovereign people of these United States? Let us compare crime with crime, and we shall see in this the worst of all we have ever known, the worst, the most outrageous ever committed in this land.”
     After reviewing the assassination of Garfield and Lincoln, Dr. Dix continued:
     “But there was worse to come. And it has come. Something else; something new among us; not new elsewhere, alas! but new in this land supposed to be a land of freemen, the refuge for the oppressed, the home of the higher and better civilization. Right in the path on which the great nation is advancing stands the most horrid spectre by which social order has yet been [401][402] confronted. A shadow has fallen on the road, blacker than any shadow of death. Be the individual who he may that happens to represent this new foe, he is of very little consequence compared with the motive which inspired his act. This spectre to-day announced as its aim and end the total destruction of modem civilization, the overthrow of all law, of all governments, of restraint of any kind on the private individual will. And the fatal blow of Friday, September 6, was dealt at the Chief Magistrate of the United States by a believer in that system and in exact accordance with its well-known principles.
     “And that lends the real horror to the act and gives its double horror to the crime. It is not a crime like other crimes; it is not one with which we are familiar. And our hearts sink at the thought that we are now at length face to face with this infernal propaganda, and have felt in the merciless butchery of our great and good President the first taste of more to come, unless God grants the wisdom and teaches the way to defend our lives.
     “Next to the anguish of the hour which has made strong men weep like children and melted hearts at the cruel desolation of a pure and loving home comes the dread engendered of a doubt as to the will and power of the nation to save its own life; whether there is force enough among us to rise and lay strong hold on this monster now distinctly revealed and upon us, in the murderous attack on the noblest and best in the land. Already we are beginning to hear it said that the people are rallying from the blow; that the first alarm is over; that all are recovering courage; that finance will soon flow again in its usual channels; that we shall go forward once more in the pursuit of arts and the ordinary vocations of the time. Yes, all this is well, but will the nation fail to act as a great nation should, to deal as it ought to do with the most deadly foe that it has or ever can have? For if this foe prevails, the nation, the state, the law, the government will disappear forever and ever. Are we to forget what has thrown us into this present mourning and these tears? Are we to lapse into a fatal apathy, and let the preaching of murder and inciting to murder and the applauding of murder go on as before? Are the laws still to protect the very persons who hate and detest them and are banded together for the overthrow of society? It seems to me that the most solemn issue of the hour is as to what we have to do who remain—whether we are equal to the occasion. Are we now to fall back before this enemy, the last and most dangerous we have ever encountered or ever shall, and let things drift from bad to worse, in new instances of a passion which spares not one life that stands in its way? [402][403]
     “There is a great deal to be said of the national sins which have led to such national judgments as we have felt and are feeling now; of the falling away from religious standards, of the loss of faith, of growing luxury and sin, of the decline in morals and piety which invite the judgments of heaven; of the indifference to law, the loss of respect for authority, the habit of railing at and writing on public men and telling lies about them, such as that gross one heard not long ago that our President was a traitor and would fain overthrow our republican and democratic government—for these things there will be time to speak later, but to-day I cannot speak of more than these two—the man and the crime.
     “And so leave we the beloved and honored President to his rest and his future glory; for certainly his name will shine magnificently among those of the greatest of the lives immortal—with those of Washington and Lincoln; great for the way in which he guided the country through a mighty crisis in its fortunes; great in his closing words; great in his constant thought for others; great in his submission to the will of God—greatest perhaps in that deathbed scene, so perfectly accordant with the precepts of the Gospel and the example of his Savior.” (Here Dr. Dix became so affected that he sobbed audibly.)
     The Rev. Dr. Dix made the announcement that on Thursday, the day of the funeral, a Litany service would be held at noon, and that another service would be held in the afternoon of the same day, when the offices of the dead would be read.
     The foregoing expressions are given as expressing the general tone of the sermons delivered in all of the churches, from the stately cathedrals of the great cities, to the humble little frame or log buildings in remote communities.



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