Suddenly Called to Be President
O A—R M C R O—P
P H P—A
E H C A—E O G P
THE appalling tragedy that ended the life of President
McKinley, at the very summit of his fame and usefulness, summoned
Mr. Roosevelt to the Presidency of the United States. It was a dark
day for our country when the fatal shot was fired that struck down
a President who was universally admired and beloved, and who, it
was fondly thought, had not an enemy on earth.
Instantly the nation turned to his
successor with a feeling both of relief and apprehension. The vast
responsibility and the call for the wisest statesmanship suddenly
thrust upon him, and the fact that he was now to guide the destinies
of the republic, caused grave fears in the minds of thoughtful people,
and an anxiety which, under the circumstances, was but natural and
inevitable. At the same time, his public record was such as to go
far toward creating the utmost confidence in his ability to cope
with the sudden and extraordinary crisis. No one doubted the purity
of his intentions, the honesty of his convictions, or his conscientious
purpose to make good the loss sustained by the country, and to carry
forward the policies advocated by his predecessor.
Although some vague doubts were expressed,
and men questioned one another as to whether Mr. Roosevelt would
prove equal to the emergency, there were no signs of panic in the
world of  finance, or slowing
up of the wheels of industry. With a self-confidence which has often
been ridiculed as Yankee boasting, it was believed the country could
take care of itself, and its new chief executive would superbly
meet every demand. Public opinion was soon enlisted in his support,
the timid ones were reassured, and the overwhelming sorrow and sense
of bereavement that followed the assassination of one President
gradually gave way to a feeling of thankfulness that another so
competent and trustworthy was now at the head of our national affairs.
HOPES SUDDENLY BLASTED.
The mournful event that
placed Mr. Roosevelt in the White House was as unexpected by him
as it was by the nation at large. The crack of the assassin’s pistol
rang through the whole world with startling effect. No one was prepared
for the thrilling tragedy. As is well known, hopes were entertained
for President McKinley’s recovery. For a whole week his condition
was reported by the attending physicians as perfectly satisfactory,
and there was every indication that his wound would not prove fatal.
The bulletins expressed a hope that amounted almost to a certainty,
and stated only a short time before his death, that all danger was
past. The bullet had not been extracted, but the illustrious patient’s
symptoms and general condition gave every promise of complete recovery.
Then came the sudden change for the
worse. The ghastly reaper who strikes down rulers and peasants alike,
with unpitying celerity made sure of his victim. Hope went out in
darkness and delusive promises were mercilessly broken. The civilized
world felt the shock. It was a time for awe and silence.
Hon. Theodore Roosevelt was sworn
in as President of the United States at 3.36 o’clock on the afternoon
of Saturday, September 14th. Standing in a low-ceiled, narrow room
in the quaint old mansion occupied by Ansley Wilcox, in the fashionable
part of Delaware Avenue, the aristocratic thoroughfare of Buffalo,
Mr. Roosevelt swore to administer the laws of the Government of
which he is now the head. He stood erect, holding his right 
hand high above his head. His massive shoulders were thrown well
back, as, with his head inclined a little forward, he repeated the
form of the oath of office in clear, distinct tones, that fell impressively
upon the ears of the forty-three persons grouped about the room.
His face was a study in earnestness
and determination, as he uttered the words which made him President
of the United States. His face was much paler than it was wont to
be, and his eyes, though bright and steady, gleamed mistily through
his big-bowed gold spectacles. His attire was sombre and modest.
A well-fitting worsted frock coat draped his athletic figure almost
to the knees. His trousers were dark gray, with pinstripes. A thin
skein of golden chain looped from the two lower pockets of his waistcoat.
While he was waiting for the ceremony he toyed with this chain with
his right hand.
PICTURESQUE LITTLE ROOM.
The place selected for
the ceremony of taking the oath was the library of Mr. Wilcox’s
house, a rather small room, but picturesque, the heavy oak trimmings
and the massive bookcases giving it somewhat the appearance of a
legal den. A pretty bay window with stained glass and heavy hangings
formed a background, and against this the President took his position.
Judge Hazel stood near the President
in the bay window, and the latter showed his extreme nervousness
by plucking at the lapel of his long frock coat and nervously tapping
the hardwood floor with his heel. He stepped over once to Secretary
Root, and for about five minutes they conversed earnestly. The question
at issue was whether the President should first sign an oath of
office and then swear in or whether he should swear in first and
sign the document in the case after.
At precisely 3.32 o’clock Secretary
Root ceased his conversation with the President, and, stepping back,
while an absolute hush fell upon every one in the room, said in
an almost inaudible voice:
“Mr. Vice-President, I——” Then his
voice broke, and for fully two minutes the tears came down his face
and his lips quiv-  ered,
so that he could not continue his utterances. There were sympathetic
tears from those about him, and two great drops ran down either
cheek of the successor of William McKinley. Mr. Root’s chin was
on his breast. Suddenly throwing back his head, as if with an effort,
he continued in broken voice:
“I have been requested, on behalf
of the Cabinet of the late President, at least those who are present
in Buffalo, all except two, to request that for reasons of weight
affecting the affairs of government, you should proceed to take
the constitutional oath of office of President of the United States.”
Judge Hazel had stepped to the rear
of the President, and Mr. Roosevelt, coming closer to Secretary
Root, said, in a voice that at first wavered, but finally came deep
and strong, while, as if to control his nervousness, he held firmly
to the lapel of his coat with his right hand:
M’KINLEY’S POLICIES TO BE CONTINUED.
“I shall take the oath
at once in accordance with your request, and in this hour of deep
and terrible national 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 and honor of our beloved country.”
The President stepped farther into
the bay window, and Judge Hazel, taking up the constitutional oath
of office, which had been prepared on parchment, asked the President
to raise his right hand and repeat it after him. There was a hush
like death in the room as the Judge read a few words at a time,
and the President, in a strong voice and without a tremor, and with
his raised hand as steady as if carved from marble, repeated it
“And thus I swear,” he ended it. The
hand dropped by his side, the chin for an instant rested on the
breast, and the silence remained unbroken for a couple of minutes,
as though the new President of the United States was offering silent
prayer for help and guidance.
Judge Hazel broke the silence, saying:
“Mr. President, please attach your signature.” And the President,
turning to a  small table
near-by, wrote “Theodore Roosevelt” at the bottom of the document
in a firm hand.
“I should like to see the members
of the Cabinet a few moments after the others retire,” said the
President, and this was the signal for the score of the people,
who had been favored by witnessing the ceremony, to retire.
As they turned to go the President
said: “I will shake hands with you people, gladly,” and, with something
of his old smile returning, he first shook hands with the members
of the Cabinet present, then Senator Depew and finally with a few
guests and newspaper men.
MEMBERS OF CABINET REMAIN.
At a meeting of the
Cabinet in the afternoon, President Roosevelt requested that the
members retain their positions, at least for the present, and they
promised that they would do so. He also received assurances that
Secretaries Hay and Gage, who were absent, would remain for the
time being. The first official act of President Roosevelt was the
issuing of the following proclamation, the appropriateness and felicitous
expression of which could not be improved.
“By the President of the United States
of America, a proclamation:
“A terrible bereavement has befallen
our people. The President of the United States has been struck down;
a crime committed not only against the Chief Magistrate, but against
every law-abiding and liberty-loving citizen.
“President McKinley crowned a life
of largest love for his fellowmen, of most earnest endeavor for
their welfare, by a death of Christian fortitude; and both the way
in which he lived his life and the way in which, in the supreme
hour of trial, he met his death, will remain forever a precious
heritage of our people.
“It is meet that we, as a nation,
express our abiding love and reverence for his life, our deep sorrow
for his untimely death.
“Now, therefore, I, Theodore Roosevelt,
President of the United States of America, do appoint Thursday next,
September  19, the day in
which the body of the dead President will be laid in its last earthly
resting place, as a day of mourning and prayer throughout the United
States. I earnestly recommend all the people to assemble in their
respective places of divine worship, there to bow down in submission
to the will of Almighty God, and to pay out of full hearts their
homage of love and reverence to the great and good President, whose
death has smitten the nation with bitter grief.
“In witness whereof I have hereunto
set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.
“Done at the city of Washington, the
14th day of September, A. D., one thousand nine hundred and one,
and of the Independence of the United States the one hundred and
HAY, Secretary of State.”