Source: Life and Distinguished Services of Hon. Wm. McKinley and the Great Issues of 1896
Source type: book
Document type: introduction
Document title: “Introduction”
Author(s): Depew, Chauncey M. [introduction]; Halstead, Murat [book]
Publisher: Edgewood Publishing Company
Place of publication: none given
Year of publication: 1896
|Depew, Chauncey M. “Introduction.” Life and Distinguished Services of Hon. Wm. McKinley and the Great Issues of 1896. By Murat Halstead. [n.p.]: Edgewood, 1896: pp. vii-xiii.|
|full text of introduction; excerpt of book|
|William McKinley (personal history); William McKinley (political character); William McKinley (personal character).|
|Henry Clay; Ulysses S. Grant; Alexander Hamilton; Rutherford B. Hayes; Andrew Jackson; Abraham Lincoln; Stanley Matthews; William McKinley; Paul; William S. Rosecrans; George Washington; Daniel Webster.|
From title page: Life and Distinguished Services of Hon. Wm. McKinley and the Great Issues of 1896; Containing also a Sketch of the Life of Garret A. Hobart.
From title page: By Murat Halstead, Esq., the Celebrated Journalist and Author; with Chapters by Hon. John Sherman, Gen. C. H. Grosvenor, and Col. Albert Halstead, of Governor McKinley’s Staff; with an Introduction by Chauncey M. Depew, Esq.
MAJOR WILLIAM M
Heroes and statesmen are admired and loved for some striking characteristic. General Jackson has [vii][viii] been the idol of a great party for more than half a century, not for the ideas he gave the organization, but because he was “Old Hickory.” “I will fight it out on this line if it takes all summer,” expressed the indomitable and resistless purpose of Grant. The immortal speech at Gettysburg condensed the patriotism and pathos of Lincoln. The triumph of McKinley over obstacles in a career which would have been insurmountable for a weaker man has been due to his absolute sincerity and loyalty. His clear brain and warm heart are always in accord. His sentiment is subordinate to his judgment, but when his mind is made up his emotional nature gives a contagious enthusiasm to his efforts which secures devoted followers and lends a living interest to the discussion of the driest subjects.
A boy of eighteen, teaching school to earn money for a college education and deeply imbued with the intense anti-slavery and union sentiment of Ohio, he followed the flag to the front when Lincoln called for volunteers. As soon as he was satisfied that liberty and the Republic could only be saved by fighting for them, his life belonged to his country. It is always difficult to rise from the ranks, and for a beardless boy well-nigh impossible. But in the eighteen months during which he carried a musket he was attracting the attention of the officers of his regiment—and such a regiment! Its Colonel, General Rosecrans, was promoted to the command of the Armies of the Tennessee and the Cumberland. Its [viii][ix] Lieutenant-Colonel, Stanley Matthews, became United States Senator and one of the Judges of that august tribunal, the Supreme Court. Its Major, Rutherford B. Hayes, was elected Governor of Ohio and President of the United States, and soon the successor of Hayes in the Majority of the gallant Twenty-third will also be the Chief Magistrate of this Republic. Our army was retreating down the Valley of Virginia; brigade after brigade of exhausted troops passed a battery of four guns which had been abandoned in the road. “The boys will haul them,” said McKinley, and responding to his call and example his comrades did. He was in a safe place as Commissary Sergeant, two miles from the field at the Battle of Antietam. His business was to guard the rations until called for. Soldiers fight far better on full than empty stomachs, and so thought this fearless and practical Commissary Sergeant, and as evening fell two mule wagons loaded with food and hot coffee were going, under heavy fire from the enemy, straight for the boys at the front, and the driver of the first wagon, and the one which got through, was Sergeant McKinley. He was the staff officer selected to carry an order to a regiment in a perilous position to join the main column. It was believed that no one could ride across the enemy’s front and reach his destination alive. The gallant Major never hesitated, but quietly and quickly obeyed orders and saved the regiment. These battle incidents, selected from many, indicate and reveal the [ix][x] man, never fool-hardy nor boastful nor rash, but with intuitive genius grasping the situation and with serene confidence meeting wisely its requirements, regardless of consequences or perils to himself.
Governor McKinley was born and has passed his life in that manufacturing district of his native State which is a hive of varied industries. From early youth he has witnessed and felt the seasons of employment and idleness which come to the workers in mills and factories. He had participated with his play-fellows and companions in the joyous conditions which attend the humming spindles, the whirl of machinery, and the blaze of the furnaces, and his heart had been wrung by association with strong men suffering and seeking only work, and their sons no longer able to be at the district school. He pondered deeply over the questions suggested by such occurrences, and eagerly sought remedies for the fluctuations which involved capital and labor and the employers and employés in common ruin. With Washington and Hamilton, with Webster and Clay, he came, not alone, as they did, by the cold deductions of reason, but also by observation and experience, to the conclusion that the solution of our industrial problems and the salvation of our productive industries could only be had by the policy of a Protective Tariff. As Union and Liberty had been the inspiration of his courage and sacrifices as a soldier, so now America for Americans became the active principle of his efforts as a citizen. A century of [x][xi] discussion had not enlivened tariff debates. They were the preserves of the “dry-as-dust” speaker and the dread of the orator. This question has been for a century the foremost one in platforms and legislation, but worn threadbare in debate. When Congressman McKinley appeared upon the floor of the House of Representatives to voice the aspirations of American labor for work and wages it was like Paul preaching to the Gentiles. The best brains of the country had been advocating the principle, but now brain and heart were united in the cause. Had McKinley done nothing else his popular discussions of tariff questions in Congress, on the stump, and before college commencements would have earned for him the recognition and gratitude of his countrymen. His audiences at once learn that they are not listening to a declaimer or a commentator upon academic theories, but they are roused to wild enthusiasm by the passion and earnestness, the convictions and pleadings of a sincere man, who both knows and feels the wisdom and necessity of the principles he advocates. No man could talk so ably, so often, and so entertainingly upon this well-worn theme unless he was broad-minded and versatile.
The fame of Governor McKinley as the most captivating orator on protection issues of this generation has obscured his merits as a speaker of eminence and power upon a wide range of topics. Whether the theme is patriotic or educational, religious or secular, a discriminating eulogy upon a departed [xi][xii] statesman or an address before farmers or journalists, we find in the speeches of Mr. McKinley the same thoughtful, courageous, sincere, and lucid thinker.
The sweetest and tenderest word in our language is home. The source and centre of all the saving and helpful influences which form American character and determine American action come from the family and fireside. No man could hope to represent our people who failed to embody in his life and in popular appreciation this ideal. Our hearts and sympathies are with lovers, young or old, who are pure and true. The Major is both a young and old lover, and always a lover. The young lady, educated, accomplished, and beautiful, seeking to do something useful in her father’s bank, saw the handsome, frank young soldier—a lawyer now—pass day by day, and he in turn noticed this girl, so different from her companions in the earnest purposes of her life. Heaven blessed the union, and in the early, happy days two children came to brighten their home. First one and then the other was called, and their loss broke the mother’s health. The cares of public life, the anxieties of political fortunes, and the triumphs of a brilliant career have never for one moment distracted or disturbed the tender solicitude and affectionate devotion of this best of husbands to the most self-sacrificing, helpful, and appreciative of wives. They are a beautiful example of wedded confidence, and their domestic life a splendid type of the American home. [xii][xiii]
Our people have always been fortunate in the candidates presented for their suffrages for that highest position on earth—the Presidency of the United States. They never have had a better example of the results of American liberty and opportunity than this brilliant and faithful soldier, this industrious and honest citizen, this wise and practical statesman, this sincere and loyal husband and friend—William McKinley.