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Publication information
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Source: The Life of William McKinley, Twenty-Fifth President of the United States
Source type: book
Document type: book chapter
Document title: “Obsequies” [chapter 15]
Author(s): Snow, Jane Elliott
Publisher: Imperial Press
Place of publication: Cleveland, Ohio
Year of publication: 1908
Pagination: 73-78

 
Citation
Snow, Jane Elliott. “Obsequies” [chapter 15]. The Life of William McKinley, Twenty-Fifth President of the United States. Cleveland: Imperial Press, 1908: pp. 73-78.
 
Transcription
full text of chapter; excerpt of book
 
Keywords
McKinley funeral services; William McKinley (lying in state); William McKinley (mourning); William McKinley (death: public response); McKinley funeral services (Canton, OH).
 
Named persons
Edward G. Andrews; Isaac W. Joyce; William McKinley; Theodore Roosevelt.
 
Notes
From title page: By Jane Elliott Snow, Author of “Women of Tennyson” and “Coates Family History.”
 
Document

 

Obsequies

     Elaborate and appropriate obsequies were held, beginning Sunday, September 15, at the Milburn home in Buffalo, with a simple service of prayer, Scripture reading and the singing of the President’s favorite hymns, “Lead, Kindly Light,” and “Nearer, My God, to Thee.”
     The casket was richly draped in black, and bore this simple inscription on a silver plate:

WILLIAM McKINLEY
Born January 29, 1843
Died September 14, 1901

     Over the foot of the casket an American flag hung in graceful folds, while beautiful flowers in rich profusion, the gift of people from all parts of the country, bore testimony of love.
     At the close of these services, the body was taken to the city hall, where it lay in state and was viewed by thousands of sympathetic mourning people. [73][74]
     On the following morning it was conveyed to Washington, D. C, where services of a more national character were held.
     It is estimated that while on the way from Buffalo to the national capital, one million people looked upon the coffin in which were inclosed the mortal remains of their beloved President.
     Schools were dismissed, farms and shops were deserted, and the people gathered at all available points along the line on the railroad over which the funeral cortège passed.
     Flags draped in mourning hung at half mast from every home and store along the route. These, with the faces of the people, bore evidence of the universal mourning into which the Nation was plunged.
     The services at Washington were held beneath the dome of the Capitol, and were attended by high state officials, representatives of foreign governments, and members of various civic orders. Bishop Andrews, of the Methodist Episcopal Church, pronounced the eulogium. At the close of the services, sixty thousands [sic] people passed in mournful [74][75] file by the casket, and thousands more stood reverently waiting when the doors were closed.
     The last and most impressive services were at the home city, Canton, Ohio. From Washington to this point, twenty cars were required to transport the funeral party.
     Along the route the same scenes were enacted as had been witnessed between Buffalo and Washington. Though the journey occurred in the night, at every station crowds were gathered to pay their last tribute to the honored dead.
     On arriving in Canton the body was taken to the court-house, where it lay in state until evening. Here it was again looked upon by thousands of people who were mourners indeed. From the court-house it was removed to his home, where it remained until the final services, which were held in the Methodist Episcopal Church, of which President McKinley had been long a member.
     His pew, draped in mourning, was vacant. Aside from that, every available place in the church was occupied. [75][76]
     There were present the same official representatives as at Washington, and also the same company of relatives; but here old friends and neighbors were given the place of honor in the company of distinguished mourners.
     Outside the church, sorrowful throngs crowded the grounds, the streets, and neighboring lawns. The city was one vast mass of mourning humanity that had come from all parts of the state, all parts of the country, to do honor to him who was to be laid away out of their sight forever.
     At the close of the services at the church the body of President William McKinley was conveyed to Westlawn Cemetery, between two solid files of men, women and children, many of whom manifested their grief by convulsive sobbing and weeping.
     The gray stone vault that was to receive the honored dead was literally banked with masses of beautiful flowers.
     At the entrance the procession paused while Bishop Joyce read the burial service [76][77] and eight bugles sounded the notes of the soldier’s requiem for the dead.
     And now occurred one of the most singular incidents ever recorded in the world’s history.
     By request of President Roosevelt, that day, September 19, was set apart as one of universal mourning. Wherever our flag waved it was draped in black, and hung at half mast. In all the large cities of the Union impressive services were held at the same hour as those at Canton.
     At the moment when the casket was being lowered into the tomb there was a solemn hush throughout the country. Telegraph lines were silenced. Street cars stopped running, and for five minutes nearly all human activities ceased.
     Not only was there mourning in this country, but it extended throughout the world.
     In many of the great cathedrals of the Old World, in London, Paris, Berlin, and St. Petersburg, impressive religious services were held. All denominations, Roman Catholics, Protestants and Jews joined in these services, thus showing that the religion of [77][78] him whom they honored was of that divine type which alone can lead men in the path of duty and righteousness.
     The remains of President McKinley lie in the cemetery at Canton, where a beautiful monument has been erected to his memory. The place is annually visited by thousands of people, who come to pay their respects to one who devoted his life to the service of his country.

 

 


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