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Source: The McKinley Memorial in Philadelphia
Source type: book
Document type: public address
Document title: “The Memory of McKinley”
Author(s): Beck, James M. [public address]; anonymous [book]
Publisher: McKinley Memorial Association
Place of publication: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Year of publication: 1909
Pagination: 23-48

 
Citation
Beck, James M. “The Memory of McKinley.” The McKinley Memorial in Philadelphia. Philadelphia: McKinley Memorial Association, 1909: pp. 23-48.
 
Transcription
full text of address; excerpt of book
 
Keywords
James M. Beck (public addresses); McKinley memorial (Philadelphia, PA: dedication); McKinley presidency; William McKinley (presidential policies); William McKinley (presidential character); George B. Cortelyou (public statements); William McKinley (public statements); George F. Hoar (public statements); William McKinley (personal history); McKinley assassination.
 
Named persons
Alexander; Mark Antony; William Bainbridge; James M. Beck; John Brown; Marcus Junius Brutus; Edmund Burke; Julius Caesar; Henry Clay; Grover Cleveland; George B. Cortelyou; Stephen Decatur; George Dewey; David Farragut; Ulysses S. Grant; Alexander Hamilton; Benjamin Harrison; John Hay; Rutherford B. Hayes; George F. Hoar; Thomas Jefferson; John Paul Jones; Ben Jonson [misspelled below]; Judas; William D. Kelley; Fitzhugh Lee; Abraham Lincoln; William McKinley; John G. Milburn; Minerva; Theodor Mommsen; James Monroe; Napoléon III; Pericles; Henri Perreyve; Phidias; David Dixon Porter; Theodore Roosevelt; John Russell; William Shakespeare; Charles D. Sigsbee; Sydney Smith; Arthur Penrhyn Stanley; George Washington; Daniel Webster; Valeriano Weyler y Nicolau; William I; William II; Stewart L. Woodford.
 
Notes
A photograph of the author appears on page 21.

No text appears on page 37.

From title page: The McKinley Memorial in Philadelphia: History of the Movement, and Account of the Dedication Exercises; Including the Oration by the Hon. James M. Beck.
 
Document

 

The Memory of McKinley

 

AN ORATION, DELIVERED AT THE ACADEMY OF MUSIC IN THE CITY OF PHILADELPHIA, AT THE DEDICATION OF THE MCKINLEY MEMORIAL ON JUNE 6, 1908, BY JAMES M. BECK, FORMERLY ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES.

——

MY FELLOW CITIZENS:

     We have met to-day to dedicate a noble monument to the noble memory of a very noble man. Were this work of our hands composed of perishable stuff, which the rains of a few summers would speedily dissolve, we would need no other justification than to say, as Ben Johnson did of Shakespeare:

“I loved the man and do honor his memory.”

     We have, however, wrought in imperishable granite and bronze, and therefore for the after-ages. To them we must appeal for justification of this day’s work. The sculptor of this statue, whose untimely death gives added pathos to the occasion, has happily expressed the true purpose of memorial art in the figures upon the pedestal, which represent the muse of history teaching the children of the future. If a statue be not commemorative in character, it needs no [23][24] other justification than its own intrinsic beauty, for “a thing of beauty is a joy forever.” But even beauty must not be perverted in the attempt to make that permanent which is transitory or to dignify the trivial with lasting honor. The Greeks had so fine a sense of the ethics of memorial art that they condemned Phidias to prison for sacrilege, because he had furtively chiseled images of himself and Pericles upon the shield of Minerva.
     If we have builded wisely, then this statue and the fame of the great statesman, whom it commemorates, alike justly challenge oblivion. It seeks to project the beliefs and emotions of this generation beyond the gulf of years into that unknown and illimitable future, down whose infinite vista we strain an eager but darkened vision. It proudly asserts our belief to the coming ages that while we, who have this day erected it, will soon “fade like streaks of morning cloud into the infinite azure of the past,” yet the memory of William McKinley will not be as fleeting as a cloudy vapor, but will shine as a fixed star, by whose benignant rays unborn generations of men will be guided.
     Such appeal of the living to the unborn is either an act of sublime justice or presumptuous folly. If the latter, its worse vice is that it flatters and therefore shames the dead.
     As the collective power of civilization waxes the individual wanes, and it becomes increasingly hazardous to place any man among the Immortals, before whom the generations of men ceaselessly file with their unending salutation: “Morituri, salutamus!” Walking once in the [24][25] vaulted aisles of Westminster Abbey, I turned into a side chapel, where a score of kings and queens lay in the all-levelling promiscuity of death. The verger told me of Dean Stanley’s long search to find even the grave of one of these monarchs who had been crowned in the twlight [sic] light of the old Abbey with so much pomp and circumstance. Well may its eternal shadows remind us of Edmund Burke’s sad exclamation to the electors of Bristol:

“What shadows we are and what shadows we pursue.”

     And yet there are men of such heroic mould as to be comparatively untouched by that stream of time, which washes away the more dissoluble substance of other reputations.
     If nobility of character alone sufficed to justify this labor of love, we need have no misgivings. Integrity of purpose, purity of mind, unselfishness in spirit, compassionate sympathy, heroic fortitude, and knightly chivalry were so finely blended in William McKinley that one could say of him, as Antony of Brutus:

“His life was gentle, and the elements
So mixed in him that Nature might stand up
And say to all the world, ‘This was a man.’”

     Immortality, however, demands different—I will not say higher—credentials. The permanent influence of any great man or institution must depend upon some vital message or service to humanity of continuing, exceptional and beneficent potency. A great man pre-supposes a great work, a great work a great force, and a great force a great [25][26] idea. In the true Immortal—when seen by sympathetic imagination—can always be found some great mission, closely interwoven with the “increasing purpose” of the ages, of which even he may have been in part unconscious. The master-builders of States always build better than they know, and the reason for this to the eye of faith is that they are simply artisans, who place stone upon stone as commanded by the great Architect.
     To Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and McKinley came mandates of pregnant consequence. To each the message came without his knowledge, purpose or volition.
     To Washington came the mission of national independence. He had denounced in 1774 as “malevolent falsehoods” the assertion “that there is any intention in the American colonies to set up for independent States.” Two years later he wrote: “When I took command of the army I abhorred the idea of independence; now I am convinced nothing else will save us.”
     To Jefferson came the great mandate of continental expansion. He sought to buy the port of New Orleans, and he unwittingly purchased the half of a continent.
     To Lincoln came the divine mandate for the emancipation of the slave. He, too, in his first inaugural, had solemnly said to his brethren of the South:

     “I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so and I have no inclination to do so.”

     Less than two years later he emancipated the slaves. [26][27]
     To McKinley also, in the fullness of time, came a mandate which, in pregnant consequence, can be but little undervalued to those momentous events which preceded it, and which with it seem to form continuous links in the chain of the divine plan.
     Without any conscious purpose or volition either on his part or that of the American people, the great Republic abandoned its outworn policy of continental isolation and assumed its place in the councils of civilization as a world power of commanding importance and corresponding responsibility.
     Great historic events must be seen in their due perspective of time and result. As the man who stands upon the steps of the Cologne Cathedral cannot grasp the majestic beauty of its towering Gothic spires, so to us of McKinley’s generation is denied that larger vision of what he accomplished which our children and children’s children will one day have. When Cæsar’s legions left the Eternal City and disappeared in the forests of Gaul, probably neither the Senate nor the people felt more than a languid interest. Yet the advance of Cæsar’s legions was the advance of civilization, and when four centuries later the Germanic tribes invaded Italy, it was but to spread that civilization to Ultima Thule. As Mommsen, the great historian of the Roman Empire, says:

     “Centuries elapsed before men understood that Alexander had not merely erected an ephemeral kingdom in the East, but had carried Hellenism to Asia; centuries again elapsed before men understood that Cæsar had not merely conquered [27][28] a new province for the Romans, but had laid the foundation for the Romanizing of the West.”

     Centuries will probably elapse before the world fully realizes that, when the flag of this country was planted at the very gateway of China, that the star of civilization, which had moved westward for so many centuries, had at last completed the circuit of the globe, and stood again over the very cradle of humanity. The thunder of Dewey’s cannon in Manila Bay will have many reverberating echoes in the long centuries to come.
     On the night of the explosion of the Maine, and quite ignorant of that fateful occurrence, I spoke in the City of New York. Discussing the constitutional powers of the Executive, I said:

     “The President of the United States with a stroke of his pen could shake the equilibrium of the world.”

     Before the summer was past, time had verified my statement. One world empire had ended, another had begun.
     Let it never be forgotten that this war was begun with no selfish purpose on our part nor with any stain upon our flag. The Republic sprang to arms, not because it loved peace less, but because it loved justice more. No lust of military glory or territorial aggrandizement actuated our intervention in Cuba. For many years the conscience of the American people had been affronted by the misrule of that “isle of sorrows,” and, as it lay at our very gates, its misfortunes were also ours. Yet the American [28][29] people, until patience ceased to be a virtue, sympathized with the efforts of Grant, Cleveland, Harrison and McKinley to preserve inviolate our traditional policy of non-intervention in the domestic affairs of another nation, even though both our interests and sympathies were vitally affected. The barbarities of Weyler, the insulting reference to President McKinley by the Spanish Minister, and the explosion of the Maine in the harbor of Havana when on a mission of peace, only precipitated the inevitable. Even then the pacific McKinley hoped for a peaceful termination of an intolerable condition through the good offices of this Government. When he gave his final instructions to General Stewart L. Woodford, whom he had appointed Minister to Spain, his parting words were:

     “I know that Spanish rule in Cuba must cease. But I want you to secure the ultimate withdrawal of Spanish authority from Cuba by peaceful means. This ought to be possible. I want you to do all in your power to secure this result. War is so dreadful an alternative that we must keep peace, if peace be possible. I rely upon you to accomplish this result, and I shall do all I can to help you.”

     He could not, however, do the impossible. The blood of the slain in Cuba cried out as from the very ground, and our pacific purpose finally gave place to the passionate indignation of freemen. We took a high resolve in the spirit of our fathers to stop this barbarity forever. Though dead, John Brown yet spoke, and to the relief of the unhappy people of Cuba his soul marched on at the head of our battalions. [29][30]
     Within a hundred days the war was over, and Manila, El Caney and Santiago were added to the historic triumphs of American arms.
     Dewey’s victory—not unworthy of a land which gave Paul Jones, Bainbridge, Decatur, Porter and Farragut to history—confronted the American people with a responsibility more momentous and pregnant with future consequences than ever weighed upon our Nation since its beginning, with the exception of the period of the Civil War. To this crisis the words which Jefferson wrote to Monroe at the time of the promulgation of the Monroe Doctrine seem applicable.

     “The question is the most momentous since that of independence; that made us a nation, this sets our compass and points the course which we are to steer through the Ocean of Time opening on us.”

     To return these islands of the sea to Spain was to disavow the justice of the war; to abandon them to other powers was unthinkable and might simply have invited further bloodshed. And yet to annex them to our country as permanent possessions was to cross a Rubicon which might well give us pause.
     After patient deliberation, this alternative seemed inevitable: Either we must govern them as colonial dependencies or permit them to make the experiment of full self-government. We tried the former alternative in the Philippines and the latter in Cuba. It was the latter which failed. The result of the Cuban experiment should now [30][31] convince anyone that our course in the Philippines was dictated by the sincerest regard for their good. No one can say with truth that the Philippine people, composed of many tribes, speaking many different languages and varying in degrees of civilization from the wildest savage to civilized men, was better capable of self-government than Cuba, whose people was reasonably homogeneous and who exceeded in average capacity the Philippine people. When, therefore, after reforming Cuba, we allowed their people themselves to govern it under a constitution which they had formed, and by officials which they elected, there was a speedy and most convincing demonstration that a people who for centuries had not been accustomed to self-government could not in a moment, without previous education or training, establish a stable government.
     The justification of our insular policy lies in the fact that we brought to the peoples of these islands freedom from misrule, invested them with the fundamental personal rights of American citizens, created for them a stable and efficient government, gave them the fullest measure of self-rule of which they were capable, and immeasurably benefited them by wise administrative relief. In Cuba, as in the Philippines, we fed the starving, clothed the naked, subdued the lawless, cleaned the streets, extirpated disease, opened hospitals and schools, made the courts of justice free and impartial, expanded commerce, and, if it be objected that freedom with poverty, disease and crime is better than these blessings, we reply that, not only has every Filipino been given every fundamental personal right [31][32] of an American citizen, but that his country now enjoys a larger measure of self-government than many of the territories of the United States in its past history.
     But in the insular problem lay the germ of a momentous policy with which McKinley’s name will forever be honorably identified. Upon him devolved the grave responsibility of determining whether the Western Hemisphere was large enough for the influence and progress of the American people, or whether we should abandon commercially and politically our policy of western isolation and claim an influence which should be as limitless as the world is round. The Atlantic Coast was our cradle, lusty youth found us on the banks of the Mississippi, vigorous maturity had brought us to the Pacific. Were we, like Alexander, to stop at the margin of the Pacific and mourn that it forever barred our further progress, or were we, like the inspired pilot of Genoa, to launch the bark of our national destiny into an unknown sea?
     There is a natural conservatism in our race, and a distrust and dread of innovation. It has ever been slow to leave the beaten paths of the fathers. Nor need this be deprecated, for it ensures a reasonable continuity of policy. Yet the great actors of the revolutionary epic had their traditions, and were also forced by the inexorable logic of events to disregard all.
     The same was true of those fateful years that ended the Nineteenth Century. Once again the Nation felt a mysterious and puissant impulse. The Monroe Doctrine circumscribed our political influence within the Western [32][33] Hemisphere. Under William McKinley, this policy of isolation was forever abandoned.
     Least of any nation, should America question the “increasing purpose” of the ages, and William McKinley, in facing those “new occasions” which taught “new duties,” simply appreciated that steam and electricity had destroyed our “distant and detached position,” of which Washington spoke in the immortal farewell address, and upon which he wisely predicated in and for the infancy of the Republic a policy of isolation. We had grown to be a nation of seventy-five millions of people, inhabiting a continent from ocean to ocean, midway between the Orient and the Occident, and with a manifest destiny, to which all the past in our history was but a glorious prologue. With his profound sympathy, President McKinley knew that he could as hopefully have bidden the Mississippi cease its flow toward the sea, or the Hudson to remain chained within its sylvan sources, as to prevent the onward movement of this great, proud, generous and progressive people. This was true of the day of our weakness, and it was doubly true of the day of our strength.
     While we cannot raise the veil of the future, yet we can proudly claim that the immediate results of McKinley’s policy of expansion have been for the good of the Republic and the greater good of civilization. With greater truth than the third Napoleon we can say: “The Republic is peace.” Never was its power greater, its influence more peaceful, or its honor more unsullied. It has become the great arbitrator of nations. Its diplomacy has been that [33][34] of transparent candor, and to it, in the last decade, the world has looked for a just solution of many intricate problems. When Pekin was in a state of revolution, while the soldiers of the Republic marched shoulder to shoulder with the soldiers of England, Germany, Russia and Japan, to the relief of the beleaguered legations, it was America which took the tolerant position that technically no state of war existed with China, and thus to some extent spared the ancient Empire both the humiliation and the burden of being a conquered nation. The war was treated only as the suppression of an internal rebellion. When China was threatened with dismemberment, it was to President McKinley that it turned for protection and through him its integrity was largely preserved. It was our country which softened the terms of peace, returned the unused portion of its indemnity and secured the policy of the “open door.” When the Russo-Japanese War again threatened to involve the integrity of Chinese territory, it was to President Roosevelt that Kaiser Wilhelm turned to enlist his good offices to secure a restriction of the field of operations. It was again our country which brought Japan and Russia, after a bloody war, into friendly conference and secured the Treaty of Portsmouth. The Hague Conference may owe its initiative to the Czar, but it owes its continuance and beneficent results in large part to the American policy as formulated by McKinley and carried forward by Theodore Roosevelt.
     I have dwelt at some length upon this policy of expansion, as for it William McKinley will be longest and [34][35] most gratefully remembered. This was the great idea which gives lasting significance to his career, and ranks him with Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln.
     Behind Washington was the idea of independent America; behind Jefferson, that of continental America; behind Lincoln, that of united America; behind McKinley, that of cosmopolitan America.
     What were McKinley’s qualifications for the great work he undertook and accomplished?
     His intellectual abilities were not extraordinary. In these he was little more than the average man; but—did we but know it—the world owes more to the average man than to those of exceptional genius. During his useful career as a legislator he was chiefly and almost exclusively known for his advocacy of a high tariff, in which school of economic thought he had gained his inspiration from that great Philadelphia representative and conspicuous advocate of Protection, William D. Kelley, and yet McKinley gave us by his patient study an administrative fiscal bill, which is still on the statute books and whose constructive wisdom no party or statesman has since questioned.
     He had a keen appreciation of the great responsibility of a leader of thought for what he says and does. What he knew he knew well; but he never sought to “box the compass” of human knowledge. He never pretended to have a remedy for every ill, an answer to every question, and “words, words, words” for every occasion. [35][36]
     It could not be said of him, as Sydney Smith said of Lord John Russell, that

“there is nothing he would not undertake. I believe he would perform an operation for stone, build St. Peter’s, assume (with or without ten minutes’ notice) the command of the Channel Fleet, and no one would discover from his manner that the patient had died, that St. Peter’s had tumbled down, and that the Channel Fleet had been knocked to atoms.”

McKinley did not seek to change in a day conditions which required decades for their due and orderly adjustment. He was not unmindful of the serious evils, to which our rapid expansion had given rise. He gave them serious thought and conservative action. As Mr. Cortelyou has recently said:

     “But to deal with them effectively without shattering the interwoven and delicate fabric of the forces that were cooperating for the welfare of the country—that was the question.”

     He was a conservative, not a radical; an evolutionist, not a revolutionist; a creator, not a destroyer. A great leader of a party, he became by a “gentle persistency,” worthy of Lincoln, a greater leader of the whole people, but his complete mastery of men and events never lessened the self-effacing modesty of his nature.
     He had neither the austere mastery of men of Washington, the constructive genius of Hamilton, the philosophic breadth of Jefferson, the brilliant magnetism of Clay, nor the profound reasoning of Webster. His nearest [36][38] analogue is Lincoln. Like Lincoln, he had the genius of common sense, that instinctive sense of and regard for the just relation of things to each other; like Lincoln, he had profound sympathy with the inmost thoughts, the deepest feelings, the loftiest aspirations of the American people; like Lincoln, he had the gift of grasping the fundamental principles underlying a controversy and interpreting them to the masses in convincing phrases. Above all, like Lincoln, he had that greatest of all dynamic powers, a great, loving, sympathetic heart. Of each it could be written in the inspired words of the great Apostle:

     “Love suffereth long and is kind; love envieth not; love vaunteth not itself; is not puffed up.
     Doth not behave unseemly; seeketh not her own; is not easily provoked; thinketh no evil.
     Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.”

     Such was Abraham Lincoln! Such was William McKinley!
     His very sympathy subjected him to the unjust charge that he was a vacillating opportunist. Such critics mistook cautious deliberation, tactful sympathy, courteous toleration of the views of others, practical recognition of the inevitable limitations of political power, with a timorous spirit. He was not an egotist and recognized the necessity and therefore the duty of concession to the views of others in a democratic commonwealth.
     Indeed, his whole career showed that under his gentle demeanor and considerate courtesy and unfailing tolerance, [38][39] there lay an iron will which was as a stone wall covered with flowers.
     On the eve of the Spanish-American War, a committee of the Board of Trade of an Ohio city came to the White House to urge him, as citizens of his own State, to declare war. It happened that Captain Sigsbee, of the Maine, was in the Executive Room when the committee was ushered in, and, after the delegation had stated its purpose, the President excused himself for a moment, turned to Captain Sigsbee and, clasping his hand, said in a voice sufficiently loud for the bellicose Ohio delegation to hear him:

     “Captain Sigsbee, you never did a finer thing for the honor of your country than when, after the explosion of the Maine, you requested your fellow-countrymen to suspend judgment.”

     The delegation took the gentle hint and departed wiser if sobered men.
     His faithful private secretary, than whom none in public life possibly understood him better, has recently given an instance of his firmness and deliberation when essentials were at stake. When not only his own party in Congress, but a great majority of the American people were clamoring for an immediate declaration of war with Spain, the President, at the risk of his own popularity, stood like a stone wall against that course. When, however, further opposition was fruitless he prepared a message to be sent to Congress recommending intervention in the affairs of Cuba. He believed that when the message was made public the life [39][40] of every American on the island would be imperiled. To quote Mr. Cortelyou:

     “The President was sitting with his Cabinet, and when prominent Senators and Representatives and some of those present were urging him to send in his message at once, they declared that any further delay might mean political destruction for his administration and party. Mr. McKinley sent for me to bring the message to him. I laid it on the table before him. Just then there came an army cablegram from Fitzhugh Lee (our consul at Havana), saying that it would be dangerous to act until he sent further word. But at that moment a number of those in the room again pressed the President to send his message before Congress immediately. Mr. McKinley could hardly have been under greater pressure. He caught the string to the bell, but suddenly he caught his hand, raised it and brought his fist down on the table with a bang, as he said, in a clear voice, ‘That message is not going to Congress so long as there is a single remaining life in danger in Cuba. Here,’ turning to me, ‘put that in the safe until I call for it.’”

     His unfailing courtesy to those who not only differed with him, but bitterly assailed his policy, may be illustrated by two incidents.
     His insular policy had no more sincere or unsparing critic than the late Senator Hoar. In the latter’s memoirs we learn that the President, after these bitter attacks, invited the Massachusetts Senator to the White House. The Senator thus describes the interview:

     “He greeted me with the delightful and affectionate cordiality which I always found in him. He took me by the hand and said: ‘How are you feeling this winter, Mr. Senator?’ I [40][41] was determined there should be no misunderstanding. I replied at once: ‘Pretty pugnacious, I confess, Mr. President.’ The tears came into his eyes and he said, grasping my hand again:
     ‘I shall always love you, whatever you do.’”

     The other incident was told me by a member of his Cabinet and an eye-witness. On one occasion one of his Cabinet asked the President to remove summarily a subordinate because of a public statement which reflected upon his departmental superior. The reflection was more thoughtless than intentional. McKinley took the printed statement and carefully examined it, and, knowing circumstances of palliation, of which the Secretary was ignorant, turned to the Secretary and said, “If this is a reflection on you, Mr. Secretary, it is equally one on me as President of the United States,” and the Secretary promptly said, “It is an insult to you and that is a double reason why he should be instantly removed. If you so regard it, will you not remove him, Mr. President?” And the President, quietly putting the paper in his pocket, said, “Well, if upon further consideration I regard this as a reflection upon me, I think I shall forgive him.”
     Who can forget his courteous expression of regret after he was shot, that this tragic event should mar the festal occasion at which it happened? His tenderness for his invalid wife was but the perfect flower of his knightly courtesy to all. Even to his base assassin he had extended the right hand of fellowship.
     Time will not suffice to dwell upon his many amiable and noble characteristics, and yet in this presence, where [41][42] are gathered his brave comrades of the “Grand Army of the Republic,” I must not fail to dwell, though but briefly, upon his patriotism, which with him was ever a passionate emotion.
     In all his public life, unless we except its beautiful and pathetic end, nothing is nobler and truer than its beginning, when as a boy of eighteen he heard the call of his country and as a private followed its beckoning flag to the front. Like every act of his life, it was not an impulse born of passing enthusiasm or love of adventure, but a deliberately conceived act of patriotic duty. Only a few years before impaired health had compelled him to leave college in his junior year and he was then earning a scanty livelihood as a public school teacher. He could well plead his extreme youth, his dependent family, his impaired health.
     Visiting the City of Columbus, he saw a regiment departing for the front. An unimpassioned boy, thoughtful rather than emotional, neither the spirit-stirring drum, the ear-piercing fife, or other pride, pomp or circumstance of war had any call for him. But the flag had a message for him, an imperious call to duty, and on his return home he told his mother that he must go, and that mother, with the Spartan fortitude of so many American mothers at that fateful and ever-glorious period, simply said:

“If you think it is your duty to fight for your country, I think you should go.”

     Thus he joined that noble army of young men, who in the dark days of 1861 left their farms, their shops, their [42][43] counting houses, their homes, their families, to offer their lives, if need were, to save the Republic. When General Grant was the guest of honor at a great dinner in Germany, he was hailed as the “Savior of his country,” to which the great commander modestly replied: “It was the young men, and not I, who saved the Republic.” Again, when with failing pen he finished his memoirs, he simply dedicated the recital of glorious achievements “To the American Soldier and Sailor.”
     The tribute was deserved. Only He, who “counteth all our sorrows,” will ever appreciate the deathless glory and infinite sacrifices of the volunteers of 1861. From Bull Run to Appomattox they struggled bravely on. To many, the Wilderness was a great Gethsemane, in which they felt “sweat as of great drops of blood;” to others, the shell-stormed streets of Gettysburg were a via dolorosa, which they trod to a martyr’s death; to others, the heights of Fredericksburg were a Calvary, in which they repeated the infinite tragedy of the Cross.
     Had young McKinley fallen as so many others, what appreciation would he have had? A sorrowing mother to ceaselessly lament him while life remained, a few comrades to decorate with each recurring spring his grave, but otherwise he would simply have joined that ghostly army, of which the Abee Perreyve writes:

     “Unseen by the corporal eyes, but too clearly visible to the mind’s eye, the great army of the dead, the army of the slain, the abandoned, the forgotten; the army of cruel torture and prolonged infirmities, which pursues its fatal march behind what we call glory.” [43][44]

     Of McKinley’s fidelity as a soldier, let his commanding officer, General Hayes, speak:

     “The night was never too dark, the weather was never too cold, there was no sleet or storm, or hail or snow, that was in the way of his prompt and efficient performance of every duty.”

     At Antietam, Kernstown, Opequan, Fisher’s Creek, Winchester and Cedar Hill, he distinguished himself by conspicuous acts of bravery, and received therefor [sic] the reward he most cherished—a commission “for gallantry and meritorious services,” with the simple signature of “Abraham Lincoln.”
     His training as a soldier prepared him for that tragic end, than which nothing more beautiful or pathetic has happened in our history.
     He had entered his second administration with the liveliest expectations of beneficent results which would surpass all that he had accomplished. At home prosperity, peace and mutual sympathy were everywhere abundant. His visits South after the Spanish-American War had forever healed the wounds of our great civil conflict. Never was there less feeling among the classes and sections, never less murmurs of discontent. Perhaps the crown of his achievements was that “era of good feeling.”
     Mr. Cortelyou has recently told us that at this time he often heard McKinley say with deep emotion, “I can no longer be called the President of a party; I am the President of the whole people.” [44][45]
     In this spirit he went to Buffalo, there to realize an unconscious prediction of his own lips as to his own end. Nine years ago he had stood where I stand now, and, speaking within these walls to many now here assembled, said of the pathetic end of Grant:

     “And when he had finished that work, he laid down his pen, and, like a good soldier, said to his Master, ‘Now, let Thy will be done, not mine.’”

     “Like a good soldier,” McKinley faced death and accepted his tragic end. The pathos of that death has rarely been equaled. It touched as few others the great heart of the world. One can recall the sad verses of McKinley’s true friend and tried counsellor, John Hay:

My short and happy day is done,
The long and lonely night comes on;
And at my door the pale horse stands
To carry me to unknown lands.

His whinny shrill, his pawing hoof,
Sound dreadful as a gathering storm,
And I must leave this sheltering roof
And joys of life so soft and warm.

Tender and warm the joys of life,
Good friends, the faithful and the true;
My rosy children and my wife,
So sweet to kiss, so fair to view.

So sweet to kiss, so fair to view—
The night comes on, the light burns blue;
And at my door the pale horse stands
To bear me forth to unknown lands. [45][46]

     To him was permitted, although unconsciously, a farewell to the people whom he had led to high achievement and from whom he was to be taken forever.
     Like the farewell address of Washington, his last public utterance was a plea not only for a greater America, but for “peace on earth, good will among men.”

     “God and man, said he, have linked the nations together. No nation can longer be indifferent to any other.”

Then, with hands outstretched as if in benediction in the clear sunshine of that September day, he prayed that

“God will graciously vouchsafe prosperity and peace to all our neighbors and like blessings to all the peoples and powers of the earth.”

     Such was the last public utterance of William McKinley.
     On the following day, with his accustomed graciousness, the President stepped from the eminence from which he had addressed the people and stood on a level with them, extending, as their friend and brother, the right hand of fellowship to all who sought it. To old or young, rich or poor, powerful or weak, native born or foreign born, to one and all, that never-to-be-forgotten kindly glance and the genial clasp of his right hand. It was in that moment of popular triumph and overflowing good-will that a miserable wretch betrayed him with a treachery to which there is hardly a parallel in baseness since Judas Iscariot betrayed his Master with a kiss.
     From the lips of the man who stood next to him, and [46][47] after the fatal shot, encircled McKinley with his arm, I have within a few days again heard the tragic tale. After the fatal bullet struck him, McKinley stood erect “like a soldier,” and then, without a change in his countenance or a tremor in his voice, said to Mr. Milburn:
     “Did that man shoot me.”
     “I fear he did, Mr. President,” was the sad reply.
     The President then noticed a dozen strong arms which had seized the assassin and threatened to tear him limb from limb. “Let no one harm him,” the President said, calmly. No utterance could have been more characteristic. It was not maudlin sympathy, but a desire that even this base wretch should not be the victim of mob rule. Again he thus held inviolate the honor of his country and the majesty of law.
     His remarkable poise may be well illustrated by the following incident: On the day before he was shot, a well-known Buffalo physician joined the long line of those who were participating in a reception to the President. As he approached the President, he said: “Mr. President, I have not come here to-day because I have any favor to ask, but because of my sincere admiration for you.” On the following day the physician in question was suddenly summoned to the Exposition to attend the wounded President and was among the first to reach his bedside. As he approached the President, the latter, with his exceptional memory for faces and events, said to the physician: “Yesterday you told me that you had no favor to ask of me. To-day I am not so fortunate.” [47][48]
     Neither then nor in the few days of lingering pain which followed were any words of bitterness heard from his lips. And yet to him, with the simple faith of his fathers, there was the “kindly light,” which illuminated the “encircling gloom.” As bravely as he had ridden down the lines at Kernstown he faced Death, and when the end was near he simply said:

“Good-bye; good-bye! It is God’s way. His will be done.”

     Thus he had spoken of his great commander, Grant:

     “And when he had finished his work he laid down his pen and, like a good soldier, said to his Master, ‘Now, let Thy will be done; not mine.’”

     My fellow-citizens, no memorial that we can fashion with our hands can be so beautiful as the universal sorrow with which men of every race, every class, every creed, every nation, heard the tolling of the bells on that fourteenth day of September seven years ago. The world paid him the highest honor of its tears. At the hour of his interment, the giant industries of America paid him the rare tribute of their silence and the shining pathway of steel, over which his body passed to its last home amid the lamentations of the people, was strewn with fragrant flowers.
     Thus it came to pass, as he would most dearly have wished, that it could be said of him, as was said of another William the Silent:

     “As long as he lived he was the guiding star of a whole brave nation, and, when he died, the little children cried in the streets.”

 

 


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