Source: Our Chief Magistrate and His Powers
Source type: book
Document type: book chapter
Document title: “The Minor Powers of the President” [chapter 2]
Author(s): Taft, William Howard
Publisher: Columbia University Press
Place of publication: New York, New York
Year of publication: 1916
Pagination: 29-54 (excerpt below includes only pages 51-52)
|Taft, William Howard. “The Minor Powers of the President” [chapter 2]. Our Chief Magistrate and His Powers. New York: Columbia University Press, 1916: pp. 29-54.|
|excerpt of chapter|
|presidents (protection); Secret Service; McKinley assassination (personal response).|
From title page: By William Howard Taft, Twenty-Seventh President of the United States.
From title page: Columbia University Lectures.
The Minor Powers of the President [excerpt]
The assassination of three Presidents led Congress to provide that the Chief of the Secret Service should furnish protection to the President as he moves about either in Washington or in the country at large. While President, I never was conscious of any personal anxiety in large crowds, and I have been in many of them. Yet the record is such that Congress would be quite derelict if it disregarded it. These guards are a great burden to the President. He never can go anywhere that he does not have to inflict upon those whom he wishes to visit the burden of their presence. It is a little difficult for him to avoid the feeling after a while that he is under surveillance rather than under protection. The Secret Service men are level-headed, experienced and of good manners, and they are wise in their methods. If a person is determined to kill a President and is willing to give up his life to do it, no such protection will save him. But desperate persons of this kind are very rare. The worst danger is from those who have lost part or all of their reason and whom the presence of the President in the immediate neighborhood excites. I may be mistaken, but it seems to me that with such experts as we now have, the assassination of President McKinley in Buffalo might possibly have been avoided. Under the practice that the secret service men now pursue in a public  reception, a man with a hand in his pocket would not be permitted to approach within striking or shooting distance of the President. His holding a revolver under his handkerchief in his pocket would now be detected long before he could get within reach of the object of his perverted purpose. He would find the hand of the Secret Service man thrust into the pocket to find what his own was doing there. Had this been done in the case of the assassin at Buffalo, that tragedy would probably not have occurred.