Source: Poems of American History
Source type: book
Document type: poem
Document title: “McKinley”
Editor(s): Stevenson, Burton Egbert
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Company
Place of publication: Boston, Massachusetts
Year of publication: 1908
|“McKinley.” Poems of American History. Ed. Burton Egbert Stevenson. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1908: pp. 649-50.|
|McKinley assassination (poetry).|
The following note accompanies the poem (p. 649): “September 5 was set aside as President’s Day. The attendance was very large, and President William McKinley spoke to an audience of thirty thousand people. The next afternoon a reception was held, at which all were invited to pass in line and shake hands with the President. In the line was a man whose right hand was bandaged with a handkerchief. The handkerchief concealed a revolver. As the President stretched out his hand, the assassin fired twice, one bullet penetrating the President’s abdomen.”
The poem is attributed to the London-based periodical Truth.
From title page: Collected and Edited by Burton Egbert Stevenson.
[September 6, 1901]
’T IS not the President alone
Who, stricken by that bullet, fell; 
The assassin’s shot that laid him prone
Pierced a great nation’s heart as well;
And when the baleful tidings sped
From lip to lip throughout the crowd,
Then, as they deemed their ruler dead,
’T was Liberty that cried aloud.
Ay, Liberty! for where the foam
Of oceans twain marks out the coast
’T is there, in Freedom’s very home,
That anarchy has maimed its host;
There ’t is that it has turned to bite
The hand that fed it; there repaid
A country’s welcome with black spite;
There, Judas-like, that land betrayed.
For ’t is no despot that’s laid low,
But a free nation’s chosen chief;
A free man, stricken by a blow
Base, dastardly, past all belief.
And Tyranny exulting hears
The tidings flashed across the sea;
While stern Repression hugs her fears,
And mouths them in a harsh decree.
Meanwhile the cloud, though black as death,
Is lined with hopes, hopes light as life,
And Liberty that, scant of breath,
Had watched the issue of the strife,
Fills the glad air with grateful cries
To find the sun no more obscured,
And with new yearnings in her eyes
Climbs to her watch-tower—reassured.