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"Hello, I'm William McKinley."
partial cover image from "American Boys' Life of William McKinley"                                              
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Source: The Presidents I Have Known from 1860-1918
Source type: book
Document type: book chapter
Document title: “William McKinley”
Author(s): Wolf, Simon
Edition: Second edition
Publisher: Byron S. Adams
Place of publication: Washington, DC
Year of publication: 1918
Pagination: 167-83 (excerpt below includes only pages 179-83)

 
Citation
Wolf, Simon. “William McKinley.” The Presidents I Have Known from 1860-1918. 2nd ed. Washington, DC: Byron S. Adams, 1918: pp. 167-83.
 
Transcription
excerpt of chapter
 
Keywords
William McKinley; Simon Wolf; Simon Wolf (public addresses); William McKinley (memorial addresses); anarchism (personal response).
 
Named persons
Ibrahim Bin Adham [variant spelling below]; James A. Garfield; Abraham Lincoln; William McKinley; Simon Wolf.
 
Notes
This chapter is immediately preceded by a photograph of William McKinley.

From title page: By Simon Wolf, Author of “The American Jew as Patriot, Soldier and Citizen.”
 
Document

 

William McKinley [excerpt]

     Just before he went to Buffalo in September, 1901, I had a very pleasant interview with him, and he was full of optimistic hope for the country and a continuance of the friendly relations with all governments. He was in a happy frame of mind and [179][180] neither of us had the faintest conception of what was to transpire in the near future.
     A great many Americans do not fully appreciate the work that President McKinley did during his lifetime, as a statesman and as an executive. His conception of duty was of the loftiest character, and self never dominated him for a moment. His treatment of the people who had become part of the nation in consequence of the Spanish-American War was of the most friendly and humane character, and it was his impelling force of justice that brought about a settlement with Spain that was equitable and in no way partisan. He was indeed the “Abou Ben Adhem”—he loved his fellowmen, and in the pantheon of great Americans he will ever be a resplendent figure. At no time of his life did he so exemplify his character as when on his dying bed he said, “It is God’s way”—that had been his dominant thought throughout life, and death had no terrors for he was “Nearer, my God to Thee”—with his dying breath, he saw the hand of the arbiter of life and death extended, and heard the angels of good-will shout their welcome. In the city in which he was so beloved and esteemed, in Canton, Ohio, he was laid at rest, and his mausoleum has become a Mecca, not in the same degree, but in no lesser sense than that of Mt. Vernon.
     It is the irony of fate that I should have lived to see three Presidents of the United States assassinated, with each and everyone of whom I was on terms of intimacy and good-will—Abraham Lincoln, James A. Garfield, William McKinley.
     The Ohio Republican Association of the City of Washington held memorial services on October 6, [180][181] 1901, in honor of the martyred President, and among other speakers I was invited to address the meeting, which I did in the following words:

     Years ago I had the pleasure and honor of making the acquaintance of William McKinley, which soon ripened into a lasting friendship. To me he is not dead, but lives and will forever live, the highest exponent of truth, patriotism and inspiring American citizenship. He loved the Jew, he loved the Catholic, he adored his own faith, and to each and every one he was a brother and felt within himself towards each and every one the kinship born of the highest ideals of Christianity and exalted humanity. In other words, he represented in his life-work and thoughts the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man. In this spirit William McKinley will be forever an example and a type, and I can tell you here today that in the enactment of laws for the purpose of preventing anarchism, and for the punishment of those who would destroy law and order you will find none who will more heartily and enthusiastically cooperate in destroying this hell-bound gang of miscreants than those who have come from other lands. You can depend upon that to a certainty, and in this spirit we will all work for God and country. Jew and Christian must go hand in hand in appreciation of the privileges that all enjoy, and which must forever be preserved as a priceless legacy and be transmitted to future generations as untarnished and as luminous of light and hope as we enjoy at this moment.
     The great life of the immortal martyred President which went out so grandly and sublimely will be forever an inspiration to men all over the world, and in the distant islands of the East when they are being navigated by American ships with the American flag of freedom flying at their topmast, the patriotism, generosity and Christian humility of William McKin- [181][182] ley will continue to be their guiding star for God and country.
     No one can appreciate the grand characteristics of Mr. McKinley more than I, for he filled the measure of my fondest hopes of what a man, an American and a gentleman should ever be. I remember well when I called on him two years ago to invite him and his Cabinet to be present at the laying of the corner-stone of our Jewish Temple in this city. He said, “Well, Wolf, I really do not see how I can come; I am very busy and if I come to the corner-stone laying of your Temple, I will be asked to go to each and everyone of a like character.” I said, “But, Mr. President, you know that you have no warmer friends than the American citizens of Jewish faith, and we look upon you with not only pride but with gratitude for the many evidences of good-will you have ever exhibited to us, not only in your present position but in all the positions that you have heretofore so honorably filled, that it would be a great impetus to each and every one if you would come.” He promptly acquiesced and said he would be there, and he was, and it is one of the most memorable features of that historic occasion.
     President McKinley to me was something more than what he was to others. He typified in a concrete form not only the glorious past of our country, but its future. He became, whether by decree of Providence or circumstances beyond his control, the central figure at the close of the nineteenth century, and created conditions for the betterment and advancement of the United States which can never be destroyed. He was one of the great American Presidents, and his name, joined with his immortal predecessors, will live not only in the annals of our own country, but in the annals of history. May the young men and young women of our country be inspired to the noblest endeavor, taking as an example the work and worth of the great American typified in the life and service of William McKinley. [182][183]
     But in addition to what President McKinley left as a priceless legacy to his countrymen as a statesman and a patriot, he has left to mankind a lesson of courage, of strength, of human endurance at the closing hours of his life that outranks him with any other man of his time or any time, and the death-bed scene will in future years be portrayed in sculpture and on canvas and be sung in immortal verse by the poets of the future, equal to any for which Rome and Greece have become immortal.

 

 


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