President William McKinley (Concluded) [excerpt]
The summer rapidly drew
to a close with continued and increasing prosperity. The factories
were producing for a ready market, the fields were heavy with grain,
the whole land was rejoicing. The great Pan-American Exposition
was being held in Buffalo, and in September a President’s Day was
appointed, and the President to encourage the enterprise of the
promoters of the Exposition journeyed to Buffalo, and on September
5, delivered what was in many respects the greatest speech of his
life. His address on that day had about it an epigrammatic force,
a sincerity that is usually lacking in speeches on such occasions.
It was the utterance of a man with lofty ideals, the most Christian
ruler that the world has yet seen.
“Expositions,” he said, “are the time-keepers
of progress. They record the world’s advancement. They stimulate
the energy, enterprise and intellect of the people and quicken human
genius. They go into the home. They broaden and brighten the daily
life of the people. They open mighty store-houses of information
to the student. Every Exposition, great or small, has helped to
some onward step. Comparison of ideas is always educational, and
as such instructs the brain and hand of man. Friendly rivalry follows,
which is the spur to industrial improvement, the inspiration to
useful invention and to high endeavour in all departments of human
activity. It exacts a study of the wants, comforts, and even the
whims of the people, and recognises the efficacy of high quality
and new prices to win their favour. The quest for trade is an incentive
to men  of business to devise,
invent, improve, and economise in the cost of production. Business
life, whether among ourselves or with other people, is ever a sharp
struggle for success. It will be none the less so in the future.
Without competition we would be clinging to the clumsy and antiquated
processes of farming and manufacture and the methods of business
of long ago, and the twentieth would be no further advanced than
the eighteenth century. But though commercial competitors we are,
commercial enemies we must not be. . . . . . This portion of the
earth has no cause for humiliation for the part it has performed
in the march of civilisation. It has not accomplished everything;
far from it. It has simply done its best; and without vanity or
boastfulness, and recognising the manifold achievements of others,
it invites the friendly rivalry of all the Powers in the peaceful
pursuits of trade and commerce, and will cooperate with all in advancing
the highest and best interests of humanity. The wisdom and energy
of all the nations are none too great for the world’s work. The
success of art, science, industry, and invention is an international
asset, and a common glory. After all, how near one to the other
is every part of the world! Modern inventions have brought into
close relation widely separated people and made them better acquainted.
Geographic and political divisions will continue to exist, but distances
have been effaced. Swift ships and fast trains are becoming cosmopolitan.
They invade fields which a few years ago were impenetrable. The
world’s products are exchanged as never before, and with increasing
transportation facilities come increasing knowledge and larger trade.
. . . . .
“Isolation is no longer possible or desirable.
 The same important news
is read, though in different languages, the same day in all Christendom.
The telegraph keeps us advised of what is occurring everywhere,
and the press foreshadows, with more or less accuracy, the plans
and purposes of the nation. . . . . .
“At the beginning of the nineteenth
century there was not a mile of steel railroad on the globe; now
there are enough miles to make its circuit many times. Then there
was not a line of electric telegraph, now we have a vast mileage
traversing all lands and all seas. God and man have linked the nations
together. No nation can longer be indifferent to any other. And
as we are brought more and more in touch with each other, the less
occasion is there for misunderstandings, and the stronger the disposition,
when we have differences, to adjust them in the court of arbitration,
which is the noblest form for the settlement of international disputes.
. . . . .
“By sensible trade arrangements which
will not interrupt our home production, we shall extend the outlets
for our increasing surplus. A system which provides a mutual exchange
of commodities, is manifestly essential to the continued and healthful
growth of our export trade. We must not repose in fancied security
that we can forever sell everything and buy little or nothing. If
such a thing were possible, it would not be best for us or for those
with whom we deal. We should take from our customers such of their
products as we can use without harm to our industries and labour.
Reciprocity is the natural outgrowth of our wonderful industrial
development under the domestic policy now firmly established. .
“The period of exclusiveness is past.
The expansion of our trade and commerce is the pressing problem.
Commercial wars are unprofitable. A 
policy of good will and friendly trade relation will prevent reprisals.
Reciprocity treaties are in harmony with the spirit of the times;
measures of retaliation are not. . . . . .
“Who can tell the new thoughts that
have been awakening, the ambitions fired, and the high achievements
that will be wrought through this Exposition? Gentlemen, let us
ever remember that our interest is in concord, not conflict; and
that our real eminence rests in the victories of peace, not those
of war. We hope that all who are represented here may be moved to
higher and nobler effort for their own and the world’s good, and
that out of this city may come, not only greater commerce and trade
for us all, but, more essential than these, relations of mutual
respect, confidence and friendship which will deepen and endure.
“Our earnest prayer is that God will
graciously vouchsafe prosperity, happiness, and peace to all our
neighbours, and like blessings to all the peoples and powers of
As this speech is read it is hard
to realise that it was uttered by the high priest of protection.
It would almost seem that the voice of Cobden and Bright was speaking
through his lips. He was, as has already been said, a great opportunist;
up to the present he firmly believed that what his country needed
for its proper development was high protection, but as he stood
before the crowd at Buffalo on the 5th of September, he realised
that the time might come within his own life when it would be necessary
to break down all tariff walls. His speech, at any rate, was thoroughly
cosmopolitan and Christian. It was the utterance of no mere politician,
but of a great statesman who by the exigencies of the past two 
years had been forced to take a broader outlook, and to consider
what place his nation would occupy among the nations of the world.
Leader he would be or nothing; and to lead properly his policy must
be based on righteousness and brotherhood.
This speech created a tremendous sensation
and on the following day was eagerly read by millions.
After his address the President took
a holiday to Niagara to look with pleasure upon that mighty force
which was driving so many of the mills and factories in which he
took such pride. After his visit to the Falls he returned to Buffalo
and in the Music Hall held a reception. Never was he happier than
on this day. It had ever been a pleasure to grasp the hands of his
fellow-countrymen, and now hundreds lined past him to grip the hand
of the man they had learned to love and reverence. It was in the
midst of this rejoicing that the dastardly deed which was to deprive
the United States of its last great President was perpetrated. In
the crowd was one Leon Czolgosz, a youthful foreigner whose brain
and heart had been turned by Anarchist teachings. As the President
was reaching forth his hand to welcome him as a citizen of his country
he was brutally shot down by the assassin. It is unnecessary to
dwell on the horrors of the scene; no more cowardly and insane murder
was ever committed. There was nothing in the President’s career
that could give the slightest occasion for such a deed, and the
only motive could be a desire to strike not the man but the Presidential
The heroic character of the President
was brought forth at this trying moment. He was suffering intensely
from two wounds but his first thought was for his wife. He turned
to his Secretary Mr. Cortel- 
you, and said, “Be careful about my wife. Do not tell her.” Then
seeing the crowd apparently about to tear his assassin to pieces,
with his love of law and order, and with the dignity of his position
before him he exclaimed, “Let no one hurt him.”
For eight days he struggled bravely
with death, and for a time it seemed as if he had conquered, but
it was only for a time. Despite all that the best medical skill
in his country could do it was recognised, on September 13, that
there was no hope. He saw it himself and with Christian fortitude
faced the inevitable; almost welcomed it. His dying words will be
treasured among the dying words of the great ones of this earth,
and will doubtless help many to bravely face death.
“Good-bye all,” he said, “Good-bye!
it is God’s way. His will be done.”
He lingered on for a few hours and
on the morning of the 14th passed quietly away. The entire nation
North and South, East and West, Democrat and Republican alike mourned
for him, and the world mourned with his country. Crowds came to
Buffalo to view the spot where he had fallen, and as he lay in state
in Washington thousands flocked to look with reverence upon his
dead face. The train which bore his body from Washington to his
home in Ohio began its journey through the darkness of night but
all along the track, at the stations, at the villages, in the towns,
in the cities, crowds assembled to catch a glimpse of the train
that bore him to his last resting place. But in his Canton home
was the chief mourning; the greatest son that Ohio had produced
had been taken from her in his prime.
Although his life was ended his spirit
still worked on and is working. When President Roosevelt said 
on taking the oath of office: “In this hour of deep sorrow and terrible
national bereavement I wish to state that it shall be my aim to
continue absolutely unbroken the policy of President McKinley, for
the peace, prosperity, and honour of our beloved country,”—he uttered
no idle words.
He is dead, but his ideals live on.
He began for his country the great work of civilising the dark places
of the earth, and before the twentieth century closes the policy
that President McKinley adopted in dealing with Cuba and the Philippines
will doubtless be generally adopted by the great Powers.