Source: Recollections of a Varied Career
Source type: book
Document type: book chapter
Document title: “Third Year in Rome—Close of Diplomatic Service” [chapter 21]
Author(s): Draper, William F.
Publisher: Little, Brown, and Company
Place of publication: Boston, Massachusetts
Year of publication: 1908
Pagination: 317-33 (excerpt below includes only pages 331-33)
|Draper, William F. “Third Year in Rome—Close of Diplomatic Service” [chapter 21]. Recollections of a Varied Career. Boston: Little, Brown, 1908: pp. 317-33.|
|excerpt of chapter|
|William F. Draper (public addresses); William McKinley (memorial addresses).|
|Humbert I; Abraham Lincoln; William McKinley.|
Third Year in Rome—Close of Diplomatic Service [excerpt]
In September, 1901, came the murder of President McKinley, and owing to my peculiar relations with him, as well as with King Humbert, who was also murdered by an anarchist, my remarks at a memorial service may not be out of place.
“Ladies and Gentlemen: The sorrows of this occasion come home to me to-day with peculiar force, for, as you know, for three and one half years I was the accredited representative of this country to the court of Rome, on the credentials of President McKinley, and was received as ambassador by King Humbert of Italy. A year ago news came to us that King Humbert had been foully murdered by an anarchist. To-day we come here to mourn the death of our martyred President, also murdered by one of these enemies of the human race.
“Two weeks ago to-morrow the President of the United States, William McKinley, was shot by an anarchist with a name unpronounceable by an Anglo-Saxon tongue, and a week later he died from the effect of the assassin’s bullet. When wounded he was in the act of receiving his fellow citizens and extending to them, as they came forward one after another, a shake of the hand,—the greeting of man to man. He was no despot, but a constitutional President, elected by a large majority of the voters of this country of universal suffrage, and respected and beloved by substantially all who voted against him. He was not an autocrat, but a man who sought to know the views of the people whom he served as Chief Magistrate, so that he might as nearly as possible carry them into effect. If he was open to criticism it was on the ground that he was too anxious in this direction. He was not an aristocrat but a plain man of the people, plain in origin and in manner of life up to the time of assuming his high office, and his sympathies were ever with those of humble position and  small means, rather than with the wealthy and fashionable classes. Personally he was without enemies. Everyone who met him was impressed with his friendliness and sympathy, as well as his desire to do exactly what he believed to be right.
“Why was such a man the target for a murderer’s bullet? The assassin had no personal grievance, either real or imaginary; and no pretence is made, even by those of anarchistic faith, that he was a tyrant or oppressor, whose death would avenge the sufferings of his victims. The ordinary motives for assassination, even of crowned heads, were lacking,—I speak of motives which governed men up to recent years. Within the present generation, however, a new sect has arisen which may be compared to the thugs of India, except that it is worse, as the thug deals with ordinary men, and the anarchist with the representatives of organized society. The anarchists are the enemies of all who believe in law or order or government of any kind, and they promulgate their views by assassination and the fear of assassination. If ordinary society desires to protect itself, these worse than wild beasts must be properly dealt with, and our best legal minds should grapple with the problem how this is practically to be done.
“But to return to our President, whom we mourn to-day. He was a shining example of the high results of our American institutions. Born, as before said, in humble circumstances, with limited opportunity for education, he worked his way by his substantially unaided merit to the highest position in the land. In any other country the accident of birth, the lack of fortune, and, at the start, of influential friends, would have kept him in the background. Here there is opportunity for those, who can do, to find work suitable to their talents, and William McKinley, like Abraham Lincoln, came to the front by sheer force of ability and character. As a youth of eighteen, when the call came for soldiers, he responded and enlisted as a private soldier. Carrying a gun in the ranks at the beginning, he performed his duty so well that he rose from grade to grade, and came home as major of his regiment. In civil life the same results followed his faithful service. Commencing in minor public office, he became district attorney of his county, then a Member of Congress, then chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, then Governor of his State, then President. Institutions that permit careers like this are those that the anarchist seeks to destroy in the pretended interest of the people. 
“He was probably the most popular President since Abraham Lincoln, popular because he possessed the qualities of heart which brought him close to the ordinary man, as well as those of mind which stamped him as a great statesman. His death, no less than his life, will endear him to posterity, who will count him high among the martyrs for constitutional liberty.”