Source: Twenty Years in the Press Gallery
Source type: book
Document type: book chapter
Document title: “The Private Secretary” [chapter 6]
Author(s): Stealey, O. O.
Publisher: O. O. Stealey
Place of publication: New York, New York
Year of publication: 1906
Pagination: 33-37 (excerpt below includes only pages 34-35)
|Stealey, O. O. “The Private Secretary” [chapter 6]. Twenty Years in the Press Gallery. New York: O. O. Stealey, 1906: pp. 33-37.|
|excerpt of chapter|
|George B. Cortelyou; McKinley assassination (personal response).|
|George B. Cortelyou; Daniel S. Lamont; William McKinley.|
From title page: Published by the Author.
From title page: Twenty Years in the Press Gallery: A Concise History of Important Legislation from the 48th to the 58th Congress; the Part Played by the Leading Men of That Period and the Interesting and Impressive Incidents; Impressions of Official and Political Life in Washington; Also Crisp and Vivid Character Sketches of the Men Prominent in Public Life by Well-Known Washington Correspondents.
From title page: By O. O. Stealey, the Washington Correspondent of the Louisville Courier-Journal.
From title page: With an Introduction by Henry Watterson.
From title page: Illustrated by Clifford K. Berryman.
The Private Secretary [excerpt]
Of the other secretaries to the
President, Mr. George B. Cortelyou, now Postmaster-General, stood next to Colonel
Lamont in the skill and wisdom with which he conducted the delicate and complicated
duties of his office. He had such excellent training in White House official
ethics as to be thoroughly qualified for the position when he became Secretary
to President McKinley. Like Lamont he had tact and judgment and knew when to
speak and when to keep silent. Callers at the White House, whether newspaper
men, members of Congress, or others, were always greeted courteously by Cortelyou,
and they had his ear if not his  voice.
He told all that he believed it was discreet to tell and no more.
Some of these men have had curious ways of imparting valuable information, and Cortelyou was one of these. I remember that one winter I was anxious to ascertain for my paper whom the President intended to appoint to an important Federal office in Kentucky as there was much local interest in the appointment. One Sunday evening I thought I might get a tip from Cortelyou, so I called to see him. He was a hard worker then as now, and frequently remained at the White House grinding away until long after midnight. After talking with him a quarter of an hour mentioning the names of a dozen or more of the applicants and those spoken of, I arose to go, none the wiser from the visit. Just as I was leaving, however, Cortelyou carelessly said:
“Who is Mr. ——?”
“Mr. ——, I don’t know. Why?”
“Nothing much, but I heard his name mentioned in connection with the office. Good-night.”
I got to thinking over the question as I went out, and the more I thought it over the more was I satisfied that there was something in it, and I did not sleep until I had knowledge of who Mr. Blank was, and tipped his name to the Courier-Journal. It is unnecessary to state that three days afterward his name was sent to the Senate.
Mr. Cortelyou was devoted to Mr. McKinley and was with him when he was shot at Buffalo. A short time afterward in telling a friend of the tragedy he said:
“I believe that the President knew the moment he was shot that he was a doomed man. I never saw such a look as he gave the wretch who shot him. It was not a look of passion or hatred, but a look of half scorn, half pity, wholly pathetic.”
And then as Cortelyou recalled the tragic scene his eyes filled with tears.