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Source: William McKinley: Character Sketches of America’s Martyred Chieftain
Source type: book
Document type: sermon
Document title: “Anarchy”
Author(s): Gregg, David
Compiler(s): Benedict, Charles E.
Publisher: Blanchard Press
Place of publication: New York, New York
Year of publication: [1901?]
Pagination: 95-101

Gregg, David. “Anarchy.” William McKinley: Character Sketches of America’s Martyred Chieftain. Comp. Charles E. Benedict. New York: Blanchard Press, [1901?]: pp. 95-101.
full text of sermon; excerpt of book
David Gregg (sermons); McKinley assassination (sermons); William McKinley; William McKinley (legacy); anarchism (sermons); yellow journalism.
Named persons
Elijah; James A. Garfield; Abraham Lincoln; William McKinley; Theodore Roosevelt; George Washington; Daniel Webster.
On page 95: Dr. David Gregg on Anarchy.

From title page: William McKinley: Character Sketches of America’s Martyred Chieftain; Sermons and Addresses Delivered by the Pastor of St. James M. E. Church, Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, N. Y., and Addresses by Brooklyn Pastors and Other Prominent Ministers and Laymen, Portraying the Character of Our Late Lamented President.

From title page: Compiled by Charles E. Benedict.



     My Fellow Citizens—We are in the midst of a great national crisis. We are suffering from a great shock. We are appalled and paralyzed by the commission of an unspeakable crime. We are face to face with an irreparable loss. It is a common sorrow that has drawn us together to this service to-night.
     And why have we come? We have come to seek the help of Almighty God. We have come to pray. We have come to reach after thoughts calculated to balance us in the hour of our staggered thinking. We have come to learn the lessons and duties of the hour. We have come to get courage and strength to lay hold of our future and to take up the principles and the ideals which have been shot into the dust of death by the assassin’s ball.
     Are there balancing thoughts and present duties which can steady and comfort us and make us equal to the call of the hour? There are, and it is to see and secure these thoughts and duties that we have come together. This being the object of our meeting, there are two things which it is not necessary for me to do.
     First—It is not necessary for me to detail the horrible assassination which has taken from us our beloved President. You know it in all its particulars: The great American gathering in the Temple of Music at Buffalo; the deserved ovation which a great nation gave its great representative; the joy that overflowed everywhere: then the unexpected and dastardly act of a born coward; the murderous shot that was heard round the world; the consequent horror; the awful silence; then the awakening of the people to the dread reality; the instant cry of righteous indignation; the words of the vile anarchist: “I am an anarchist; I have done my duty.” The prayer of the man of God for his assassin: “May God forgive him”: then the universal and unanimous protest of the civilized world against the unprovoked and unforgivable crime of the twentieth century. You know the details. There is [95][96] no need to rehearse them. Everything pertaining to the assassination is too recent.
     Second—It is not necessary for me to indulge in a eulogy upon him whom the assassin chose as his shining mark. William McKinley is his own eulogy. He stands forth as the peer of the other great Americans with whom assassination has linked his name—Lincoln and Garfield. The man who prays for his murderer, who, with forecast and treachery and in the garb of friendship fires the fatal shot, writes his own history and sets into the light his own immortal fame. In this case the sun makes its own rainbow. How many in this audience could pray as William McKinley prayed in the great crisis of his life, when face to face with death? How many could say of the assassin: “Let no one harm him!” That was the true William McKinley, acting himself out instinctively and naturally and without forethought. I say that that man is his own eulogy and this is what the whole world says. We are not ashamed of our martyred President. He is a fine product and exponent of our American life and principles.
     The duty of the hour is to enunciate and dwell upon the balancing thoughts and facts and duties which are calculated to stay and steady us in the present crisis, now when the worst has come to the worst. A first balancing fact is this:
     The American republic is not one man, but a nation of 75,000,000, the great majority of whom are of the William McKinley type. These millions made him President, because he represented them. Now if this be so then it is impossible to strike down the American republic by firing the assassin’s ball into any one man. If the vile fraternity of assassins mean the death of our republic, they have a huge contract on their hands. Behind McKinley is Roosevelt and behind Roosevelt and in the goodly succession with him on the line of liberty and law is every true and loyal American citizen. The American republic must fall in some other way than by assassination.
     A second balancing fact is this: The American republic is the creation of God and God reigns supreme. It is because God has been leading us that our history has up to this point been one series of steps of progress. Look [96][97] back over the line of the past. First there were the Pilgrim Fathers—the sifted wheat of the nations—the leaders of the Revolution who gave us the Declaration of Independence. Then there were the statesmen of the formative period, who gave us our Constitution. Then there were the men of the heroic period who carried us through our Civil War and established the unity of our nation. Is the God of the nation going to throw away all this progress? God has never acted like that. Never. As He looks at things the destiny and the leadership of our republic as a nation among nations is still in the future. He brought us through the assassination of Lincoln and into greater things than Lincoln ever saw, and He brought us through the assassination of Garfield and into greater things than Garfield ever saw, and He will bring us through this assassination and into greater things than McKinley ever saw. God is our refuge in this dark present, for God still reigns.
     There is a third sustaining fact which we should not lose sight of while in the midst of our grief. It is this: Our martyred President died as grandly and as heroically as he lived. No man could die better or more influentially. By his life he taught us how to live; by his death he has taught us how to die. Such a death as his means an eternal coronation. To say that he died as grandly as he lived is saying for him more than is at first thought apparent; for he lived grandly. Do not forget his service in the Grand Army of the Republic. Do not forget his life in the gubernatorial chair. Do not forget his leadership in Congress. Do not forget his great state papers and the national measures which he inaugurated and guided into legislative enactments. Do not forget his presidential administration, with the liberation of oppressed Cuba and its expansion of American territory and trade. Here we see William McKinley leading the American republic into a new and greater life and a new and greater destiny.
     I say that was grand living. His dying was just as grand. It was a triumph of Christian faith. It was a testimony to the saving grace of God. The greatest thing a man can do is to forgive. His dying act was the act of forgiveness. It was the Master over again. His last public address may be called his dying address. There was [97][98] none greater in his life than it. It pulsates with great hopes for America’s future and it is full of the visions of patriotic duties. It is full of firmness, but it is full of conciliation toward all men and all nations. He, under whose administration the North and the South were made one again, sought in this final address of his to make all nations one in the items of peace and good will. His last public words were this prayer, “Our earnest prayer is that God will graciously vouchsafe prosperity and happiness and peace to all our neighbors and like blessings to all the peoples and powers of earth.” That is equal to anything in the farewell address of George Washington, the Father of our Country, and with prayer on his lips William McKinley died. It is a comfort and a consolation when those whom we love and admire die grandly. Our martyred President died grandly.
     There is a fourth fact that balances us in our thinking and comforts us as we mourn our loss. It is this: William McKinley is not yet done with the American republic. He has so built his life into it that he will go on down into history with it. He will forever serve it as a holy and powerful interest. We overlook this sometimes, viz.: We as a nation are strong with the strength of those who have lived with us and have gone to their reward. The past is ours, and the grand men of the past are ours, and we are strong with their strength. In estimating us they are to be reckoned with.
     William McKinley, though gone from our vision, will be an influence in our republic like Daniel Webster. When history is fully written he will enter upon a new national career, a posthumous career, and will continue to make America great, just as Washington does and Lincoln does and Webster does. There is comfort in this.
     There is another fact that balances us in this hour of our trouble. It is this: This assassination of our beloved President brings us face to face as a nation with an urgent and a present duty. Our duty is to meet and emphatically settle the status and the doom of anarchy and anarchists on American soil. Anarchy shot William McKinley. Anarchy is the criminal. The assassin himself proves this: “I am an anarchist and I have done my duty.”
     My fellow citizens, the time has come when we must be radical and thorough and prompt in doing our duty [98][99] here and in guarding the men who represent us in office. Treason is in our midst and we must put it down, or else banish it. Traitors are in our midst and we must treat them in the only way that there is for treating traitors. We must do this, not as a mob, but by the execution of just and righteous enactments and by the due process of law. If we have not sufficient law covering the case of anarchy we must make sufficient law. And in handling this matter we must begin at the very starting point of anarchy. We must deal with anarchy as a sentiment and a belief and an expressed creed, and not wait until it becomes an overt act, a murder, an assassination. We must not wait until it shoots William McKinley; and we must not wait because there is no equivalent which we culled from it by way of redress for William McKinley’s life. The execution of all the anarchists in the world would not be an equivalent.
     Do not tell me that we cannot deal with sentiment, belief, creed. Put the word treason before any deadly thing and we can deal with it; and if we are loyal as a nation we will. These things are realities; expressed sentiment is a reality; belief is a reality; creed is a reality. They are national realities, too. They are part of our national life. We wove them all in permanent form into what we call the Constitution of the United States. Our Constitution is sentiment. It is belief. It is creed. And to this sentiment, belief, creed, we require our citizens to swear an oath of allegiance. We can deal with sentiment and belief and creed, and we do. My point is this: If the Constitution of the United States itself is constitutional in dealing with sentiment and belief and creed, we, the citizens of the United States, will be constitutional also when we deal with sentiment, belief and creed, and require that these shall be loyal to our republic and its laws and its institutions. Deal with the ism and in this way prevent the ist. Anarchy is essentially an assassin.
     To-night, standing by the murdered form of our bullet-pierced President, I indict it before the bar of the nations the great assassin of the twentieth century. Behold what it assassinates: It assassinates holy truth and principles; it assassinates holy laws; it assassinates holy institutions; it assassinates holy men; it assassinates holy words; it assassinates holy journalism. [99][100]
     Not only has anarchy in our midst assassinated that which is best in our language; it has assassinated journalism, also, that greatest of modern powers. Yellow journalism is its weapon here. The duty of the hour is that we publicly execrate yellow journalism. Are you willing to do this? If so, you can do it. The people have it in their power to suppress this type of journalism. They can do it by religiously refusing to buy it. They can do it by the power of the one cent. The power of the one cent is omnipotent here. Let the one cent say “I am for law and government; I am for decency; I am against sensationalism; I am for purity and truth; I am for the defense of character and life; I am on the side of good men and against these traducers; I shall never go to the support of yellow journalism.” Let the one cent which is paid for the vile sheet that comes out every hour of the day say this and act according to its declaration and journalism of this type will die in a week.
     I want to say this one word concerning anarchy and anarchists. I said it last week in the City of Boston and under the shadow of Fanueil Hall, and I repeat it here in the commercial metropolis of the nation: The American republic has only three things that legitimately belong to anarchy and anarchists, and these three things are the insane asylum, the prison and the gallows. These three things let us consecrate to them, and may the Almighty God put His blessing upon the consecration.
     Bear with two closing words: Let us pray God to continue the succession of good and great men in our republic. These are the strength of any nation. They mean perpetuity. They are better than guns and foils and armies. Elijah was the horses and chariots of Israel. Washington was the same in America. So was Lincoln, so was McKinley. Now that these are gone, we need their successors. Let us ask God for them. Especially at this time let us remember in our prayers our new President. Let us make him feel we trust him. The question is asked, “Can Roosevelt carry the republic?” Be that answer yea or nay, I would answer it, yea, for he has succeeded in all that he has undertaken for his country and has been faithful in every trust committed to him. Be that answer yea or nay, this I have to say, the nation can carry Roosevelt. Let us tell him this, and let us tell him [100][101] that we will carry him. Let us by our loyal words and expectations and deeds make him strong from the very start.
     Finally, let us renew our allegiance to America and Americanism. America and Americanism exist for the world. If it is to help and bless the world it must be true to itself. I am not ashamed to push Americanism to the front and call for allegiance to it.



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