Demise of President McKinley
We stop the press to announce this
deplorable and sorrowful event which, though sudden, was not altogether
unexpected by medical men who had carefully followed the results
accruing to the assassin’s bullet.
“In multiple counsel there is safety”
is an ancient and threadbare aphorism that, however true in its
application to ordinary affairs, in conditions like those surrounding
the bedside of the martyred Chief-Executive is apt to prove delusive.
We have no wish or purpose to criticise adversely the medical gentlemen
in attendance; admittedly each, individually, is a man more than
ordinarily professionally endowed, and possessed of considerable
more than a mere local reputation; but on the other hand we can
not but feel the sufferer and his medical advisors alike were sadly
handicapped by the results accruing to popular clamour, and the
demand that no measures, however extraordinary, be left undone—such
generally results in overdoing, especially when the patient is possessed
of great prominence, and the facts are taken into consideration
that, amid a multitude of counsel, clashes of opinion are possible,
and no medical man, except one possessed of unusually strong personality,
would, in the face of the adverse opinions of colleagues, (and the
certainty of misjudgment on the part of the public and professional
press), dare to act in any way independently, or to overstep in
any particular the boundaries of accustomed routine. We certainly
would have had more hope, from the first, if the President had been
relegated to the exclusive care of one or two individuals.
Also, we can not but deprecate the
unseemly attempts to secure advertising for self and friends on
the part of individuals, which led to the importation of an alien
nurse, and (at the last moment, when the fatal termination had become
inevitable) of physicians from far away cities; both acts appear
to reflect upon the ability of those in attendance, and particularly
upon nurses and medical fraternity of Buffalo.
Again, the excluding of Mrs. McKinley
from her husband’s bedside, and the denial of the accustomed cigar—which
was craved, and asked for, and could have worked no possible harm,
while it might have obviated certain adverse phenomena—smack of
the torture-chamber and medićval superstition more than anything
else:—Does not one suppose, if Mrs. McKinley is the woman we take
her to be, that these procedures had her sanction, though exclusion
was made to appear solely in her interest! Here we have two factors
that, seemingly, in the minds of most, of little importance, may
have had direct influ[ence] in securing the untoward result. Nothing
is more depressing to an invalid than an enforced quiet without
any form of physical or mental occupation, especially when surrounded
by strange attendants. Apparently, not only was Mrs. McKinley very
carefully excluded, but her spouse was left to the “rule-of-thumb”
care of an alien “trained” attendant.
We learn the immediate cause of death
was “gangrene of both walls of the stomach and pancreas.” It seems
passing strange, in the face of previous reports (emanating apparently
from authority) that such condition could have existed without being
suspected; the character of the pulse, to say the least, was such
as to lead to a surmise that some untoward event was threatening.
One of the theories propounded is,
that the bullet of the assassin, with a devilishness almost unprecedented
in modern times, was deliberately poisoned, for the purpose of making
the fate of the victim doubly certain. This, however, seems highly
Undoubtedly, there yet remain many
facts to be made public that are of interest to the medical profession,
and accordingly we await the official and authoritative report.
Such data as are at hand, coming as they do through the Associated
Press and filtered through the hands of nonprofessional editors,
are altogether meagre and unsatisfactory.
The political lessons of the tragedy
are many; it is hoped they will be taken full advantage of as regards
the future. It is possible that the “grief of the Nation may ultimately
prove the Nation’s salvation” in the matter of eradicating the anarchistic
and other obnoxious socialistic elements.
Fortunately the executive chair will
now be succeeded to by a gentleman possessed of no less great
personality than Mr. McKinley, one moreover whom the breath of scandal
has not been able to touch, and whose high rectitude and honesty
of purpose is unchallengeable.