President McKinley on Telegraphy and Cables
Last week while Mr. McKinley lay upon
his bed of sickness and while hope of recovery was still strong,
comment was made in these pages on his references to telegraphy
and the Pacific cable, in the address which he delivered at the
Pan-American Exposition, the day before his abominable assassination
there by a vile anarchist. Those utterances have now a deeply pathetic
and historical interest, and we believe that our readers will be
glad to have them quoted in full. Mr. McKinley, with no idea that
the attack on his own life would be the next confirmation of his
“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 nations. Market
prices of products and of securities are hourly known in every commercial
mart, and the investments of the people extend beyond their own
national boundaries into the remotest parts of the earth. Vast transactions
are conducted and international exchanges are made by the tick of
the cable. Every event of interest is immediately bulletined.
“The quick gathering and transmission of
news, like rapid transit, are of recent origin, and are only made
possible by the genius of the inventor and the courage of the investor.
It took a special messenger of the Government, with every facility
known at the time for rapid travel, 19 days to go from the city
of Washington to New Orleans with a message to General Jackson that
the war with England had ceased, and a treaty of peace had been
signed. How different now. We reached General Miles in Porto Rico
by cable, and he was able, through the military telegraph, to stop
his army on the firing line with the message that the United States
and Spain had signed a protocol suspending hostilities.
“We knew almost instantly of the first
shots fired at Santiago, and the subsequent surrender of the Spanish
forces was known at Washington within less than an hour of its consummation.
The first ship of Cervera’s fleet had hardly emerged from that historic
harbor when the fact was flashed to our capital, and the swift destruction
that followed was announced immediately through the wonderful medium
“So accustomed are we to safe and easy
communication with distant lands, that its temporary interruption,
even in ordinary times, results in loss and inconvenience. We shall
never forget the days of anxious waiting and awful suspense when
no information was permitted to be sent from Peking, and the diplomatic
representatives of the nations in China, cut off from all communication,
inside and outside of the walled capital, were surrounded by an
angry and misguided mob that threatened their lives, nor the joy
that thrilled the world when a single message from the Government
of the United States brought, through our Minister, the first news
of the safety of the besieged diplomats.
“At the beginning of the nineteenth century
there was not a mile of steam 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 forum for the settlement of international disputes.”
Mr. McKinley then discussed the expansion
of American trade, advocated the cultivation of reciprocity and
“We must build the Isthmian Canal, which
will unite the two oceans and give a straight line of water communication
with the western coasts of Central and South America and Mexico.
The construction of a Pacific cable cannot be longer postponed.”