Publication information
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Source: Medical Dial
Source type: journal
Document type: editorial
Document title: “Death of President McKinley”
Author(s): anonymous
Date of publication: October 1901
Volume number: 3
Issue number: 10
Pagination: 241-42

“Death of President McKinley.” Medical Dial Oct. 1901 v3n10: pp. 241-42.
full text
William McKinley (death, cause of).
Named persons
Matthew D. Mann.


Death of President McKinley

Surgeons may assume different theories as to the causes of the death of the President aside from the primary cause, the bullet wound. We now have the report of the autopsy and the sworn statements in court of the physicians and surgeons in attendance upon the patient. Although for six days following the fatal shot the symptoms appeared favorable for recovery, the autopsy showed that very little attempt at repair, or healing of the wounds, had been made by nature, and the track of the bullet through the stomach, and, so far as traced, was grangrenous [sic], thus accounting for the sudden collapse on the seventh day.
     It was accounted fortunate for the President at the time that the surrounding circumstances were so favorable, that [241][242] almost immediately he was in the care of skillful and experienced surgeons, and in a well prepared hospital for emergency cases. All competent surgeons will agree that the case was properly conducted, and that nothing now known to science was omitted in the operation, or treatment following, that could contribute to the recovery. What then were the causes of death? This question is probably as well and satisfactorily answered as possible in the testimony of Dr. Mann before the court. Death was in his opinion due to several causes: “The entrance of germs into the parts, the low state of vitality of the patient and the action of the pancreatic juice which undoubtedly contributed to it.”
     In the above ennumeration [sic] of causes the low state of vitality would seem to most completely account for the lack of any healing process. Although the President was comparatively a young man, only 58, his life and duties must be considered when computing his chances to survive a serious gunshot wound and a severe surgical operation; his army life, a studious and laborious professional occupation, accompanied with sedentary habits, and for a considerable period his work in congress as the conspicuous leader of his party, and the author of bills requiring immense thought and untiring energy to accomplish his plans, and finally, for the last four and one-half years his duties as president, with an exciting and formidable war in addition to other and vast interests and questions to be met and decided. These are facts and circumstances that must be kept in mind when we esimate [sic] the vitality of the patient. Younger men have survived greater injuries, we know, on battle fields and recovered under great disadvantages for care and treatment, and a vigorous constitution and unimpaired vitality saved their lives.



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