The President’s Death
In the shadow of this
great national bereavement any mere disappointment to professional
pride that arises from the unforeseen result must sink into insignificance.
Yet the case of President McKinley has assumed immense proportions
from a merely surgical standpoint, and will doubtless rank for a
long while as a precedent of exceptional importance. The disastrous
end—so sudden and so disillusioning—came to no class in the community
with a greater shock than to the medical profession. There may have
been—and there were—conservative and cautious minds in the profession
who hesitated from the first to follow the lead of optimism that
characterized the progress of the case, but it is safe to say that
the majority of physicians and surgeons were buoyed up with the
inspiring hope that the wounded Chief Magistrate was to live, and
to owe his life to the achievements of modern scientific surgery.
But man proposes and God disposes.
All that human skill, knowledge, promptness, daring and an overmastering
sense of duty could accomplish, were devoted to the case of the
President. There is nothing to retract, to explain or to apologize
for in all that has been said or done by the brave and devoted staff
who gave their best knowledge and skill to the saving of that valuable
life. An unforeseen contingency, such as may happen in any surgical
case; an unavoidable constitutional defect, such as may appear in
any man well passed [sic] middle life; these were the undoing
of the best planned and best executed operation of which the case
permitted. From the technical standpoint we believe that the case
is not open to adverse criticism. Some of its purely scientific
aspects we shall discuss further on.
To the surgeons and physicians who
bore the burden of this heavy responsibility we extend acknowledgment
and sympathy. They performed a grave public duty, and their names
will always be honored by an appreciative people.
The memory of the distinguished patient
and martyr needs no eulogy from us. The members of the medical profession,
who encounter death in all its forms, will pay tribute to President
McKinley’s fortitude in the face of a great tragedy, his resignation
in suffering, and his nobility in death as in life.