Source: Philadelphia Medical Journal
Source type: journal
Document type: editorial
Document title: “The President’s Death”
Date of publication: 21 September 1901
Volume number: 8
Issue number: 12
|“The President’s Death.” Philadelphia Medical Journal 21 Sept. 1901 v8n12: p. 461.|
|William McKinley (death: personal response); William McKinley (medical care).|
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.