From Washington, D. C.
So far as official circles in Washington
are concerned, it would be very difficult to discover the slightest
token of grief, although it is only ten days, at this writing, since
President McKinley died.
The sad days of the funeral services
were marked by heartfelt sorrow on the part of the average citizen,
both in Washington and elsewhere, but McKinley’s official associates,
and those who should have mourned him most on account of personal
acquaintance, were immediately engrossed in the scramble to get
on the right side of Roosevelt. I happen to know of three United
States Senators who had the bad taste to stay at their hotel instead
of attending the services at the Capitol. “Too much of a crowd,”
There was an awful crowd, and the
affair was so badly managed by police and military that more than
a score of people were seriously injured in the crush before the
Capitol steps, but our Senators are not obliged to mix with the
mob, and their neglect of so ordinary a mark of respect was by no
means a good example to the general public.
The callousness of Washington in general
is well known, but I was shocked to hear the various bands on their
way back from the White House playing cheerful rag-time music and
to see them escorted by a rabble which seemed glad to get rid of
the solemnity of the occasion.
Still, there are few Presidents who
so merited respect and mourning as McKinley, for he was personally
one of the kindest of men. You might not agree with him nor his
policy, but you could not help liking him if you met him personally.
It was my good fortune to be the only
person who ever interviewed him for publication, and, while he did
not especially care to be interviewed, yet he asked me many questions
about labor conditions and took pains to make me feel that I brought
as well as received something of value from the interview.
There is no doubt but the general
public is very much aroused over the deed of the assassin at the
present time. It is only to be hoped that the feeling will continue
and bear fruit in the shape of both legal measures and a public
sentiment which will visit the severest punishment upon anarchy,
violence and law-breaking of every sort.
Naturally, it is very difficult to
say just what should be done to rid the country of anarchists and
their teachings. There is not much difference of opinion about the
desirability of getting rid of those who openly advocate the assassination
of rulers and the overthrow of government by violence.
Nor need there be any fear but organized
labor stands ready to do its best to help toward this end. It has
suffered too severely and too often by being mistakenly connected
with such movements not to be ready to help get rid of such. The
great question is, “How?”
It is easy enough to pass a law to
deport every person found preaching anarchy to some convict island.
But Russia has been sending nihilists to Siberia by the thousands
for years and has not succeeded in stamping out the sect.
No one has yet discovered how those
who conspire secretly against the government or the Chief Executive
are to be reached effectively or how he is to be guarded from such
President Roosevelt is setting a courageous
example by refusing to be surrounded by guards. He believes that
the great mass of the people are law-abiding citizens and he proposes
to take his chance with the occasional criminal or lunatic.
The labor unions have year in and
year out pointed out the dangers of allowing indiscriminate immigration
to this country. There is no doubt but we have received the pauper
and criminal classes of Europe along with the many 
self-respecting and intelligent immigrants who come here to become
American citizens and help to uphold our institutions.
It is likely that the coming Congress
will pass a law materially restricting immigration. It would be
well, too, if we were not so hasty in admitting to citizenship persons
who have no knowledge or respect for our institutions. They are
generally made citizens in haste in order to be voted like sheep,
with no knowledge of what the act signifies.
The question is so grave and goes
so deeply into the root of our national life that it is difficult
to know what phase can be reached first or most effectively.
At the memorial service in Washington,
attended by clergy of every denomination, more than one courageously
pointed out that although the assassin and his kind are worthy of
speedy punishment, yet it must not be forgotten that in the last
forty years—in which time three Presidents have been assassinated—there
has been a growing disposition to hold those, who had sufficient
wealth, above the operation of law. Not only to allow them exemption,
but to place the military and the courts at their disposal and thus
work injustice to the common citizen.
There is no doubt but this is true,
and that it creates a widespread dissatisfaction, but it is a question
whether the public conscience is sufficiently aroused to realize
the danger of this hidden malady of the body politic.
During the past few days I have read
newspapers from every section of the country, and if the resolutions
passed by organized labor are any guide, it can be counted upon
to do its share in every needed reform.