Source: Railroad Telegrapher
Source type: journal
Document type: news column
Document title: “From Washington, D. C.”
Author(s): Valesh, Eva McDonald
Date of publication: October 1901
Volume number: 18
Issue number: 10
|Valesh, Eva McDonald. “From Washington, D. C.” Railroad Telegrapher Oct. 1901 v18n10: pp. 956-57.|
|William McKinley (death: public response: criticism); anarchism (personal response); anarchism (dealing with).|
|William McKinley; Theodore Roosevelt.|
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,” they said.
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 attacks.
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.