Publication information

St. Louis Medical Era
Source type: journal
Document type: editorial
Document title: “Assassination of President McKinley”
Author(s): anonymous
Date of publication: September 1901
Volume number: 11
Issue number: 1
Pagination: 483-84

“Assassination of President McKinley.” St. Louis Medical Era Sept. 1901 v11n1: pp. 483-84.
full text
McKinley assassination (personal response); William McKinley (medical care: criticism).
Named persons
William McKinley.

Assassination of President McKinley

     No occurrence in the history of our government has ever brought as much pain to the hearts of the American people as the foul murder of President McKinley. The horror of this crime is also aggravated by the absence of even a shadow of cause or palliating circumstance. The amiability of disposition, deference to the will of the people and deep solicitude for their welfare manifested by the President in every private and public act of his life, had endeared him to every American heart. While this foul murder has saddened every spirit and cast an appalling gloom over the entire land, it has aroused an indignation everywhere among law-abiding citizens which will not only provide punishment for the assassin but extermination for all the instigators of the crime. The wound of the President was a death wound from the beginning, and should have been so regarded by his physicians; but unfortunately they were so completely dominated by optimism that their bulletins misled the public as to the real condition of the President, and encouraged hopes which were not justified by the clinical record. This clinical record gave a pulse-rate of about 130 almost constantly from the beginning to the end, with a respiration of 24, and a temperature of 102. Every physician knows that these indications were inconsistent with the reported daily improvement of the patient. Every physician knows that these physical signs were incompatible with the healing process regularly affirmed up to the hour of fatal collapse. [483][484]
     Undoubtedly the surgical treatment was conducted on scientific lines, but the optimistic prognosis and after-treatment are open to unfavorable criticism. There will be no disposition in the medical profession to underrate the gravity of the situation which confronted the medical attendants of the President, nor will the profession be harsh in its judgment of the management of the case, but physicians who undertake the treatment of a case upon which the eyes of the entire profession are turned, cannot expect to escape the responsibility of their acts. These acts do not concern individuals alone. They concern the profession to which the individuals belong, and are proper subjects of scrutiny. The judgment of the medical profession will undoubtedly sustain the contention that the stomach was disabled by the wounds and should have been exempted from all of the burdens of digestion while in this disabled condition. It should have been accorded absolute rest. With the revelations of the autopsy, there is no longer a doubt that the best chances of recovery would have been promoted by sparing the stomach and refraining from surgical procedure. Without an abdominal section, however, the physicians had no means of knowing what damage had been inflicted, and on these grounds the operation was justifiable, but their sanguine hopes of recovery had no reasonable grounds of support.