Source: Western Medical Review
Source type: journal
Document type: editorial
Document title: “William McKinley”
Date of publication: 15 October 1901
Volume number: 6
Issue number: 10
|“William McKinley.” Western Medical Review 15 Oct. 1901 v6n10: p. 325.|
|William McKinley; William McKinley (personal character).|
|E. Benjamin Andrews; William McKinley.|
The work of the biographer of Mr. McKinley is
peculiarly a labor of love. It is easy to say good things of the dead, and easier
to pass over with a light touch all frailties and failings, but the task is
easiest of all where there is so much good to be said and so little to pass
over unsaid. Of William McKinley is it especially true, that for the good that
he did and lived and taught in this life he will be remembered. His shortcomings—and
he had them, for he was a man—we need not even touch lightly upon, for they
can be boldly exposed to the light of criticism with no fear that they will
detract from the excellence of his character. They but act as a background against
which the true nobility of that character shines more distinctly and but serve
to emphasize its excellence.
The key-note of our late president’s character might be summed up in the one word, Charity. Love for his fellow-men, and not only for his fellow-men of his own social state alone, but of all states and shades and conditions, was his dominating passion. He cared for his country, but he cared for his countrymen more. Even his enemies—and who has them not?—were included in this unbounded charity. The miserable assassin, the author of a nation’s mourning and a world’s sorrow, can not even be excluded from this universal kindness. “Let no one hurt him,” was what Mr. McKinley might have been expected to say on that fateful afternoon; but how many other men in like circumstances could we expect to give utterance to such a kindly expression? His forgiving spirit was remarkable; his bitterest enemies found themselves unable to withstand this noble trait in his character and often, in spite of their inclinations, became his fastest friends. Of few adversaries can it be said as has been said of McKinley, that on once meeting him one wished to meet him again. He captured his enemies by kindness. His sincerity and disinterestedness were as deep as his generosity and charity. They enabled him to handle men with a facility and success attained by no public man of our day. He drew men toward him and attained his ends by the simple words of kindly persuasion. The club was not his weapon, rather the velvet glove with its gentle clasp of good will.
Perhaps no higher tribute has ever been paid to the memory of a public man than that accorded to Mr. McKinley by Chancellor Andrews during the memorial services in Lincoln. He said that the dominating characteristic of the man was his intense humanity, and that the instances where rulership in its highest aspect has been attended by such marked humanity have been extremely rare in history. It is impossible to say where his humanity ended and his rulership began. As a ruler he was still the man—with all that the word implies. Some men, having attained great rulership, are remembered as rulers only, others as men only. It is rare indeed that one is remembered both as a ruler and as a man. Mr. McKinley was one of them. Though one may differ from the late president in his political policies, and it is well that we do not all think alike, there can be but one opinion as to the final attainment of his desires. Beset by difficulties such as have beset few rulers, he overcame them all and brought his country to a condition of unprecedented peace and prosperity. If such is an element of greatness, then William McKinley was great.
In his domestic life the nobility of his character stood out in all its purity and radiance as fully as in his public career. The life partner of his joys and sorrows, a weak and invalid woman, can testify to the worth of the true American husband. The sorrows and tears of a stricken nation prove the worth of the upright American statesman; the love and affection inspired in all who came in contact with him testify to his right to the title of the true American man; and the faith of the world in his uprightness, his humility, his willingness to serve and bear others’ burdens prove his right to the title of the true Christian gentleman.
If among the rulers of the earth there has been a true follower of the lowly Nazarene, Mr. McKinley was that one.
As an example for the emulation of others, and especially as an object lesson for the rising generation, no better life can be chosen than that of William McKinley, the martyr, statesman, and man.