Publication information
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Source: Bradstreet’s
Source type: magazine
Document type: editorial
Document title: “Still Within the Shadow”
Author(s): anonymous
Date of publication: 14 September 1901
Volume number: 29
Issue number: 1211
Pagination: 578

“Still Within the Shadow.” Bradstreet’s 14 Sept. 1901 v29n1211: p. 578.
full text
William McKinley (medical condition); William McKinley (medical care: personal response); McKinley assassination (international response); McKinley assassination (personal response); presidential assassination (laws against).
Named persons
William McKinley.


Still Within the Shadow

     To all appearance the result of the attempt upon the President’s life at Buffalo is still in doubt. The nation has watched the news from his bedside with solicitude through the week, but from the receipt of the first clear report of his condition with a feeling of hopefulness that now seems to be tempered by the later information that has come to hand. From a specifically surgical point of view the case seems to have been handled with consummate care and skill. It was fortunate that the facilities for dealing with the President’s injuries were so close at hand, and that it was possible to apply the necessary treatment with such promptitude and certainty as has marked the course of the physicians throughout. It is idle to conceal the fact that one of the wounds inflicted by the assassin was of a nature to cause serious misgivings, but the advances of surgical science were thought to have greatly circumscribed the limits of peril.
     The persistent rapidity of the President’s pulse has been all along a disturbing feature, and the dread of weakness has been accentuated by the developments of the last day and night. The President is, in reality, engaged in a struggle for life, in which he will have the hopes and prayers of a grateful people and the best wishes of good men everywhere.
     In the melancholy circumstances which confront the country this week, it is gratifying to receive the assurances of deep regret that are evoked from the rulers and the people of other lands. It was only the day before that the cable had carried to all parts of the earth the exposition of Mr. McKinley’s policy of friendliness and peace; something in the nature of an echo came back in the messages of unfeigned respect and sorrow which indicated the measure taken abroad of the President’s character as a ruler and as a man. At home his policies have not escaped criticism, but his winning qualities have extorted a regard for his private personality such as has been the good fortune of few of our Presidents to elicit. It is to be hoped that in the white light which the circumstances of the attempted assassination have thrown upon the manly and self-forgetting nature of the chief magistrate, some of the excrescences and distortions which too often disfigure the treatment of our public men by opponents of their policies in the press and out of it will disappear. A statesman should not have to pass through the valley of the shadow in order to secure a due appreciation of his character and services or to bring about at least a soberness and responsibility of criticism which will not be lacking in respect.
     Among the reflections which an occasion like this forces upon thinking men is one that calls for frank and candid expression. In the United States the law takes no special care of the life or security of its chief magistrate. The attempt on the life of the President is under the law in effect an assault upon a member of the community. In case the President should, as is yet earnestly hoped, recover, his assailant, who plotted his murder with the patient ingenuity of a fiend, making use of an occasion of greeting as a cover for his purpose of death, will be liable to a maximum punishment of ten years in prison—a period which may be shortened by commutation to six years and six months. If proceeded against under federal laws his maximum punishment would be three years’ imprisonment and a fine of $1,000. This is an absurdly inadequate penalty for such an offense. There is need for a revision of the law so that a fitting punishment may be inflicted for the attempt to murder a chief magistrate. It is true that the President is from one point of view simply a citizen, but as President he is much more, and it is not against the citizen, but against the elected chief of the nation, that the assassin’s blow is directed. A stroke aimed at the chief bearer of national power is felt through all the channels of life within the states, in every branch of business, in every concern of the citizen, and a penalty meet for such an offense needs yet to be provided under our laws.



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