Source type: magazine
Document type: public address
Document title: “William McKinley”
Author(s): Jones, George James
Date of publication: October 1901
Volume number: 21
Issue number: 10
|Jones, George James. “William McKinley.” Cambrian Oct. 1901 v21n10: pp. 433-35.|
|George James Jones (public addresses); William McKinley (memorial addresses); William McKinley; presidential assassinations (comparison); McKinley assassination (religious interpretation); Theodore Roosevelt (assumption of presidency: religious interpretation).|
|William Cowper; James A. Garfield; Jesus Christ; Joshua; Judas; Abraham Lincoln; William McKinley; Moses; Theodore Roosevelt.|
From page 433: Written after delivery at C. M. Church, Oak Hill, O., September 19, 1901, the day of the President’s funeral.
From page 433: By George James Jones, D. D.
The assassination of any man is
a public calamity. The assassination of a President is more so, because, not
only has an honored individual lost his life, but because also any man who may
be elevated to the same high office may be treated in a similar manner; enmity
exists toward the government, and the heart of the government is sought in the
President. The assassination of William McKinley was more than the assassination
of a President. We have had other Presidents, grand men too, who filled their
office to the full, but they came much short of McKinley.
To McKinley was given the extraordinary grand work of projecting American thought and life into the policies of the world. America is understood better to-day than ever before, and McKinley is more honored. With some the President was more than the man, but with him the man was more than the President. With every new duty and responsibility a new trait of glory was seen in his character. As a boy at home, a student at college, a soldier in the battlefield, a representative in Congress, as Governor of his State, and as President of the United States, he was so true to sterling manhood that his popularity like the rising of the sun rose higher and higher. When he had been shot, the people mad with sorrow and rage, handling roughly the villain, he made what seems a miracle, a step which brought him into touch with the cross of Christ, and uttered words which have echoed and re-echoed throughout the world. “Do not let them injure him.” The spirit of the martyrs, the spirit of conquerers [sic], the spirit of Christ, breathes in those startling words. Few men rise to that elevation, none beyond.
He is the third martyred American President. To gain a place along-side of Lincoln and Garfield is of itself a great honor. Here are three men, Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley, without superiors in the annals of time. They shine in the firmament of human history with an  intensity of lustre that is not surpassed. Men of lofty thought and pure emotions bow at such a shrine and worship the invisible. But as they differ in glory so also do they differ in the incidents leading to their death and coronation.
Mr. Lincoln was murdered because of the emancipation of the slaves and the crushing of the rebellion; his life was given as a ransom for the black race. Mr. Garfield was slain because a man crazed with a blind ambition failed in securing the political recognition he thought for reasons satisfactorily to himself he merited. May be that the bitter opposition of unsafe and insincere leaders of his own party had an indirect influence on that crazed mind. Mr. Lincoln was murdered for what he had done: Mr. Garfield was murdered for what he was, for standing up so bravely against men in his own party who sought to rule and to reign over him. With Mr. McKinley these things were absent. He had freed the millions in the isles of the south seas and in the isles of the orient, and had the unbounded support, not only of his own party but of the patriotic and the true throughout the land, yea, throughout the world. He was murdered because he represented law and order and love. The blow he received struck the heart of the nation. For that reason his death is mourned throughout the world.
The assassin is guilty as Judas. He voluntarily chose himself for the cruel and terrible deed, and will suffer for it. Above him and above all events is God. Mr. Garfield at the death of Lincoln said, “The Lord reigneth and the government at Washington still lives,” and as true as that God reigneth he uses this calamity to the elevation and the building up of his kingdom. As Cowper said:
“Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust him for his grace;
Behind a frowning Providence,
He hides a smiling face.”
Moses was called to die while for
his age he was still a young man, at least, he was full of vigor mental and
physical. To all human reasoning he was the very man to complete the work he
had began and so successfully conducted so far but God said, no, “Moses come
up with me to the mountain and die, Joshua is now the man to do this work.”
Is there not a beautiful parallel here? William McKinley did a great work—greater
perhaps than any other since Lincoln—and to the eye of man no other could carry
on and develop that work, but God said, “William come up, the man to carry on
the work is at your right hand, come up and make room for him.” Envy long ago
marked Roosevelt for political slaughter. It said that he should not become
President, and to make that doubly sure, he was made Vice President, and now
to break over his environments he had all the machinations of the politicians,
and that almost unsurmountable thing called American tradition to overcome.
While in those circumstances his political 
opponents smiled with serene satisfaction and supposed security, but God said,
“Gentlemen, this man is to become President,” and he has. The plans of men are
shattered, the plans of God are in force. Mr. McKinley is dead, Mr. Roosevelt
is at the head of the nation. And we have abundant reason for placing in him
profoundest confidence. He is the worthy successor of the noblest of men.
He will, as he has said, follow the path marked out for him by his illustrious predecessor, but other providential incidents, doubtless, will turn up, and in a large sense the path is not yet marked out for him, and the difference between McKinley and Roosevelt may be as great as the difference between Moses and Joshua, and Joshua followed the path as marked out for him only in principles of actions; not in detail of operations. Principles are eternal, policies of methods of statesmanship are changeable. The policies of one man may not meet the demands of another; what may be just the thing to do in a given case may be illogical or unreasonable in another. We should not insist that this man of God shall lose his individuality in the greatness and the success of another. There are specific tasks for him to accomplish, and he will accomplish them only as he is led and strengthened of the God of Joshua. America by the logic of its environments is called of God to enlighten, to lead, to Christianize vast millions, to shed a new glory, to preach the old gospel in the garb of a new rhetoric, and God knows the man to do this vast work. We mourn the death and loss to us of McKinley, but thank God for the providence which gave us Roosevelt.