Impressions of President McKinley [excerpt]
He had been elected by increased
majorities for a second term in the fall of 1900. Upon his inauguration
on the 4th of March, 1901, in his formal address upon taking anew
the oath of office, he once more declared his conviction in these
words: “Our diversified 
productions are increasing in such unprecedented volume as to admonish
us of the necessity of still further enlarging our foreign markets
by broader commercial relations. For this purpose reciprocal trade
arrangements with other nations should in a liberal spirit be carefully
cultivated and promoted.”
Just before the Presidential journey
to the Pacific coast which followed after the inauguration he told
me of his purpose to call public attention to reciprocity in his
speeches; and he did so.
After all this consultation of the
people of the United States his last intimation to me was of an
intention to make a stronger demand than ever before in his annual
message of next December.
But he did not wait for that official
occasion. The international assemblage of industrial and commercial
interests at Buffalo in September gave him an earlier opportunity
for the most emphatic expressions on the subject ever yet uttered
by him. After a striking description of the magnitude of our production,
and of our capacity to increase it, he said:
The problem of more markets requires
our urgent and immediate attention. Only a broad and enlightened
policy will keep what we have. No other policy will get more.
A mutual exchange is manifestly
essential to the continued and healthful growth of our export
trade. We must not repose in fancied security that we can forever
sell everything and buy little or nothing. If such a thing were
possible, it would not be best for us or for those with whom
Reciprocity is the natural outgrowth
of our wonderful industrial development under the domestic policy
now firmly established.
The excess must be relieved through
a foreign outlet, and we should sell everywhere we can, and
buy wherever the buying will enlarge our sales and productions,
and thereby make a demand for home labor.
The period of exclusiveness is
Commercial wars are unprofitable.
Reciprocity treaties are in harmony
with the spirit of the times.
Our earnest prayer is that God
will graciously vouchsafe prosperity, happiness, and peace to
all our neighbors, and like blessings to all the peoples and
powers of earth.
And this, alas! was the final message
of a great and patriotic President to the people whom he loved and
who loved him. He saw clearly that the prosperity of our country,
standing alone, could not endure. If other countries are impoverished
they cannot buy. If increasingly prosperous they increase their
purchases. It is the self-interest of every country of vast and
varied production that the buying countries should grow in wealth.
A nation in poverty is no purchaser, or buys little. A seller must
treat his buyer fairly, or he goes elsewhere. It is of Holy Writ
that the “liberal soul shall be made fat.” It is equally true of
the life of nations and of individuals. Witness the present condition
of Spain and of Portugal, after many years of an exclusive tariff,
in comparison with France and Belgium.
This lesson of international fair-dealing,
combined with national industry and energy, is the dead President’s
last legacy to the United States. Patiently, thoughtfully, he approached
his conclusions. After that, no more hesitation, no more doubt.
He assumes his proper leadership. Until then he is patient, considerate,
receptive. After it he becomes clear, positive, and urgent. Never
since its colonial settlement has the country presented a more admirable
type of American and Christian citizenship—
Rich in saving common-sense,
And, as the greatest only are,
In his simplicity sublime.
So it has come to pass that we profoundly respect the opinions
of him whom we profoundly love. Both his heart and his intellect
have conquered us. We trusted him in life; we trust him in his grave.
Nay, not in the grave art thou, O beloved President, but warmly
nested in the heart of the great republic!