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Source: Century Magazine
Source type: magazine
Document type: article
Document title: “Impressions of President McKinley”
Author(s): Kasson, John A.
Date of publication: December 1901
Volume number: 63
Issue number: 2
Pagination: 269-75 (excerpt below includes only pages 274-75)

Kasson, John A. “Impressions of President McKinley.” Century Magazine Dec. 1901 v63n2: pp. 269-75.
William McKinley; United States (trade policy: reciprocity); William McKinley (legacy).
Named persons
William McKinley.


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 [274][275] 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 we deal.
     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 past.
     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!



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