Source type: magazine
Document type: editorial
Document title: “The President’s Death”
Date of publication: 19 September 1901
Volume number: 4
Issue number: 11
|“The President’s Death.” Conservative 19 Sept. 1901 v4n11: p. 2.|
|presidential assassinations (comparison); William McKinley (mourning); William McKinley (death: personal response); anarchism (dealing with).|
|James A. Garfield; William McKinley.|
The President’s Death
For the first time in twenty years, the nation
is called on to mourn the death of its chief magistrate. Since the assassination
of President Garfield, a new generation has come upon the scene; the emergency
of 1901 is to be met, in large measure, by a different set of men from those
who faced the problems of 1881. Those who, as children, wondered at the funeral
ceremonials of twenty years ago this month, now feel the nation’s grief with
the hearts of men and women. But we are all Americans, and a nation in even
a larger sense than was the case in 1881; the negroes who rejoice that one of
their race was the first to lay hands on the assassin, the Poles who repudiate
with loathing the wretch who claims to be one of their countrymen, are equally
Americans on this day with the descendants of the puritan and the cavalier,
and as one people we will face the questions that are now to arise.
We mourn with deep and sincere grief for our great fellow-citizen who is dead. There is no doubt possible that President McKinley has become very much beloved by the people. A grave and becomingly silent man, a confidence in his stability and integrity and a liking for his homely kindliness of heart have grown upon us in the five years that we have known him as occupant of the highest office in our gift; and through it all, as we can now see plainly, has stood out strong and uncompromised the ever-present courage and dignity of the soldier. As a domestic people, we have loved him also for what we have seen of his home life. His manly care for his invalid wife has been something we could all understand, and that poor lady, in losing one, has gained sixty million willing protectors.
The nation, too, has its cause of regret in the loss of its chief executive officer. The work will not stop; men come and go, the parts of the machine are in continual change, losses occur which are bewildering, and, to individual hopes, annihilating, and still the business of the government moves on; but William McKinley’s wise head and strong hand at the center will be missed very greatly, and to an extent, if we are not mistaken, which will grow upon us as time goes by.
And when our mourning is done, we have to address ourselves sternly to the task of judging a band of men and women who are responsible for this deed; if that can be called a band which denies the force of all social bonds, an organization which refuses to mankind the right to organize. Can it be doubted that we will perform this duty in such a way as to be a pattern to the nations of the earth? America has long been held a refuge for the unworthy as well as for the oppressed, for the degenerate and the mentally deformed as well as for those having real wrongs to complain of; but it is time now that this should cease forever. We stand today in the forefront of the nations. We have worked well, we have fought well in the sight of them all, and they look on us with respect, not unmingled with awe; now let us cleanse our own borders and purify our citizenship, so that criminals against humanity shall beware of us hereafter. Let us do it, not with mercy and charity, but with sternness; let us prune the vine of our children’s hopes, and let the pruning-knife be made as sharp as possible.