Tribute to the Memory of William McKinley
“A widow mourns for
her husband, a nation for its chief, and mankind for a friend.
“It is not a world of chance. Even
crimes have causes, and when such a crime as the murder of a President
by an anarchist brings sorrow to the republic, grief should not
make us forget the cause that made the assassin. Anarchy has taken
root in this country since Americans began listening to the gospel
of despair. The old Puritan spirit knew no despair. It may have
feared God over much [sic], but it did not despair of His
mercy. That spirit endured all things in the way of physical hardship
and privation, and from it issued the courage of the pioneers who
moved the country’s frontier westward until it was lost in the Pacific.
Then came a decline in the pioneer spirit, and with it departed
some of the independence and self-dependence of the people. Then
came the evangelist of despair to deposit in mental conditions the
soil on which anarchy feeds, as the germs of the pestilence feed
upon the feculence of cities.
“It is a wise and worthy saying, and
true, that discontent is a cause of human progress. But, there is
discontent and discontent. There is a noble discontent, which seeks
betterment of estate and condition by seeking the causes of failure
within. This noble discontent by introspection purges the character
of man. It seeks within himself the cause of his lack of success.
Is it his lack of thrift, temperance, truthfulness, industry? If
either or all, and he is a wise man, he immediately repairs the
breach in himself, strengthens the weak place, and then goes forward
to find every door open to his energy and no prize beyond the reach
of his enterprise. President McKinley had failures and defeats,
but they roused in his spirit his noble discontent, and after every
failure came a success, after every fall he sought the cause within
and not without, himself.
“But there is an ignoble discontent,
which looks outwardly instead of inwardly for the cause of failure.
Lacking thrift, temperance, truthfulness and industry, this ignoble
discontent listens to the gospel of despair and finds its failure
in external causes. Its ear is poisoned and its heart blackened
by the ascription to others of its estate and condition. The assassin
of the President represents this ignoble discontent. The two men
and the two systems met that day in Buffulo [sic], and the
introspective, self-repaired and self-strengthened man fell before
the ignoble vagrant. Then and there Americanism fell a victim to