Source: Harper’s Weekly
Source type: magazine
Document type: article
Document title: “An Appreciation”
Author(s): Jordan, Elizabeth G.
Date of publication: 21 September 1901
Volume number: 45
Issue number: 2335
|Jordan, Elizabeth G. “An Appreciation.” Harper’s Weekly 21 Sept. 1901 v45n2335: p. 945.|
|Ida McKinley; Ida McKinley (personal character); William McKinley (death).|
|Ida McKinley; William McKinley.|
|Original article includes a photograph of Ida McKinley.|
DURING the days when the splendid battle for life was going on in the sick-room
at Buffalo, the thoughts of the American people swung back and forth between
the stricken President and the wife who was watching by his side.
“How is the President?” was the first question; and quickly following it came the second, “How is Mrs. McKinley bearing the strain?”
To-day every one knows how well she bore it. In its way, the heroism of the delicate woman who watched and waited was as great as that of the dying man who made his magnificent fight in vain. What Mrs. McKinley suffered when she was alone we can only surmise. At her post by her husband’s side she was strong, calm, supremely and superbly confident. Her faith strengthened him, as well it might. Again and again we are told by the bulletins, “the President was greatly cheered by the presence and the hopefulness of Mrs. McKinley.”
In past years Mrs. McKinley has suffered keenly from her enforced invalidism and her inability to be, in her exalted position, all she would have been had she been stronger. The black days just ended should wipe out the memory of that regret. When the supreme crisis came in her husband’s life Mrs. McKinley rose to meet it in a manner that touched the hearts of all nations. He needed her and she was with him. No woman could have done more, none would have been permitted to do more, than she did; few, very few, would have had the unselfishness and the courage to do it so well. In those days she revealed the qualities which have held the love of a great man all these years. His duties, his vast responsibilities, his triumphs, she could not always share; but in all his suffering and his death she stood beside him and unflinchingly shared every pang.
President McKinley gave to the American people as his final legacy the memory of a death as quietly heroic as any in history. He made a good fight while there was hope; and when there was none he surrendered like a brave man and a Christian. To have had his love, to have been with him all these years, to have gone with him to the very gate of death and lightened that dark journey—all this would fill the cup of life for any woman. She could ask no more.
Mrs. McKinley would say, if she spoke now, that here life, like the President’s, is ended. It is inevitable that she should feel thus. The American people have lost a President, a statesman; a vast power for the nation’s good has gone out of the world. Other hands will take up the work that was dropped; other minds will deal with the issues that remain unsettled.
The course is clear. But on the woman left alone blackness fell when America’s President closed his eyes for the last time. Everything in her life will be put away when he is laid to rest. From every part of the civilized world sympathy flows out to her—but who in all the breadth of it can find words to comfort her now, knowing what she has lost? For the present she must bear her burden alone.
Later the light will come with its attendants—hope, with its prayer for future reunion; philosophy, with its lesson of the insignificance of this little life; memory, with its pictures of the years that are gone. One of these pictures should be Mrs. McKinley’s comforter—the one which shall show her in the days to come how magnificently and unselfishly she supported her dying husband in the last great scene of his life.