Source: Harper’s Weekly
Source type: magazine
Document type: article
Document title: “The Shooting of the President”
Date of publication: 21 September 1901
Volume number: 45
Issue number: 2335
|“The Shooting of the President.” Harper’s Weekly 21 Sept. 1901 v45n2335: p. 961.|
|McKinley assassination (eyewitness accounts); McKinley assassination (public response: Buffalo, NY).|
The Shooting of the President
I WAS standing on the steps leading to the Temple of Music. A dense crowd jostled
and pushed back and forth in constant motion. All around me was the surging
multitude, keenly alive to the tingling sensation of the President’s presence.
The mingled sounds of gay concord and festivity filled the air; there were laughter
and jest and good-nature on all sides. I remember the thrill of the scene that
passed through me as I gazed from my vantage-ground over the brilliant spectacle.
I felt the pulse of a nation quicken and throb in glad response to the proud
honor of the occasion. The President had finished his address, and, as a citizen
among citizens, was levelling the hearts of the people to his own in sympathetic
Suddenly two shots in quick succession rang out from the building within. Instantly a hush fell upon the multitude far and near. Men and women stood transfixed in a solid mass. I shall never forget the interminable length of that awful stillness and pent-up emotion; it lasted in reality about five or six minutes.
A whisper began to pass from mouth to mouth like an electric current, “The President has been shot!” Low murmurs on the part of the men and quiet sobbing from the women began to slacken the tension. Here and there women fainted, and way had to be made for their removal. Suddenly the clanging bell of an ambulance was heard. The crowd began to break bounds and sway about tumultuously. All at once some one caught sight of a man being conducted to a carriage, and the cry broke out, “The assassin!” Immediately the throng made for the carriage, which was speedily surrounded. I saw the door wrenched open once, and the driver had to use his whip vigorously to lash the pressing mob back out of his way. The great congregation of souls which, a few minutes ago, had been stirred to the depths of silent emotion by the horror of the tragedy that had fallen like a thunder-bolt, now burst out in savage oaths and imprecations. Cries of “Lynch him!” “Shoot him!” “Kill the brute!” rent the air about me, and made me shudder at the sudden awakening of vindictive and vengeful desire where, but a moment since, there reigned the gentleness of profound grief too deep for utterance. The exhibition of these contrasting elements in human nature in so brief a space of time is indelibly fixed in my memory. No one who witnessed the terrible scene is ever likely to forget it.