Source type: magazine
Document type: editorial
Document title: “President McKinley”
Date of publication: 12 September 1901
Volume number: 53
Issue number: 2754
|“President McKinley.” Independent 12 Sept. 1901 v53n2754: p. 2186.|
|McKinley assassination (public response); William McKinley (presidential character).|
|Leon Czolgosz; Emma Goldman; William McKinley.|
And who made this law? The people. William McKinley was the people’s choice. This Czolgosz family had come of their own free will here to escape tyranny, and had been given the fullest freedom. They had even been invited to help choose the Governor of their State and the President of the nation. We doubt not this Leon Czolgosz himself voted last November. He had become an equal citizen of the freest country in the world, the choicest home of liberty, where birth gives no privilege, where each man is allowed to carve his own fortune, and each to help rule the nation and decide its policy, where the voice of the people is sacred like the voice of God. And against this free, equal government, in the person of William McKinley, he raised his murderous hand.
And who was William McKinley? He was the chosen head of the Government, the sacred representative of the voice of the people. He was a gentle, kindly, spotless man, utterly devoted to the welfare of the people, and solicitous only to obey the people’s will in the fear of God. No ruler could have seemed safer against the feathered shaft or the leaden shot of malice.
And yet it was this blameless man against whom murderous malice was aroused. He was regarded as a tyrant, to be slain by any daring hero. He was called the oppressor of the people; his was the Imperialist sword that cut down the struggling hosts of liberty; he was the tool through whom monsters of wealth crushed the army of laborers into penury and slavery. He represented the autocrats and capitalists, the foes of the workingmen. Had not Czolgosz read all these things in the viper press, gloated over the cartoons of it, heard Emma Goldman repeat the bitter lie till he nerved himself to avenge the wrong to the people by tyrannicide?
Yet William McKinley is none of these things that Czolgosz read and heard. He represents the best purpose of all the people. If he has erred in his policy, it is because the people in their fullest expression of high purpose and will have also erred. He rules as President, because the people wish Presidents to rule, and have chosen him to rule. He has executed righteous law for rich and poor, in New York and Idaho, as the people wished it. He has delivered Cuba, Porto Rico and the Philippines from Spanish tyranny, and has annexed the two last to the United States, and has instituted self-government and liberty and peace in all three, because the American people had a feeling of generous mercy for those oppressed islands, and he has thus enlarged the power and influence of the nation for good all over the world. He has set to the other nations an example of self-restraint and honor in China, such as our people approve. He represents at home industry and prosperity and comfort, and honor and beneficence abroad. It is the worthy representative of the will and wisdom of the people whom this ignorant, conceited, misguided wretch has tried to murder. Against his malice are combined the prayers of the people and the best surgical skill of the world. We rejoice to believe that malice will be thwarted, and that the President will recover to serve out his full term of office.