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Source: Leslie’s Weekly
Source type: magazine
Document type: editorial
Document title: “Teach More Respect for the President”
Author(s): Cobb, Albert Winslow
Date of publication: 5 October 1901
Volume number: 93
Issue number: 2404
Pagination: 302

Cobb, Albert Winslow. “Teach More Respect for the President.” Leslie’s Weekly 5 Oct. 1901 v93n2404: p. 302.
full text
McKinley assassination (personal response); society (criticism); presidential assassinations (comparison).
Named persons
James A. Garfield; Abraham Lincoln; William McKinley; George Washington.
“Special Contributed Article to Leslie’s Weekly” (p. 302).


Teach More Respect for the President

     THE time has come for a determined systematic effort by the people of the United States to better their aggregate habit of mind and expression toward their first citizen—the President. That habit developed during the administration of the United States’s original President, the Father of His Country. Virulent threats of assassination directed against Washington by factionists were but forerunners and harbingers of the actual deeds which in the republic’s latter days have slain three Presidents within a period of thirty-six years.
     This average is altogether too frightful. Such statistics recorded for any remote past period in any nation’s history would, viewed thus through historical perspective, give an impression of most sanguinary, blood-thirsty order. An exceedingly pronounced streak of this sanguinary nature has permeated our social order from its original colonial inception. Bred by the struggle with red savagery, the Revolutionary War, and the later titanic contests over the issue of black slavery, this sanguinary streak, re-enforced by constant direct accessions from a gory Old World, is yet terribly manifest. Only by determined, systematic attention and conscientious effort can it be reduced from its menacing proportions.
     Unless such reduction can be accomplished there is danger that the very marvelous implements, equipment, and organization of our social system may be the means of all the more appalling disaster in some gigantic civil or international strife in which the people of the United States may become involved. Returning to popular habit of mind and expression toward our President, the three instances of Presidential assassination present in each case elements of certain clearly marked, traceable factionist abuse and virulence, not in themselves approaching any direct menace of murder, but tending to influence more sanguinary minds to that dire result.
     In Lincoln’s case the rabid utterances of copperheadism, point[i]ng to Lincoln as the tyrant, the autocratic abuser of constitutional power, the dictator who was the personal embodiment and source of the Unionist assaults on the South—it was this which acted to spur on the conspirators who believed that the murder of Lincoln and a few of his closest advisers would upset the entire government. Instead, it revealed behind the martyred President and his wounded comrades a vast majority of loyal, devoted, wrath-stirred, and, at last, thoroughly determined people. But copperheadism had done its hateful work, so far as violence to a consecrated public servant was concerned.
     In the second case of assassination a pernicious spoils system of office-seeking, against which Lincoln himself had uttered prophetic warnings, was fathered and made a public issue by certain high leaders and factionists in Garfield’s own party, to such an extent as to quicken the murderous instinct of the conceited, disappointed office-hunter who shot that good President to death. In this third instance, which so wrings the hearts of an overwhelming majority throughout our reunited nation, it was the intemperate, unbridled utterances of anti-imperialism and anti-administrationism in varied form and color which threw on our eminently beloved and constitutional President, William McKinley, a glare that attracted toward him the pervert gaze of anarchism, and made him a target for one of its basest and most sanguinary creatures. How the recent purveyors of anti-Presidential invective and cartoons must love themselves now!
     Now, together with rigid suppression of this latest menace, anarchy, or any like cult of whatever name, there should proceed also a rigid self-examination and self-control by each individual citizen of his utterances regarding that First Citizen who holds the highest office and most tremendously responsible one in our national gift—the President of the United States. Because to this general duty a heterogeneous faction has been lamentably recreant it occurs that the man who marvelously promoted domestic prosperity; who so conducted a great foreign war that no missile of the enemy nor boom of hostile cannon disturbed even the outmost coasts of our republic; and who has extended its vanguard, its prows of navy and of commerce, to that very Orient where surpassing problems of human destiny are to be wrought out, and where our institutions can exert an incalculably valuable effect upon world-wide issues—it occurs that this great soul has received for his mortal recompense an assassin’s bullet; and while we the people, are possessed with faith in his imperishable renown and his high place in the life everlasting beyond death’s veil, there is agony at our hearts for him and his, to whom after the years of battle we could have gladly rendered all earthly comfort and honor; but cannot, because the opportunity for that is gone by forever. May the solemn example teach us higher wisdom and fealty. It is time!



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