Source: Munsey’s Magazine
Source type: magazine
Document type: article
Document title: “William McKinley”
Author(s): Munsey, Frank A.
Date of publication: November 1901
Volume number: 26
Issue number: 2
|Munsey, Frank A. “William McKinley.” Munsey’s Magazine Nov. 1901 v26n2: pp. 155-61.|
|William McKinley (personal character); William McKinley (political character).|
No text appears in this article on page 157 and 159.
Photographs appear in this article as follows: William McKinley (p. 155 & 157); Ida McKinley (p. 156); McKinley and wife with Dr. Presley M. Rixey (p. 158); McKinley with cabinet members (p. 159); and McKinley delivering his speech at the Pan-American Exposition (p. 160).
IN William McKinley there was the most perfect blending of pure democracy
and splendid dignity possible to man. His democracy was as simple and true as
the best example this country has ever produced, whether on the farm, in the
professions, or in the affairs of business; and his dignity was of the finer
kind that sprang from his own soul, rather than that reflected from exalted
station. It was in the man, not in the power of office or the great honors conferred
upon him. He was always William McKinley, alike in the army as a common soldier,
in Congress, and in the White House as the chief magistrate of a great nation—always
the man, never the official.
No man was ever more adroit in handling men than McKinley. His ability in this direction was genius of the highest order. His tact was so perfect, his manner so gracious, and his touch so delicate, that he brought them to his own viewpoint almost without their realizing it. In this  way he worked out his own conclusions, and with little or none of the antagonism that most other men awaken. This was true of McKinley in dealing not only with the individual, but with the people of the whole country on all great questions. Americans like to be in the discussion, to be taken into the confidence of the executive, to feel that they are a part of the administration—as they should, in fact, feel in a democratic form of government, which is merely a mutual organization. McKinley listened to what the people had to say. He gathered the evidence and weighed it well. But to what extent he was guided by popular feeling perhaps no one but himself ever knew. It was the characteristic of the man to give the public a chance to be heard, even though, in his own mind, his course was fully determined on. It was here that he was most misunderstood by those who viewed him merely from the outside. Bruskness of manner is often mistaken for strength. But McKinley was  none the less strong because he could bend. The world likes best the strong man in whom there is some human elasticity. It shocks a people to be brought suddenly face to face with a stone wall. A few days’ thought and general discussion readjust the mind to an acceptance of the inevitable.
It was said of McKinley, by men of large acquaintance with official life in Washington, that he could deny a man a request, as he had to deny thousands, and send him away “feeling better” and with less of the sting of defeat in his heart than if he had received a favor from a less gracious executive. In dealing with the difficult problems that beset a President, especially on the political side, where both firmness and diplomacy are required, he made few mistakes and no enemies. In this respect his administration was freer from friction and the bitterness that grows out of disappointment on the part of those seeking political preferment than any administration that preceded it. He made friends always—enemies never. The secret of this lay in the man himself, in his great, rich nature that radiated sunshine to all.
As President of the United States, there was none of the frigid atmosphere of exalted station about McKinley. His home life in the White  House was as simple and sweet and free from form and ceremony as that of a village squire. His cordiality was so sincere and so charming that any one in his presence at once forgot he was with the President, and, to his surprise, found himself as much at home as if with an old friend. McKinley made men feel that he was their friend, and he was in very fact their friend. His friendship was as wide as the human race. His thoughts and acts were those of a man who loved the people and was one of them. He gave his career to them and his life for them. His matchless tenderness and love for his wife were but symbols of this same tenderness and love for the people.
The humanity of McKinley—his great, generous soul that breathed kindness and sweetness and courage to all mankind—was preëminently his dominating characteristic. It was this that was the foundation of his splendid career. All his acts and all his life grew out of and rested on this rare quality. In intellect and rugged physique and tireless energy he was generously endowed. Other men have been equally endowed, or even more generously, in mind and in body; but coupled with all this, in McKinley was his great human heart that counseled him in everything, dominated him in everything, and that won to him the hearts of other men, their love  and loyalty and devotion. Genius in art, in science, in statesmanship, fascinates us. We admire it and bow down before it, but we love where there is love—a heart that responds to our own hearts, warm and tender and true.