Memorial Tribute to Sir Knight William McKinley,
Late President of the United States
It is not our intention to write
the biography of our lamented President, whose life has been an
open book, resplendent with heroic achievements, love of country,
love of his fellow man and affection for an invalid wife. A book
in which there are no blots, no erasures and which requires no interlineations.
His was the life of a true American, builded upon the civilization
and christianity of the nineteenth century and one the guardian
angel of mankind may look upon without a blush for any dereliction.
He was a manly man, who, knowing his duty, dared to do it, whether
upon the field of battle, in the halls of Congress or executive
chair of state or nation. For that he died, being stricken down
by a vile assassin who knew him not but as the ruler, the selected
ruler of eighty million of the most enlightened and freedom loving
people of this earth. A people whose very just and humane laws shielded
and protected this vampire even when he deserved to be crushed and
blotted from existence. Could a grander tribute be paid the majesty
of the law than that which we have beheld in the treatment of this
It is of our loved President’s connection
with the time honored and honorable order of Freemasons, of which,
under peculiar circumstances, he became a member while battling
under the flag of his country we would speak, that flag, which under
his guidance has spread its folds over additional millions to whom
the great boon of freedom had never before been known.
The close of the war for the Union
found Major William McKinley on duty in the city of Winchester,
Virginia, where was located a confederate hospital. In making his
rounds one afternoon as officer of the day, Major McKinley noticed
a federal surgeon on very friendly terms with several of the confederate
prisoners and asked the reason for this special interest. The surgeon
informed him that they were brother Masons. He mentioned this fact
at the mess table and said that he would like to become a member
of a fraternity on which neither rank nor prison had the slightest
effect. The wish of Major McKinley was at once made known to the
officers of Hiram Lodge No. 21, of Winchester, a petition was given
him which was made  out,
presented and accepted. On the night of May 1, 1865, at 7:30 o’clock,
Major McKinley presented himself at the lodge for initiation. A
confederate chaplain, J. B. T. Reed, was the W. M. of the lodge
who conferred the Entered Apprentice degree upon him. On the following
evening he was passed to the degree of Fellow Craft and at 3 o’clock
on the afternoon of May 3, 1865, Brother McKinley was raised to
the sublime degree of Master Mason, all in the same lodge.
The war closed, Major McKinley returned
to his home in Canton, Ohio, where on August 21, 1867, he affiliated
with Canton Lodge No. 60, from which he dimitted to become one of
the founders of Eagle Lodge No. 431, located at Canton. December
27, 1883, he received the degree of Mark, Past and Most Excellent
Master in Canton Chapter No. 64, R. A. M., and the following evening
he was exalted to the sublime degree of the Holy Royal Arch in the
December 18, 1884, while a member
of Congress, Companion McKinley received the Order of the Red Cross,
and five nights later the Orders of the Temple and Knight of Malta
in Canton Commandery, No. 38.
The bodies of which President McKinley
became a member are located in the city of Canton, Ohio, and our
valiant Sir Knight maintained as active a membership in each as
his public duties permitted.
At our President’s funeral in Canton,
Ohio, the guard of honor which marched in front of his honored bier
was the Grand Commandery of Ohio, under command of Sir Knight A.
B. Foster, R. E., Grand Commander, escorted by 2,500 Templars of
that grand jurisdiction.
As a fitting conclusion to the foregoing
we give the resolutions of the Masonic Veteran Association of Illinois,
of which President McKinley was an honorary member.
These resolutions have been tastefully
engrossed on the finest vellum and bound in black seal skin, lined
with white satin, the whole bound in album form on the front cover
of which is a neat gold plate with the name Mrs. William McKinley
neatly inlaid in dark enamel.
These resolutions have been duly forwarded
to Mrs. McKinley.
Whereas, The nation weeps and the
world mourns the death of our martyr,
M K ,
who fell at his post of duty. We, his brethren, members of the
Masonic Veteran Association of Illinois, bowing with meek humility
before the Throne of Grace, desire to place on record our appreciation
of the manly and Christian virtues of
M K ,
an honorary member of this association, and our condemnation of
the act of the vile miscreant who dastardly murdered so amiable
a character as the chief magistrate of this great republic. Therefore
be it, Resolved: That in the shot which took the life of Brother
McKinley, the happiness and welfare of eighty millions of people
were imperiled and the life of the nation assaulted.
And while the English language is
not sufficiently strong to properly express our detestation of so
vile an act  as that which
deprived us of so just and humane a President, we do not seek for
vengeance against the murderer, but we do hope that this loss will
secure to us a code of laws, the execution of which will serve to
repress all tendency towards anarchism and exterminate all such
vile and inhuman wretches from the face of the earth.
To the sorrowing and heart broken
wife he loved so well, we pray our Heavenly Father that His blessing
rest upon, abide with and give her strength to bear this great affliction.
With a consciousness that “the nation
still lives,” we humbly bow and ask that “God’s will, not ours,
Chicago, Sept. 14, 1901.