Publication information
view printer-friendly version
Source: North Carolina University Magazine
Source type: magazine
Document type: public address
Document title: “William McKinley”
Author(s): Kluttz, Whitehead
Date of publication: October 1901
Volume number: 19
Issue number: 1
Series: new series
Pagination: 31-34

Kluttz, Whitehead. “William McKinley.” North Carolina University Magazine Oct. 1901 v19n1 (new series): pp. 31-34.
full text
Whitehead Kluttz (public addresses); William McKinley (memorial addresses); William McKinley (political character); William McKinley (presidential character); McKinley assassination (personal response).
Named persons
William McKinley; Zebulon Vance.


William McKinley

WE are assembled here today, fellow students, to honor the memory of an American President and statesman, to share a sorrow that has profoundly touched the heart of a nation, and to evince our hatred of a colossal crime.
     It seems to me fitting upon this occasion to remark upon the death of public men in general; to speak of the murdered President as a public man and private citizen; of his attitude toward the South; of the crime that killed him and the infamous propaganda that spawned it; and to indulge the gratifying reflection that although the life of the President has been cut off, the life of the republic endures, and is, in some sense, immortal.
     The lives and deaths of most of us are of but small moment in this world. We enter it, play our little parts upon its stage, and make our exit through the open door of death. A little mound is heaped, and at most a few souls know the spot and love to keep it green. At most some golden household circle is broken, some chair is sadly vacant, there is darkness somewhere for a little while, and a few “mourners go about the streets.” And that is all, and that is the common lot. For the mass of mankind oblivion, complete save for a few loving and remembering hearts.
     But how different are the lives and deaths of the few who attain eminence and entrench themselves in a people’s affections! Living in the glamour of greatness, interest attaching to all they say and do, their lives are epochs and the world pauses in its work to lay immortelles of glory upon their graves. The places where they rest are holy ground and the remembrances of a people preserve their fame forever more. They are the kings of this world. [31][32]
     None of those here present have forgotten how the heart of North Carolina almost broke as she bowed over the bier of her dead prophet, her people’s greatest tribune, Senator Vance. Nor will we forget him while his native mountains shall stand.
     Today North Carolina, in common with her sister States, stands with uncovered head beside the bier of the chosen of the people, our murdered, I say our martyred, President, because the assassin struck, not at William McKinley, but at the government of the United States.
     The public life of the dead President is known of all men. In all public trusts he was the faithful servant of his constituency. He early gave evidence of those qualities that were first to elevate him to the Presidency and then to make him a wise and popular executive. His grasp of public questions was strong, his parliamentary ability decided, his political sagacity and genius for leadership acknowledged. He was conservative, tactful, astute. From the standpoint of partisan political advantage he never made a mistake.
     But Mr. McKinley was more than a mere party leader. He rose to his responsibilities, he grew with his duties. As President he was far-sighted and able, if not always firm. He won the confidence and affection of the people. He made the flag respected where it had been lightly esteemed. He conducted the nation through a foreign war that reflected honor upon it. He met questions arising out of that war without flinching. He found the United States a second and left it a first-class power. That is his best monument. He broke our fetters of national isolation, and taking the manumitted Columbia by the hand led her into the charmed circle of world powers.
     The private life of Mr. McKinley was above reproach, without spot or blemish. He made personal friends of political opponents by the graciousness of his manner. He bore a great heart in his breast and in it there was no hate nor any uncharitableness. [32][33]
     The dead President was too broad for sectionalism. All sections were his country and all alike he loved. When William McKinley, himself a Union veteran, stood in Atlanta and said that in the evolution of fraternal [sic] between the North and South the time had come for Federal care of our deathless Confederate dead, he stood upon the heights of statesmanship and spoke in a spirit that should make his fame bright to the remotest times. Let it be written of the dead that he helped to heal the wounds of war and to strengthen the ties of love that make us one people.
     What words are strong enough to express our abhorence [sic] of the dastardly deed that ended this life! The President of a great, free republic, admired and trusted of all men, in the noonday splendor of his power and his faculties, shot down by the hand that he would have grasped in greeting! Oh, “the deep damnation of his taking off!”
     It was the deed of anarchy. It was the deed, not of a madman, bnt [sic] of a devil. Anarchy is the creed, not of madmen, but of human fiends. It must be desroyed [sic] as a rank and noxious growth. A creed of assasination [sic] is too monstrous for tolerance.
     The assasin-fool thought to shake the structure of this government by his crime. How simple, how infatuated he was! The presidential office descends to new and we fear less trustworthy hands, but the great fabric that hath foundations—laid deep in ihe [sic] wisdom of ages—stands unshaken. Presidents are born and die; but the great public corporation we call the state passes, into the hands of new directors and lives on. The principle we call the United States is more enduring than any individual. God grant that it be immortal, perpetual!
     On the day before he died, as he lay upon his bed of agony, with the shades of death closing in around him, the President looked out of the open window upon the light and beauty of the world. “Don’t close the shutter,” he said. “The trees, the trees are so beautiful. I love to [33][34] see them.” The attendent [sic] closed the shutter—and for William McKinley it was closed forever.
     Let us indulge the fond hope that the martyred statesman, the dead President, with rapt vision and free from pain, walks this morning amid the perfect beauty of the green gardens of God,

“Where falls not hail, or rain, or snow
Nor ever wind blows loudly.”



top of page