Affairs at Washington
WHEN I stood in the President’s office at the White House during
the now buoyant, now breathless moments of the last days of our
late beloved President, what a flood of memories came upon me. The
canvas-covered furniture, the cool, white matting, that has replaced
the heavy carpets, the world atlas lying closed on the desk, the
deathly silence and quiet only broken by the ceaseless ticking of
the sounders in the “war telegraph” room—tears came to our eyes
as we looked for the cheery, genial face to complete the picture;
and yet the bulletins at that time were radiant with hope for recovery.
There was the yellow-arm, revolving chair at the head of the table
in the cabinet room, just down the steps. There were the ink well,
pens and calendar just as he had left them when he departed for
the old home in Canton. Captain Loeffler, the veteran doorkeeper,
was still at his post, and all who entered spoke in whispers of
the suffering one. There was a rustle of newspapers in the secretary’s
room, where clippings were being made for the executive mansion
scrap book; adding another chapter to the great portfolio. Outside,
the flowers bloomed with all the mature radiance of autumn.
The White House was being repaired
for the comfort and convenience of the sweet-faced invalid mistress,
on plans made during the happy Maytime. The painters were giving
the portico and railing the finishing touch, and the newly gilded
tops of the railing glistened in the September sunlight. Modest,
home-like, unpretentious, there was a touch of the American devotion
to home-making in it all; an expression of the ruling ideal 
of the man at the head of the nation, who was first and always for
the fireside and the home circle.
The heartfelt world-tributes to the
memory of William McKinley have no parallel in all history. A reunited
country—a world’s admiration: from every clime and class—every race
and nation—come the simple tributes of affection, which no words
can transmit; the subtle, inexpressible language of the soul.
Readers of “The National Magazine”
can realize with what a heartache the record must be made—President
McKinley is dead. In common with millions the loss comes to this
writer with the full force of a personal bereavement. What a high
inspiration for the myriads of the human race radiated from the
gentle, unselfish, great heart, that will never cease to beat in
the spirit of love and helpfulness of humankind!
We look up through blinding tears
and listen to the dying words echoing and re-echoing in human hearts
and minds throughout the world:
“It is God’s way. His will, not ours,
September 6, 1901, passes into history
as a black and bitter day, lightened only by the sublime courage
and calm resignation of its martyr.
The personal side of the life of
William McKinley was so perfectly and consistently blended with
his public career, that he was an epoch-making force not alone in
practical affairs, but also in the realm of the spiritual; and his
life and career constitute one of the noblest examples for mankind
in history. 
There is a tremble in the hand and
a quiver in the voice of whomsoever one meets, in these sad days,
that tells of the death of a martyr president. The endeared wife
and those who gather about the vacant chair at the hearthstone;
every citizen of the great nation; the entire civilized world, aye,
the human race, measures a loss in the death of the brave, gentle
soul that passed away with such words as indicated the dominating
purposes of his life.
It will require years of historical
perspective to measure the full-statured, heroic and triumphant
greatness of William McKinley, a president perfectly blended with
the man as a pure type of Christian manhood; not only mature and
well rounded in itself, but one of those personalities whose simple
strength is a concrete inspiration and influence that will endure
in the lives of millions of American citizens. The close range of
vision makes William McKinley’s life 
and career a more positive and vitalizing influence upon the young
minds of to-day than even Washington or Lincoln, because William
McKinley is not on a pedestal, lent glamor by the lapse of years,
but was only yesterday a living, breathing presence—a force—coming
into personal touch with this time and this people.
The world echoes with praise of the
perfect career of William McKinley. He was shot down while extending
that warm, magnetic, helping hand that has done so much for humankind.
The bullet was aimed at the heart that always beat in sympathy for
the wants of his fellow men and idealized the American fireside.
And yet his work was not finished. Such a character was needed to
impress upon human minds the highest and noblest ideals of life;
he was a willing sacrifice to his country—yes, to the human race,
to give the world an ideal sanctified in blood and everlasting love.
As the President and his wife left
that beloved home in Canton on that bright autumn morning, they
both looked back to view the newly re-painted and re-modeled grey-tinted
home, where they had spent so many happy years; now 
the repairs were completed, and with all the bright cheerfulness
of bride and groom they talked of “our home.” It was in Canton that
the sweetest and tenderest memories of their life clustered; it
was there that their children were born; and there in sunshine and
shadow, in happiness and sorrow, they had typified the ideal and
sacred devotion of husband and wife.
One lingering look—yes, the last happy
glance homeward for that noble home-maker, who as the gallant, beardless
soldier had won his bride, and kept sacred the altar vows by a life’s
The startling crash of window glass
in the Presidential car followed the welcome announcing the arrival
in Buffalo. The presidential salute had come with the shock of an
earthquake; the first thought of the man in whose honor it was given
was for the invalid wife. Tenderly he took her in his arms and his
assurance was enough. With her at his 
side he was radiant and serenely happy.
“They had more powder than they thought,”
he remarked with a genial smile.
The salutes were fired too close to
the car, and the shattered glass was revealed later as an evil omen
of the shattered hopes of the world, while the people waited for
news from the bedside of the beloved President.
“President’s Day” dawned in the full-orbed
splendor of Autumn. The air was rich with the fragrance of full
fruitage. The golden month was at her best. “It’s McKinley weather”
was on every lip as a hundred thousand people started on their way
to the Pan-American Exposition grounds to see “our President.” Early
in the morning the distinguished guests at the Milburn house on
Delaware street were astir. The President carried the copy of his
speech in his inside pocket and stopped during his brief morning
walk about the grounds to jot down a new word or idea.
“I never have overcome the nervousness
that comes over me before making a speech,” he jocularly remarked,
adjusting his glasses. That speech was the ripe thought of the greatest
American statesman of the times—and is one that will live in history.
It was the summarizing of an epoch in national destiny, while the
swift-moving events which it recorded were still fresh in the minds
of the people. It was an account of his stewardship to the American
nation, fraught with inspired foresight and fragrant with love and
affection for the people and the highest ideals of patriotism.
The carriage bore them through the
crowds to the Triumphal Bridge and then in the full glory of the
September morning, with the gay flutter of flags of all America
and the dreamy haze of Indian summer settling over the esplanade
and fountains, the people gathered to hear what was destined to
be the farewell address of the twenty-fourth president of the United
States. There was a hush when he arose to speak, and the deliberation
with which he wiped his eye glasses gave him time to overcome the
nervousness that confronted him at the opening of every address.
Raising his head and looking over his glasses in a kindly way, in
full, rounded, measured tones, he delivered an address which was
caught up and flashed around the world within a few hours of its
utterance. It was an important message to the world and looked to
the future. How gentle and significant was the scene; for nowhere
have the peaceful achievements of the country been more thoroughly
indexed than at the Pan-American. The throng that assembled on that
bridge was an interesting study—truly typical of the country.
Citizens from all the various states
and territories brushed elbows there; diplomats from the nations
of the world, silk-tiled [sic] and conventional in black
Prince Alberts. Orient and Occident were merged in that throng and
everyone was thrilled. Thousands stood by patiently until the last
words were spoken, although comparatively few in that vast assembly
could hear what the speaker said. Little did any one think what
precious, golden moments were passing!
Conspicuous in the crowd assembled
on the Esplanade to hear President McKinley’s speech, were several
“National Magazine” badges, worn by delegates to the “National’s”
Pan-American Convention who remained to greet the President. He
sent his regrets at being un[able] to attend the “National’s” convention.
Children were everywhere present, and gave vent to wilder enthusiasm
than their elders. A pretty little maiden with fluffy hair demurely
stood in her father’s coat pocket, with her arms tightly clasping
his neck, and from this exalted posi- 
tion she was the first of her little group to see the President
as he drove up.
“See! there he is! mamma, papa, mamma,
there he is! Get up here, mamma; you can see just fine!”
The good natured crowd laughed at
the childish enthusiasm.
“I want to see,” came a pleading voice
from a little boy who was digging his head in the coat tails of
a man in front. A second later he was elevated to the broad shoulders
of a six-foot giant and a tired little woman murmured a word of
thanks to the stranger.
“Down with the boy!” shouted a man
just behind, who was short in stature.
“Never!” came back the reply. “You
can’t down the American boy.” And the short man cheered with the
“Mamma, did you see? He wipes his
glasses just like Uncle George. Oh, but he must be a nice man.”
“Hush, my child,” said the father, but the seed had been sown for
a new thought in the mind of a grey-haired man standing near.
“That’s just the way Lincoln used
to do. It’s the same thing over again; our greatest presidents are
The party was driven to the Stadium.
The presence of carriages on the grounds was a mark of the distinguished
occasion. And yet do you know one of the ambassadors remarked that
it was suggestive of a funeral cortege. The President preferred
walking among the people, where it was possible.
Very sturdily he walked into the great
Stadium under a scorching sun, to review the troops. The great,
umbrella-bearing throngs rose to greet the President as he passed,
and every  outburst of applause
was met with that graceful bow and sincere salute which was distinctly
characteristic of William McKinley. It was an expression of patriotic
and personal devotion seldom witnessed. Standing on the reviewing
stand I was thrilled to the finger tips, and somehow the thought
flashed over me: Is this the crest of the wave?
His last review will remain a vivid
memory to the thousands in the arena. As the troops passed with
that elastic, swaying quick step, keeping time to Sousa’s new march,
the “Invincible Eagle,” the President’s face beamed his pleasure
and his coat was flying open as if showing the open hearted honesty
of the man; he was somehow a part and parcel of the people, and
it was the people who furnished the pageant for him rather than
the troops. The diplomatic corps, representing all nations, caught
the infectious enthusiasm and one member remarked:
“Such patriotism is an invulnerable
bulwark of national strength.”
As the late President ascended the
steps of the stand, gravely dignified but happy-faced, his deep
blue eyes glistened in the radiant noon-day sun. He graciously bowed
to the ladies on the stand.
“Are you fatigued,” inquired a lady
standing near me.
“Oh, no; I’ve had a good six weeks’
rest at home,” he replied in his cheery way.
As he turned to watch the troops,
with the fingers of one hand he tapped the railing in time with
the music, for if any one liked music it was our late President.
Alert, attentive and always interested, he made every man in line
feel that he was receiving personal greeting. And herein was one
secret of the superlative strength of William McKinley; he was always
interested, and his sincerity was never questioned, nor was there
ever a partiality. Always poised for emergencies, never did a shadow
of hypocrisy pass over that kindly face. When he turned and saw
my “National Magazine” convention badge of red, white and blue,
“The colors are right”—and then, al-
 most in the same breath, were
scattered those brief words and acts of kindliness to scores of
others which enshrine his memory in affectionate remembrance.
As the party passed out near the court
of lilies, the homing pigeons were brought forth from the dove-cote
and long and steadfastly he gazed at the circling birds, emblematic
of the peace he loved. Peace, prosperity and happy homes were the
watchwords of his career, from the time when he first took an official
green bag as county attorney, until the last days of his life.
That evening, in the gentle twilight
of fairyland glowing on the shore of Mirror lake, with the illuminated
buildings and trees in the background, the President witnessed for
the last time the glories of nocturnal splendor. Happy and cheerful,
and as interested as when a barefoot boy at Niles, Ohio, when the
Fourth of July pyrotechnics were in progress, he enjoyed every flash
of the swift, shooting rockets and clusters of light in the cloud-banked
sky. The flickering shadows and the dense darkness among the trees
made some of his personal protectors tremble, but he seemed to have
no consciousness of peril and discussed lightly the plan for the
morrow, when he was to visit Niagara.
Ah, that most touching, last morning!
From the vine-covered verandah he came, with Mrs. McKinley, to greet
the splendor of the new day! With her coat on his arm, (no man was
ever more devoted) he turned to greet even those who held the cameras.
The grand old flag he loved made the background of the picture.
Mrs. McKinley was hidden behind a parasol, and even there was the
genial face of the President to say:
“I’ll just have to let you have a
What a happy day seemed ahead! Appreciative
of every moment the President and members of the cabinet stood upon
the banks of the greatest wonder of the world, and watched the water
in its onward rush to the sea. Thoughtful and considerate of the
comfort of his wife and others, he had never a care for his own
Just three hours before the fatal
shot was fired, the President, for the first time in weeks, requested
a picture. Quick as a flash it was taken by Mr. Dunn of “Leslie’s
Weekly,” before the word was scarcely uttered. Attired simply in
a silk hat and black Prince Albert, with a white vest, from which
hung a simple gold fob, and his gloves, he looked every inch the
great man he was.
The President’s watch came out frequently,
because if there was ever a methodical, punctual man, he was, and
most anxious that the thousands at the Temple of Music should not
be kept waiting. The train arrived at the north gate and the party
was hurried past the Propylea [sic] and well into the midst
of a sea of humanity, greeting him as he proceeded.
He wore an air of serious purpose,
as he pressed onward, not to disappoint or keep the people waiting.
The throng were packed against the door and had to pass in and out
through an improvised aisle lined on either side with seats. Directly
between the two stood the President, with Secretary Cortelyou on
the right and President Milburn on the left. The President pulled
out his watch again to see if he was on time, and looked about admiring
the interior of the temple. Little could I think, as I caught a
last glimpse of that beloved face among the hustling crowd, of the
impending tragedy. Here in the gaieties of dedication day songs
and chimes had gone forth; the Vice-President and Senator Lodge
had spoken with Senator Hanna on the platform. Here, during the
summer days, music lovers had gathered at the recitals given at
this now fatal hour of four o’clock every afternoon. Here it was
our Frederick Archer’s magic touch had 
brought forth the heights and depths of the “Pilgrim Chorus” from
“Tannhauser.” Here it was that the very artistic spirit of the Exposition
centred—in fact—the magnet, the meeting point, the place where the
sessions of all of the conventions and all special day exercises
had been held. Here was where romance, comedy, music dwelt—and now
deep-dyed tragedy stalked in.
The people began to pass forward,
shake the President’s hand and move on. In the twinkling of an eye
it occurred. Standing within fifty feet were hundreds of people
who did not know what had taken place. There were two shots in quick
succession, about 4:12 p. m., but nothing was thought of that because
it could easily be confounded with the shooting from Indian festivities
outside. I saw vaguely a scuffle and my thought was, “Some drunken
man.” Then, when the President was taken to the inner side of the
stage my first thought was that he had fainted from the fatigue
of the arduous duties of the day. The people were stunned when the
first ghastly whisper came across the room:
“The President is shot!”
Many would not believe it, but a few
moments later, when they carried a limp form out to the ambulance,
with the crimson blood staining the white vest, the awful realization
came. Men, women and children burst into tears, the hard, white
lines showed first in a desire to mete out some adequate punishment
to the cowardly assassin.
The frenzy was fearful to contemplate.
“String him up! Kill him!”
Czolgozc—Shawlgotch—the young Polish-descended,
American-born Anarchist, was beaten down by soldiers and the Georgia
negro waiter at the Plaza restaurant, who was in line, and before
the dazed crowd had realized the truth, the officers tried to sooth
[sic] them with the report that it was all a mistake; but
very soon all knew that the President was lying in the Pan-American
Emergency Hospital, wounded and near to death.
The deadly hurts were tended with
all the skill that the President’s own physician, Dr. Rixey, and
a group of famous colleagues could bring to bear, and the distinguished
patient was removed to the Milburn house, where his stricken but
brave wife might be near him in any crisis that might impend.
“This is not our first battle, Ida,”
he  said to the sobbing woman
at his bedside. “We have won more desperate cases than this. And
though conditions may be critical, if there were only one chance
in a thousand I would accept that chance and, for your sake, hope
to win.” Then followed the days of hopeful news from that bedside,
when it seemed as if the indomitable courage of the wounded man
would conquer, and he would be spared to his people. The public
fears grew lighter as reassuring bulletins followed each other twice
or thrice daily.
What a wave of grief, almost of anguish,
swept over the land when on Friday morning, September 13, just a
week after the shooting, the correspondents camped in tents across
the street from the Milburn home flashed to all the world the word
that the President had had a relapse—that he was very low, sinking,
and that the doctors had all but yielded the last hope. The world
stood still with bated breath, praying, hoping against hope that
he might rally and rise from the dark shadows that encompassed him.
But it was not to be. Recovering consciousness
near the last, the dying man bade his physicians to cease the futile
struggle. “Let me die,” he whispered. He knew that he must go, and
with the simple, sublime courage that marked him on the field of
Antietam, he met the inevitable with calm and unruffled front.
In this interval of consciousness
Mrs. McKinley was brought into the death chamber. The President
had asked to see her. She came and sat beside him, held his hand,
and heard from him his last words of encouragement and comfort.
Then she was led away, and not again during his living hours did
she see him.
The President fully realized that
his  hour had come and his
mind turned to his Maker. He whispered feebly: “Nearer, My God,
to Thee,” the words of the hymn always dear to his heart. Then in
faint accents he murmured:
“Goodbye, all; goodbye. It is God’s
way. His will, not ours, be done.”
With this utterance the President
lapsed into unconsciousness. He had even then entered the valley
of the shadow.
Slowly the hours passed without visible
change in his condition, but there was no more hope. There was only
the tense waiting for that moment when the great soul should quit
its house of clay. At two o’clock in the morning of Saturday, September
14, Doctor Rixey was the only physician in the death chamber. The
others were in an adjoining room, while the relatives, cabinet officers
and near friends were gathered in silent groups in the apartments
below. As he watched and waited, Dr. Rixey observed a slight, convulsive
tremor run through the President’s frame. Word was at once taken
to the immediate relatives, who were not present, to hasten for
the last look upon the President in life. They came in groups, the
women weeping and the men bowed and sobbing.
Grouped about the bedside at this
final moment were the only brother of the President, Abner McKinley,
and his wife; Miss Helen McKinley and Mrs. Sara Duncan, sisters
of the President; Miss Mary Barber, niece; Miss Sara Duncan, niece;
Lieutenant James F. McKinley, William M. Duncan and John Barber,
nephews; F. M. Osborne, a cousin; Secretary George B. Cortelyou,
Charles G. Dawes, controller of the currency; Colonel Webb C. Hayes
and Colonel William C. Brown.
With these, directly and indirectly
connected with the family, were those others who had kept ceasless
[sic] vigil—white-garbed nurses and the uniformed Marine
Hospital attendants. In an adjoining room were Drs. Charles Burney,
Eugene Wasdin, Roswell Park, Charles G. Stockton and Herman Mynter.
The minutes were now flying, and it
was 2:15 a. m. Silent and motionless, the circle of loving friends
stood about the bedside.
Dr. Rixey leaned forward and placed
his ear close to the breast of the expiring President. Then he straightened
up and made an effort to speak.
“The President is dead,” he said.
The President had passed away peacefully,
without the convulsive struggle of death. It was as if he had fallen
asleep. As they gazed on the face of the dead, only the sobs of
the mourners broke the silence of the chamber of death.
The last honors paid the dead chieftain
in Buffalo, in Washington and in his home city of Canton are still
too fresh in the public mind to require full recital. Let it be
recorded, however, that not one of the many and mighty triumphs
of McKinley’s life approached in scope or intensity his last great
triumph won in death. Such an outpouring of love and devotion was
never paid to the memory of any man in all the history of the earth.
There was scarcely a dry eye among the scores of thousands that
looked upon the nation’s dead where he lay in funeral state, at
Buffalo, at Washington and at Canton. In proudest palace and in
humblest cot and tenement alike the sorrow of his people was profound.
Men who had fought him hardest in life paid tear-wet tributes to
his goodness, his loyalty to his country and his God. Never a man
to evoke bitterness against himself, in this hour of his passing
he compelled, by the sweetness and purity of his career, the unreserved
love of all them that had opposed him.
The hand that sought to strike him
down did but exalt him. It served but to throw into a stronger light
those mag-  nificent qualities
that made him the best and most universally beloved chief magistrate
that America ever had.
One incident of the state funeral
at Washington was perhaps more beautifully illuminative of the ties
between McKinley and his people than any other memory of that sad
occasion. At the start of the procession up Pennsylvania avenue,
Monday evening, one wavering soprano voice back somewhere in the
wilderness of people sang “Nearer My God To Thee,” the notes of
which were on the lips of the President as he descended slowly into
the valley of the shadow of death. The affecting refrain was caught
up by thousands of subdued voices, which carried it up the thoroughfare,
keeping pace with the cortege till the hymn burst forth from thousands
more who were banked in upon Lafayette square opposite the White
House gates, making the heart swell and tears to gush from eyes
that watched the progress up the circular drive under the port cochere.
No wonder that later on Monday night Senator Louis McComas, of Maryland,
standing on the curb near the temporary residence of the new president,
remarked: “The sublime faith in which William McKinley died has
done more for the Christian religion than a thousand sermons preached
in a thousands [sic] pulpits on a thousand Sundays.”
The funeral train, bearing the remains
of the beloved President from Buffalo to Washington, and from Washington
to the loved home in Canton, awakened an expression of national
sentiment that has no comparison. The unanimous personal sympathy
of the people, enduring privation and hardship in order to offer
an individual tribute to the memory of the dead, was not adequately
recognized in the newspaper accounts. The bells tolled, the people
watched and waited in storm and darkness for hours, and all hearts
echoed one continuous refrain of their fallen leader’s favorite
hymns—“Nearer, My God, to Thee,” and “Lead, Kindly Light.” The telegraph
wires were laden with eloquent descriptive stories inspired by the
scenes en route to the state funeral at Washington, from the first
trying ordeal at Buffalo, when President Roosevelt and the cabinet
and the endeared friends looked upon the thin, placid face at the
Milburn home, where the first simple services were held.
How fitting that the final tribute
to the remains should be paid at the old home he loved so well;
there among the scenes where the sweetest and tenderest memories
of his life clustered. I never expect to witness again more impressive
scenes. The hands of the city clock were stopped at 2:15, the hour
of his death, and through the court house passed thousands of old
friends from surrounding towns to look upon the face of one they
loved until the pale glare of the electric light lit up the mourning
draped walls. A soldier and a sailor of the United States stood
at the head and foot of the casket draped with the flag which had
waved so victoriously at the time of his first nomination for the
What a contrast with the thrilling
scenes of ’96, when the crowds came to do honor to the living, with
huzzas [sic]—now hushed and silent. The modest little home,
which I had visited a few weeks ago, and the new porch, which had
been so proudly pointed out by the President, carried no semblance
of mourning. An additional electric arc light glowed at the side
of the house. The throngs passed noiselessly and with bare heads
as the soldier sentinel paced the lawn, trampled by enthusiastic
admirers only a few years before. The shutters were closed and thousands
kept watch on the last night that this little home contained the
mortal remains of the dead President. The flowers in urn and vase
shimmered with the September 
dew, as if they, too, were experiencing a grief at the loss. Most
pathetic was the sight of the empty willow rocker, where he sat
so many times, swaying back and forth in the pleasant autumn evenings.
What a pathos in this home scene, and what a flood of recollections
it awakened!—the summer Sabbath evenings on the porch when they
returned from Washington, and the little girl played on the violin
“Home, Sweet Home” and “Nearer, My God to Thee;” the cheery sight
of the President taking his fair wife to drive, as gallant as a
lover; the swinging walk up and down Market street, to and from
a well-ordered and busy law office.
William McKinley came to Canton at
the suggestion of a beloved sister, who taught in the public schools,
who was an inspiration of his life, and who now sleeps in the cemetery
where her distinguished brother rests in peace. Here was the stone
church where the young lawyer had taken the vows which were sanctified
by a life’s devotion as a husband. And on another corner was the
church in which he worshipped. In the fourth pew from the front,
No. 10 in the centre aisle, was where he sat and loved to sing in
full, round bass those dear old Methodist hymns which have cheered
the souls of countless millions. Every scene in this busy little
city he loved seemed in some way associated with him. I arrived
by way of Massilon; the dusty road was fringed with vehicles bringing
the people. Special trains from all directions poured in until it
seemed as if there could not possibly be room for any more. The
telephone and trolley poles were draped and there was not a house
or habitation that was not in mourning.
The floral tributes have probably
never been equalled. From every nation, from almost every organization,
came these tributes—expressing much and eloquent sympathy in the
language of heaven. And yet, with all this expression of a world’s
admiration and affection, the love of the old friends and neighbors
was the most impressive after all.
Vice-President Roosevelt, reassured
by the hopeful bulletins sent out by the President’s physicians
during the first week, and having not the least doubt of the President’s
speedy recovery, had gone into the northern New York woods to hunt.
There the news of his chief’s demise
reached him. As rapidly as special trains could bear him on he rushed
to Buffalo, where the members of the cabinet were assembled. He
went at once to the home of his friend, Ainsley Wilcox, and at 3:39
o’clock on the afternoon of Saturday, September 14, he took the
oath of office as President of the United States.
The scene, as witnessed and described
by a staff writer of “The Boston Globe,” was one of the most dramatic
and awesome in American history, and will never be forgotten by
the half hundred persons who witnessed it.
The officials arranged themselves
in a semi-circle, the Vice-President in the centre.
On his right stood Secretaries Long
and Hitchcock, and the Vice-President’s private secretary, William
Loeb. Standing on his left were Secretaries Root, Smith, Wilson
and Cortelyou and Senator Depew. About the room were scattered Ansley
Wilcox, James G. Milburn, Doctors Mann and Mynter, physicians to
the late President; Dr. Charles Carey, William Jeffords, official
telegrapher of the United States Senate; Colonel Bingham of Washington,
the newspaper men and several women friends and neighbors of the
At precisely 3:32 o’clock Secretary
Root said in an almost inaudible voice:
“Mr. Vice President, I—” then his
voice broke, and for fully two minutes the tears ran down his face
and his lips  quivered so that
he could not continue his utterances.
There were sympathetic tears from
those about him, and two great tear drops ran down either cheek
of the successor of William McKinley.
Mr. Root’s chin was on his breast.
Suddenly throwing back his head as if with an effort, he continued
in a broken voice:
“I have been requested on behalf of
the cabinet of the late President—at least those who are present
in Buffalo, all except two—to ask that for reasons of weight affecting
the affairs of government you should proceed to take the constitutional
oath of office of the President of the United States.”
Judge Hazel had stepped to the rear
of Mr. Roosevelt, and the latter coming closer to Secretary Root,
said in a voice that at first wavered, but finally became deep and
strong, while as if to control his nervousness he held firmly the
lapel of his coat with his right hand:
“I shall take the oath at once, in
accordance with your requests, and in this hour of deep and terrible
national bereavement I wish to state that it shall be my aim to
continue, absolutely unbroken, the policy of President McKinley,
for the peace and prosperity and honor of our beloved country.”
Mr. Roosevelt stepped farther into
the bay window, and Judge Hazel, taking up the constitutional oath
of office, which had been prepared on parchment, asked Mr. Roosevelt
to raise his right hand and repeat it after him.
There was a hush like death in the
room as the judge read a few words at a time and the President in
a strong voice and without a tremor and with his raised hand as
steady as if carved from marble repeated it after him.
“And thus I swear,” he ended it. The
hand dropped by his side, the chin for an instant rested on the
breast and the silence remained unbroken for a couple of minutes,
as though the new President of the United States were offering silent
Judge Hazel broke it, saying: “Mr.
President, please attach your signature.”
And the President, turning to a small
table near by, wrote “Theodore Roosevelt” at the bottom of the document
in a firm hand and at 3:39 o’clock Theodore Roosevelt began his
career as President of the United States at the age of forty-two.
Secretary Root was the first to congratulate
him. The President then passed around the room and shook hands with
The first act of the new President,
his formal announcement calculated to reassure the industrial interests
of the country, won the confidence of these great interests, and
the toilers dependent upon them, and made it sure that the tragedy
which had shocked the world would not be followed by the depressing
effect of administrative uncertainty. The new President’s first
official act was to proclaim the following Thursday, September 19,
as a day of mourning and prayer throughout the United States. In
this proclamation he said:
“A terrible bereavement has befallen
our people. The President of the United States has been struck down;
a crime committed not only against the chief magistrate, but against
every law-abiding and liberty-loving citizen.
“President McKinley crowned a life
of largest love for his fellow-men, of most earnest endeavor for
their welfare, by a death of Christian fortitude; and both the way
in which he lived his life and the way in which, in the supreme
hour of trial, he met his death, will remain forever a precious
heritage of our people.
“It is meet that we as a nation express
our abiding love and reverence for his 
life, our deep sorrow for his untimely death.
“Now, therefore, I, Theodore Roosevelt,
President of the United States of America, do appoint Thursday next,
September nineteen, the day in which the body of the dead President
will be laid in its last earthly resting place, as a day of mourning
and prayer throughout the United States.
“I earnestly recommend all the people
to assemble on that day in their respective places of divine worship,
there to bow down in submission to the will of Almighty God, and
to pay out of full hearts their homage of love and reverence to
the great and good President whose death has smitten the nation
with bitter grief.”
Theodore Roosevelt, as stated elsewhere,
is the youngest man ever called to the presidency of the United
States. But he is remarkably well equipped by an unusual training
to fulfill the vast and innumerable duties of that position. His
career has been an open book to his fellow-citizens for many years
past; as author, soldier and public servant he has been always essentially
a vigorous, forceful, high-minded man—a natural leader. He aspired
to the presidency, and there were very many men high in the councils
of his party who regarded him as the logical successor of President
McKinley in 1905. Now that the decree of Providence has called him
to that succession, the great majority of his fellow-citizens share
the conviction expressed by United States Senator Thomas C. Platt
of New York, that “he will be a great President.” He has given the
clearest evidence of wise statesmanship by pledging all the members
of President McKinley’s cabinet to serve out their terms as if there
had been no change in the head of the administration. It is conceeded
[sic] that Mr. McKinley, with his genius for executive affairs,
drew about him one of the ablest and best balanced cabinets that
has ever sat in Washington.
It is interesting and instructive
at this time to read again the roll of the presidents of the United
States, of whom Theodore Roosevelt is the twenty-fifth. The essential
facts are set forth in the following table: 
Meantime the peoples of the earth
have poured in an avalanche of official and individual expressions
of mourning for the dead. Let one who more powerfully than any other
assailed the political policies of the living McKinley: let Arthur
Brisbane, the editor of “The New York Journal,” tell how the world
pays tribute to McKinley fallen:
“It ends to-day.
“Fifty years of struggle and achievement,
leading from obscurity to supreme power and fame, are ‘rounded with
“William McKinley has returned to
the home of his childhood, never to leave it again. The nation stands
with bowed head while the beloved dust is committed to the soil
from which it came.
“The abounding activities of American
life will pause this afternoon in a solemn hush.
“The rocket flight of express trains
will be arrested on plain and mountain, the screws of steamships
will cease to throb, the tireless murmur of the bustling trolley
will be hushed.
“And, as eighty millions of Americans
stand reverently in spirit by the open grave, all the nations of
the earth will stand with them.
“It is the most moving, the most 
impressive funeral the human race has ever known.
“Never before has a body been committed
to the tomb with so nearly the entire population of the globe as
“When murdered Caesar was buried,
only the people of a single city knew what was happening.
“When Washington was laid to rest,
the toiling messengers were still galloping over muddy roads with
the direful news of his death.
“The people of the United States were
mourners at the tomb of Lincoln, but there was no cable to bring
them into communion with the sympathetic hearts in Europe.
“But now the whole earth quivers with
a single emotion. A shot was fired in Buffalo, and, as if by an
electric impulse, flags dropped to half mast by the Ganges, the
Volga and the Nile.
“The captive Filipino chieftain laid
his tribute of homage upon the tomb of his magnanimous conqueror.
“Boer and Briton joined in sorrow
for the distant ruler who had sympathized with the sufferings of
“All the world murmurs to-day: ‘Rest
“And the American people—his own people—to
whom he gave his love and his life, echo reverently: ‘Rest.’”
Testimonies innumerable have been
offered to the manifold good qualities of President McKinley, but
it is doubtful if any has put his finger with more certainty upon
the mainspring of the dead man’s character than has General Charles
H. Taylor in his “Boston Globe,” when he writes:
“Emerson says: ‘If a man wishes friends,
he must be a friend himself.’ William McKinley evidently believed
this sentiment, and carried it out faithfully from the beginning
of his life to the end. When thanked the other day by a man to whom
he had been a good friend he simply replied, ‘My friends have been
very good to me.’ A man who doesn’t stand by his friends in religion,
in politics, in business and in social life, in adversity and prosperity,
has something lacking in his make-up, which prevents a successful
and perfectly rounded life. President McKinley met this test in
a superb and striking manner.
“I have always maintained that any
man, no matter how rich or powerful he may become, no matter what
positions of power he may hold, will, as he draws near the end of
his life, find the most satisfaction in reviewing the acts where
he has been helpful and kind to those who are weaker and poorer
than he. President McKinley’s life has been filled with acts of
kindness which made up one of the brightest and most satisfactory
pages of his busy life. He will be sincerely mourned by the American
people as a whole, but his memory will be especially prized by the
host of people whose burdens were lifted and into whose lives rays
of sunshine came from the kind heart of William McKinley.”
The mourners retire, and in the silence
of her home the gentle widow bides with bowed head and aching heart.
The hearts of her sisters in sorrow yearn to her, their prayers
for her are unceasing at the throne of the Almighty God, who alone
can solace the afflicted.