Publication information

National Magazine
Source type: magazine
Document type: article
Document title: “The First McKinley Statue”
Author(s): Malloch, Douglas
Date of publication: July 1902
Volume number: 16
Issue number: 4
Pagination: 398-401

Malloch, Douglas. “The First McKinley Statue.” National Magazine July 1902 v16n4: pp. 398-401.
full text
McKinley memorial (Muskegon, MI); McKinley memorial (Muskegon, MI: dedication); Clarence W. Sessions (public statements); William McKinley; Charles H. Hackley.
Named persons
Aaron T. Bliss; Charles L. Boynton; David Farragut; Charles H. Hackley; Philip Kearny [misspelled below]; Abraham Lincoln; William McKinley; Theo. D. Morgan; Charles Henry Niehaus; Clarence W. Sessions; James Huff Stout [in notes].
This article includes four photographs, captioned as follows: Niehaus’ Statue of McKinley, Presented to the City of Muskegon, Mich., by Charles H. Hackley, and Unveiled Memorial Day (p. 398); Charles H. Hackley, of Muskegon, Mich. (p. 399); C. H. Niehaus, Sculptor of the McKinley Statue at Muskegon, and of Many Other Notable Pieces (p. 400); The McKinley Family Lot in Westlawn Cemetery, Canton (p. 401). The caption to the photograph on page 399 is accompanied by the following text: “What Senator Stout is to Menomonie, Wisconsin, as a public benefactor, that also is Mr. Hackley to the city of Muskegon. Each of these men feels an obligation to benefit the city where his fortune was made, and each has given, not only with liberality, but with discrimination.”

An additional related photograph appears at the front of the issue, with the following caption: The First Statue of President McKinley Erected in the United States. The accompanying text reads: “This statue, the creation of the famous sculptor Charles Niehaus of New York, was presented to the city of Muskegon by Charles H. Hackley, and was unveiled in the presence of fifty thousand people on Memorial Day.”

The First McKinley Statue


Unveiled in the Presence of Fifty Thousand People on Memorial Day, at Muskegon, Michigan.
Created by the Sculptor Niehaus and Presented to the City of Muskegon
by the Philanthropist Charles H. Hackley.

     “Let us ever remember that our interest is in concord, not conflict, and that our real eminence rests in the victories of peace, not those of war.”

WILLIAM McKINLEY, the martyr president, in the hour of his country’s necessity, was one of its bravest defenders. In later years, when the high office to which he had been called and the demands of humanity again put the sword into his hand and made him the supreme authority, he again proved his ability as a warrior and a strategist; but William McKinley was preeminently a peaceful citizen of the United States [398][399] and a statesman. None took up the sword more willingly in defence of country or in aid of the oppressed; none laid it down more gladly when its victory had been won and its purpose accomplished.
     This being his nature, it is particularly appropriate that the first statue erected in the United States to his beloved memory should bear the above striking sentence, taken from the speech he delivered at the Buffalo exposition on the eve of his assassination. The words epitomized the sentiments of this soldier statesman to whom the glow of furnace fires was a grander sight than the flash of murderous cannon, and the hum of industry sweeter music than the rattle of the timbrels of war. So the words of counsel and prophecy have been graven deep in the gray granite plinth of his first completed memorial.
     The first statue of William McKinley erected in the country which he loved and served so well was unveiled in the presence of nearly 50,000 people Memorial day in the city of Muskegon, Michigan. It was a gift to this favored city from the hand of the millionaire philanthropist, Charles H. Hackley, whose admiration for the late president was deep. It is interesting to know that the commission for the statue was given within six weeks after the world had been shocked at the news of the President’s death.
     The sculptor is Charles Henry Niehaus, a native of Cincinnati, Ohio, now resident in New York, who had unusual opportunities for the creation of the statue. When Mr. McKinley’s campaign for reelection to the presidency was inaugurated, the Ohio Society of New York determined upon a banquet in his honor and elaborate preparations were made months in advance of the event. One of the features was to be an heroic bust of the President as the leading decoration. Sculptor Niehaus was dispatched to Washington and there the President sat to him and an extremely valuable set of photographs and facial measurements was secured. The idea of a huge bust was abandoned because of limited time, but the sculptor prepared a half figure of the President.
     After the assassination, Mr. Niehaus sent a photograph of this half figure to Charles H. Hackley, the Muskegon philanthropist, who had been his patron as the purchaser of statues of Lincoln and Farragut for Hackley Square in this city. The idea of the statue at once suggested itself and Mr. Hackley gave Mr. Niehaus the commission, at the [399][400] same time announcing to the public schools of Muskegon that he would make them a gift of the bronze when completed.
     The dedication of the statue on Memorial day was the culmination of this incident. It was an important day for the Michigan city when it enjoyed the honor of being the first city in the land thus to honor the late President. The town was thronged with 25,000 visitors. In recognition of the national character of the event, the federal government sent a battalion of troops from Fort Sheridan, Ill., and the United States revenue cutters Fessenden and Morrill to participate in the exercises.
     There were present Governor Aaron T. Bliss and staff, Brigadier General Charles L. Boynton and staff, sculptor Niehaus and many other distinguished visitors. The full second regiment, Michigan National Guard, Grand Army posts from about the state, many bodies of Knights Templar, and the Uniform Rank of the Knights of Pythias—in all three thousand men—participated in the parade and were reviewed by the governor.
     A peculiar coincidence was the fact that Mayor Theo. D. Morgan was president of the day and the vocal music was supplied by a Welsh chorus of native Welshmen. William McKinley was known as the father of the American tin plate industry and the champion of “American tin.” Mayor Morgan’s father erected the first tin plate mill built in the United States, and the chorus which sang at these memorial exercises was made up of skilled workmen brought to this country from Wales by the development of this industry, and who now are valued American citizens.
     The address of the day was by Clarence W. Sessions, of Muskegon, who declared McKinley “a manly man, walking uprightly before God and his fellow men; an American citizen, typifying all that patriotism and love of country have ever signified; a loving husband, as tender and true as ever courteous knight to chosen lady when chivalry was in flower; a brave soldier, valiant in battle, prudent in preparation, esteemed as a comrade and honored as a commander; a peerless leader, never daunted by defeat nor spoiled by success; a polished diplomatist, adroit, honest and skillful, winning and holding the confidence of princes, sovereigns and rulers everywhere; a most distinguished and far sighted statesman, wise beyond his day and generation, and gifted with a breadth of mind, a strength of thought, a keenness of vision, a clearness of judgment and a capacity for work, that, together, produced a marvelous power of accomplishment; and a more than thrice-illustrious president, fortunate in environment, favored by opportunity, conservative in action, yet effective in execution [400][401] and privileged beyond all others to set in place the keystone of Columbia’s triumphal arch which shall still endure when time unveils eternity.”
     The statue was unveiled by four daughters of Civil and Spanish-American war veterans and, as the great flag in which it was enwrapped fell away and the features appeared, it was greeted by the cheers of the congregated thousands. On the pedestal appear the words:

     At the top of the pedestal forty-five stars, one for each state in the Union, form a border about it. The statue is seven feet and three inches high and weighs 1,100 pounds. On the plinth appear the words quoted at the beginning of this article.
     The McKinley statue is only one of many benefactions to the city of Muskegon by Charles H. Hackley. He has given his city over a million dollars’ worth of public buildings, parks and statuary. His most conspicuous gifts are: Hackley Public Library and endowment, $230,000; Hackley Square, monuments and endowment, $110,000; Hackley Manual Training School and endowments, $600,000; statue of Phil Kearney, $5,000; statue of William McKinley, $12,000; endowment of the Home for the Friendless, $25,000; Mercy Hospital and endowments, $150,000; total $1,132,000.