Source: National Magazine
Source type: magazine
Document type: article
Document title: “Collecting the Relics of a Martyred President”
Author(s): Wayne, Flynn
Date of publication: May 1914
Volume number: 40
Issue number: 2
|Wayne, Flynn. “Collecting the Relics of a Martyred President.” National Magazine May 1914 v40n2: pp. 219-22.|
|McKinley memorial (Niles, OH); McKinley presidency; William McKinley (personal character).|
|Joseph G. Butler, Jr.; Mario García Menocal; Myron T. Herrick; Abraham Lincoln; Joseph McKenna; William McKinley; John G. Milburn; Jacob G. Schmidlapp [first name wrong below; last name misspelled below]; William Howard Taft; W. A. Thomas.|
|The article includes a photograph of McKinley on page 220 (“The Favorite Photograph of President McKinley”) and a photograph of McKinley’s mother on page 221. Immediately preceding the article is a full-page illustration of the McKinley memorial planned for Niles, Ohio (p. 218).”|
Collecting the Relics of a Martyred President
The American people, ever prompt to recognize with a depth of sentiment and enthusiasm the generous impulses and beneficent acts of their great public men, are today preparing for the erection of a great National Memorial at Niles, Ohio, where the great Martyr-President William McKinley was born. The motives which underlie this great movement, the chief considerations presented by the history of the man, and the acts and progress thus far accomplished are here tersely outlined.
THE glow of American youth and hope is reflected in the fact that we celebrate
the birthdays of our famous men, rather than the date of their death, as in
the Latin countries. Birthdays reveal the optimistic American view of a birthright
looking fearlessly to the future, and adding to the tender reverence associated
with the passing of a great life career the idea that this life represents from
the beginning. The first thing that comes to mind in celebrating a birthday
is the birthplace. The scenes and environment whereby character is formed in
youth play an important part in the career of public men. Abraham Lincoln was
never wholly uprooted from the rugged and sturdy pioneer life associated with
his humble birth.
The eyes of the nation are now turned toward the humble birthplace of another great martyr President, and in the great state of Ohio no spot is held in more affectionate remembrance than the little town of Niles, where William McKinley was born. Here today through the activities of his life-long friends and companions, plans are under way for the erection of a McKinley Birthplace Memorial Building, which will be an appropriate monument to the memory of the late President.
This birthplace memorial was provided for by an act of Congress signed by President Taft, March 4, 1909, and was the first act that he ever signed as President. An association was formed to carry out the work, and as president, Col. Joseph G. Butler of Youngstown, the boyhood friend and companion of William McKinley, was chosen to take active charge. The work of collecting funds was undertaken by him and the other trustees of the association, which includes a notable group of statesmen. Hon. John G. Milburn, at whose home in Buffalo William McKinley died, and a close personal friend; Hon. John G. Schmidelapp of Cincinnati, another intimate friend and distinguished Ohio citizen; Hon. Myron T. Herrick, Ambassador to France, whose name is associated intimately with the career of McKinley, and Hon. W. A. Thomas of Niles, Ohio, president of the Briar [sic] Hill Steel Company, and an old-time associate of the late President, make up the list of directors. The work has been with them a labor of love and devotion, and they have worked faithfully for the erection of a memorial that will recall the life and time of William McKinley to future generations.
The memorial building as planned will be valued at more than $200,000, and will stand in a beautiful park donated by the town of Niles, valued at $50,000 additional. Nothing has been spared to make this building a fitting memorial. The personal relics associated with the career of McKinley from the cradle to the grave, will be here assembled. There will be a library, a relic room, an auditorium for the people, and the headquarters for the Grand Army of the Republic, and Spanish War veterans  —in fact, everything in any way associated with the memory of William McKinley will not only be preserved here but will be utilized as he would have wished.
Already $100,000 has been raised by personal subscription of the trustees and friends toward the completion of the memorial. Now it is proposed to raise the other $100,000 by popular subscription of a dollar each. Everyone is invited to subscribe, and a handsome autographed book by Colonel Butler, describing the work of the memorial, will be presented to everyone sending a dollar subscription for the popular movement. This book contains one of the finest portraits ever made of William McKinley, so excellent indeed, that Justice McKenna of the Supreme Court, many years a close friend of President McKinley, pronounced it the best he had ever seen and took it from the book and framed it for his library. The book also contains a facsimile of the act of Congress authorizing and commending the construction of the Birthplace Memorial. It is hoped that of the six million  people who voted for William McKinley as President, and of the millions of others who admired and respected him, the individual subscriptions will soon be contributed.
It is early yet to estimate the value of William McKinley’s life and its effect upon American history. Even now, however, great statesmen and world historians have agreed that the McKinley administration marked a most important epoch in American statesmanship, in its far-reaching influence upon the future of all nations. It was William McKinley who, though himself from the North, yet won the love of the South and knit the nation closer together. His administration brought prosperity. The factory chimneys aglow all over the country are in themselves inanimate monuments to the memory of McKinley. The wage envelopes and increased income of almost every American date from the time of William McKinley’s service in the White House.
In the triumph of a nation celebrating the completion of the Panama Canal—a dream unfulfilled for centuries—it is  fitting that a grateful people should pay their tribute of respect in preserving the birthplace of the President whose personal and executive act led to the actual undertaking of this great project. A nation spending half a billion dollars on this undertaking will surely see to it that the birthplace of the man so intimately and officially associated with the work, is honored in connection with the birth of the great canal-project.
The Republic of Cuba is another monument to the life of William McKinley. For the first time in history, a great nation won for a struggling young country its liberty and independence and carried out its pledge to give to an alien people absolute freedom and independence. Throughout his entire administration William McKinley executed and created policies indissolubly associated with the era of peace and good will, which has now become a fixed policy of the United States of America. Thus it seems fitting that President Mario G. Menacol, of Cuba, and many other distinguished sons of the new republic, should send generous contributions and greetings to the memorial commemorating the birthplace of William McKinley.
HIS life though brief was great in achievement. William McKinley, the soldier
boy in the Civil War, lived to see the flag of his country defended by the sons
of Confederates, who marched and fought side by side with Union veterans, carrying
forward a campaign under one flag and consummating the dream of Lincoln for
an eternal bond of unity which time or eternity can never unloose. William McKinley’s
career characterized the movement that led later to the establishment of a republic
in China, and the liberation of hundreds of millions in the [O]rient from the
bondage of ancient customs, a triumph of the real missionary spirit, fruitful
in results, and never wavering or miscalculating in carrying forward the message
of Galilee in the kindness and gentleness that conquers more effectively than
brute force of arms. His last words, “God’s will not mine be done,” are an inspiration
to humankind, reflecting the Christ-like spirit of the kindly, just and noble
personality that made the world better for his having lived. His name will be
ever associated with Lincoln as a kindred spirit.
In reviewing the private life of American statesmen, one cannot conceive of a more perfect example in history as a father, husband, friend, comrade, or even President. Time, efforts or money were never spared in his endeavor to help others. Such a life cannot be too forcefully impressed upon the young people of America, and every individual who contributes his dollar toward the memorial for William McKinley’s birthplace, gains manifold in the very influence of the act itself. In the beautiful Mahoning Valley, the birthplace of William McKinley will be commemorated with a building where the wayfarer can survey this splendid memorial and the relics and scenes associated with the life of McKinley, and go forth refreshed and inspired with the spirit of the kindly and generous President, whose public and private life will ever remain an imperishable inspiration to Christian civilization the world over. On ten dollar national bank notes appears the likeness of William McKinley, and that would seem to be the most appropriate contribution for those who can afford it, but the dollar contributions from the “plain people,” as Lincoln loved to call us, will perhaps as appropriately commemorate the democratic spirit of the man. It is planned to have the building completed as soon as possible, and every person who reads these lines ought not to delay in securing a two-cent stamp and an envelope, and placing therein a one dollar bill and name and address, to be mailed to Col. J. G. Butler, Jr., at Youngstown, Ohio. In reply every contributor will receive a copy of the book containing the portraits and plans, autographed by the author and president of the board of directors of the National McKinley Birthplace Association. The book will provide a souvenir associated with the inspiring life and ideals of William McKinley, whose life and memory have brought nearer to God and His righteousness the world in which we live.