Source: Normal Pointer
Source type: magazine
Document type: article
Document title: “William McKinley”
Author(s): Fawcett, Frank L.
Date of publication: 15 May 1902
Volume number: 7
Issue number: 7
|Fawcett, Frank L. “William McKinley.” Normal Pointer 15 May 1902 v7n7: pp. 77-79.|
|McKinley assassination; William McKinley (personal history); William McKinley (personal character); William McKinley (political character); William McKinley (presidential character); McKinley assassination (personal response); William McKinley (religious character); William McKinley (death).|
|James A. Garfield; John Hay; Abraham Lincoln; William McKinley; George Washington.|
The article (below) is accompanied on page 77 with a photograph of the author.
“By Frank L. Fawcett[,] Platteville, Wis.” (p. 77).
THE dawn of the twentieth century finds eighty millions of American
people bowed in grief. A citizen has fallen; the parting scene is past; the
bells have tolled; a sob of sorrow and a groan of pain have gone up from the
grief-torn bosom of the world; and the funeral train with mournful aspect has
borne to its last resting place the body of our beloved president, William McKinley.
While on a mission of peace and good will [sic] he was shot down by a treacherous
assassin. He has departed, leaving a fruitful heritage. He has gone to his reward
wearing a martyr’s crown.
Born in 184 in an obscure town in Ohio, his early life fostered the inherited ideals which later found expression in a full-orbed character. Struggling for an education, battling with the rigorous conditions of pioneer life, mindful of his obligations to constituted authority, William McKinley laid the foundations of a manhood which shall speak to the ages in the persuasive eloquence of a noble life. At the age of seventeen we see him leaving a country school, in which he was teacher, to enter the ranks of the Union army. Three years later we find him a brave and respected officer, having been gradually promoted from a private to a major for gallant and meritorious conduct upon the field of battle.
The crisis of 1861 was fraught with momentous consequences. Defeat meant the death of the union. The attack upon Fort Sumpter [sic] was the call which led young McKinley to shoulder a musket in the defense of the life and honor of the nation. He battled for justice to the down-trodden, for the integrity of the flag, for the rights of man, for the majesty of law, for the dignity of labor and for the glory of the Constitution which guarantees to all men the right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. He championed the cause of the black man—the despised, the hated, the hunted slave—nor did he rest until the ill-treated negro, from whom victory wrenched the shackles of serfdom, was, in every sense, a free citizen of the commonwealth.
During those dark rebellious days this Ohio soldier boy won universal respect. By his courageous devotion to country, by the magnificence of his bearing and the splendor of his example, by his willingness to sacrifice, if necessary, himself, his life, his all, for the nation, his name was enshrined in the hearts of a grateful people—in the esteem of fellow-officers, in the affection of soldier and citizen, in the respect of all the world.
As a representative of the people, whose rights he championed and welfare he guarded, he was faithful and incorruptible, an ideal leader. Once recognizing his duty he never wavered from its execution. He shrank from no responsibility and nothing could shake his courage or lessen his faith in the cause for which he was contending. It was their confidence in his inherent genius for public administration that led the people to elect him successively Prosecuting Attorney, Member of Congress, and Governor of his native state. It was the same faith which made his counsels respected in the political organization which owes much of its prestige to his services. Swept out of public life by the reaction which followed the enactment of the law which bears his name, he proved himself magnificent in defeat. To politicians who doubted, he wrote: “Keep up your courage—home and country will triumph in the end.” Although defeated, his faith in the ultimate triumph of the principles embodied in the law was  never shaken; and in the succeeding years of life he labored to realize those ideals.
The story of his career as president comes like a benediction into one of the most stirring epochs of our nation’s history. In those days when strong men trembled and brave men feared, when the nation were an aspect of somberness and anxiety, when both statesman and financier feared the events of a day, and when the horizon of our future was obscured by a cloud of doubt, William McKinley stood calm, courageous and steadfast—a bulwark of loyalty, honor and devotion, against which the arrows of opposition were as ineffectual as the darts of a Lilliput. Opposed by partisan and politician and aided by only a few faithful advisers, almost single-handed and alone, he guided the ship of state through the tempestuous breakers of malice and reproach into the calm harbor of peace.
Though urged to hasty action by over-zealous compatriots, though maligned by jealous rivals and captious critics, though falsely accused by impatient fanatics, and misrepresented and villified [sic] by a cabal of petty and plotting politicians, whose poisonous arrows wounded naught but his noble and sensitive soul, he listened patiently to all who caught his ear, calmly weighed their arguments and in the sincerity of dispassionate reason announced his conviction with a serenity and deliberation born of a purity of ideals and loyalty of soul. No pressure of friends, no assault of enemies, no temptation of ambition could sway him from the path of duty. Despising disloyalty and pretence [sic] he stood throughout those days which tried men’s souls, patient and resourceful, with a confidence begotten of a clear conscience, and with a firm trust that the God of nations would justify his course in the events of the future.
Patriotism, not imperialism, determined his foreign p[o]licy. The consequences of war he accepted with the same singleness of purpose with which he had sought to avert the calamities of international strife. The new relations resulting from the war meant new opportunities for the exercise of Christian statesmanship. When negotiations of peace were pending his every impulse was the inspiration of the largest generosity. His unreserved and single aim toward foreign powers was to advance their civilization and to aid them in securing greater freedom than they had heretofore known. In the recent international episode in China it was through his policy that the intervention of Secretary Hay elevated the standard of diplomacy and brought the United States to be the moral leader of the nations. His state papers, which will live as imperishable monuments to his wisdom and patriotism, are re-enforced by that farewell speech which appealed to Providence to sustain the nations in their struggle for higher civilization.
No president except Lincoln has had to face more difficult problems involving the unity of the people and the prosperity of the country than did William McKinley. Yet since the days of Washington no president had fewer personal enemies. There is an entire lack of bitterness toward the late head of the nation; for his beautiful character there is an admiration not limited by the artificial boundary of class or party. Behind McKinley the president stood McKinley the man. In all his public life, whether as soldier, lawyer or statesman, whether as a representative, governor or president, he was an exemplary citizen. There was not a time when he could not look the world in the face and say, these hands are clean.
The president revealed his true character in the very struggle for his own life, when, looking upon his assassin, with Christlike charity he said, “May God forgive him,” then with words breathing the spirit of fraternity and peace, “Let no man hurt him.” Shame forever upon those pulpits which cried, “Lynch the assassin.” Is that not the very spirit of anarchy? As the death of Lincoln sounded the knell of chattel slavery and the passing of Garfield focused public attention upon the evils of the spoils system, so may the martyrdom of William McKinley arouse the public conscience to resist the encroachments of anarchy and disorder. May every patriot seek to establish the ideals of our martyred president and to banish the evils which threaten national stability. If these ideals are to triumph it necessitates deeper moral education, stricter obedience to law, more uniformity in its enforcement and a more consistent devotion to the principles of true democracy. World-wide and as enduring as the centuries are the principles of courtesy, fidelity  and honesty, which actuated him in public and private life. Well might his example become the inspiration of every man that loves his country.
But he was more than a master-builder, whose constructive statesmanship will live to the end of time, he was a Christian—a man who believed in God and trusted His Providence. How simple that child-like faith—how quietly submissive the trust in God’s goodness which spake in every action of those last sad hours! Every form of anguish, every torture of body, every pang of suffering was borne with Christian fortitude. From the time he was wounded until the hour of his death no word of complaint, no murmur, no censure passed his lips, only a great hope that he might live to further serve the people that he loved.
The place and time are altogether too sacred to lift the curtain upon the last sad interview between the heroic president and his stricken wife. We only know that when the inevitable was realized, the faithful husband, whose unselfish anxiety had been for the loved and loving wife, clasped her hand and, with the unconscious sublimity of a noble soul whispered, “Not our will, but God’s be done,” and as the last ray of life-light was slowly fading, whispered with a voice of faith, “Nearer my God to Thee.” Fearlessly and in a full confidence of a blessed hereafter, he died as he had lived. The American people—his people—with grief fathomless in its depths, yea, with breaking hearts, bore him through the valley of the shadow from which he passed to Lincoln and Garfield, forming America’s immortal Trinity of Martyred Presidents.
The morning and the evening of that noble life gather up within their embrace the grandest and mose [sic] fruitful years in the annals of our history, years fraught with greatest opportunities and laden with unparallelled [sic] achievements. Through this era[,] with its vast and varied duties, passed our lamented president, with garments unspotted, leaving a priceless heritage, the example of a life rich in its loyal devotion to conviction and even richer in its record of heroic self-sacrifice. The memory of William McKinley, president and patriot, soldier and statesman, citizen and Christain [sic], martyr and man, will be perpetuated in Truth’s immortal volume, and his name, emblazoned upon the pages of history, will forever shine on the stars of the firmament—an inspiration to noble deeds.