MAN’S worst enemy is man. The greatest hindrances to the welfare
of the human race are the errors, the passions, and the evil intentions
in the souls of those that are mentally or morally diseased. President
McKinley has been assassinated in cold blood by the hand of a demented
youth! And why? The assassin does not hate the man, but the office.
The President represents social order, law, and government.
The nation stands aghast at the crime,
and the lover of liberty is perplexed at the problem of how to deal
with those unruly elements who prefer the bullet to the ballot,
who spread their doctrines not by argument but by sowing hatred
and inciting to murder, and whose idea of progress is slaughter
and destruction. How liberty shall be benefited by the deed and
how progress can be promoted through the terrorism which the enemies
of our social order try to spread, is incomprehensible; but who
can disentangle the twisted knots of the logic of a fanatic?
America is the land of liberty, but
liberty is possible only by the restriction imposed upon every one
through a respect for the rights of others. Laws are devised for
no other purpose than to insure the liberty of all. We must grant
that there are wrong laws, laws which do not serve this purpose,
but the tendency of our national development is toward progress
on the lines of freedom, and there is reason to hope that bad laws
will in time be abrogated. Certainly there is no ground to denounce
law itself because some laws are not right. The greatest hindrance
to progress is the false notion that one can kill ideas or abolish
institutions by  slaying
their representatives. The assassination of kings in Europe has
so far only strengthened the reactionary powers, and the assassination
of a president in America will certainly not weaken the people’s
belief in our constitution.
William McKinley became conspicuous
by his vigorous defence of a high tariff, but he would never have
risen into national prominence had not the Democratic party raised
the cry for free silver,—a step that would have led to the deterioration
of our money standard. The people’s enthusiasm for a high tariff
is gone, and Mr. McKinley would never have been elected upon his
favorite issue. But when there was the choice between honest money
and repudiation, the people elected him by an overwhelming majority,
in spite of his stand on the tariff.
In his administration President McKinley
endeavored to do his best. It may be granted that he made mistakes,
but he felt the responsibility of his high office, and he grew with
the expanse of his duties. We must remember that new problems offered
themselves with the conquest of new territories, and our administration
had to grope its way to find the proper solution. Whatever enemies
Mr. McKinley may have had, partisan hatred, envy, and cavil ceased
at the bedside of the stricken man. Both the North and the South,
Republicans and Democrats, see in him the representative of the
nation, and all unite in their admiration of his courageous behavior
in the hour of trial and in the face of death.
The halo of martyrdom now surrounds
his head, and history will gladly and fully recognise the merits
of his administration. His memory will be kept sacred by the side
of his predecessors Abraham Lincoln and James A. Garfield.