Source: Overland Monthly
Source type: magazine
Document type: article
Document title: “The Final Tribute”
Author(s): Archibald, James F. J.
Date of publication: November 1901
Volume number: 38
Issue number: 5
|Archibald, James F. J. “The Final Tribute.” Overland Monthly Nov. 1901 v38n5: pp. 367-69.|
|William McKinley (mourning); McKinley funeral services (Washington, DC).|
|This article is accompanied by a photograph of McKinley (p. 365) as well as three photographs of the funeral ceremonies in Washington taken by the author (pp. 366, 368, 370). No text appears on page 368.|
The Final Tribute
No people ever paid more loyal and loving tribute
to a dead ruler than was shown by the American public during the few days when
President McKinley’s body was borne from Buffalo, the scene of the arch crime
that brought sorrow to every heart, sorrow such as is felt only when one near
and dear is stricken down.
Fate seemed to have decreed the tragic end, to have prepared a glorious life for a martyr’s death. After serving his country faithfully for many years, when the full greatness of the man was appreciated, he made a triumphal tour of the country he loved and received such an ovation as was never before known. The day before he fell he spoke to the world, outlining the policy he wished to have carried out. Had he known that he was so soon to drop the reins of Government he could not have more thoroughly pledged his successor. The next day he fell, finally shedding his life’s blood, which he had offered years before while wearing the uniform of our great army—during those years before his many acts wiped out the final vestige of the line drawn during the Civil War.
He died at the height of his greatness, loved and honored throughout the length and breadth of the land. 
It was late in the evening when the clatter of a squadron of cavalry sounded on the paved way, near the White House. Every available space was occupied by a vast throng of thousands waiting to do homage to the last home-coming of their honored chief. The avenue, the park, and the open [?] about the Treasury was packed. As the escort came slowly up the broad avenue the crowd fell back, leaving a pathway to the gate. The cavalry fell out, and lined the way with drawn sabres glittering in the electric lights. As the body was carried under the great gates, every head was uncovered in reverence. The silence was broken by many sobs. As the body passed by a clear, sweet voice sang the first strain of “Nearer, My God, to Thee,” the hymn the President loved so well. As though trained in chorus the crowd joined in the hymn, and sang it through as the body was being borne into the great mansion for the last time. This sombre scene of reverent loyalty was one impossible to surpass in pathos and sentiment. No greater tribute could have been paid than by those thousands waiting well into the night, sorrowing mourners at the home-coming. The rain fell unceasingly during the day of the funeral. It seemed right that it should; the sun would have been a mockery of brightness to hearts filled with gloom and eyes suffused with tears.
As the cortege made its solemn march
up the great Pennsylvania avenue to the Capitol, thousands stood uncovered,
heedless of the pouring rain.
The same night the Pennsylvania station, the scene of the former Presidential tragedy, saw thousands standing in mute respect as the funeral train carried its illustrious burden to its final resting place.