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Source: Outlook
Source type: magazine
Document type: editorial
Document title: “The Death of President McKinley”
Author(s): anonymous
Date of publication: 21 September 1901
Volume number: 69
Issue number: 3
Pagination: 143-44

“The Death of President McKinley.” Outlook 21 Sept. 1901 v69n3: pp. 143-44.
full text
William McKinley (medical condition); William McKinley (death); William McKinley (mourning).
Named persons
Leon Czolgosz; William McKinley; Theodore Roosevelt.


The Death of President McKinley

On Saturday morning last, at quarter past two, William McKinley, the twenty-fourth President of the United States, died of wounds from an assassin’s hand at Buffalo. In another place will be found an estimate of the career and character of the dead President, of the meaning and effect of this calamity to the Nation, and of the responsibilities and duties of President Roosevelt. Here we briefly record the sad history of a week in which confident hope was suddenly turned into hopelessness. The assurances of the physicians in attendance had been so strong during the first days of the week that Thursday’s less encouraging reports were generally taken as indications of slight and not really alarming change, but on Friday morning it became evident that a dangerous relapse had occurred, and in a few hours those close to the President knew that he was a dying man. That his vital force held out under any stimulus as long as it did was a surprise to his doctors. It was a source of comfort and satisfaction to all that intervals of consciousness allowed him to recognize his condition and to bid good-by to those near and dear to him; this he did with fortitude, dignity, and simple religious faith—his last words were, “It is God’s way. His will be done, not ours,” and just before he repeated some of the words of his favorite hymn, “Nearer, my God, to Thee,” words to be sung in unison of heart by many thousands in commemoration services all over the land on Thursday, the appointed time for the funeral ceremonies at Canton. The cause of relapse and death, as shown by the autopsy, was the gangrening of the wounds in the stomach and elsewhere in the body, made by the passage of the bullet, which, it now appears, also touched the kidney; strangely enough, the ball itself was not found, although a long search was made for it. A theory that the ball was poisoned is not generally thought well founded. Fourteen surgeons and physicians, including several not connected with the case in its treatment, unite in declaring that death was unavoidable under any medical or surgical treatment, and was the direct result of the bullet wound. Peritonitis did not exist, but gangrene is the effect of blood-poisoning, and surprise is felt that the physicians were for several days so confident that blood-poisoning did not exist. Immediately after the death unfavorable comment was widely made on the fact that a little solid food had been allowed, but it is perfectly evident now that no such cause was needed to account for the relapse. All day Sunday, after the simple funeral exercises in the presence of the family, the body of the President lay in state in the Buffalo City Hall, close to the prison to which the wretched Czolgosz had been transferred. In nine hours over ninety thousand persons passed with reverent mien the remains of the Nation’s Chief Magistrate, and it was noteworthy that nearly every one spoke in deep sympathy of the suffering and sorrow of the late President’s wife. On Monday, with impressive but unostentatious escort, the funeral railway journey to Washington began. The train was met at every station by silent crowds gathered to show their respect and grief, and by Monday night emblems of mourning were almost universally displayed in villages and on single houses as well as in the large cities. The obsequies at Washington on Tuesday included an elaborate escort of honor and religious services at the Capitol, where the body of the late President lay in state [143][144] for many hours. An account of the obsequies must be deferred until next week.



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