Publication information

Source: Outlook
Source type: magazine
Document type: article
Document title: “President McKinley: What the World Thought of Him”
Author(s): anonymous
Date of publication: 21 September 1901
Volume number: 69
Issue number: 3
Pagination: 162-65

“President McKinley: What the World Thought of Him.” Outlook 21 Sept. 1901 v69n3: pp. 162-65.
full text
Theodore Roosevelt (first official proclamation: full text); circulars (U.S. Department of State, 14 September 1901); William McKinley (death: international response); William McKinley (death: quotations about); William McKinley (quotations about); William McKinley (death: public response).
Named persons
William Jennings Bryan; Andrew Carnegie; Marie François Sadi Carnot; Joseph H. Choate; Porfirio Díaz; Edward VII; James A. Garfield; John Hay; David Bennett Hill; Henry Scott Holland; Humbert I; William Reed Huntington; John Ireland; Henry Irving; William Lawrence; Abraham Lincoln; Émile-François Loubet; Margherita; Ida McKinley; William McKinley; Theodore Roosevelt; Adlai E. Stevenson; Frederick Temple; Victoria; William II.

President McKinley: What the World Thought of Him



     By the President of the United States of America. A proclamation: A terrible bereavement has befallen our people. The President of the United States has been struck down; a crime committed not only against the Chief Magistrate, but against every law-abiding and liberty-loving citizen.
     President McKinley crowned a life of largest love for his fellow men, of most earnest endeavor for their welfare, by a death of Christian fortitude; and both the way in which he lived his life and the way in which, in the supreme hour of trial, he met his death, will remain forever a precious heritage of our people.
     It is meet that we as a Nation express our abiding love and reverence for his life, our deep sorrow for his untimely death.
     Now, therefore, I, Theodore Roosevelt, President of the United States of America, do appoint Thursday next, September nineteenth, the day in which the body of the dead President will be laid in its last earthly resting-place, a day of mourning and prayer throughout the United States.
     I earnestly recommend all the people to assemble on that day in their respective places of divine worship, there to bow down in submission to the will of Almighty God and to pay out of full hearts their homage of love and reverence to the great and good President whose death has smitten the Nation with bitter grief.
     In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.
     Done at the city of Washington, the 14th day of September, A. D., one thousand nine hundred and one, and of the independence of the United States the one hundred and twenty-sixth.


     By the President, JOHN HAY, Secretary of State.


     The following circular note was immediately sent to the foreign representatives accredited to the Government of the United States:

Department of State,          
Washington, September 14, 1901.     

     Sir: It is my painful duty to announce to you the death of William McKinley, President of the United States, in the city of Buffalo, at fifteen minutes past two in the morning of to-day, September 14.
     Laid low by the act of assassin, the week-long struggle to save his life has been watched with keen solicitude, not alone by the people of this country, who raised him from their own ranks to the high office he filled, but by the people of all friendly nations, whose messages of sympathy and hope, while hope was possible, have been most consolatory in this time of sore trial.
     Now that the end has come, I request you to be the medium of communicating the sad tidings to the government of the honored nation you so worthily represent, and to announce that, in obedience to the prescriptions of the Constitution, the office of President has devolved upon Theodore Roosevelt, Vice-President of the United States.
     Accept, sir, the renewed assurance of my highest consideration.

JOHN HAY.     


     The replies were instantaneous. King Edward of England sent the following telegram from Fredenaborg, Denmark, to Mr. Choate, the American Ambassador, in London:

     Most truly do I sympathize with you and the whole American nation at the loss of your distinguished and ever to be regretted President.


     The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev. Frederick Temple, sent the following despatch to Mr. Choate:

     I desire to express in behalf of the Church of England the deep grief with which we have heard of the death of the President. The loss of so great a ruler is a calamity to the whole world. The triumph of wickedness fills us with sorrow. Our prayer and goodwill will be an earnest for the American people.

     Following is the text of the message of the Lord Mayor of London to the American Embassy:

     The citizens of London are profoundly moved and deeply affected at the sad intelligence of President McKinley’s death. They had hoped that under Providence so valuable a life might be spared for the welfare of his country. In their name I beg to tender your Excellency their heartfelt sympathy. I shall be grateful if you will convey this to Mrs. McKinley and the people of the United States. The eminent career and public services of President McKinley were widely appreciated here and will long be remembered by the English people, who, having themselves sustained the loss of a beloved sovereign this year, are able to sympathize keenly with the United States in the sudden removal of their distinguished President. [162][163]

     On Sunday there was an immense congregation at St. Paul’s Cathedral. Among those present were Ambassador Choate and the staff of the Embassy. The Rev. Henry Scott Holland, Precentor of the Cathedral, said:

     A great hope that once filled humanity lies slain. We once dreamed that the New World had awaked from the nightmare of evil memories and set out to live its free life unburdened and uncursed, but the new has like bitterness to work through as the old. We must face it calmly and patiently. Not that we may be driven into a fierce reaction by the sting of this insane crime does the poor man lie dead. With renewed humility and with severer resolution we must work together for a new order of social intercourse in which it will become impossible for passions which issue in such an outrage to exist.

     Sir Henry Irving wired to Mr. Choate:

     May I add personally my deep grief to that of the people of this nation and of the nations of the earth for the loss of a great and good life, so ruthlessly snatched away in the fullness of love and honor.

     With brief but well-chosen words the London “Times” thus ended its editorial:

     He died as he lived, with simple, manly courage and unaffected piety, which mark the best men of his race.

     The “Daily Telegraph” said:

     There was the same anxious look in the faces of Londoners yesterday as they wore when our late beloved Queen was fighting her battle with death. It was then that America stretched out her hand to us. To-day, in her hour of bitter trial, we return the grasp.

     The “Daily Chronicle,” discussing the world-wide sympathy displayed, said:

     This sympathy is intensified by a full realization of the calamity, until we are almost inclined to say that there is no precedent for such a display of emotion and fellow-feeling on these particular lines. It is not impossible that the assassination of Mr. McKinley will advance that international comity of Governments to which some political students look as the keynote of future peace and harmony.

     The “Westminster Gazette” said:

     To us in this country the loss of President McKinley is a family bereavement. We have had our differences with the American people. We know full well how more true it becomes every day that they are our keenest and most dangerous trade competitors, but above and beyond the conflict of competition is the outstanding fact that they are our next of kin. We are linked by common ties that exist nowhere except with the United States. Just as Queen Victoria was sincerely mourned on the other side of the Atlantic, so now we claim a special right to share the sorrow and indignation which the American continent feels at the death of its President.


     Nothing was more appreciated in this country than the quick action of the German Emperor William. His despatch to Mr. Hay was as follows:

     I am deeply affected by the news of the untimely death of President McKinley. I hasten to express the deepest and most heartfelt sympathy of the German people to the great American nation. Germany mourns with America for her noble son, who lost his life while he was fulfilling his duty to his country and people.

WILLIAM I. R.     

     The Emperor also sent the following despatch to Mrs. McKinley:

     Her Majesty the Empress and myself beg you to accept the expression of our most sincere sorrow in the loss which you have suffered by the death of your beloved husband, felled by the ruthless hand of a murderer. May the Lord, who granted you so many years of happiness at the side of the deceased, grant you strength to bear the heavy blow with which he has visited you.

WILLIAM I. R.     

     On hearing of the death of President McKinley the Emperor, with characteristic and generous thought, ordered the German fleet assembled off Dantsic to half-mast their flags and to hoist the Stars and Stripes at their maintops, and also ordered flags to be half-masted on all German public buildings. German opinion is reflected by the “Berliner Neueste Nachrichten,” which said:

     The German nation expresses to the American people sincere sympathy in the loss of a leader who was an out and out American, and who firmly undertook the realization of aims he deemed worth obtaining and corresponding with the wishes of a majority of the people.


     In Austria the hearty feeling was well voiced by the Vienna “Neues Weiner Tageblatt,” which said:

     The ocean is not wide enough to hold all the sympathy that is streaming from the Old World to the New.


     In Russia perhaps the most important editorial utterance was that of the St. Petersburg “Boerse Gazette,” which said:

     Mr. McKinley was one of the most popular figures in American history and one of the best representatives of American ideals. On account of the extraordinary purity of Mr. McKinley’s character, the American people will find sympathy wherever civilized men dwell. Opinion in Europe regarding Pan- [163][164] Americanism may possibly be divided, but it is comprehensible from the American point of view. Mr. McKinley died firmly believing that the work he had begun in domestic and foreign policy would find suitable instruments for its continuation.


     President Loubet, of France, telegraphed as follows to Mrs. McKinley:

     I learn with deep pain that his Excellency Mr. McKinley has succumbed to the deplorable attempt on his life. I sympathize with you with all my heart in the calamity which thus strikes at your dearest affections and which bereaves the great American Nation of a President so justly respected and loved.

     The Paris “Gaulois” said:

     The death of President McKinley will have a greater reverberation throughout Europe than had the disappearance of Garfield, Lincoln, or Carnot. He played a bigger part on the world’s stage than any of his predecessors.


     In Italy the sympathy was specially strong by reason of the late King’s assassination a year ago. The Dowager Queen Margherita said on Thursday to a friend, when talking of Mrs. McKinley: “Both of us know what it is to be kept from the bedsides of our dear ones, I by Humbert’s instantaneous death, she by weak health. I cannot get her out of my mind. She is constantly in my thoughts and prayers.”


     The most significant and welcome message from the head of any government in this hemisphere was from President Diaz, of Mexico:

     I have been deeply shocked by this crime. President McKinley was not a ruler of exclusive or aristocratic tendencies. He was a good friend of the people, a genuine democrat in the best sense of the word. With regard to Mexico, President McKinley had ever evidenced such friendly sentiments that his death will be mourned in this country hardly less keenly than in the United States.


     The testimony of three prominent Democrats is worth quoting. The Hon. W. J. Bryan, who postponed his speech at Chicago before the Harrison League out of respect for the memory of President McKinley, said:

     It is inexpressibly sad. His life was remarkable and his character above reproach. His personal qualities were such that he had no enemies. The blow aimed at him is at his Government and is felt by all.

     The Hon. Adlai E. Stevenson, former Democratic Vice-President, said:

     President McKinley’s creed in action was, “There is nothing so kingly as kindness.” Blameless and tender in private life, he was patriotic in all his impulses, of personal integrity never questioned, and faithful in the discharge of public duties. He will live in the grateful remembrance of his countrymen.

     Former United States Senator David B. Hill said:

     Every good citizen laments the death of President McKinley. Death by assassination is always terrible, and the country is to-day staggering under the severe shock. The President deserved to live. He was just entering upon a career of usefulness greater than he had ever known before. As an official he was distinguished as safe and conservative, always ready to respect the popular will. He was a model citizen in all his relations in life. He cherished no animosities, and well understood and observed the amenities which should always accompany political differences in a free country like ours.

     Among the multitude of eloquent tributes from the churches we select the following:

     Archbishop John Ireland, of St. Paul, said:

     The Nation mourns; well may she mourn. She has lost her Chief Magistrate, whom she loved so dearly, in whom she so willingly reposed her pride. William McKinley is now dead; his memory will live down the ages as that of one of the most worthy to have been the President of the Republic of the United States. I knew him closely, I esteemed him. I liked him. He was the true man, pure of morals, generous minded, conscientious, religious. He was the noble citizen, proud of being a son of the people, brave in the battlefield amid his country’s peril, zealous of its glory, unswervingly loyal to its honor and its interests. He was the typical President of the Republic.

     Bishop Lawrence, of Massachusetts, said:

     President McKinley represented the best type of American citizenship in his amiable, forceful, and pure character. The Nation mourns the death of her Chief Magistrate. The American people mourn one whose influence has touched their homes, kindled a finer patriotism, and gained their warm affections.

     The Rev. W. R. Huntington, of Grace Church, New York City, preaching there on Sunday, appealed thus to his hearers:

     Think of those words of our departed President, when, after being shot, though realizing that he was entering the Valley of [164][165] Death, he said, to protect his enemy from mob violence, “Let no one touch him.” That was not only an exhibition of compassion, but a respect for law. That spirit is the sole safeguard of our civil life.

     Mr. Andrew Carnegie thus fitly sums up the situation:

     President McKinley passes into his place in history as one of the greatest rulers of men through their affections, and beloved by his countrymen, and he stands forever with Lincoln and Garfield in the Temple of Martyrs, wearing like them the holy crown of sacrifice for the Republic. Our first duty in this crisis is to give to his successor under the Constitution our loyal support, in the hope and belief that power will impress him, as it has many great characters known to history, and keep him in the path of his good and great predecessor.