Source type: magazine
Document type: letter to the editor
Document title: “The South and President McKinley’s Death”
Author(s): L., R. A.
Date of publication: 28 September 1901
Volume number: 69
Issue number: 4
|L., R. A. “The South and President McKinley’s Death.” Outlook 28 Sept. 1901 v69n4: p. 245.|
|American South; McKinley assassination (public response); William McKinley (mourning); William McKinley (relations with American South).|
|Jefferson Davis; James A. Garfield; R. A. L.; Abraham Lincoln; William McKinley; Anselm J. McLaurin; Theodore Roosevelt.|
The South and President McKinley’s Death
To the Editors of The Outlook:
You have had something to say in your columns
of the world-wide sorrow occasioned by the terrible news of the President’s
assassination. I wish to call especial attention to the grief felt in one section—the
very section that politically opposed Mr. McKinley most.
The South has not previously been so stirred by the death of a Chief Magistrate. The murder of Lincoln, though most disastrous in its consequences to us, could not at the time draw forth many tears from our people. The killing of Garfield was lamented among us, but the personal loss was not felt so keenly inasmuch as General Garfield had just entered on his first administration. The present circumstances are very different. It is true that Mr. McKinley had for a long time been the representative of those very policies that the Solid South resisted. It is true that in his last election the Southern States had stood practically alone in their opposition to him. But, for all that, to-day, when the Nation is mourning, nowhere is the sorrow more sincere or the grief more keen than in the Southland.
It is a mistake to suppose that the Southern people are changing their political views. They cannot forget the awful days of reconstruction, or the party responsible for that system. The chief argument used by the opponents of Senator McLaurin to-day is not that his position is intrinsically wrong, but that it is similar to the position of the Republican party. The Solid South will remain unbroken for some time to come.
For the past five years Mr. McKinley has stood for those very ideas that the South has resisted. Notwithstanding this fact, his sincerity, his good sense, his conciliatory attitude toward this section, had won the respect of its people. They ceased to think of him as a Republican whenever it was not election time, and were loyal to him as President of the whole country, and their own ruler.
One Southern newspaper—probably the most influential in South Carolina—did not share in this feeling. The day after the shooting it expressed horror at the crime, but added that it yet opposed Mr. McKinley, believing that he had prostituted his office more than any of his predecessors, and that it might not be a great calamity if he should die and give place to Mr. Roosevelt. I am sure that in this view the editor represented only himself. Many were quick to rebuke him for the expression of such ideas at the time, and I have yet to find one Southerner who shares his sentiments. Earnest prayers for the President’s recovery went up from every pulpit and almost every home; intense interest was manifested in every town and hamlet over the news from his bedside; and when the message came bringing tidings of the worst, the demonstrations of sorrow equaled those a few years ago over the death of the South’s own President, Jefferson Davis. The two sections have been more firmly united by McKinley’s life and by his death.
R. A. L.