Publication information
view printer-friendly version
Source: Physical Culture
Source type: magazine
Document type: editorial
Document title: “Medical Science—Our Late President”
Author(s): anonymous
Date of publication: October 1901
Volume number: 6
Issue number: 1
Pagination: C-F

“Medical Science—Our Late President.” Physical Culture Oct. 1901 v6n1: pp. C-F.
full text
William McKinley (recovery: speculation); William McKinley (medical care); William McKinley (medical care: personal response); Charles McBurney; William McKinley (medical condition); William McKinley (medical care: criticism); William McKinley (death: personal response); William McKinley (death, cause of).
Named persons
James A. Garfield; Charles McBurney; William McKinley; Herman Mynter; James Wilson.
The editorial (below) appears in a separately paginated section of the magazine titled “Editorial Supplement.”


Medical Science—Our Late President

EVEN were it within the province of this magazine, but little could be added to what has already been said in honor of our dead President.
     Every lover of justice was staggered when news of the cowardly crime of that anarchistic idiot was flashed throughout the civilized world. Prejudice was everywhere forgotten and the sympathy of all true men and women was extended to the sufferer. Even those hypocritical scribblers who gloated in secret over the downfall of the martyred President were compelled, for the sake of appearances, to assume a sympathy they could not feel.
     No one was more deeply interested than I in the detailed description of the extent of his injuries.
     “Will he recover?” was on every one’s lips.
     My own conclusion, upon carefully considering the conditions, was that he would recover, provided inflammation was not induced by forced or too early feeding.
     “He will live if the doctors don’t kill him,” I remarked to several of my friends.
     My opinion of medical science needs no reiteration here. The editorial which precedes this, and which was written previous to the shooting of the President, clearly sets forth my views upon feeding in acute disease, if the reader has not read previous issues of this magazine.
     And a gunshot or any serious wound has a similar influence upon the functional system to an acute disease. It is an acute disease—it is a sore in the process of healing, accompanied by fever and inflammation.
     Almost the entire vital strength is centred upon the one object recovering from the shock and healing the wound.
     Day by day I closely watched the despatches [sic] in reference to the President for an account of the feeding process that I believed would surely begin too soon. [C][D]
     Day by day the President grew stronger, and there was no sign of a tendency to feed except with some beef tea, which is hardly food, and by an enemeta, which is not feeding in any sense, as it was clearly proven in President Garfield’s case that it does not nourish the body in the slightest degree.
     The third, fourth, fifth day passed; still he grew stronger.
     The anxiety was over. “The President will recover” was heard everywhere on the morning of the sixth day. The first edition of the N. Y. Evening World of the 12th published the following:

     “Dr. McBurney was so satisfied with the President’s condition that he left Buffalo for this city this afternoon. He says Mr. McKinley will soon be able to sit up.”

     Dr. McBurney, as will be noted in the clipping which follows, was the physician who considered heavy feeding so necessary to the recovery of his patient, notwithstanding the plain fact that the patient had improved so much in the six days of fasting that he considered his presence unnecessary.
     My friends, there are some men into whose heads brains could not be inserted even with a pickaxe. Even experience can teach them nothing, and any facts which tend to controvert their pet theories are cast aside like water from a duck’s back.
     But in the first edition of the N. Y. Evening Journal on that day appeared the following:

     “Dr. McBurney, who remained in the house a while longer than the other physicians, laid particular stress on the fact that the President is able to take a great deal of nourishment, which is an important factor in the treatment of his case.”

     In the first edition of the Telegram this appeared:

     “The news from the bedside of the President to-day is all that could be desired. He slept well during the night, and was so much improved this morning that he was given a meal of coffee, toast and chicken broth. His appetite was good and his spirits were so high that after breakfast he appealed to Dr. McBurney to be allowed to smoke a cigar.”

     The statements contained in the last two clippings were danger signals as direful as the original wound itself. The President was a fleshy, well-nourished man. He could have been nourished without feeding by his own body for from thirty to sixty days.
     But with only six days for the two gunshot wounds in his stomach to heal he was considered able to take solid food.
     Were you surprised, my friends—you, who have read this magazine issue after issue—were you surprised after reading that the President drank a cup of coffee, ate a piece of toast (as indigestible as charcoal) soaked in beef juice (making it still more difficult to digest)—were you surprised when you read on the following day, the 13th, the direful news that appeared in the following clippings:—

BUFFALO, September 13.     

     “President McKinley’s condition is very critical, but at 5 o’clock this morning Secretary Wilson said:
     “‘The President is a little better. We have not given up hope.’
     “The grave turn in the President’s condition resulted from the administration of solid food.
     “Toxemia set in and an utter collapse followed the use of purgatives to relieve the patient.
     “From midnight until 4 A. M. the President’s life was despaired of. The strongest stimulants were administered to keep up his heart action.”

Evening World, Sept. 13.     

     “The explanation given was that the accumulation of undigested food in the stomach had at that time become as rank as ptomaine, and that a bolus of calomel and oil had to be given.
     “It was exceedingly drastic. When relief came exhaustion followed.”

Evening Telegram, Sept. 13.     

     Feed a wounded man in no condition to digest or use food, then give him a “bolus of calomel and oil” in order to rid him of the food!
     May the Almighty Power protect me and mine from the fiendish ignorance of a so-called science that believes the knowledge it possesses is superior to the laws of nature or even the laws of God!
     Science? Science of what, pray?
     Science of ignorance! That is the science of medicine to-day, and it will remain the science of medicine as long as its representatives persist in retarding, paralyzing and even at times destroying the curative powers of the body by poisoning with stimulants and enforced feeding.
     We were all prepared for the news that came the morning of the 14th.
     The toast, saturated in beef juice—May God forgive the fools!—the cup of coffee and other nourishment and stimulants considered necessary, together with the continuous goading of the heart and other functions with poisons, had done their work.
     Another martyr to the cause of medical experimentation was added to the list that is already swelled by millions upon millions of names.
     “You, my friend, when you read the news on the morning of the 14th, were your eyes dry?”
     Our President may have had his faults. We all have our share. But to be shot in such a cowardly manner—like a steer being led to slaughter—and then to become the martyr to stimulating poisons and enforced nourishment. It was too much!
     Even the most hardened heart must have been touched at the absolute helplessness of the poor victim. From the highest office in the land to the weakness of a babe in a moment. That was his fate.
     I read the startling head lines [sic] that announced the sorrowful news—I had expected it—yet it came as a shock. Death, when it comes thus prematurely, is horrible. Death is beautiful only in the evening of life. Then it is natural, it is expected—it is even sought for eagerly. Life has then served its purpose as do the autumn leaves that wither, fall and disappear.
     I read a few lines in description of the death scene. The paper fell from my hands. A deep sorrow for the President oppressed me. But as my thoughts turned to the cause of his death, to the stimulating, the enforced feeding, a great wave of sorrow engulfed me—not so much for our President, but for the thousands, even millions of human beings who are to-day suffering and dying in the grasp of the same medical superstition that was the real, direct cause of President McKinley’s death.
     Great Heavens! can nothing be done to stop this horrible devastating influence of drugs, enforced feeding and medical ignorance?
     I want help. I cry as a soul opppressed [sic] in anguish for help to save the poor victims who are struggling for life and health and strength, while food and poison are forced down their throats, thus feeding and prolonging, day after day—on and on to death itself—the very disease they are attempting to cure. I may be wrong. All the theories advanced here may be untrue, but even in the minds of the most skeptical there may be a slight suspicion that there is some truth in the statements made. Be that suspicion ever so slight, you, my reader, owe it to yourself, to all [E][F] those you hold most dear, to satisfy yourself by calm, unprejudiced investigations, whether or not there is the slightest foundation for these statements.
     If these statements are true, you have been duped all your life by false theories, by drugs and drug vendors, and though such an admission is not satisfying to your self-conceit it is satisfying to your body—it will mean that ill-health is a “thing” of the past, and that from that time onward you will be your own master, in body as well as in mind.
     The official autopsy of the President’s body states that death was caused directly by the bullet. Funny that it should take eight days for death to be produced by this bullet, and that for six days he was recovering rapidly even in spite of the heart stimulation, until his blood was poisoned by enforced feeding.
     Dr. Mynter says in the World, September 15, that “it was the gangrene which developed all along the track of the bullet that caused Mr. McKinley’s death.”
     Is it not possible, my medical friends, that this gangrenous condition was produced by the poison created from the undigested food which caused such serious distress that a “bolus of calomel and oil” was given to remove it?
     And still you wonder why the track of the bullet was in a gangrenous condition.
     How easy it would be for one charged with a crime to free himself of all guilt if he only, or his professional brethren, were allowed to collect and present the evidence relating to his case.
     My opinion may not be worth much, but I believe firmly that had President McKinley been compelled to fast as Nature clearly indicates in the healing of all acute inflammatory conditions, whether produced by a wound or an acute disease, that he would to-day still be the living acting Chief Executive of the United States.



top of page