Source type: magazine
Document type: public address
Document title: “The Presidency: Its Possibilities, Limitations and Responsibilities”
Author(s): Taft, William Howard
Date of publication: March 1917
Volume number: 10
Issue number: 3
Pagination: 199-204, 244, 246, 248, 250, 252 (excerpt below includes only page 252)
|Taft, William Howard. “The Presidency: Its Possibilities, Limitations and Responsibilities.” Rotarian Mar. 1917 v10n3: pp. 199-204, 244, 246, 248, 250, 252.|
|William Howard Taft (public statements); presidents (protection); McKinley assassination (personal response).|
The item below “is a transcript of an address delivered by Mr. Taft at a joint meeting of the Rotary club and the Advertising club in Cleveland; it was forwarded for use in The Rotarian by the Cleveland Rotary Club, by permission of Mr. Taft after the speaker had corrected the transcript” (p. 199).
From page 199: By William Howard Taft, President of the United States of America, 1908-1912.
The Presidency: Its Possibilities, Limitations and Responsibilities [excerpt]
There is one other item of a personal
character I would like to speak of, and that is the necessity of having secret
service men following the President. Congress has said it is a necessity, and
the assassination of three Presidents doubtless justifies them; but it is not
always pleasant to have two or three men dogging your steps, following you everywhere,
so that even as you slip out of the White House and get away for a little while,
especially if you are not a rapid walker, you hear steps behind you and you
find your guardians on duty. They are gentlemen. They know how to conduct themselves,
and they are very useful if the President comes in contact with a crowd. They,
of course, could not succeed in keeping a man away who is determined to kill
the President, if he is willing to give up his own life, but they do serve the
most useful purpose of keeping away those whose minds are affected. The President
never comes into any community where he is not in the habit of living that the
wheels do not begin to buzz in the brains of those who have wheels. That makes
it essential there should be somebody at hand.
I speak with caution, but I feel that if the rules which now obtain and the care that now obtains with respect to the Presidency had been in force at the time of the tragedy at Buffalo it could not have occurred. That assassin had a revolver in his pocket under a handkerchief. Under the rules that now obtain, he would not have gotten within fifty feet of the President before somebody’s fingers would have been inside that pocket to see what was in his hand.
This, however, is one of those presidential burdens that the President must bear which has never brought about a resignation as yet, and is not likely to. Still you do have a feeling before you get thru that instead of being protected you are being watched.