Source: Saturday Evening Post
Source type: magazine
Document type: editorial
Document title: “President McKinley”
Date of publication: 21 September 1901
Volume number: 174
Issue number: 12
|“President McKinley.” Saturday Evening Post 21 Sept. 1901 v174n12: p. 10.|
|McKinley assassination (personal response); presidential assassinations (comparison).|
|James A. Garfield; Abraham Lincoln; William McKinley.|
EIGHTY million Americans unite in deploring the shooting of President McKinley.
Eighty million voices cry aloud in detestation of the act. Eighty million citizens
unite in doing honor to the manliness, the bravery, the patriotism of him who
last March was for the second time made President of the United States. And
with these eighty millions the whole world has joined.
That within forty years three Presidents should be thus attacked seems at first thought to be a black omen for the future of our land. Within these forty years the people have by their ballots chosen only seven men to fill the office of Chief Magistrate—and, of those seven, three have been marked by the assassin!
Yet, in truth, there is nothing in this that points to danger for the Republic or to a weakness in Republican institutions. Lincoln was the victim of the heats [sic] of a great conflict, but the man who struck the deadly blow was far from understanding the wishes or the feelings of any leader: the South as well as the North deplored the tragedy. Garfield was the victim of a man of unbalanced mind, inflamed by the heat of a partisan conflict. McKinley was the victim of one whose narrow brain had soaked in the poisonous teachings of the offscourings of Europe.
And it may well be that this will teach the makers and the administrators of our law to understand better the mighty difference between what is liberty and what is criminal license; it may well be that, henceforth, those who teach or who believe that the murder of rulers is a praiseworthy act shall be placed, with other enemies of society, where their evil beliefs can bear no evil fruit. But at this time it is to sorrow and sympathy rather than to retribution that we turn; to pity rather than to punishment.
It was the nation that was blindly aimed at when McKinley was struck down. He was not attacked because he was of the North or of the South, for gold or for silver, for expansion or for anti-expansion, a Republican or a Democrat. He was struck as the head of this Republic, and men of all parties, of all shades of opinion, were drawn together by a common grief. The nation felt the blow. The pulse of the nation beat in unison with that of its suffering leader. Eighty million American hearts beat as one.