Source: Saturday Evening Post
Source type: magazine
Document type: article
Document title: “The Home Life of McKinley”
Author(s): Crook, W. H.
Date of publication: 3 December 1910
Volume number: 183
Issue number: 23
Pagination: 26-30 (excerpt below includes only page 30)
|Crook, W. H. “The Home Life of McKinley.” Saturday Evening Post 3 Dec. 1910 v183n23: pp. 26-30.|
|White House; McKinley assassination (government response); William McKinley (death).|
|William McKinley; Benjamin F. Montgomery; Theodore Roosevelt.|
“This is the eighth of a series of articles by Colonel Crook on the Home Life of Our Presidents in the White House” (p. 30).
“Decorations by James M. Preston” (p. 26).
“Personal Recollections of Colonel W. H. Crook, Disbursing Officer of the White House” (p. 26).
The Home Life of McKinley [excerpt]
It so happened that not a single member of the
Cabinet was in Washington on the afternoon of Friday, September 6th, of that
year. The Vice-President, Mr. Roosevelt, was at Isle Lamotte [sic], in
Lake Champlain, as guest of the Vermont Fish and Game League. Members of the
office staff, of course, were attending to their duties in the White House,
and business was going forward as usual when a key in the telegraph room snapped
out a few words which caught the ever-alert ear of Colonel Montgomery, superintendent
of the White House telegraph bureau. With an exclamation of horror he sprang
out of his chair, flashed an order for a through wire to the telegraph office
in the Pan-American Exposition grounds, and while this was being made ready
he stepped out to the main office and read us the telegram he had just received,
which came from the chief operator in Buffalo. It was a brief message, hurled
through to Washington with the utmost dispatch, and gave merely the salient
fact that the President had been shot “by an American anarchist.” Somehow news
of impending tragedy flew like wildfire through the White House, and as Colonel
Montgomery slowly and solemnly read the first message the office became crowded
with employees, officials and newspaper men on duty there who hurried in.
Of course, none of the office staff thought for a moment of going home at the close of the business day, or of doing anything else than waiting for further news, which came in brief bulletins.
President McKinley died at 2.15 . ., Saturday, September 14, and just before he passed away his wife was taken into the room where he lay, to bid him final farewell. As she was tenderly led away from that chamber of death, he whispered very distinctly:
“Nearer, my God, to Thee”—words of the hymn always dear to his heart. Feebly, and with effort, he added, “Goodby, all; goodby. It is God’s way, not ours.”
When the office staff came to the White House, a few hours later that Saturday morning, the great flag was already at half-mast, and on the front door was posted a printed card bearing a single word: “Closed.”
The train bearing the body of this martyred President arrived in Washington Monday evening, September 16, and the mortal remains of McKinley lay in the East Room, surrounded by a guard of honor, until the following day, when they were taken to the Capitol.