The Shooting of President McKinley
of the American people received a severe shock on the evening of
September 6, when, like a bolt of lightning from the clear autumn
sky, the news of the shooting of President McKinley flashed through
the world. The shame and indignation that has been expressed, everywhere,
at the dastardly crime of the heartless anarchist who committed
the deed has exemplified the humility the American citizen feels,—that,
in his land of liberty, order, justice, and humanity, there should
exist one whose heart is so hardened to the purpose of the republic,
whose conscience is so foreign to its liberties, and whose mind
so insensible to its wonderful benefits, that he would dare to raise
the hand of the assassin against its ruler. This person claims to
be an American-born citizen. More horrifying the deed; far deeper
President McKinley’s last act before
the shooting was an example of the kind, democratic manner in which
he held all men. All, to him, were equal; none more lowly than he.
He shook hands with those around him, with the loving, tender grasp
so many people know, until, alas! he took the hand of the assassin.
Was ever a more contemptible, base, vituperable deed recorded in
the history of the world?
No President, since Lincoln, has had
more trying and difficult duties imposed on him. During his administration,
the United States has ascended to a place in the world that gives
it rank as the foremost nation. His speech at the Pan-American Exposition,
on the day preceding the shooting, was the honest opinion of a broad-minded
American who had the very best interests of his country at heart.
The adoption of the protective tariff was once his most significant
purpose. Yet Mr. McKinley moved with the times, and when he said,
at Buffalo, that the protection policy was outworn, and declared
it irrelevant, in view of the existing measures of expansion and
the great demand for American products in foreign markets, he proved
that he was in keeping with the best theories that will tend to
advance and increase the United States.
“Reciprocity treaties are in harmony
with the spirit of the times; measures of retaliation are not.”
These are the words of a man who was striving, with honest effort,
to obey the will of the people. They will never be forgotten.
Had Mr. McKinley uttered that memorable
Buffalo speech knowing that it was his last, he could not have spoken
words of more practical wisdom or sentiments better suited to a
policy of prosperity and peace. “We must encourage our merchant
marine,” the president declared, and “we must have more ships.”
That they must be built under the American flag, and manned and
owned by Americans, so that they will be messengers of amity wherever
they go, is advice that our country cannot treat lightly. We must
build the Isthmian canal, we must construct the Pacific cable, we
must take care of our new possessions, we must use the best tariff
measures to keep our trade with the world. These are but a few of
the ideas of his expressive mind. No American should fail to read
and study this speech.
Then, at the close, he spoke these
words, which deserve a place beside the expressions of Jefferson
“Let us ever remember that our interest
is in concord, not conflict; and that our real eminence rests in
the victories of peace, not those of war. We hope that all who are
represented here may be moved to higher and nobler effort for their
own and the world’s good, and that out of this city may come not
only greater commerce and trade for us all, but, more essential
than these, relations of mutual respect, confidence, and friendship
which will deepen and endure. Our earnest prayer is that God will
graciously vouchsafe prosperity, happiness and peace to all our
neighbors, and like blessings to all the peoples and powers of earth.”
Does it seem possible that friend
or foe, in this land of equality, could have found it in his heart
to have shot the man that uttered them?
President McKinley’s life is the story
of the true American, and it will ever be held up by the mother
as a model for her son to follow. Born January 29, 1843, at Niles,
Ohio, his youth was filled with hardships and struggles, and his
life-course seemed to be along the vale of poverty.