Source: Timely Topics
Source type: magazine
Document type: article
Document title: “President McKinley Dead”
Date of publication: 20 September 1901
Volume number: 6
Issue number: 3
|“President McKinley Dead.” Timely Topics 20 Sept. 1901 v6n3: pp. 36-37.
|William McKinley (death); William McKinley (autopsy); William McKinley (death, cause of); McKinley funeral train (procession from Buffalo, NY, to Washington, DC); McKinley funeral train (persons aboard); William McKinley (death: public response); William McKinley (mourning); McKinley funeral services (Washington, DC); Edward G. Andrews (eulogies); William McKinley (presidential character); McKinley assassination (personal response).
|Edward G. Andrews; Mary Barber (Ida McKinley niece); Mary C. Barber (Ida McKinley sister); Grover Cleveland; George B. Cortelyou; William S. Cowles; Oliver Cromwell; James A. Garfield; Ulysses S. Grant; Ethan A. Hitchcock; Garret A. Hobart, Jr.; Jennie Hobart; Philander C. Knox; Abraham Lincoln; Charles Edward Locke; John D. Long; Abner McKinley; Anna Endsley McKinley (sister-in-law); Helen McKinley; Ida McKinley; William McKinley; John G. Milburn; Presley M. Rixey; Edith Roosevelt; Theodore Roosevelt; Elihu Root; Charles Emory Smith; George Washington; William I; James Wilson.
President McKinley Dead
President McKinley died at the home of John G.
Milburn in Buffalo, at 2:15 Saturday morning, September 14. All day Friday he
failed, and late in the afternoon oxygen was given to stimulate the heart action.
Hope and fear alternated during the day, but with the coming of night it was
evident that the end would soon come.
Mrs. McKinley was summoned to the bedside of her husband at 10 o’clock. He roused himself sufficiently to recognize her and made a feeble movement as if to clasp her hand. Then his lips moved.
“Good-by, all; good-by; it is God’s way. His will be done; not ours,” and then he said, speaking to no one apparently, “Nearer, my God, to thee, e’en though it be a cross.”
The end came in absolute peace at 2:15.
For several hours evidences of life had been so slight that the closest attention was necessary in order that the exact hour of death might be recorded.
Secretary Cortelyou made the first announcement that President McKinley was dead.
The following is the report of the autopsy made by the attending physician:
The bullet which struck over the breast bone did not pass through the skin, and did little harm. The other bullet passed through both walls of the stomach near its lower border. Both holes were found to be perfectly closed by the stitches, but the tissue around each hole had become gangrenous. After passing through the stomach the bullet passed into the back walls of the abdomen, hitting and tearing the upper end of the kidney. This portion of the bullet track was also gangrenous, the gangrene involving the pancreas. The bullet has not yet been found. There was no sign of peritonitis or disease of other organs. The heart walls were very thin. There was no evidence of any attempt at repair on the part of nature, and death resulted from the gangrene which affected the stomach around the bullet wounds, as well as the tissues around the further course of the bullet. Death was unavoidable by any surgical or medical treatment, and was the direct result of the bullet wound. When the “Timely Topics” was issued last week physicians and all closely connected with the President believed every symptom favorable for complete recovery. The native strength and great will power of the patient had thrown everybody off his guard, and the collapse was a sudden and complete surprise.
The body of the President lay in the room wherein he died until Sunday morning when short, simple services were conducted by Rev. Charles Locke, pastor of the Delaware Methodist Episcopal church, in the Milburn parlors. Only the immediate family and the personal and official friends of the President were present.
The remains were then carried to the city hall where they lay in state until taken to Washington. In spite of the wind and rain the entire distance was thronged with people who stood with bowed heads. Nearly 100,000 people viewed the remains in Buffalo.
The funeral train consisting of seven cars left Buffalo at 8:30 Monday morning over the Pennsylvania Railroad.
All the way the train was preceded about fifteen minutes by a pilot engine sent ahead to test the bridges and switches and prevent the possibility of accident to the precious burden it carried. The train had the right of way over everything. Not a wheel moved on the railroad system thirty minutes before the pilot engine was due, or for the same length of time after the train had passed.
Only the engine was draped. In the rear the body of the dead President was carried in the observation car Pacific, the casket resting on a bed that held it rigid. American flags and flowers almost concealed it.
Mrs. McKinley and immediate relatives occupied the Olympia, which had been Mr. McKinley’s private car since he became President. In that he and Mrs. McKinley were taken through the Northwest two years ago, were carried to the Pacific coast and back last summer, when it was feared she might not live to rise again, and in that they went to Buffalo two weeks ago. In the Olympia with Mrs. McKinley were Mrs. Garret A. Hobart, Garret A. Hobart, Jr., Mrs. and Miss Barber, Miss Helen McKinley and Mr. and Mrs. Abner McKinley.
In the compartment car Hungary were President Roosevelt and Secretary George Cortelyou, Dr. Rixey and Secretaries Root, Long, Wilson, Hitchcock, Attorney General Knox and Postmaster General Smith.
The whole country seemed to have drained its population at the sides of the track over which the funeral train passed. The thin lines through the mountains and the sparsely-settled districts thickened at the little hamlets, covered acres in towns suddenly grown to the proportions of respectable cities and were congested into vast multitudes in the larger cities. Work was suspended in field and mine and city. The schools were dismissed. And everywhere appeared the trappings and tokens of woe. A million flags at half-mast dotted hillside and valley, and formed a thicket of color over the cities. The railway stations were heavy with the black symbols of mourning. At all the larger towns and cities after the train got into Pennsyl-  vania militiamen drawn up at present arms kept back the enormous crowds.
At many cities and towns school children and young women had strewn flowers on the track, hiding the rails, and the engine wheels cut their way through the fragrant masses of blooms spread out to show the love felt for the dead President.
Taken altogether the journey home was the most remarkable demonstration of universal personal sorrow since Lincoln was borne to his grave. Every one of those who came to pay their last tribute to the dead had an opportunity to catch a glimpse of the flag-covered bier elevated to view in the observation car at the rear of the train.
The 450 miles between Buffalo and Washington was traversed in twelve hours.
Those in charge of the procession at Washington avoided all possible display, and there was no attempt to play upon the feelings of the people, who were already wrought up to a dangerous point.
The official train drew into the Pennsylvania depot at 8:38 o’clock, and the body was carried from there to the late President’s old home at the White House, escorted by a troop or two of cavalry and by the members of the Cabinet and the distinguished officials who had acted as the guard of honor from Buffalo to Washington. No President had ever been more popular with the people of Washington than Mr. McKinley. Neither Grant nor Lincoln was an exception to this, because both ruled during the trying times of and just after the war, and there was much partisan feeling aroused. Mr. McKinley, however, had the abiding love of all the citizens of Washington, and they were prepared to go into hysterics over his arrival.
As it was, the official procession from the station to the White House was exceedingly quiet, and, in spite of its extreme simplicity, deeply touching. The most notable feature of it was the entire absence of noise. There was not a band nor drum in the whole procession, and save for the bugle note of the cavalry martial music was abandoned entirely.
The body of the late President was brought into the depot where President Garfield was shot, and thus was completed the parallel between the last two Ohio Presidents, both of whom have been unexpected martyrs to their positions.
There was no display whatever at the White House. Mrs. McKinley’s feelings were consulted in preference to anything else. The gates to the grounds adjoining the Executive Mansion were closed early in the afternoon and were only opened to admit Mrs. McKinley and the members of her official and personal family.
The casket was placed in the great east room, which has been the scene of so many notable receptions held by President McKinley and others of his predecessors.
Simple funeral services for the late President were held in the capitol at Washington. Bishop Andrews preached the sermon.
The following is perhaps one of his most eloquent passages:
“If there is a personal immortality before him, let us also rejoice that there is an immortality and memory in the hearts of a large and ever-growing people who, through the ages to come, the generations that are yet to be, will look back upon this life, upon its nobility and purity and service to humanity, and thank God for it. The years draw on when his name shall be counted among the illustrious of the earth. William of Orange is not dead. Cromwell is not dead. Washington lives in the hearts and lives of his countrymen. Lincoln, with his infinite sorrow, lives to teach us and lead us on. And McKinley shall summon all statesmen and all his countrymen to purer living, nobler aims, sweeter and immortal blessedness.”
The procession from the White House to the capitol included 10,000 government troops and sailors, civic and patriotic organizations, members of Congress, President Roosevelt, the diplomatic corps, Justices of the Supreme Court, army and navy officers, and Governors of States.
President Roosevelt’s carriage, guarded by detectives, followed that of ex-President Cleveland in the procession from the White House to the Capitol. Mrs. Roosevelt and Commander Cowles accompanied the President.
Hundreds of persons injured in a panic at the Capitol building while McKinley’s body was lying in state.
The special train carrying the remains of the late President McKinley left Washington for Canton, O., at 7 o’clock Tuesday evening. It was accompanied by the relatives, President Roosevelt, and other government officials.
Body of the late President will arrive at Canton at 11 a. m., Sept. 18, and will lie in state in the courthouse until evening, when it will be removed to the family residence.
Mrs. McKinley was so overcome that she was unable to attend the ceremonies in the capitol. Mrs. Roosevelt spent part of the day with her in the White House.
The McKinley funeral train was divided in three sections, which were run ten minutes apart. The remains of the President were carried in the middle section.
Thus closes the career of a typical American—the noble product of our public schools and healthy home surroundings. No President equaled Mr. McKinley in molding legislation; none influenced Congress with so little friction. He was a born diplomat and managed affairs international with great skill and success, and that, too, in a very critical period. Few, if any of our Presidents have been so approachable, so common, and so generally beloved and respected.
But ’tis Mr. McKinley’s true Christian character that is most admired. He was no bigot nor hypocrite. He carried his religion into daily life. His pure, true life and his tender devotion to an invalid wife are a precious heritage to our youth.
We are maddened, grieved and disgusted all at once when we think of the manner of his taking off. That such a man should be stricken down in so cowardly and dastardly a manner by a weak, worthless, insignificant whelp, who was born under Old Glory and had the privileges of its priceless freedom and opportunities, tends to make us believe that our country is too free and lenient in certain directions. But the President teaches us the lesson in his dying words. We console ourselves with the thought that though our rulers are always easily accessible, but three in more than 100 years have been assassinated. The many millions are true blue. Let us go on with faith, educating the masses to appreciate our inheritance, and making them worthy of the glorious blessings of life and liberty under our flag.