From Joy to Sorrow
Scenes Attendant the Shooting of President McKinley,
by J. Nathan of The News.
Being in Buffalo at
the exposition during the excitement attending the attempted assassination
of our president Wm. McKinley, it was the fortune of the writer
to be an eye witness [sic] to several scenes and incidents, which
in the deluge of [matter?] which found its way into the columns
of the press, have been given but little space—in fact, have not
received the notice which they really merited.
What was brought most forcibly to
the attention of the writer, was the appalling contrast between
the manner in which the president made his formal entrance to the
exposition grounds, and the manner in which he left them.
In what a grand burst of glory did
he enter the grounds on Thursday! The enthusiasm which prevailed
was such as could be appreciated only by those present. Cannons
boomed an honorary salute, belching forth with a mighty roar the
announcement that the nation’s chief was within the gates. Handsomely
uniformed bands, regiments of his soldiers, and the exposition officials
welcomed the distinguished guest and his retinue of cabinet members
and foreign envoys to the grounds. Seated in a carriage beside his
wife, with head bared, smiling, bowing his acknowledgments, he rode
through a throng of thousands, whose whole strength was directed
toward one object—to give him a royal reception—a reception such
as only Americans can give to an American.
But what was his exit from the same
grounds the next evening?
Lying on a stretcher, his face pale
and motionless as a statue, a vacant yet compassionate look in his
eyes, escorted by his physicians, and a few officials, and followed
by a handful of soldiers, he was drawn hurriedly through a dark
gate way [sic], and taken away from the populace, who on the yesterday
greeted him with cheers, but who today stood within the gates heads
bowed, and sorrowful.
The writer having gained the information
that the wounded president would be removed from the exposition
hospital to Milbourn [sic] residence, he was enabled to reach the
scene before it occurred. Several thousand people, the greater portion
of whom had stood there for hours, were grouped about the building.
At 7:30 the doors opened and four physicians appeared bearing a
narrow cot upon which rested the president. The instant he appeared,
all heads were bared as if by a common impulse, and a pathway made
to the ambulance. The president was covered to his chin with a white
sheet, but his features were so lifeless, that the color of the
sheet offered no contrast to the president’s face. The crowd however,
was not aware of which gateway he was to be conducted through, and
the consequence was that he made his dismal exit, viewed by less
than a dozen people.
It was through the Lincoln avenue
[sic] gateway that he was conducted. All lights near the gate had
been turned off, which added much to the dismal scene. The gates
suddenly swung open, and about 10 exposition guards came out on
bicycles to keep the roadway ahead clear of vehicles. They were
followed by a carriage containing President Milburn and a physician.
The ambulance followed after which came two carriages containing
Secretary Cortelyou and other attending physicians. About 75 feet
in the rear of the amulance [sic], came a heavy army wagon, in which
were less than a dozen soldiers. Where were the rows of soldiers
who should have formed a regular wall on each side of the ambulance?
Where was the guard which should have
been sufficiently strong to allay all fear of another attempt being
made upon the already wounded president? They were sadly missing!
While the handful of soldiers who followed way in the rear might
have been of assistance in case of an emergency, yet there was nothing
to prevent another such dastardly attempt.
The excitement that night in Buffalo
was beyond the descriptive power of any pen. At first, people were
dazed, but when they awakened to a realization of what had occurred,
their feeling knew no bounds.
Thousands walked the streets the entire
night waiting for bulletins which were printed from time to time
in the down town [sic] district. The vicinity of the police station
in which the miserable scoundrel was confined, was the scene of
such excitement as can only be equaled when people have become frenzied
The mob at one time was composed of
fully 2,000 people. Had the police not been able to keep them within
a safe distance from the station, the result might have been indeed
serious. Several of the mob were armed with stones, and clubs, and
kept shouting, “lynch the murderer,” and many other dangerous threats.
No force of policemen were ever in a more precarious predicament
than were the Buffalo police that night, but they did their duty
well, and although they fought backward and forward, at times being
driven by the mob, and again the mob being driven by them, they
kept the crowd from within about 100 yards of the station at all
times. Several of the police were mounted while several were on
foot. At one time during the evening, reinforcements were sent for
after which their task was easier. On one particular portion of
the street which was being held by two policemen, the mob suddenly
urged [sic] forward carring [sic] the policemen powerless in their
midst. The two men gave up in utter despair, one of them declaring:
“Well, I’ve done all I can, I can’t
keep them back.”
“Where have they the man confined,”
was asked him by the writer.
“I honestly do not know[,]” he responded.
“He may be in the police station, and he may not, but our orders
were to keep the mob away, and we have done our best.”
At one time a mounted policeman declared
to a certain portion of the crowd, with a wave of his club, “if
you fellows don’t look out, some of you will get your heads cracked[.]”
He no sooner uttered the words but what he was carried down the
street horse and all by the angry throng[.] It was a poor time to
speak of breaking heads.
One Buffalo official stated to the
writer that never in all his recollection did Buffalo experience
what it was undergoing that night.
It was a day in the history of the
city never to be forgotten. Had the president died that evening,
the man would have been reached even if the raizing [sic] of the
station would be necessary. Several prominent men attempted to subdue
to [sic] mobs by making speeches to them, asking them to be orderly
, [sic] but it was of no avail. They would not listen to reason,
and it was only after bulletins had been issued announcing that
the president would recover, that the excitement some what subdued