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Source: Alpena Evening News
Source type: newspaper
Document type: article
Document title: “From Joy to Sorrow”
Author(s): Nathan, J.
City of publication: Alpena, Michigan
Date of publication: 13 September 1901
Volume number: 3
Issue number: 38
Pagination: [2]

Nathan, J. “From Joy to Sorrow.” Alpena Evening News 13 Sept. 1901 v3n38: p. [2].
full text
McKinley assassination (news coverage: personal response); McKinley assassination (personal response); Pan-American Exposition (President’s Day); William McKinley (at Pan-American Exposition); McKinley assassination; McKinley assassination (public response: Buffalo, NY); William McKinley (protection); lawlessness (mob rule: Buffalo, NY); Buffalo, NY (police department).
Named persons
George B. Cortelyou; William McKinley; John G. Milburn; J. Nathan.


From Joy to Sorrow


Scenes Attendant the Shooting of President McKinley, Described
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 with rage.
     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 [sic].



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