Is M’Kinley Forgotten So Soon?
Is a question now being asked by
many editors in their editorials—pointing to the fact that only
$200,000, of the $1,500,000 necessary for the erection of his tomb,
has been raised, and that with difficulty, and no prospect of raising
In my opinion, a square block of granite
costing $500 is expenditure enough for marking the burial place
of any man, however great. These great shafts to great men are monstrosities.
They are nothing but a medieval attempt to follow the fashion of
gorgeous burial of barbarous kings, and popes.
The plain flat slab covering the remains
of Benjamin Franklin in the little graveyard in Philadelphia cost
hardly $100. If the nation feels that it is good enough for Benjamin
Franklin, a common boulder is good enough for McKinley.
His death, by violence, counts for
nothing, since he was the victim of his own political deals. Measured
by the services done his country, so long as the nation ignores,
by testimonial, the services of Thomas Paine, Robert Morris, Stephen
Girard, Francis Marion, and other heroes of the Revolution,—so long
as a common brick vault is good enough to cover the remains of Thomas
Jefferson, why should the people of this country erect a gorgeous
mausoleum outrivalling those of oriental kings, over William McKinley.
It is all nonsense anyhow. A monument
does not make a man great in death.
“This monument does not make thee
great, O Euripides, but thou makest the monument great,” was engraved
on the tomb of that great philosopher.
Some of the finest and most expensive
pieces of monumental art in the cemeteries of Cincinnati stand over
the carrion of bloated beer brewers, while many of the children
of science and of song lie in unmarked graves.
There is some allowance to be made
in erecting a modest monument over a man like Burns, or Robert Fulton
or Samuel F. B. Morse, or John Greenleaf Whittier. They contributed
much for all humanity. But Wm. McKinley never contributed a word,
thought or deed which was of universal benefit to mankind, or which
was superior to the average politician of the country, or to the
common soldier in the field.
To build a $1,500,000 monument to
any man, and to him particularly, while little children are dying
in tenements for lack of fresh air and proper food, is a sample
of insanity continually breaking out in the American character.
The failure to raise the money has
its amusing side. The trusts for which he was their pliable tool,
won’t shell out. He made them hundreds of millions, and now that
he is dead, they won’t glorify him in stone.
It is the old, old story. The moment
you do an unprincipled thing for some other man, that moment he
ceases to respect you. How can the trusts have any respect for McKinley?
There is absolutely no sense in piling
up stone over the grave. Statues of our great men in bronze or marble,
are object lessons to young America, and of these I approve, beside
[sic] they cultivate the taste for art. But many of these statues
are of men of inferior parts, while those who have shed luster upon
the arts and literature and the sciences go unhonored. It is time
that public sentiment shift from this perpetuating the memory of
men whose only recommendation for honor is action in brutal war,
and in their place erect statues of some of the great women of America.