Publication information
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Source: Baltimore Morning Herald
Source type: newspaper
Document type: article
Document title: “Scene at Station Not to Be Forgotten”
Author(s): anonymous
City of publication: Baltimore, Maryland
Date of publication: 17 September 1901
Volume number: none
Issue number: 8324
Pagination: 2

“Scene at Station Not to Be Forgotten.” Baltimore Morning Herald 17 Sept. 1901 n8324: p. 2.
full text
William McKinley (death: public response: Baltimore, MD); McKinley funeral train; William McKinley (death: government response); William McKinley (relations with postal employees); William McKinley (political character); William McKinley (public statements); William McKinley (death: public response: criticism); lawlessness (mob rule: Baltimore, MD).
Named persons
Henry Clay; James A. Garfield; Ulysses S. Grant; Thomas Jefferson; Abraham Lincoln; William McKinley; Samuel J. Randall; George Washington.


Scene at Station Not to Be Forgotten


Multitudes That Surged the Surrounding Streets Lifted Their Hats in
Respectful Silence as the Train Pulled Into the Depot

     The scenes about the bridges, the crowds that thronged the streets in the vicinity of the station, made a picture not to be forgotten. It is not likely that one of twenty of the men, women or children that went to the depot expected to see anything except a train draped in black, with here and there a bordered bit of bunting nailed down against the sides of the cars as a matter of national respect. Even in that the crowd was disappointed.
     The train pulled into the station without a sign of mourning about it, and the crowds were in doubt as to whether or not it even had the remains of the late President aboard. Nothing more unostentatious in the way of a railway train ever pulled into a station. The only sign that might distinguish it from any other train was the care and reverence with which the locomotive driver drove it into the yard. The conversations in the crowd were more than passing strange.
     “That’s it,” said a girl who could not have appeared more concerned if her sweetheart standing by had been lying cold in the casket in the train below.
     “Nonsense,” was the indignant escort’s reply; “that’s the train bringing back the dancers from Pen-Mar.”
     It wasn’t, though. The car, curiously enough, in the shadow of the dozen or more lights of the black hours—the lights that bespeak so much of anarchy—contained all that remains of the third President of the United States to meet his death after a fashion that is a national disgrace.


     Curiously puffed the engines with almost human respiration under the bridge. The white lights of electricity did not illumine the cars with sufficient brightness that one might even so much as read the Pullman signs.
     The line of letter carriers, the most remarkable temporary escort ever, perhaps, assigned to do honor on such an occasion, stood at attention with the same respect that they would have assumed had they been delivering, as the law requires, a special delivery letter to the Chief Executive.
     He was always so kind, always so thoughtful of that particular class of public servants that it was particularly odd and perhaps accidental that they should have been selected for such duty. Yet nothing could have been more appropriate.
     It was McKinley, it will be recalled, that made such a fight for those men away back in the Fiftieth Congress to get them respectable working hours. It was McKinley who declared that there was no class of public servant who deserved more sympathy, who should have better hours than the letter carrier.
     “Why is it,” asked Congressman Samuel Randall, of Pennsylvania, long since departed, “that you are always so anxious about the letter carriers? They can’t furnish you with many votes.”
     “I am not anxious about their votes,” was the serious answer of President, then Congressman McKinley’s jesting query, “what is troubling me is their common equity.”
     Randall’s almost beautiful face, so often distorted with the sarcasm, satire and irony of a disappointed nature, grew serious in a moment, and whether or not the remark had any effect is not recorded, but it is a fact that many public men may awaken to now—that he never after that opposed any measure looking to the welfare of Uncle Sam’s postmen.
     It was not that, however, that made the long line of gray figures, defiled against the blue of the Grand Army men, look serious. It is doubtful if one out of five of them knew that he had ever been their friend.
     What prompted their reverence was the simple feeling born in the heart of every American who took part in that ever-to-be-remembered scene, of simple, honest respect and almost personal shame that a man true to his oaths, devoid of malice and free from the slime of machine politics, had gone to his death in such a shameful manner in a land that is free and brave, founded on the schemes, ideas, inspirations, ground plans and national principles of men of the caliber of Washington, Clay, Jefferson, Lincoln and Garfield, to avoid assassination.


     The muffled drums sounding their weird, oriental tattoo—a strange custom that has come down through the ages to this effete civilization—did not interrupt such thoughts as those. There was only one idea uppermost in all minds—that a President deared [sic] to the people and more loving in his small family never lived; that a man of God and a man of the people lay cold and stark in the black coach in the station below.
     The passing thoughts and fancies of the heterogeneous throngs that crowded the highway could not have been anything but solemn.
     The writer recalls with disgust the boyish horror that filled his soul as he stood on Broadway, in New York, years ago and watched the drunken orgies of 10,000 inebriates as the remains of Grant, one of the greatest generals of modern times, passed down the beautiful thoroughfare to the martial strains of 50 bands; the scenes about the Garfield obsequies, and, worse than all, the fateful scenes following his assassination.
     But there was naught of that with the crowds in the vicinity of the station yesterday.
     The groups of beautiful women in gowns of multi-colored hues, of men in summer raiment, of commonplace women and children and negroes were as quiet and respectful as if the train below them contained some near relative of their own.
     “They make an awful lot of trouble about him,” said a negro of desperate mien. “He ain’t no better than any other man—even a negro.”
     In 10 seconds or less, it seemed to the reporter, a dozen—most of them Southerners—had shown a spirit which is pretty strongly indicative of what the average American thinks about the President, be he republican or democrat.
     Three of them grabbed the negro. It would have been a serious time, but for a cool-headed drummer, who saw something serious was brooding.
     “Wait a minute!” he said, as he pushed back two or three men, “I’ll fix him.”
     Then, turning to the negro, he asked him which he would do, jump off the bridge or be lynched.
     “Jump!” said the negro, in less time than it takes to write it.
     The drummer released him, the crowd made a lane and down he rushed, every man giving him a kick as he passed. It was a small incident, but it showed the spirit of the country. He is a daring man who speaks disparagingly of the President today.


     Roughly estimating there were between 20,000 and 30,000 persons in the vicinity of the station. It is impossible to give with any degree of accuracy the number, as the crowd was so scattered, but it is a safe thing to say that no city through which the train passed was regarded with more respect or reverence. It is a credit to the city to say that there was not a suggestion of trouble, a statement of fact that cannot be said of some other cities. It is unfortunate to be forced to record. The police arrangements about the station were admirable. There was no occasion to control the crowd; it controlled itself as if the body in the train was that of some dear relative. The train remained in the station but a few minutes, and during that time the railroad officials and their hands were full. Hundreds of people managed to get through the gates without passes, but once in they in no way made disorder.



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