Source: Chicago Daily News
Source type: newspaper
Document type: article
Document title: “Whole City Aghast”
City of publication: Chicago, Illinois
Date of publication: 6 September 1901
Volume number: 26
Issue number: 214
|“Whole City Aghast.” Chicago Daily News 6 Sept. 1901 v26n214: part 1, p. 1.|
|McKinley assassination (public response); McKinley assassination (personal response); Marcus A. Kavanagh (public statements).|
|Marcus A. Kavanagh; William McKinley; Jacob H. Smyser.|
Whole City Aghast
Chicago Filled with Horror and Grief over Attempt to Kill McKinley.
THRONGS CRY “AWFUL.”
Trial in Criminal Court Halts, When Judge Hears News—Scenes in the Streets.
News that President McKinley had been shot spread
like wildfire on the streets of Chicago, but it was not fully believed until
The Daily News extra edition announced the first reliable tidings of the terrible
deed. The crowds besieged the news stands in frantic anxiety to read The Associated
Men walked the streets as though stunned. Women stopped as though stricken with terror. Throngs gathered in front of the newspaper and telegraph offices and read the bulletins with an ominous silence. When they had recovered from the shock of the tidings the throngs burst forth in wrath and tears. There was one sentiment on every lip—“Terrible, too terrible to be believed.”
Work Stops in Offices.
Business was almost at a standstill
for a time. Work stopped in many big offices while workers voiced their sorrow.
The first reports did not definitely state the condition of the president. Hope that the shots would not prove fatal was in the hearts of every man, woman and child in the great mass of humanity that surrounded the newspaper and telegraph offices.
Crowds Are Fierce.
Then came a report from a telegraph
office that the assassin had been trampled to death by the crowd. The throng
took up the report and passed it from lip to lip up and down Washington and
Madison streets and 5th avenue. There was a fierce gleam of joy in every eye
in that immense crowd as this was noised about. The unspeakable sorrow that
sealed all mouths at first gave way to rage. In Chicago he would have been lynched
in a moment.
Women gathered about policemen in the streets. Another cry that was taken up and passed along was: “There is no politics in this.”
Even into the quiet court the terrible news spread.
A pen could not describe the scene in Judge Kavanagh’s courtroom at the Criminal court building, when a reporter for The Daily News burst into the crowded room with the news.
“President McKinley shot? What do you mean?” Those were the first words uttered by Judge Kavanagh. Then the terrible news was known to all. The courtroom was no longer silenced. One woman, finely dressed, sitting beside one who apparently was from the lower walks of life, sobbed, “My God, can it be true!” Then both women were on the same level and their tears, flowing without an effort to restrain or to hide them, mingled. At the judge’s exclamation, every one was on his feet. Explanations of the bulletins thus far received were hurriedly made and again a hush fell on the room crowded with spectators and witnesses in the case of Dr. Jacob H. Smyser. The hush lasted but an instant, then an eulogy seldom heard in such places poured forth.
“He was the sweetest man I ever knew,” said Judge Kavanagh. “This is too terrible to believe. He was a grand man. I hardly comprehend that he is to be lost to us, just when the nation is in such a prosperous condition. He was the greatest man of the age, and the sweetest.” With this utterance, the judge, who has just passed through the trying ordeal of his aged father’s long and fatal illness, mopped his brow, drew his handkerchief over his eyes to wipe the unbidden tears away and said: “Proceed with the examination.”
A group of men stood in a LaSalle street saloon drinking. A boy came in with the extra edition of The Daily News. They had thought it a canard.
“My God!; it is true!” cried one. His upraised glass fell from his hand. The others put down their drinks. It was noticeable that the news seemed to paralyze the men who heard it.
The newspaper report in The Daily News reached the street at ten minutes to 4. The vendors ran down the crowded thoroughfares crying the dread intelligence to all parts of downtown Chicago and people came from all directions. They ran from news stand to news stand, buying various editions of every paper they could find.
“Let no man say that a democrat did this,” cried a man who stood watching the bulletins. “Every man to-day is an American. Politics has been wiped out by this atrocity.” A crowd gathering around him cried: “That is true, that is true.”
Men turned white with rage one moment and the next stood with bowed heads.
“Not in all his life,” said a man in front of the Chamber of Commerce building, “did he do a mean thing. He made fewer enemies than any other republican in the United States.”
“He was always just,” said another, and the throng took up the sentiment again.
With one accord the thousands on the streets agreed that the crime had been done by a maniac.