Strain on a President
President McKinley was a man of fine
constitution, exemplary habits and always enjoyed good health. And
yet, according to the statement of the physicians who attended him
in his illness, [n]ature did little to assist in resisting the awful
shock to which he was subjected or to aid in the healing of wounds
that proved to be fatal. The late president was supposed to be in
good bodily condition and he had a temperament and resolution that
ordinarily would make for convalescence. But it now transpires that
he was suffering from a kind of physical and mental exhaustion brought
on by almost uninterrupted work for a period over more than four
years. He was ti[r]ed out, and his strength, vitality and natural
vigor had bee[n] so impaired by the cares and duties of his high
position that it wa[s] not in him to respond physically when the
critical time arrived, says the Spokesman-Review.
The work of our president is so full
of responsibilities and exactions, so wearying and crowded with
disagreeable tasks that not one of them in the past has given up
the office in as good health as when he e[n]tered it. All of our
presidents have been men of robust physical characteristics, but
it has taken only a few years to show that they have in some measure
lost their vigor. Their faces become palid [sic], drawn and leathery
and there are invariably signs about them that they are worn and
wearied. Those who had b[ee]n closely associated with Mr. McKinley
say that since the time he became president he had aged ten years.
There was a similar sapping of vitality in the cases of Arthur,
Cleveland and Harrison.
European statesmen in high po[s]itions
and with responsibilities almost equal to those of heads of state
do not seem to be under the physical strain that is associated with
the duties of the president of the United States. Gladstone was
in the arena for half a century and was vigorous to the last. Bismark
was doing tremendous work for over thirty years and yet died at
a good old age. Thiers was in public life and in high positions
during a period of forty-five years, but he lived to be eighty.
Crispi, who died recently, joined revolutionary movements in Italy
50 years ago, survived them all and passed away at more than three
sco[re] and ten. Salisbury, still British premier, is an old man,
but ill health and failing powers have come but recently.
Undoubtedly it is the minor details
and small vexations that wear upon the presidents of this country.
He is elected by popular suffrage and every citizen feels that the
chief magist[ra]te should give him ear. Much time is devoted to
meeting the public and perhaps too much attention is give[n] to
insignificant matters. Listening to the claims of office seekers
and d[istr]ibuting patronage [a]re tasks to b[re]ak a giant and,
there is no doubt that from these sou[r]ces comes most of the worry
that is so damaging to an executive’s heal[th]. The trials of the
position are many and it is vain to look for [r]elief. Every president
who do[es] his du[t]y must necessarily give up the best part of
his physical being in the interest of the people he is s[e]rving.