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Source: Commercial and Financial Chronicle
Source type: newspaper
Document type: editorial column
Document title: “The Financial Situation”
Author(s): anonymous
City of publication: New York, New York
Date of publication: 21 September 1901
Volume number: 73
Issue number: 1891
Pagination: 582-84 (excerpt below includes only pages 582-83)

“The Financial Situation.” Commercial and Financial Chronicle 21 Sept. 1901 v73n1891: pp. 582-84.
McKinley assassination; yellow journalism (role in the assassination); anarchism (dealing with); William McKinley (death: impact on economy); Theodore Roosevelt (assumption of presidency).
Named persons
Leon Czolgosz; Abram S. Hewitt; William McKinley; John Milton.


The Financial Situation [excerpt]

     A notable crisis in the affairs of the nation has been passed since we last wrote, and passed in a manner to afford special satisfaction as evidence of the stability of our Government and of the substantial nature of the term of industrial prosperity now in progress. President McKinley, who had been shot Friday two weeks ago by a creature in the form of a man, died last Saturday at 2·15 A. M., and was laid to rest at Canton on Thursday most affectionately and universally mourned by a bereaved people; in the meantime his successor to the office of President had quietly taken up the reins of authority, continuing the existing Cabinet, so that affairs proceeded uninterruptedly along the old lines with no change of policy. Except for the general stoppage of business Saturday (the day of Mr. McKinley’s death) and again on Thursday (the day of the funeral at Canton), the course of industrial movements during the six business days under review has been substantially undisturbed. The only acts remaining to close the history of this horrible tragedy are the trial, sentence and execution of the criminal, and some legislation which shall place anarchists where they cannot longer plot and perpetrate such villainous acts as that we have just experienced.


     What is responsible for the existence of such a class of beings as Czolgosz represents and what should be done with them are questions which are greatly agitating the public mind. In various sections of the country, from the Atlantic to the Pacific States, “yellow journalism” has been urged as the instigator of the crime that has been enacted. A set of resolutions adopted by the executive committee of the State Board of Trade of Connecticut contained these words—that “yellow journalism is directly chargeable with Mr. McKinley’s death.” The Merchants’ Club of San Francisco, the leading organization of business men in that city, has taken hostile proceedings of a kind that indicate a like intense feeling and similar views. Even in this city Ex-Mayor Hewitt said in an address made at a meeting of the Chamber of Commerce Monday that the “perverse teachings of a reckless press” were the cause of the prevalence of anarchistic principles—a declaration which was apparently received with general favor.
     All “perverse teachings” have a bad influence from whatever source they come. But it seems to us that the sort which led to the murder of President McKinley is of a kind so far down in the scale of being as hardly to be accounted for in that way. Is not the case exceptional, and is not the existence of the class of men to whom the assassin belongs exceptional? In what a thoroughly treacherous, cowardly, sneaking way this man walked up with arm extended as if only intent on shaking the friendly hand of the late President, but instead of that and under that cover coolly shooting him down although having no grudge or feeling against the person he shot. Mr. McKinley probably came as near to having never harmed a man in his life as any individual has in the United States; and the only motive for the act was that he had been elected and happened for the time to hold the highest office under our form of government; for that he was killed.
     There must be much that is lacking in the make-up of a man capable of such an act. The impulse could not have come wholly or in large part from without. A total loss of moral sense is plainly in evidence—an absolute reversal of right and wrong. Milton makes his devil say, “Evil, be thou my good.” Does not that fit the case precisely? The poet did not by any means draw his facts alone from the Bible in creating his Satan; his inspiration came largely from an intuitive knowledge of the nature of man and its possibilities when at its lowest. In these latter days it seems that a body of beings has been evolved, out of what conditions it is needless to say, among whom even the semblance of what is known as good is so far absent that they have bid farewell to hope, farewell to fear, farewell to remorse, and by a strange metamorphism have made evil their good. This being the situation, we obviously cannot get relief from acts like that we are suffering from by purifying or repressing “yellow journalism.” That is a laudable work. But more is needed to meet the conditions presented. We have to deal with a unique class of criminals without conscience, without remorse, without any right principle, simply vicious and depraved. It is desirable that these conditions should be clearly understood as the nation is in search of a remedy, and the legislation to be effective must be radical.


     It is a noteworthy fact referred to above that neither the announcement that President McKinley could not live nor his subsequent death have had any disturbing effect on business affairs, notwithstanding two weeks ago to-day, when the news came that he had been shot the previous day, there was almost a panic on the Stock Exchange, and the other leading markets suffered a material setback. Several changes in conditions have caused this difference in influence. The suddenness of the stroke and enormity of the original calamity were just suited to unnerve the nation. No one was in the least prepared for any such event; it should not cause surprise that it proved to be a staggering blow. If the business situation had not been abnormally strong, the result at that time might have been easily and widely disastrous. The later developments were also a great disappointment, for the hope of the recovery of Mr. McKinley had been daily strengthening; but at the same time the public was in a measure prepared for the worst. The improvement in the outlook of the money market was also and of itself a favoring influence of great weight. During the past week any borrower really needing money and having security to offer could readily supply himself. Then, too, there was the settlement of the steel strike, which helped to strengthen confidence.
     But more important than all else was the altered feeling with reference to the incoming Administration. At first there was an undefined fear that the change meant a more aggressive and less conservative policy. When the public had time to think, it remembered that the new President had conducted himself in every official position he had ever filled with more than usual credit. Moreover, he has since President McKinley’s death put to flight all fear by his wise and frank announcements and the decided way in which he has carried them out. On taking the oath of office he said: “It shall be my aim to continue absolutely unbroken the policy of President McKinley for the peace and prosperity of our beloved country.” Immediately thereafter he requested the members of the Cabinet to continue in office, and on Tuesday, the day [582][583] of the obsequies at Washington, at a conference with the full Cabinet, he repeated this request, and added that he desired the appointments to stand in the same situation as if he had made them originally. Besides these, he stated that his purpose would be “the use of conciliatory methods of arbitration in all disputes with foreign nations so as to avoid armed strife.” In brief, we may say that he has for the time being by his actions and words put every fear as to our foreign relations and our finances—the two particulars respecting which sensitiveness had been felt—absolutely at rest.



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