Source type: newspaper
Document type: editorial
Document title: “‘God’s Will, Not Ours, Be Done’”
City of publication: Lincoln, Nebraska
Date of publication: 20 September 1901
Volume number: 1
Issue number: 35
|“‘God’s Will, Not Ours, Be Done.’” Commoner 20 Sept. 1901 v1n35: p. 1.
|William McKinley (last words); William McKinley (death); William McKinley (death: personal response); McKinley assassination (personal response).
|Jacob; William McKinley.
“God’s Will, Not Ours, Be Done”
These were the last words of President McKinley
as he bade farewell to the loving companion of his life, to whom his kindness
and devotion have been so constant and conspicuous. It was with this beautiful
spirit of resignation that he turned from the realities of earth to explore
the mysteries of the world beyond.
The struggle was over—the struggle of a week during which hope and fear alternately gained the mastery. The book of life is closed, and his achievements are a part of history. After he became conscious that the end was drawing near, but before the shadows quite obscured the light, he was heard to murmur some of the words of “Nearer, my God, to Thee.” This sacred hymn, which will be found in full upon another page, contains several lines inspired by Jacob’s night at Bethel:
“Though, like a wanderer,
The sun gone down,
Darkness be over me,
My rest a stone.
Thus do the lines immortalize the pillow which
to Jacob must have seemed hard indeed—the pillow which, when morning came, the
patriarch would not have exchanged for the softest one on which a weary head
was ever laid.
It is still true that one’s sorest afflictions and most bitter experiences are sometimes stepping stones to higher rewards.
The terrible deed at Buffalo, rudely breaking the ties of family and friendship and horrifying every patriotic citizen, crowns a most extraordinary life with a halo that cannot but exalt its victim’s place in history, while his bravery during the trying ordeal, his forgiving spirit and his fortitude in the final hours give glimpses of his inner life which nothing less tragic could have revealed.
But, inexpressibly sad as is the death of McKinley, the illustrous [sic] citizen, it is the damnable murder of McKinley, the president, that melts seventy-five million hearts into one and brings a hush to the farm, the factory and the forum.
Death is the inevitable incident of every human career. It despises the sword and shield of the warrior, and laughs at the precautions suggested by science; wealth cannot build walls high enough or thick enough to shut it out, and no house is humble enough to escape its visitation. Even love, the most potent force known to man—love, the characteristic which links the human to the divine—even love is powerless in its presence. Its contingency is recognized in the marriage vow—“until death us do part”—and is written upon friendship’s signet ring. But the death, even when produced by natural causes, of a public servant charged with the tremendous responsibilities which press upon a president, shocks the entire country and is infinitely multipled [sic] when the circumstances attending it constitute an attack upon the government itself. No one can estimate the far-reaching effect of such an act as that which now casts a gloom over our land. It shames America in the eyes of the world; it impairs her moral prestige and gives the enemies of free government a chance to mock at her. And it excites an indignation which, while righteous in itself, may lead to acts which will partake of the spirit of lawlesssness [sic].
As the president’s death overwhelms all in a common sorrow, so it imposes a common responsibility, namely, to so avenge the wrong done to the president, his family and the country, as to make the executive’s life secure without bringing insecurity to freedom of speech or freedom of the press.