The President Is Dead
These four words include the beginning
and the ending of a tragedy which has stunned civilization.
The American people have turned to
face their sorrow in dumb agony, speechless. From black Friday to
black Friday they had listened, tremulously, at the door of Fate.
Not all the time have they been conscious that the sun of hope could
go down before so dark a midnight as that which separated the eighth
day of their suspense from the fatal ninth. They have been intensely
nervous, nervously excited, saying bitter things, and bitterly deserved
things. Fearing the thunderbolt, they have let the lightning of
their wrath vent itself against the enemies of the republic and
the enemy of the most lovable of men. They have spent their strength.
Today their [sic] is but one thought, one word.
It is not sacrilege to say that greater
love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends,
nay, not only for his friends, but for his enemies, for the seventy-six
million of souls to whom his life means freedom, and to the millions
in the islands of the sea, even to the millions of struggling people
It is not sacrilege because it is
again the Christ-drama which has been enacted. Man has died that
man may live. The week has been spent in a Garden of Gethsemane.
The last words of this master of a loving people—did they not paraphrase
the words in the Garden, two thousand years ago, “Nevertheless,
not as I will, but as thou wilt?”—“It is God’s way. His will be
done.” In the first agony of his crucifixion, were not the words
the same in spirit as those in the last agony of the Great Crucifixion—“let
no one hurt him”—“Father, forgive them for they know not what they
It is not the mere man McKinley who
lay dead in the city by the lake, waiting the Arimathean tomb. It
is the Master with pierced heart and pierced side. It is wounded
Liberty, which shall yet rise and appear to the people on the road
to Emmaus, into whose side the doubting Thomas of even anarchy shall
thrust its hands and declare: “I believe; help thou my unbelief,”
Liberty which shall become transfigured on the mount of ascension.
Who shall doubt that this is the “blood of a new testament?” Even
now to the people pinnacled upon the summit of grief, there comes,
not an angel of darkness, but an angel of light, showing them the
nations of the earth, bound together by this blood of a new testament.
William McKinley is dead, but not before he has led America to its
place among the nations of the earth. When the king of England,
the emperor of Germany, the queen regent of Spain can each employ
the same language of “dastardly attempt,” in referring to the assassin’s
deed, and when all civilized people openly recognize that this assassination
is the attempt to assassinate the People, the infinate [sic] price
we pay is almost worth the infinate [sic] reward.
Dead; but still living, still speaking.
The day before the murderer’s bullet struck him down, the president
of the United States made an address to the American people, which
marked the summit of his statesmanship. It was more than an address
to the American people. It was a manifesto to all men. That most
notable sentence of all, “The period of exclusiveness is past,”
will subtly shape the policies of our nation and of the world, in
this new century pregnant with the world’s destiny. Had McKinley
made deliberate choice he could not have died at a moment more fitting.
It was the psychologic moment of his career to impress himself upon
the nations as a great world force. The Buffalo speech was delivered
in the Parliament of Man, for the Federation of the World.
We may regret that the unkind God
permitted this crime. Viewed in its larger light, must we not say
with the lips silent now forever, “It is God’s way?”
It is not too early to give to William
McKinley his place among our presidents and among world statesmen.
The tremendousness of the moment enlarges the powers of visions,
of judgement [sic]. He will take his place among the martyr presidents,
that glorious trinity of Abraham Lincoln, James Garfield, William
McKinley. He will take his place among the powerful presidents,
that great trinity of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, William
McKinley. As Washington stood alone in the crisis of the nations
[sic] birth, as Lincoln stood alone in the crises of the nation’s
threatened death, so McKinley stood alone in the crisis of the nation’s
growth, a milder term, but a period fraught with equal terror. As
a man, the people of the world pay him tribute for a charm of personality,
a nobility of manhood, a courtesy with acquaintances, a lealty toward
friends, a tenderness with loved ones, for a sweetness and serenity
of spirit amid the irritations of a public cureer [sic], under the
criticism of a searchlight of scrutiny. As a ruler the governments
of the world do him honor for his catholic spirit, his democratic
sympathies, for clear vision, keen insight and firm grasp in the
larger problems of a world that is a new world.
It is left for the people of the United
States to love him. This they are doing with greater love and more
universal than ever fell to the lot of a president. And it is left
for them, the harder task, of a faith that good shall somehow be
the final goal of ill, and that the blood of the martyrs shall be
for a covenant.