Source: Dakota Farmers Leader
Source type: newspaper
Document type: editorial
Document title: “The President Is Dead”
City of publication: Canton, South Dakota
Date of publication: 20 September 1901
Volume number: 12
Issue number: 13
|“The President Is Dead.” Dakota Farmers Leader 20 Sept. 1901 v12n13: p. 1.|
|McKinley assassination (public response); McKinley assassination (personal response); McKinley assassination (religious interpretation); William McKinley (last public address: personal response); William McKinley.|
|James A. Garfield; Abraham Lincoln; William McKinley; George Washington.|
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 [t]he fatal ninth. They have been in[t]ensely nervous, nervously excited, saying bi[t]ter things, and bit[t]erly deserved [t]hing[s]. Fearing [t]he thunderbolt, they have le[t] the lightning of their wrath vent i[t]self 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, [t]hat 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 everywhere.
It is not sacrilege because it is again the Christ-drama which has been enac[t]ed. 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 [t]hey 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 [t]hem for they know not what they do!”
It is not the mere man McKinley who lay dead in the city by [t]he 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, no[t] 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 “d[a]stardly attempt,” in referring to the assassin’s deed, and when all civilized people openly recognize [t]hat this assassination is the attempt to assassinate the People, the infina[?]e 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 permit[t]ed [t]his 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 momen[t] 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 presiden[t]s, 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 grow[t]h, 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 sereni[t]y 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.