Publication information

Evening Star
Source type: newspaper
Document type: article
Document title: “Described by a Visitor”
Author(s): anonymous
City of publication: Washington, DC
Date of publication: 10 September 1901
Volume number: none
Issue number: 15145
Pagination: 8

“Described by a Visitor.” Evening Star [Washington, DC] 10 Sept. 1901 n15145: p. 8.
full text
Wilton J. Lambert (public statements); Wilton J. Lambert; McKinley assassination (persons present on exposition grounds); McKinley assassination; McKinley assassination (public response: Buffalo, NY); McKinley assassination (personal response); presidential assassination (legal penalties).
Named persons
Leon Czolgosz; James A. Garfield; Charles J. Guiteau; Wilton J. Lambert; William McKinley; James B. Parker.

Described by a Visitor


Victim’s Intervention Saved His Assailant from Possible Death—
Severer Penalties Needed.

     Mr. Wilton J. Lambert of this city, who was in Buffalo when President McKinley was shot, talked as follows to a Star reporter this morning:
     “Yes, I was at the exposition in Buffalo at the time the dastardly attempt was made by the assassin Czolgosz upon the life of the President, and while our party had no intention of participating in the public reception we were in close proximity throughout the occurrence. By the time the signal for the beginning of the reception was given a tremendous crowd was congregated within and around the entrances to the music building, which rendered it difficult for other than those composing the immediate circle surrounding the presidential party to gain an accurate view of the assault itself. The noise created by the crowd and augmented by the repeated discharge of rifles by the Indians and others in front of their respective villages dulled one’s natural apprehension at the report of firearms, so while the sound of the assassin’s pistol was audible, it was some moments before the situation could be realized.

President’s Intervention Saved Czolgosz.

     “As soon as the colored man Parker and others had felled Czolgosz, thus eliminating the chance of a third shot, those who had already come to the President’s aid, assisted by others, did all possible for his relief, and at this time, but for the prompt intervention of the President on behalf of the prisoner, the latter’s moments of life would have been few. Indeed, I was told at the time by one near enough to hear that when the President signaled for the safety of the culprit he said: ‘Poor man, he knew not what he did.’ Upon the passing of a few moments the ambulance, attended by a dozen mounted officers, was at the door, but quicker yet the crowd had grown, until thousands of Americans, some weeping, some awed in the realization of the outrage and many consumed with intense anger toward the assassin, thronged the avenues upon every side.

Taken to the Hospital.

     “The President was borne out tenderly upon the stretcher, and I witnessed a ride to the hospital never to be forgotten. Part of the police escort, scarcely able to keep in the van by galloping headlong through the narrow passage, gradually being afforded by the mass of humanity, were followed by the ambulance, drawn by two splendid horses, who pushed madly at their heels. The sharp turn from the Amherst gate to the hospital was made in masterly style, with hardly a slack in speed, and just at the hospital door, in advance of the crowd, the President was carefully withdrawn from the carriage, amid the wondering gaze of fifty or more half-grown boys and girls collected at the gates, none of whom had the slightest idea regarding the identity of the distinguished victim. The President, intensely white and marked with his life blood, rested calmly, one hand upon his chest and the other just below. From this time on the hospital became the Mecca for the people and after the arrival of the surgeons, every bulletin was awaited with feverish anxiety.

Suspension of Exposition Attractions.

     “First, the entertainments in the ‘Streets of Cairo’ were suspended, and then one by one the exhibits and music of the ‘Midway’ were stopped. People in attendance, as yet ignorant of the cause, rushed into the driveways, and the word was passed from mouth to mouth that the President was dying; they were told to watch the flags upon the buildings; that these would be dropped to halfmast as soon as death arrived. Groups everywhere, their eyes from time to time riveted upon the flags, discussed in hushed voices one topic until the hour of 7:30 approached, when, for the first time, the extra papers were cried and nearly all repaired to the esplanade to read and witness the magnificent electrical display, which is due to be turned on promptly at that hour, yet to add still more to the consternation, five, ten and even fifteen minutes passed, but no lights; then, as imagination pictured the worst, a dim glow darted over the many towers, growing gradually brighter, to the crowds’ [sic] relief, whence, as suddenly there sounded a sharp report and all was darkness. The tramp of many horses going rapidly, the clang of an ambulance bell and the sound of heavy carriage wheels broke upon the ear; around the curve a brilliant headlight was seen to be forced through a surprised crowd, and a glance at the lighted interior of the vehicle showed the wounded President supported by the arms of two physicians, being carried rapidly toward the city of Buffalo. The people, construing the moving of the President to be a favorable indication, at once turned their attention to the assassin, whom the ‘extras’ claimed was in the music building, but upon being convinced that removal had been made to the city jail the grounds became deserted and pandemonium reigned upon the streets throughout the night.

More Severe Penalties Necessary.

     “Being naturally interested in the legal side of the matter, I was much surprised when, upon investigation, I found that should the President recover the statutes provided no greater penalty for the prisoner than the pitiful term of about six and one-half years’ actual incarceration. It is a serious oversight in my opinion that when severe penalties were being provided for, attempts upon the lives of petty officers of the government, an appropriate punishment for those attempting the life of the chief executive was overlooked. To my mind, this omission is rendered all the more inexcusable when we remember that for many months President Garfield hovered between life and death, and this very condition must have been patent in reference to Guiteau.”