Startled the Country
WASHINGTON, Sept. 6.—“The President
is shot!” The breathless announcement was followed by a frantic
rush, women in the departments were hysterical, men hurrying on
the street were nervous and doubtful. Offices of newspapers and
news agencies were quickly besieged. Verification was promptly followed
by false reports of his death. The impact of the news was so heavy
that the people were dazed, men and women were to be seen on the
street cars, trained newspaper men stood around half stupefied,
not knowing what to say or do. Perhaps in all their lives before
they had never been shocked into a state of inaction.
At the White House the servants, who
had just returned from Canton, rocked silently on stiff-backed chairs
and moaned forth their grief and misery. The President’s household
is a plain, old-fashioned one. All know the master and mistress
in simple, domestic sense; the policemen in front of the white portals
trod their beats silently with tears coursing down their cheeks.
The doorkeepers had nothing to say when questions were asked. Their
throats were choked with silent sobs.
In the war room Colonel Montgomery,
the signal officer, sat silently gazing at the large map with its
hundreds of little flags showing the points on the map where American
troops are stationed. He had no news. He expected no news; what
news could there be? At that time it was thought the President was
An hour later an aged
and trembling messenger came tottering to the door, he feebly climbed
the stairs to gain the latest information from the telegraph room.
This was Thomas F. Pendel, seventy-six years of age, appointed by
Lincoln, and in service at the White House since that day. April
19, thirty-six years ago, Lincoln was leaving the house when the
alert and watchful Pendel said:
“Good night, Mr. President.”
“Good night, Pendel,” replied the
President. [“]You will be in bed when I return.”
When Lincoln returned, it was as a
corpse a[n]d Pendel held open the great doors with eyes streaming
On July 2, twenty years ago President
Garfield left the White House with buoyant step and as he jauntingly
stepped from the door to the carriage said: “Good-bye, Pendel, take
care of the folks while we are away.”
“Good-bye, Mr. President, and a good
trip to you.”
An hour later Pendel held open the
White House doors and the fatally strick[e]n Garfield was carried
by the erect and soldierly attendant whose eyes were swimming with
tears for the second martyred President.
On July 5, Pendel stood on the White
House porch and shook hands with President and Mrs. McKinley, and
it was a jocular and merry party. Mrs. McKinley had a pleasant good-bye
for the old doorkeeper and the President gayly [sic] said: “Pendel,
if you capture any of those pretty girls while I am away remember
that I am to be invited to the wedding.”
SHOUTED IN THEIR GLEE.
This afternoon Pendel,
waveringly, came to th[e] White House to learn if it was to be his
duty to hold open the doors for the stricken form of another martyred
President. He was one of those who joined the crowds in front of
the newspaper offices, and was among those who [s]oon were rejoicing
on account of the favorable news from the bedside of the President.
This cheerful news soon had the c[r]owd in almost as happy a condition
as though they were winners on an election night. They cheered and
cried like people possessed. They waved their hats and shoute[d]
their glee at the favorable news which [w]as bulletined and shouted
Washington thoroughly be[li]eves in
McKinley luck. It has held good through many a trial, and it is
fond[l]y hoped that it will not desert now. He [i]s robust and strong.
He was healthy and [v]igorous after a six weeks’ stay in the cou[n]try.
His life had [b]een devoted to taking good care of himself physically.
It is beli[e]ved by those who have known him for years that he is
in fine shape to take car[e] of himself through an arduous siege.
McKinley is well known personally
to more people in Washington than any other President. For twenty-five
years he has lived here and moved in and out among the people in
an ordinary way. Thousands and thousands know him well[,] and were
he not President would be chatt[i]ng with him daily on the streets
were he in town. It is these people who so strongly believe that
his good health and strength will pull him through. Pendel lies
on a couch at the White House to-night fitfully sleeping, waiting
for news from his beloved employer.
“While the President
is in Washington, his personal safety is always carefully if not
conspicuously guarded,” said Colonel Sylvester, chief of police,
this evening. “We go on the principle that it is impossible to give
the person of the President absolute protection from the assassin’s
bullet, yet the danger can be reduced to [a] minimum. Showy protection,
we assume, is worse than none, as it inevitably attracts attention
to the fact that we are afraid and are taking preca[u]tions. Such
protection invites reckless irre[s]ponsibles to try to defeat our
purpose. We assume that a shot fired fifteen or twenty feet from
the President has about one chance in a hundred of fatally wounding
him. Therefore we try to keep strangers that distance from him.
Even the constant visitor at the White House sees only a few idl[e]
policemen. Yet they are always on th[e] move and they see every
public spot every few minutes. Each pushes a button every ten minutes
and reports all well. Furthermore there are many plain clothes men
coming and going. All in all they keep very close track of all who
“Unless known very few come close
to the President while here. As he comes and goes from his drives
the crowds ar[e] kept at a distance of fifteen or twenty feet and
the groups who watch the President and his wife have surely b[ee]n
carefully inspected before they come fro[m] the doors. It is the
same when they [r]eturn. No mounted police gallop in front of th[e]
President’s carriage, but the [r]oute of hi[s] drive always gets
inspected by plain clothes men before the President appears. This
is all inconspicuously, but most effectively done. Even at receptions
we know pretty nearly who are coming. In thi[s] way the danger i[s]
reduced to the minimum.
“When the President leaves on a trip
 the chiefs of police are notified
of our methods. The main thing is to keep the crowds twenty feet
away. It is of record t[h]at few assassins fire bullets a greater
distance. When we have a parade our d[e]tectives do not ride with
the President. T[h]ey are near the crowd at the edge of the curb
and would instantly nab any one w[h]o tried to approach the President.
The distance protects him.”