Source: Journal and Herald
Source type: newspaper
Document type: article
Document title: “Real Cause of Death”
City of publication: Springville, New York
Date of publication: 19 September 1901
Volume number: 35
Issue number: 35
|“Real Cause of Death.” Journal and Herald 19 Sept. 1901 v35n35: p. .|
|William McKinley (autopsy); William McKinley (death, cause of).|
|Hermanus L. Baer; Charles Cary; Harvey R. Gaylord; Edward G. Janeway; William W. Johnston [misspelled below]; W. P. Kendall; Herman G. Matzinger [misspelled below]; Edward L. Munson; James T. Wilson.|
Real Cause of Death
Autopsy Revealed That the System Was Permeated with Gangrene—
Were Bullets Poisoned?
Gangrene, which affected the stomach, caused
the death of the president. The announcement was made officially by the surgeons
who attended him, reinforced by Dr. Janeway, Dr. Johnson, Dr. Kendall, Dr. Cary,
Dr. Munson, Dr. Baer and Drs. Gaylord and Metzinger. An autopsy was performed
at the Milburn home Saturday, several hours after the death of the president.
The bullet which penetrated the stomach was not found. For two hours the surgeons
who performed the autopsy sought for it. Its course was traced until it entered
the muscles of the back, where a search of 1½ hours failed to find it.
The X-ray apparatus was not conveniently at hand to aid the search, so the autopsy
was concluded without the finding of the bullet.
The report of the autopsy upon the president’s body was issued in the form of an official bulletin, similar to those issued during his illness. Here is the report:
“The bullet which struck over the breastbone did not pass through the skin and did little harm.
“The other bullet passed through both walls of the abdomen. Both holes were found to be perfectly closed by the stitches, but the tissue around each hole had become gangrenous. After passing through the stomach the bullet passed into the back walls of the abdomen, hitting and tearing the upper end of the kidney. This portion of the bullet track was also gangrenous, the gangrene involving the pancreas.
“The bullet has not yet been found. There were no signs of peritonitis or disease of other organs. The heart walls were very thin. There was no evidence of an attempt at repair on the part of nature and death resulted from the gangrene, which affected the stomach around the bullet wounds, as well as the tissues around the further course of the bullet.
“Death was unavoidable by any surgical or medical treatment and was the direct result of the bullet wound.”
The death certificate, issued later by Coroner Wilson, states the cause of death as given in the official report of the autopsy. It says nothing of a poisoned bullet or anything except the cause stated by the surgeons.