The assault on the president and
his possible death has shocked the country and the world. It is
all the more shocking from the fact that he represents the people
of a free country, placed in office by their voice for a brief term
of years, when he would return to citizenship and be like his fellows.
There is no excuse founded on unchangeable oppression. There is
no possibility of changing or injuring the government. The assassination
is the dastardly work of a criminal crank, finding no response among
men not as crazy as himself.
But it is time for the people to consider
what all this prolonged howl of discontent, with vituperation and
epithets, is leading to. The great body of the people do not believe
it; they take it for what it is worth, political agitation. But
the emotional come to believe a part of it and the cranks, the whole
of it. There is no country on God’s footstool, and never has been,
so free, prosperous and happy as this United States. Do we appreciate
this? Is it not time, and this the occasion, to change our tone
and pay some regard, even in our vaporings, to the great truth?
Are we not stirring up bad blood? Is it right to predict, if not
threaten, revolution and bloodshed as an incentive to party action?
We reap the fruits of this today, in assassination, public disgrace
and loss of that personal confidence which has always so honored
our public officers and our people. Are we not driving rapidly toward
a class separation not before known to our people and not in fact
Mr. McKinley is president of the United
States by act of its citizens. We may differ to any extent with
his policy and hs [sic] party action; but he stands for something
more than his policy; he stands for the will of seventy millions
of people, by their choice. In this calamity, all have a part. Party
and policy sink out of sight in the dignity and honor of a free
people. This thing touches the honor of our common country. The
man, McKinley, is like any other reputable and prominent man; but
that our president, an officer chosen of the people, is struck down
by a malcontent, possibly encouraged by our own waywardness in political
discussion, is quite another matter.
It is well that the law was allowed
to take its course with the assassin. A lynching would have wrought
as much harm as the attempt at murder itself. This is no time to
condone lawless acts and a whole people should not bear the stain
of anything of the kind. The wholesome restraint of the law was
never more necessary and important. The possibility of such a crime
as that attempted should cool our judgment and steady us down to
a more exact obedience to law, which is adequate when obeyed and
enforced. If we are to be and remain a free people, we must govern
ourselves and obey our own laws. The criminal classes, the emotionalists
and perverters of public sentiment will give us enough to do without
ourselves falling into their disorderly ways.