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Source: Pittsburgh Commercial Gazette
Source type: newspaper
Document type: article
Document title: “Dr. M’Burney Suspects the Bullet Had Been Poisoned”
Author(s): anonymous
City of publication: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Date of publication: 16 September 1901
Volume number: 116
Issue number: 43
Pagination: 1

“Dr. M’Burney Suspects the Bullet Had Been Poisoned.” Pittsburgh Commercial Gazette 16 Sept. 1901 v116n43: p. 1.
full text
Charles McBurney (public statements); McKinley assassination (poison bullet theory); William McKinley (medical condition); William McKinley (medical care: personal response); William McKinley (surgery).
Named persons
Charles McBurney; William McKinley.


Dr. M’Burney Suspects the Bullet Had Been Poisoned


He Shows That Chemists Will Have Difficulty Examining the Missiles—Condition
of the Wound Seems Unprecedented on Other Theories.
Special Telegram to Commercial Gazette.

     STOCKBRIDGE, MASS., Sept. 15.—Dr. Charles McBurney this afternoon was asked to comment upon the cry that the bullet which killed President McKinley was poisoned.
     “It looks suspicious,” he said. “In my experience I have never seen a wound in such a condition as described in the autopsy made by an ordinary bullet.”
     Dr. McBurney had just returned to his summer home from Buffalo.
     “I am not prepared to state positively,” continued Dr. McBurney, “that the bullet was poisoned; and until a chemical analysis is made we shall not know. A bullet wound may be received in the thigh, for instance, and provided it does not cut an artery or shatter a bone it will quickly heal under ordinary conditions.
     “In a wound like the president’s, where many tissues were perforated, the suspicious thing is that, according to the reports, the gangrene followed the entire path of the bullet. In cutting the tissue of the stomach, for example, an ordinary wound might develop gangrene to some extent where the bullet went in; but if I understand the reports of the autopsy correctly the gangrene was just as great in extent at the end of the wound as at its beginning. This is something that no one can understand, assuming that the bullet was an ordinary one”
     “Supposing the presence of gangrene had been discovered before the condition of the president assumed such a serious phase, could his life have been saved?”
     “One way to treat cases like this,” replied Dr. McBurney, “would be to lay open the whole wound and cut out the diseased tissue. A wound like the president’s, involving so many different tissues, could hardly be treated in this way, for after cutting away a part of the stomach, a part of the abdomen and a part of the other tissues involved, what would have been left? You cannot apply chemical agents to wounds like that.”
     Dr. McBurney said that the people must wait for the chemical analysis of the bullets remaining in the assassin’s revolver, for it will take time to examine them. He thinks that if poison was used it was a small quantity, and the chemists who analyze them will have the handicap of not knowing exactly what sort of poison they are looking for.
     Dr. McBurney stated that the utmost harmony existed among the surgeons and physicians at work in Buffalo. Before he was called in consultation to Buffalo, he said, the newspaper accounts showed that the surgeons who operated on the president had done a most successful piece of work.
     “When I reached Buffalo,” he said, “I found this was so. The operation was perfectly and beautifullly [sic] done. The physicians showed a clearness of decision that was admirable. The gravity and responsibilities of the situation brought out the best in every man. The surgical operation was well done. The autopsy showed that.”
     It was suggested to Dr. McBurney that it was thought strange that the physicians should have issued bulletins of such an encouraging nature in view of the sudden change and subsequent death of the distinguished patient. He explained this by saying that there were so many favorable conditions up to the time of his collapse that his hope beat high. The rapid action of the pulse was really the only unfavorable symptom up to a certain point, and in all other ways the president appeared to be doing well. Dr. McBurney is convinced that all that modern surgical and medical skill could do was done to save the president’s life.



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