Source: St. Louis Republic
Source type: newspaper
Document type: article
Document title: “President Never Feared Attack on His Person”
City of publication: St. Louis, Missouri
Date of publication: 9 September 1901
Volume number: 94
Issue number: 71
|“President Never Feared Attack on His Person.” St. Louis Republic 9 Sept. 1901 v94n71: p. 4.|
|Walter B. Stevens; Walter B. Stevens (public statements); William McKinley (protection); George F. Foster; Secret Service (protecting McKinley); William McKinley (other plots against).|
|Leon Czolgosz [identified as Nieman below]; George F. Foster; William McKinley; Walter B. Stevens.|
President Never Feared Attack on His Person
Secretary Walter B. Stevens of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition
Mr. McKinley Always Felt Safe in the Midst of His Fellow Citizens—
Continually Attended by One Clever Secret Service Man.
Walter B. Stevens, Secretary of
the Louisiana Purchase Exposition Company, is a personal friend of President
McKinley and made several trips to different parts of the United States with
“I do not recollect,” said Mr. Stevens, “that there was ever a previous attempt upon the life of Mr. McKinley. In fact, to my knowledge, there was never even the rumor of a conspiracy to assassinate him. From what I knew of the President, the thought of danger of this kind never entered his mind. He has been from the first very approachable. Nearly any one who wanted to speak to him or shake hands with him could easily do so.
“During his first administration the police about the White House were reduced in numbers, and the little sentry boxes in the grounds were removed. On three days of every week he would take his stand in the white parlor, to receive hundreds of visitors who desired to shake hands with him. On these occasions no officers were seen around, and two or three ushers in citizens’ clothes were his only guards.
ONE SECRET SERVICE
MAN ALWAYS WITH HIM.
“While traveling about the country
the President did not take any formidable bodyguard. He was attended, however,
by a secret-service man, Foster. This man is the most proficient of the kind
I have ever known. He is heavy built and muscular, with broad shoulders, and
of a perfectly gentlemanly appearance. He never wore a uniform, and few knew
that he was attending the President and watching closely every one who approached
him. In crowds, for instance, he walked in front of Mr. McKinley, and in a quiet
way elbowed a passage for him, just as any other stalwart citizen might have
“This officer denominates all cranks, anarchists and crazy men as ‘bugs.’ He has a remarkably quick eye for detecting these ‘bugs,’ and, while they may be perfectly harmless, he never loses sight of them while they are near the President’s person. It is the greatest surprise to me that Nieman was able to fire the shots before he was caught by this officer. It is probable that some one for the moment blocked his way. In large crowds, where some overenthusiastic individual tried to become familiar with the President, this man was always at hand to quietly remove him, and he did so in such a clever and skillful manner that no one in the vicinity had any idea that it was not the work of a private citizen.
“As an example of his method of
working: I once attended church at Canton where Mr. McKinley worships. Before
the service I was standing in front of the door waiting to see the President
enter. Presently along sauntered the secret service man just like an ordinary
citizen taking his morning walk. He stopped in the crowd which had gathered,
and about three minutes afterward the President’s carriage drove up, and Mr.
McKinley and his wife passed into the church. The man watched until he had gone
inside, then walked leisurely away. Just as the service ended he was again in
the front row of the crowd, and waited until the President had driven away.
With my exception, there was probably no one there who had the remotest idea
that the quiet-looking man was the President’s bodyguard.
“The nearest to a conspiracy against Mr. McKinley of which I have any knowledge was just before war was declared with Spain. There was great excitement in Washington at the time, and every one was eager to ascertain what was going to be done. About that time I received a telegram from a gentleman of my acquaintance which stated that the President was in great danger from a member of his household. From the tone of the message I felt confident that my informant had received his information from a medium. I knew, also, that he was a believer in Spiritualism. In spite of this I took the telegram to the Secretary of State and told him that the man who sent it believed what he had written. The Secretary said nothing one way or the other.
“Queer to relate, two days later a scheme to corrupt two servants in the White House was discovered. The conspirators tried to learn some inside information relative to the President’s ultimatum. The servants reported the affair and the parties were arrested.”