Publication information

Sydney Mail
Source type: newspaper
Document type: column
Document title: “Notes of the Week”
Author(s): anonymous
City of publication: Sydney, Australia
Date of publication: 21 September 1901
Volume number: 72
Issue number: 2150
Pagination: 720-21

“Notes of the Week.” Sydney Mail 21 Sept. 1901 v72n2150: pp. 720-21.
William McKinley (death: international response); McKinley assassination (international response); lawlessness (mob rule); Theodore Roosevelt; Theodore Roosevelt (assumption of presidency: personal response); presidential succession; McKinley cabinet (retention by Roosevelt); John Hay; Theodore Roosevelt (personal history).
Named persons
Leon Czolgosz; James A. Garfield; Charles J. Guiteau; John Hay; William McKinley; Theodore Roosevelt; Leonard Wood.
Alternate newspaper title: Sydney Mail [and] New South Wales Advertiser.

Notes of the Week

     Australia, in common with the rest of the civilised world, has been profoundly moved by the death of President M’Kinley. As the news spread on Saturday night, it was received with all the manifestations of a personal bereavement. The medical bulletins had been so confident; we had been so repeatedly assured that there would be a recovery, and that a speedy one, that the public had come to accept it as all but certain. Even the Vice-President of the States was so certain that he left on a hunting trip. And now there is but the pathetic memory that the stricken man begged his physicians to let him die in peace. Major M’Kinley in life was a remarkable man, a man of strong courage, steadfastness of purpose, and great ability. In the manner in which he met his death he raised himself to a niche in his country’s gallery of heroes for all time. Millions have been moved to tears by the simple and touching story of the death chamber at Buffalo, as told in the cable news. It is pitiful to think that with all our material advancement the greatest is more than ever at the mercy of the least. The finest intellect and the noblest character may be extinguished at any moment by the meanest. From the revolver of a Czolgosz there is no safeguard. Provided only the fanatic is willing to sacrifice his own life, he may easily take the other, and the assassination of President M’Kinley at Buffalo might have as easily had its counterpart in the assassination of our recent Royal visitor in the Sydney streets. In either case the crowd would, if permitted, have torn the assassin limb from limb, but the evil thing would have been done. Perhaps if such creatures were left to the savage vengeance of crowds, the punishment would be a greater deterrent than the slower process of the law, which makes the man a hero to his kind. The Buffalo crowd, mindful of how Guiteau’s miserable existence was dragged out by the laws’ [sic] delays after his slaying of President Garfield, would have lynched Czolgosz had they been able to get at him.


     If President M’Kinley laid down his office fittingly, his successor has taken it up well. The Vice-President was so satisfied with the medical assurances of the patient’s safety that he had gone to that wild paradise of the wealthy New Yorker, the Adirondacks. And when he was brought back as fast as special trains could do it to Buffalo, his first act was to go to the widow of his dead chief, the next to restore international confidence by re-appointing the Cabinet, and popular confidence and affection by walking the streets of Buffalo and mingling with its crowds unescorted. And this though even now an anarchist assassin is hastening to the States in his behoof. The men who made the American Constitution builded well. Neither internecine strife nor the assassin’s bullet nor personal ambition have been able to undo their work. On the death of a President, the Vice-President succeeds “automatically.” President Roosevelt was actually sworn in on his flying journey to Buffalo. An election at such a time would unsettle the State, so the sturdy fathers of the nation made it unnecessary. But they gave the succeeding President a free hand with his advisers by requiring them to resign. It was an open secret that Vice-President Roosevelt, who represents what may be termed the “Imperialistic” development of recent American statesmanship, had differences of opinion with Colonel John Hay, the peculiarly able Secretary of State, because he considered that the American view in international affairs was not always pushed with the vigour he would have preferred. Colonel Hay is an old man, of great experience, and therefore cautious. To have changed the Cabinet would have been an intimation to the nations that a new external policy, one of greater aggressiveness, would be adopted. The immediate reinstatement of the entire Cabinet was an act making for the peace of the world.


     President Roosevelt is a type of man who has by the popular prejudice been so far excluded from the United States presidency. There is in the great Democracy an absurd prejudice against men of high social position, and a decided suspicion of men of great wealth in public affairs. They are widely and unjustly classed as “dudes.” This prejudice has been reciprocated by a corresponding feeling that it was “bad form” for such men to dabble in politics. The result has been unfortunate for both sides—we are not without a somewhat similar sentiment here. To the Government of a democracy there should go its best element in all ranks. Colonel Roosevelt is a man of culture and refinement, a descendant of the aristocratic “knickerbocker” families, one of the famous New York “four hundred[,]” the creme de la creme of American society. He is at the same time a man of great wealth. He has been ranchman and hunter. When the Cuban war broke out he formed his “Rough Riders” of the cowboys and sheriffs he knew out West, and the young Harvard and Yale men he knew in New York society, and the extremes met and fused most happily. Let us hope that will be a good augury of his Presidency. Mr. Roosevelt, though he had resigned Ministerial office to form his regiment, would not take chief command. That he secured for Colonel Wood, a medical and military officer, now the General Wood who transformed Santiago, and it was only when his Colonel was promoted to a larger charge that the Major “moved up.” The hold on the popular fancy secured by the Rough Riders made their founder Governor of New York State, and in that [?] he waged relentless war on Tammany cor[?] and “machine” politics; and Tamma[ny?] [?] said, was instrumental in “shelving [?] [720][721] vigorous and capable opponent in the usually ornamental and not specially effective office of the Vice-Presidency. And now the bullet of a degenerate Pole has made him ruler of the nation, with greater power than any ruler of Europe, save perhaps him of Russia. Even the Czar is dominated by his Council of State while an American President dominates his Council. And Tammany has written over its portals, “God’s way—His will be done.”