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Profusely Illustrated with Reproductions from Original Photographs, Original
The Story of a Martyr
66 GREAT and good man lies dead, and the nation mourns.
Such was the sentiment felt in millions of hearts of citi
zens of the United States of America when, on the morning of Saturday, the 14th of September, 1901, the sad tidings were flashed from end to end of the country that their revered and honored President was no more. During the days of that terrible week which succeeded the treacherous assault upon the life of the National Executive, when trusting himself most fully to the honor and good-will of his people, hope wrestled with dread in the hearts of Americans of every type of political faith, every sentiment of national policy. The opponents as well as the supporters of the President stood in spirit by that bedside where the life of one of their noblest was ebbing away, and if silent prayer could ever change the course of nature, it would have been changed in these fateful days.
Hope for a time triumphed over despair, and the hearts of the people throbbed with gladness when it seemed as if the fell purpose of the assassin was about to be foiled, and our President restored to health and vigor to finish the work which he had been chosen by the voice of the nation to fulfil. Alas! no one knew that dark disease was even then mining deep within, that death had set his lurid seal
upon that noble brow, and that minutes, instead of months or years, inarked the term of the President's future life.
Hence, when the shock at length came, it was a terrible one. An universal spasm of grief passed from end to end of the land. From far eastern Maine to the western land of gold, from the
great lakes of the north to the great gulf of the south, the senti. ment of deep regret, the feeling of intense sadness, filled every soul. Never was a man more deeply and widely mourned, not even the sainted Lincoln, nor the warmly esteemed Garfield, America's two former martyrs to integrity and high-mindedness in the Presidential chair. The shock fell with sudden and irresistible force, and for an interval the whole nation swung downward into the vale of grief, only slowly to rise again from under the force of that dread blow.
Never was there a crime more without purpose, more without possible good effect. William McKinley was no oppressor of the people, no irresponsible and cruel autocrat. No act of his had ever, from evil intent, taken the bread from one man's hand, the hope from one man's heart. He was the representative of the people's will, not their master. Chosen by the votes of a majority of the citizens to execute their laws and administer their affairs, he had devoted himself seriously and conscientiously to this purpose, and no one, not even those who most opposed his policy, ever in their hearts accused him of self-seeking, of a disregard for the obligations of his oath of office, of anything other than an earnest desire to do what in his judgment seemed the best thing for the good of the people as a whole.
There was no benefit conceivable to be gained by his cruel taking off; nothing but evil-evil, deep-dyed evil-in the act. Even the opponents of his policy could not hope but that this policy would be pursued by the strong and able man who would succeed him in the Presidential chair. Only the counsels of insensate anarchy, the whisperings of a demon viler than Satan, could have inspired such a deed; and for the man, if it is just to call him man, that struck the blow, only a single excuse exists, that his brain had been turned by the dark conspiracies in which he was involved, and that it was at the instigation of a fanaticism excited to the pitch of insanity that the deed was done.