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About The commoner. (Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-1923 | View Entire Issue (Sept. 20, 1901)
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The President's Last Hours..
The last hours of President McKinloy supplied
to the world the most pathetic instances in all its
history. Mr. McKinley was shot by an assassin on
the afternoon of Friday, September 6. An opera
tion was immediately performed. On Saturday
evening it was reported that the distinguished pa
tient was in a serious condition, and for a few
hours on that day his death was expected. Under
the skillful care of physicians and surgeons, who
did everything in their power to preserve this val
uable life, Mr. McKinley seemed to rapidly im
prove, and by Thursday, six days after the presi
dent was shot, the American people were happy in
the confidence that ho would live, but on tho
evening of Thursday the patient took a turn for tho
worse and ho gradually sank, although ho held
on to life with great determination, showing the
vitality that is always noticeable among men and
women who have maintained correct habits of life.
Mr. McKinley died at 2:15 o'clock Saturday morn
ing. Twico during tho hours when death was
drawing near he became conscious, and each timo
called for the wife to whom he had been so de
voted. Tho watchers by the bedside report that
no more pathetic scene was ever witnessed than
when Mr. McKinley, too feeble even to raise his
hand, sought to give comfort to his grief-stricken
The Chicago Times-Herald gives an interesting
account of Mr. McKinley's last moments in these
"The peace which for a week past had been de
nied him is now his, and the shattered body has
parted from the heroic soul thatgave it strength.
"After an extraordinary struggle to gain tho
better of a failing heart, to master his injury for
the sake of the nation and his wife, the president
at 9 o'clock last evening begged the surgeons gath
ered about him to let him die.
'Ho had just, finished chanting 'Nearor My God
to, , Thee.'. , The fi words came from his lips in a
whisper. He was tired, at the end of .his contest
"Mrs. McKinley had left his side and the mem
bers of his cabinet present had bidden him fare
.well. Blessed unconsciousness came to him, the.
veil of death drew slowly across his mind, and
hut for tho almost imperceptible breathing it
might have been thought that tho end was then.
"Yet he lingered on, the extremities growing
colder and colder, the heart beats fainter. His
vitality surprised even those who knew him best.
His hold on life was extraordinary for one who
had gone through so much.
"From 10 o'clock until the end it was only a
matter of sad waiting. Nothing could be done. ,
"The president had been dying since Thursday
night, when his heart failed with such alarming
suddenness and terrible faintness and weariness
came upon him. - All night the doctors gave him
the most powerful heart stimulants known, fed
him oxygen, and exhausted their skill in an effort
to revive him. ' ' i
"Ho did rally 'early yesterday morning and later
in the day. He even spoke' of the weather, the
rain, the bright effect it had upon the trees.
"Mrs. McKinley called on him once during tho
day, but did not realize then that he was so near
dissolution. The surgeons had faint hopes, though.
The president's will power was with them, but it
was not enough to overcome the declining heart.
"Toward evening it was very certain that he
would die. He realized it. He met the situation
with the same coolness that had marked all his
conduct during the week.
"He asked that Mrs. McKinley be sent for. He
wished to part' with her. She came and kneeled
by his bedside. His hands went out and feebly,
slowly covered hers.
"Her face was buried in the coverlet.
"Her tears fell fast, but in a moment she con
trolled herself, and; looking up to Dr. Rixey,
begged him to save him. She called out: -
w 1 can not lot him go.' '
"They led her away, and In the course of half
an hour she regained her courage and strength.
She oven said to those about her:
" 'I will bo strong for his sake
"Even at that last moment tho mutual lovo
which had dwelt between theso two for thirty
years was all-powerful and tho presence of death
could not take from it ono atom of strength.
"Tho president's unconsciousness continued
all through tho hours up to midnight and the final
passing of life. He breathed, and that was all
there was to indicate life. The surgeons sat about
him, friends in adjacent apartments waited. Tho
work of all was over and the president was pass
ing out to tho ways he did not fear, alono but for
the God upon whose strength he had always
"The president slept in the late aftornoon, and
when he awakened a wan smile crossed his face
and In tho sunken oyes there was a dash of tho
courage that made him what ho was In '65, that
raised him to his eminence twice by popular
"Still the rumors passed from lip to lip that
ho was dead. In the sick room it was known bet
ter. The man himself had not yet glvon up. He
was game, master still of that old will that had
so often in the past stood him in good need.
"All the trouble was in the heart. It was
tricky, shifty, failing, spurting. Just what might
bo expected from it could not bo told, and this
produced awful uncertainty. There are points yet
where tho highest surgical and medical science
stops, halts, .bewildered, face to face with an un
explained action of human mechanism. Then it
Ib that science leaves all to the God above and to
the man combating death.
"If stimulants could have saved the president
they should have. All that the tired heart could
bear was given it, and re-enforcing came tho will
of tho man on the threshold of tho valley of1 tho
shadow of death, but his face turned' back to' tho
plain of life, where faced him his vifo and his
"Physicians were called from everywhere. Tho
consultations were many. They could only be con
sultations, for the battle was between Death and
the president. Science had done its utmost.
"The evening came on and the darkness, and
the president roused. He whispered to Dr. Rixey
that he knew the end was at hanJ. and asked for
his wife always his wife, always his first thought.
"There was not a shade of fear in the presi
dent's face when Mrs. McKinley came to his side.
She sank down beside him; the hands of this'
great, brave man .covered-hers. She sobbed, and
then her face came up to Dr. Rixey's, and she
" 'I cannot let him go.'
"They led her away, and then she realized that
the president was dying; that he would not sur
render until the end, but that that end was quite
near. At first she trembled, but with time gath
ered her powers and whispered to those about
" 'I will be strong for his sake.'
"Then, slipping nearer and nearer to the gate
ways of the beyond, the president still struggled
against the inevitable. Ho had not given up, al
though at 11 o'clock he was scarcely breathing,
and the circulation had ceased in the extremities.
He was conscious, but several hours before the
last coma had como upon him he whispered:
" 'Nearer, my God, to Thee." ,
The late William McKinley was the son of an
iron founder. He was born at Niles, 0 Jan. 29,
1843, and when he died was fifty-eight years of age.
Later tho McKinley family moved to Poland, 0;,
where William McKinley attended an academy
and obtained the larger part of his education. At
the ago of seventeen he entered Allegheny College
in Mcadville, Pa.,, but sickness required him to
ldavo this school before tho oxpirailon of the
first year. During tho following winter William
McKinloy becamo a teacher in a common school
near Poland. In Juno, 1801, Mr. McKinloy enlisted
at Poland in a company organized in that town
for tho Twonty-third Ohio Infantry. Subsequently
he sorved on tho staff of Gen. Rutherford B. Hayos,
later on that of Gon. Geo. Crook. Afterward on
Gen. Carroll's staff, and ho was mustered out in
July, 1805, after sorving four years. Mr. Mc
Kinley returned to Poland, 0., and began the prac
tice of law. In 1867 ho was admitted to tho bar,
and selected Canton, Ohio, as his future homo., Mr.
McKinloy mado his first political speech In 1807,
durlnga hotly contested gubernatorial campaign
in Ohio, In which tho policy of giving suffrage to
the negro was a conspicuous Issue. Tho republi
can governor was elected, but negro suffrago was
defeated. In 1809 ho was olected prosecuting at
torney for Stark county. In 1807 he had met Miss
Saxton, tho daughter of a local banker, and 'In
1871, after a courtship extending over a period of
four years, MIbs Saxton becamo Mrs. McKinloy. Of
tho married life of Mr. and Mrs. McKinloy nothing
need bo said. Tho American people understand
that this was ono of tho moat perfect marriages,
and until tho moment- of his death William Mc
Kinley was the ardent lover of his splondid wife.
Two children wore born to the couple, but both
died at an early age. In 1871 Mr. McKinloy was
defeated for re-election to the office of County At
tornoy. For five years thereafter ho remained in
In 1870 Mr. McKinley was nominated and
olected to Congress. In 1878, in 1880, and in 1882
ho was renominated and re-elected. In tho latter
year his seat was contested by his democratic op
ponent and toward tho end of tho session, for
which Mr. McKinley claimed election, his demo
cratic opponont was seated by a democratic
House. After this Mr. McKinloy was nominated
by acclamation for Congress, and elected until in
1890, when, after a change in his congressional
district, ho was defeated by a small majority.
In 1891 ho was olected governor of Ohio by
23,000 majority, and hold that office from January,
1892, until January, 1896.
In 1896 Mr. McKinloy, at the time a prlvato
citizen, was nominated by tho republican party to
bo its candidate for tho presidency. Ho was elected,
and in 1900 was renominated and re-elected by an
even more flattering vote.
Mr. McKinley began his second term on March
4, 1901, and when he was shot down ho had barely
completed the first six months of his second term.
In the matter of public questions Mr. McKinley
obtained his first great fame as an advocate of
tho protection theory. Exceptionally stirring
events, notably the war with Spain, and the prob
lems growing out of that war, happened during
Mr. McKinley's administration, and with many of
the policies growing out of this war Mr. McKin
ley's name and fame are inseparably linked.
Theodore Roosevelt, president of the United
Slates, was born in Now York on October 27, 1858.
The Roosevelt family is ono of the oldest in
the United States, tho forbears of tho president be
ing prominent in tho early history of New York
under the Dutch rulers of that province. Presi
dent Roosevelt had many advantages, among
them being tho opportunity to acquire an education
and in 1880 he was graduated from Harvard uni
versity. Politics early engaged his attention. In
1882 ho was elected to the legislature of New York,
serving ono term in the house. In 1886 he was a
candidate for mayor of New .York City, but was
defeated. The campaign he made for tim& office
attracted tho attention of the republican leaders,
and in 1889 he was appointed as a member of the
national Civil Service' Commission. Ho served in