« PreviousContinue »
friends, needed to know. He, too, told the reporters the truth, with precision and simplicity, and it was to him to whom the President gave the duty, that, more than any other, was delicate, and heart-breaking, of seeing that Mrs. McKinley should not be unduly alarmed. The mortally stricken President when shot, thought first of his wife. Never had there been a greater call for the fine discretion that should separate the flying fables from the authentic facts.
No death-bed ever had greater publicity than that of President McKinley. He was guarded closely as possible from agitation. Every care that love or science could direct was taken to conserve his strength. There were by the bedside the medical men, the surgeons, masters of the modern methods that warrant operations not long ago impossible, and from perils pluck safety. The highest skill in helpfulness with all the resources known to the healing profession was there, and the trained nurses that bring to the presence of desperate chances, the light touch, the silent vigilance, the gentle intuition of womanhood. The enlightened inhabitants of all climes, continents, and nations of the earth, were aware that in the Secretary of the President they had one deeper in his confidence than any other man; one whose duty was to protect him with fond discretion, and tell mankind from hour to hour all the world was entitled to know; and that it should be given with full candor, the shifting phases of the fight for the life of the Chief Magistrate, according to the judgment of competent witnesses. Never before was the publication of the passing details of a case of mortal hurt of the highest in authority of a people so admirably dealt with or given out to so wide an audience. There was a vast and passionate interest in the President's recovery, hope for the best, belief in the efficiency of science and prayer, an uncommon, intense sensibility that the intolerable must be the impossible.
It is largely owing to the clear head and just judgment of the Secretary, that the dying words of McKinley—the beautiful story of his fortitude, murmuring favorite hymns, sending for his wife as he felt the shadows of the dark valley he was entering darken-that the whole sacred scene of matchless pathos has been given to the world. It has hardly been quite understood that the President suffered great agony, that the light of his mind was not put out with morphine, and, therefore, the world was bettered by his last testimony.
'Associated with Mr. Cortelyou, is Mr. Loeb, the personal Secretary of President Roosevelt, who was with him when Governor on the memorable tour through the West, and when Vice-President. The President is fortunate in having an effective organization for dealing with his enormous correspondence. With the aid of his personal Secretary, intimate with his former affairs, and the Secretary to McKinley, the right hand of the lamented late President, the
equipment of the President for answering the innumerable calls of the people is remarkable for its responsibility and competency.
The President has simplified his duties and made possible his perfect touch with the arches of States across the Continent. His information bureau is important as a Cabinet office. He cleared the way of some of the obstructions that have a tendency to take time, saying: "I am going to select the very best men for public positions. Men appointed to high public places must be high in morals and in every respect."
With the complete and effective organization of helpers, the President is deeply occupied, but there is no danger that he will be overwhelmed. The details he understands, and with the work he performs, there is daily disposition of an immense array of demands. It is generally understood that he is disposing of time that is valuable. It is not well to be with him without this understanding. He has the faculty of promptitude, without being in the haste that leads to confusion. He can animate others to vigilance and rapidity of performance, as for example when he captured the Yucatan!
This is not, however, a heated proceeding, but a cool one; or a rush for possession. The swiftness with which matters reach the final stage and pass from the scene, is not disagreeable, but rather exhilarating. It is a fact that the footsteps of those who walk about the White House, and do not serve by standing and waiting, are quickened; and the attitudes common are those that signify all hands "on deck," not alarmed but alert. Even the most attentive Senators have forgotten, apparently, that it is indispensable evidence of dignity and intimacy, that they should close a call of business by a quiet chat about matters other than urgent, and rolling about in armed chairs, taking time complacently. It is already a fixed point as to precedence that dignity is not asserted by deep deliberation over digestion. Mr. Roosevelt was graded at 100 in mathematics at his university, and he did not reach that point by general conversation, but by tasking himself to get sixty minutes worth out of an hour.
A great business centre burned one day in New York. It was, to be specific, the Western Union Telegraph office. “The General commanding” passed a group of the officers who were indulging in a speculative talk touching causes and happenings. The General paused and was polite, then remarked, “There is much to do gentlemen, and there is no time for indulgence in general conversation. Good evening.” The talk was over. The rest was work.
A summary of the first day of Roosevelt in the White House has already passed into history, as follows:
Washington, Sept. 20.-President Roosevelt's first day as chief executive is told briefly as follows:
9:26 a. m.-Arrived at Pennsylvania Railway station in private car from Canton.
9:31 a. m.-Entered carriage and started for the White House.
9:40 a. m.-Reached the executive mansion, accompanied by Secretary Cortelyou and Commander Cowles.
9:45 a. m.-Entered private office formerly occupied by Mr. McKinley and seated himself at the desk of his predecessor, ready to transact the business of his high office.
9:55 a. m.—Met Secretary Long in the cabinet-room and held informal discussion over matters pertaining to the navy department and the Government generally.
10:20 a. m.-Received Colonel Sanger to talk over some army appointments.
10:35 a. m.-Signed appointment of General J. M. Bell and other minor appointments.
10:40 a. m.-Received Senator Cullom and Senator Proctor.
10:45 a. m.-Began receiving members of the Cabinet assembling for meeting.
11:00 a. m.-Called to order for first time formal meeting of Cabinet for the transaction of business.
12:30 p. m.-Adjourned Cabinet meeting.
12:35 p. m.-Received General Wood in private office and held conference with Wood and Secretary Root relative to Cuban election laws.
1:15 p. m.-Secretary Root and General Wood left.
1:20 p. m.-President left White House unattended and on foot to take lunch with Secretary Hay at the latter's residence.
3:30 p. m.-Returned to the White House accompanied by Assistant Secretary of War Sanger.
3:40 p. m.-Re-entered cabinet-room, where he received a few personal friends.
3:55 p. m.-Engaged with Secretary Cortelyou attending business matters.
6:30 p. m.-Mr. Roosevelt bade the clerks and doorkeepers good night and left the executive mansion alone. He walked without attendants through the semi-darkness to 1733 N street, the residence of his brother-in-law.
7:30 p. m.—The president dined with Captain Cowles and his family. No special guests were present.
9:00 p. m.—The president met some old friends, who informally called to pay their respects.
11:00 p. m.-The president retired for the night.
It is related, with perhaps an infusion of colored paint, that the way the President first appeared at the White House "gave his Cabinet a shock.” It is fairly and fully stated, however, that this was occasioned by the way he
"plunged into business.” The first day he sat in the White House with his Cabinet, he expressed the desire to acquaint himself with all matters, great and small, pertaining to the management of the departments which are likely to be brought to his consideration in the future, and by his apparent disinclination to enter upon abstruse discussion of general topics that were dear to the late President, except on occasions when public welfare demanded the closest attention to pressing matters of state.
The President arrived in the city from Canton at 9:26, and went directly from the railway station to the White House. The crowds that assembled to witness his return were surprised and pleased to find that he had resumed his famous old campaign hat, which every one supposed he had abandoned for at least four years upon the day of his return to Buffalo to take the oath of office. The hat looked so familiar that people smiled. It seemed to recall to them memories of the time when the President was the popular hero of Washington and the country during the days that preceded the declaration of war against Spain.
The president alighted from the train almost before the wheels had ceased to revolve, and made his way to a carriage with swinging strides that caused his brother-in-law, Commander Cowles, and other personal attendants and aides, to increase their gaits to a dog trot, in order to keep up with him. He left the members of his cabinet so far behind, that when they reached their carriages he was briskly crossing the front portico of the White House with the air of a man who had a great task before him, and little time in which to perform it. He proceeded directly to the cabinet-room, on the executive floor, where his predecessors had made their headquarters since the famous old executive mansion was first dedicated in the early years of the last century. Seating himself at the end of the table near the south end of the little council chamber, he was quickly immersed in a great mass of delayed business that had been accumulating for two weeks.
Secretary Cortelyou was his only attendant for the period of about an hour and a half, and together they disposed of the papers at a rate that was perhaps never equaled by any of the previous twenty-five Presidents of the Rţepublic. They were interrupted only four times during that hour and a half.
The four visitors were Senators Cullom and Proctor and Secretary Long, and Colonel Sanger, and President Roosevelt exhibited a desire to find out all about the Navy Department from Secretary Long. He was especially anxious to acquaint himself with the personnel of the officers who are now attached to the several bureaus of the department.
The Cabinet meeting began promptly at eleven o'clock, which has been the usual hour of meeting for many years past. The members of the Cabinet