« PreviousContinue »
keep it as a reminder of the time I saw him last.” “Take it in,” said the sentry, and the veteran hobbled into the hall. When he got inside he had more trouble and was compelled to explain his errand several times. Finally the line passing the coffin was stopped long enough to allow the old man to step to its side for a glance into the coffin, and to lay his tiny flag on its glass front. Then he turned back with the crowd, hugging the now sanctified flag tightly beneath his coat.
Among those in the line was an old farmer from the lower end of Stark county. He paused beside the casket and burst into tears. “His kindness and his counsel saved a boy of mine," the old man murmured, half in apology, to the guards as he tottered out of the building. Old soldiers who had served with the “major," as they called him, stumped by with limping feet on wooden legs and on crutches: Poor men and poor women whom he had helped when they needed help and without anybody being the wiser, dropped flowers on the pall. One old soldier broke through the second time for another look. "I went to the war with him," the old man said, "and I would not have come back but for him. He saw that I wasn't forgotten in the hospital.”'
DEVOTION TO CHILDREN. No man was ever more devoted to children than Mr. McKinley, or had a more winning manner with them. An illustration of his kindness occurred during the president's transcontinental tour. The train stopped for a few minutes at a little town on the desert. Among those who were at the station to see the president's train go by were two little girls, one of whom had a kodak. The president stepped off the train and was about to walk along the platform when one of the girls, unabashed as older persons are in the presence of the great, asked him if she might take his picture. The president smilingly consented, and stood patiently while the child adjusted her kodak to the correct focus and took the picture. Thousands of children had been the recipients of similar acts of kindness, and these were represented in spirit by a little girl of Canton while the body was lying in state. She stopped long enough to press a kiss upon the glass over the dead face and then ran from the building with streaming eyes. One of the guards thought he saw her drop something and looked. He found a little cluster of common, late-blooming garden flowers, and to it was tied with a piece of thread a note written in a cramped, childish hand :
DEAR MR. McKINLEY: I wish I could send you some prettier flowers, but these are all I have. I am sorry you got shot. KATIE LEE.
The guard picked up the modest little bunch of flowers and tenderly laid it across a cluster of orchids. “I thought I saw the president smile," he said to a comrade.
CLOSING INCIDENTS OF M'KINLEY'S LIFE. When the President repeated the words, “Nearer my God to thee, nearer to thee; e'en though it be a cross that raiseth me," he said: “It has been my constant prayer, my life-long prayer.”
When, in the last moments, Mrs. McKinley said to him: “I want to go with you," he replied, “We are all going, my dear.”
While his hand was laid upon the shoulder of Mrs. McKinley, one of her dearest friends entered the room. With unfailing courtesy he turned its palm so that it could be grasped by this friend. It was already turning cold in death, and while no words could escape his lips, the smile of loving recognition came to his face. .
He said to one of the nurses who waited upon him: "Have you been to the exposition?” She answered, “No, Mr. President.” “Why, where did you come from?" he said with a playful movement of the lips. “From Baltimore,” she said. “Oh, were you the nurse that attended Mrs. Gage?” he asked. “Yes,” she replied. “Then I am very glad indeed to have you wait upon me.” “And I am very glad indeed," she answered, “to wait upon you, Mr. President.”
An intimate friend was permitted to look over the little work entitled “Daily Strength for Daily Need,” out of which he daily read to Mrs. McKinley. In it she found many passages marked, but one was particularly noted:
"So near is grandeur to our dust,
So near is God to man
Then Youth replies 'I can.'” In the early part of the President's struggle for life he would say to the nurses and physicians, after his wound had been attended to: “Let us have prayer.” Then, kneeling, they would repeat with him the Lord's Prayer.
TRUE TO HIS COLORED FRIENDS. When President McKinley appointed the late ex-Senator Brice to the position of register of the treasury, considerable surprise was felt that he should select a colored man to fill so important a position. One day a friend asked him what were his reasons for appointing Bruce.
“I have two,” replied the President. “The first is the man's fitness for the position. The second is that Bruce's name will appear on every bank bill that will be issued by the government while he is in office, and every colored man who gets one of the notes can read on it the name of a man of his own race, and see in it the lesson that, with economy, industry, honesty and ambition, this government will recognize him the same as it does men of a lighter color of skin.”
Chronological Record of the Life of President William
1843. Jan. 29. William McKinley, son of William and Nancy (Allison) McKinley, is born at Niles, Trumbull county, O., being the seventh of a family of nine children.
1852. The McKinley family removes to Poland, Mahoning county, 0., where William studies at the Union seminary until he is 17.
1859. Becomes a member of the Methodist Episcopal church in Poland.
1860. Enters the junior class in Allegheny college, Meadville, Pa., but poor health prevents the completion of the course. Subsequently teaches in a public school near Poland and later becomes a clerk in the Poland postoffice.
1861. June 11. Enlists as a private in Company E, of the Twentythird Ohio volunteer infantry.
1862. April 15. Promoted to commissary sergeant while in the winter's camp at Fayette, W. Va.
1862. Sept. 24. Promoted to second lieutenant, in recognition of services at the battle of Antietam. Wins the highest esteem of the colonel of the regiment, Rutherford B. Hayes, and becomes a member of his staff.
1863. Feb. 7. Promoted to first lieutenant.
1864. July 25. Promoted to captain for gallantry at the battle of Kernstown, near Winchester, Va.
1864. Oct. II. First vote for president cast, while on a march, for Abraham Lincoln.
1864. Shortly after the battle of Cedar Creek (October 19), Captain McKinley serves on the staffs of General George Crook and General Winfield S. Hancock.
1865. Assigned as acting assistant adjutant general on the staff of General Samuel S. Carroll, commanding the veteran reserve corps at Washington.
PRESIDENT LINCOLN BREVETS HIM. 1865. March 13. Commissioned by President Lincoln as major by brevet in the volunteer United States army, "for gallant and meritorious service at the battles of Opequan, Cedar Creek and Fisher's Hill."
1865. July 26. Mustered out of the army with his regiment, having never been absent from his command on sick leave during more than four years' service.
1865. Returns to Poland and at once begins the study of law. 1866. Enters the Albany (N. Y.) law school.
1867. Admitted to the bar at Warren, O., in March. Accepting the advice of an elder sister teaching in Canton, O., he begins the practice of law in Canton and makes that place his home.
HIS FIRST OFFICE.
1869. Elected prosecuting attorney of Stark county on the republican ticket, although the county had usually been democratic.
1871. Jan. 25. Marries Miss Ida Saxton, of Canton. (Two daughters born to Mr. and Mrs. McKinley—Katie in 1871 and lda in 1873and both lost in early childhood).
1871. Fails of re-election as prosecuting attorney by forty-five votes, and for the next five years devotes himself successfully to the practice of law, and becomes a leading member of the bar of Stark county.
1872. Though not a candidate, very active as a campaign speaker in the Grant-Greeley presidential campaign.
1875. Especially active and conspicuous as a campaigner in the closely contested state election in which Rutherford B. Hayes is elected governor.
ELECTED TO CONGRESS. 1876. Elected member of the house of representatives by 3,300 majority, his friend Hayes being elected to the presidency.
1878. Re-elected to congress by 1,234 majority, his district in Ohio having been gerrymandered to his disadvantage by a democratic legislature.
1880. Re-elected to congress by 3,571 majority. Appointed a member of the ways and means committee, to succeed President-elect Garfield.
1882. The republicans suffer reverses throughout the country in the congressional election and McKinley is re-elected by a majority of only 8.
1884. Prominent in opposition to the proposed "Morrison tariff” in congress.
1884. As a delegate-at-large to the republican national convention in Chicago actively supports James G. Blaine for the presidential nomination.