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Theodore Roosevelt reached the city in which but a short time before he had presided as Governor of the State.
At Albany he was met by Secretary of State Hay, who informed him officially that President McKinley was no more. He likewise informed the Vice-President that, considering the excitement, it might be best that Mr. Roosevelt be sworn in as President without delay.
Another special train was in waiting at Albany, and this was rushed westward with all possible speed, arriving in Buffalo at halfpast one in the afternoon. In order to avoid the tremendous crowd at the Union railroad station, Mr. Roosevelt alighted at the Terrace station. Here he was met by several friends with a carriage and also a detachment of the Fourth Signal Corps and a squad of mounted police.
Without loss of time Theodore Roosevelt was driven to the Millburn house. Here he found a great many friends and relatives of the dead President assembled. All were too shocked over what had occurred to say much, and shook the hand of the coming President in silence.
Thousands of eyes were upon Theodore Roosevelt, but he noticed them not. Entering the Millburn house, he thought only of the one who had surrendered his life while doing his duty, and of that kind and patient woman now left to fight the battles of this world alone. He offered what consolation he could to Mrs. McKinley, heard the little that had not yet been told of that final struggle to fight off death, and then took his departure, to assume the high office thus suddenly and unexpectedly thrust upon him.
TAKES THE OATA AS PRESIDENT THE NEW CHIEF MAGISTRATE AT THE FUNERAL OF PRESIDENT McKINLEY - AT THE WHITE HOUSE - How THE FIRST REAL WORKING DAY WAS SPENT
The new President took the oath of office at the residence of Mr. Ansley Wilcox in Buffalo. It is a fine, substantial mansion and has ever since been of historic interest to sight-seers.
When he arrived at the Wilcox home, he found a number of members of the McKinley Cabinet awaiting him, as well as Judge John R. Hazel, of the United States District Court, who administered the oath; and ten or a dozen others.
The scene was truly an affecting one. Secretary Root could scarcely control himself, for, twenty years before, he had been at a similar scene, when Vice-President Arthur became Chief Magistrate, after the assassination of President Garfield. In a voice filled with emotion he requested Vice-Presi
dent Roosevelt, on behalf of the Cabinet as a whole, to take the prescribed oath.
It is recorded by an eye-witness that Theodore Roosevelt was pale, and that his eyes were dim with tears, as he stepped forward to do as bidden. His hand was uplifted, and then in a solemn voice the judge began the oath :
“I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will, to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States."
The words were repeated in a low but distinct voice by Theodore Roosevelt, and a moment of utter silence followed.
“Mr. President, please attach your signature,” went on the judge. And in a firm hand the new Chief Executive wrote “ Theodore Roosevelt” at the bottom of the allimportant document which made him the President of our beloved country.
Standing in that room, the President felt the great responsibility which now rested on his shoulders, and turning to those before him, he spoke as follows:
“In this hour of deep and terrible be
reavement, I wish to state that it shall be my aim to continue absolutely unbroken the policy of President McKinley for the peace and prosperity and honor of our country.”
These were no mere words, as his actions immediately afterward prove. On reaching Washington he assembled the Cabinet at the home of Commander Cowles, his brotherin-law, and there spoke to them somewhat in this strain :
“I wish to make it clear to you, gentlemen, that what I said at Buffalo I meant. I want each of you to remain as a member of my Cabinet. I need your advice and counsel. I tender you the office in the same manner that I would tender it if I were entering upon the discharge of my duties as the result of an election by the people.” Having thus declared himself, the newly made President asked each member personally to stay with him. It was a sincere request, and the Cabinet members all agreed to remain by Mr. Roosevelt and aid him exactly as they had been aiding Mr. McKinley. Thus was it shown to the world at large, and especially to the anar