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TAKES THE OATH 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
chists, of which the assassin of McKinley had been one, that though the President might be slain, the government still lived.
The entire country was prostrate over the sudden death of President McKinley, and one of the first acts of Theodore Roosevelt, after assuming the responsibilities of his office, was to issue the following proclamation:
“A terrible bereavement has befallen our people. The President of the United States has been struck down; a crime committed not only against the Chief Magistrate, but against every law-abiding and liberty-loving citizen.
“ President McKinley crowned a life of largest love for his fellow-men, of most earnest endeavor for their welfare, by a death of Christian fortitude; and both the way in which he lived his life and the way in which, in the supreme hour of trial, he met his death, will remain forever a precious heritage of our people.
“ It is meet that we, as a nation, express our abiding love and reverence for his life, our deep sorrow for his untimely death.
“Now, therefore, I, Theodore Roosevelt,
President of the United States, do appoint Thursday next, September 19, the day in which the body of the dead President will be laid in its last earthly resting-place, a day of mourning and prayer throughout the United States.
“I earnestly recommend all the people to assemble on that day in their respective places of divine worship, there to bow down in submission to the will of Almighty God, and to pay out of full hearts their homage of love and reverence to the great and good President whose death has smitten the nation with bitter grief.”
The funeral of President McKinley was a most imposing one. The body was at first laid in state in the City Hall at Buffalo, where President Roosevelt and fully a hundred and fifty thousand men, women, and children went to view the remains. From Buffalo the remains were taken by special funeral train to Washington, and there placed in the Rotunda of the Capitol. Here the crowd was equally great, and here the services were attended by representatives from almost every civilized nation on the globe. Outside a marine band was sta