Frank B. (Frank Bosworth) Brandegee.

William McKinley, an address on the life, character, and public services of William McKinley (Volume 1) online

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63d Congress

1st Sffisioii



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I No. 23



Document
13 1



WILLIAM Mckinley



AN ADDRESS

ON THE LIFE, CHARACTER, AND PUBLIC SERV-
ICES OF WILLIAM MCKINLEY DELIVERED BEFORE
THE MCKINLEY ASSOCIATION OF CONNECTICUT
AT NEW HAVEN JANUARY 29, 1904



By



HON. FRANK B. BRANDEGEE

MEMBER OF CONGRESS FROM CONNECTICUT






PRESENTED BY MR. BURTON
NOVEMBER 3, 1913.— Ordered to be printed



WASHINGTON
1913



L'



Es-z.




D. OF D,



LIFE, CHARACTER, AND PUBLIC SERVICES OF WILLIAM
M'KINLEY.



By Frank B. Braxdegee.



Gentlemen of the McKinley Association of Connecticut: Be-
fore entering upon the particular subject of ni}^ address I desire to
express my deep gratification at the high honor conferred upon me
by 3^our inYitation to this banquet and my appreciation of the verj'^
flattering compliment implied in your selection of me as one of the
speakers of this CYening: nor can I refrain from congratulating this
association upon its organization, its distinguished membership, and
this magnificent assemblage in celebration of its natiYity. It is
particularly fitting that this gathering should be held in the city of
NeAY HaYen, at once the seat of a famous uniYersity of learning and
a representatiYe of the culture and refinement of all that is best and
highest in American life. American ideals, and American citizenship.
The Republican Party has ahvays stood for education, for freedom,
for morality, and for national prosperity. By your formation of this
club you haYe shown that Republicanism in Connecticut is a harmo-
nious, united, aggressiYe, and enthusiastic force, and that you are
proud of your past history and confident of a glorious future. In
your choice of a name you haYe paid homage to the memory of one
of our most beloYed leaders and one of the greatest statesmen of the
age, and in the number and character of your members you give
eYidence that Republican principles and policies are still cherished
by the intelligence and good citizenship of our historic Common-
AYealth. You haYe entered upon a field of vast usefulness and in-
fluence, and will proYe an inspiration and a tower of strength to the
cause of good goYernment in both State and Xation.

A nation mourns.

On Thursdav. the 19th day of September. 1901. this country pre-
sented a remarkable spectacle. On that day, for a period of five
minutes after half past 2 o'clock in the afternoon, the Avhole Xation stood
still with bated breath. From the St. Lawrence to the Mexican Gulf
and from the Atlantic to the Golden Gate human activity ceased.
The rush of business was stilled. The hum of industry was hushed.
Commerce was suspended. Xo wheel turned. Every sound was
quieted. A solemn silence prevailed throughout the land. Great
funeral parades halted and stood at attention. Railroad trains on the
mountain sides, steamships on the rivers, and street cars in the cities-
all came to a stop, wherever they were. The electric telegraph for-

3



4 WILLIAM Mckinley.

bore its nervous clicking, silenced by the sorrow that does not speak.
Eighty millions of people stood with bared heads and reverent hearts
while the bells of all the churches in the land tolled in mournful ex-
pression of a nation's grief. The mortal remains of William Mc-
Kinley were being tenderly committed to their last resting place.
The trinity of martyr Presidents was complete. For the third time
in our history the head of this free Eepublic had been laid low by the
hand of an assassin. The beloved Chief Magistrate, the gallant
soldier, the ])rofound statesman, the great debater, the famous orator,
the idol of the people, after 58 years of life devoted to his country's
service, had been murdered, for no intelligible reason, by a vile mis-
creant so obscure that it was with difficulty that he could be identified.
Sorrow and mourning and horror for the dastardlj^ deed were not
confined to this land. The civilized world sympathized in our
bereavement and joined in our deep affliction. Canada, Mexico, and
the nations of the Old World paid loving tribute to the departed
President. In London solemn obsequies were held in the stately
cathedral of St. Paul's, and the princes of church and state thronged
the Abbey of Westminster — England's imperial mausoleum of the
illustrious dead of a thousand years — to honor his great name. We
are assembled here to recall his memory, to recount his achievements,
and to take to our hearts the lessons to be learned from his dis-
tinguished services and his lofty character. What were those services
and whence were derived those intellectual and moral qualities which
raised him from the obscure station of a poor country boy to the
Chief Magistracy of the grandest and freest Nation in all the tide of
time ?

DESCENT AND BOYHOOD.

William McKinley was of Scotch-Irish descent— that mingled blood
which has furnished such a long list of illustrious names to the annals
of the Anglo-Saxon race. He inherited the prudence and tenacity of
purpose which belong to the Scotch, together with that versatility and
gift of eloquence wliich are characteristic of the Irish race. His
father, also named William, was born November 15, 1807, on the
Dougherty farm, in Mercer County, Pa. At the age of 22 the father
married Nancy Campbell Allison. Of this union nine children were
born — four boys and five girls. The senior McKinley was a manager
of iron furnaces, and while engaged in that occupation at Niles, Ohio,
whither he had moved, William McKinley, jr., was born there on
January 29, 1843, just 60 years ago to-day. From Niles they moved
to Poland, Ohio, to take advantage of the educational facilities
afforded by the Poland Academy. At this time the future President
was only a child; and his boyhood was spent in the little agricul-
tural and mining village of Poland. This place is the most south-
eastern township of the original Western Eeserve, and one of the
original land company from Connecticut settled there. From the
age of 14 to 18 young McKinley attended the academy, read law in
the evening until midnight, assisted the village postmaster in his
work, taught school, and devoted himself to the varied tasks by which
a country "boy might contribute toward his support. At the age of 16
he became a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church of Poland,
and was a constant attendant and a close and earnest student in his



: , WILLIAM McKINLEY. 5

Bible class. Even at this early age he gave evidence of his talent for
debate and soon became the leader of the village debating society.
His parents were hard-working and God-fearing people — serious,
industrious, moral, and of the strictest integrity. His father died in
1892, at the advanced age of 85 years, and his mother lived to the
ripe age of nearly 90 years, and died in 1897, with her son. then
President, at her bedside. In this Christian home of frugal habits
the foundations of his character were laid broad and deep, and they
never failed him in after life. In 1860 the irrepressible conflict drew
near. Abraham Lincoln, with the inspiration of a prophet of old,
had riveted the attention of the world by the words Avhich seared
themselves into the minds of men, " This country can not perma-
nently endure half slave and half free." The country at once per-
ceived the truth and the awful portent of the statement. The fact
had long lain half hidden in the consciousness of men; but, hoping
and praying for a solution of the problem, the}^ had refused to con-
template the terrible alternative. Now they were face to face with the
momentous issue. The policy of compromise, which had been the sole
aim and result of the highest statesmanship for a generation, was
abandoned. Lincoln became President. The secession of States
began and continued. The military arm of the Nation had been
despoiled and paralyzed. Treason lurked in every department of the
Government and in every branch of the public service. The Union
appeared to be tottering to its destruction. Chaos and anarchy
seemed at hand. Sumter was fired upon and taken, and the Nation's
flag Avas hauled down and trampled in the dust. Lincoln called for
volunteers, and his appeal was met with a patriotic uprising through-
out the entire North. One instance will illustrate the prevailing
spirit. In a small village of the West there was an old tavern, called
the Sparrow Inn, which had been built soon after the Revolutionary
War. It was one of the stations for fugitive slaves on the " under-
ground route " to Canada. On a day in June, 1801, the inhabitants
had assembled there. A speaker, pointing to the Stars and Stripes
which hung on the wall, said with impassioned utterance: '" ()ur
country's flag has been shot at. It has been trailed in the dust by
those who should defend it: dishonored by those who should have
cherished and loved it. And for Avhat? That this free Government
may keep a race in the bondage of slavery. Who will be the first to
defend it?" A silence like death ensued. For an interval no move-
ment was made. Then a lad pushed forward into the space in front
of the speaker. He was a slender, gray-eyed youth, Avith a serious,
thoughtful face, inclicating both sweetness and strenglh. a frank and
open oaze, a noble brow, and a strong curved nose. It was William
McKinley.

ENLISTS IN TIIF. ARIMY.

He A'olunteered and at once enlisted in Company E of the TAventy-
third Ohio Volunteer Infantry, on June 11, 1801, at the age of 18
years. This regiment Avas composed largely of youn^ men of New
Eno-land descent. ]\[cKinley Avas only a boy and enlisted as a pri-
vate. His career in the Arniv Avas highly creditable. He discharged
everv dutv faithful Iv and A^as repeatedly commended for bravery



6 WILLIAM Mckinley.

and efficiency. He was brevetted-for gallant conduct on the bloody
field of Antietam, and, as a staff officer, was constantly employed as
a bearer of dispatches in the thick of the hottest fights, " It was Voimg
McKinley who guided Sheridan through the rout of the Union Army
to the quarters of Gen. Crook on the day of Sheridan's famous ride
from Winchester, which resulted in transforming a threatened dis-
aster into a decisive victory. Within a year of the time of his enlist-
ment he was promoted to the rank of commissary sergeant; within
six months from that date he was promoted to be' second lieutenant;
five months afterwards he became a first lieutenant ; after another five
months he was made a captain. , Eight months passed, and he was
detailed as acting assistant adjutant general of the First Division,
First Army Corps, on the staff of Gen. Carroll, and brevetted major.
He was mustered out of service July 26, 1865, having served with
conspicuous bravery through the entire war. He had been a member
of the staffs of Gens. Hayes. Crook, Hancock, and Sheridan. Mc-
Kinley's regiment, the Twenty-third Ohio, contained many men
afterwards highly distinguished. At the time of its formation its
colonel was William S. Rosecrans, subsequently a famous general.
Its lieutenant colonel was Stanley Matthews, afterwards United
States Senator from Ohio and a justice of the United States Supreme
Court. Its first major was Rutherford B. Hayes, who subsequently
became an able general, thrice governor of his State, and President
of the United States. McKinley hated war. It was foreign to his
whole nature. To use his own words, '' Peace is the national desire
and the goal of every American aspiration. The best sentiment of
the civilized world is moving toward the settlement of differences
between nations without resorting to the horrors of war. Let us
ever remember that our interest is in concord, not conflict; and that
our real eminence rests in the victories of peace, not those of war.
We love peace better than Avar, and our swords never should be
drawn except in a righteous cause, and then never until every effort
at peace and arbitration shall be exhausted."

Nevertheless, had he remained in the Army, he was endowed Avith
those attributes which would undoubtedly have made him a gi-eat
commander. He had entered the service not because of a taste for a
military career, but solely because he kncAV his country needed him
at that time and needed him there most of all. Fidelity to duty was
the mainspring of his existence. Duty called and he obeyed. The
rough life, the temptations and passions which are so apt to vitiate
the character of the soldier in time of Avar found him proof against
their insidious influences. His nature and character Avere impreg-
nable against the assaults of evil, and, like a Crusader of old, he
emerged from the fours years' conflict Avith morals and purposes
elevated and fortified by the experiences of the most gigantic rebel-
lion in history.

RETURNS TO CIVIL LIFE.

He Avas noAv only 22 years of age — a youth in years, but a full man,
measured by the experience and responsibilities of life. He at once
returned to his home in Poland and reentered ciAnl life. He studied
laAv Avith Judge Glidden, and also at the Albany LaAv School, and in
1867 he Avas admitted to the bar. and immediately began the practice



WILLIAM McKINLEY. 7

of his profession in Canton, whither he had moved. Within two years
he was elected iDrosecuting attorney of Stark County, a stronghold
of Democracy, and, during a brilliant and aggressive campaigTi, first
gave public evidence upon the stump of that wonderful ability which
placed him in the very foremost rank of the world's greatest debaters.
In 1871 he married Miss Ida Saxton, the daughter of a banker and
leading citizen of Canton, and for the next five years devoted himself
to his profession, and won enviable distinction as a lawyer, especially
as an advocate in the trial of causes to the jury.

ENTERS PUBLIC LIFE.

In 16,76 he was elected a Eepresentative in Congress, and from this
date his career, as known to the people at large, may be said to have
begun. [He was then only 33 years of age. Most of the famous con-
gressional careers have been made by men who entered the House in
the strength of young manhood. Garfield, Blaine, Conkling, Eeed,
Clay, Webster, and Lincoln — all began their congressional life as
young m([^n. The eighteenth Ohio district, which McKinley repre-
sented, was a manufacturing and mining district, and while McKin-
ley inherited the tarift' ideas of a Henry Clay Whig, his protective
views were doubtless strengthened by his careful analysis of the needs
of his constituencv. He had hardly been two years in Congress when,
the Wood tariff bill being under discussion, in 1878, McKinley deliv-
ered a- speech in opposition which forthwith made for him a national
reputation and, upon the election of Garfield to the Presidency two
years later, secured for him Garfield's place on the Ways and Means
Committee. Judge Kelley. of Pennsylvania, who, from his loyalty to
the great metal industry of his State, earned the soubriquet of " Pig
Iron Kelley," was at that time the leading exponent of the principle
of protection to American industries. He saw at once that a new
champion had been raised u]) for the ''American system," and when
he laid aside the mantle of leadership he placed it on McKinley's
shoulders.

HIS LIFE WORK.

And now McKinlev was in the midst of the most distinctive work
of his life, and henceforth there is hardly a page of American history
which does not bear the imprint of his genius. For the next 20
years the tariff was an issue in every State, congressional, and
national campaign. McKinley was always in the thick of the fight.
Indeed, he cameto be the center about which the conflict raged. So
completely had he impressed his views upon his party and, through
it, upon 'the country, that the protective policy was everywhere
.'.popularly known as "*' McKinleyism." At home and abroad he was
acknowledged to be the preeminent exponent, not only of a protec-
tive tariff, but of a tarifl' for protection. So strong is political am-
bition in Ohio and so numerous are the aspirants for the honors of
public life, that it was the custom in that State to allow to a Repre-
sentative in Congress only two terms; but McKinley so dominated
his district and became a figure of such national importance that for
15 years no other name in his party was mentioned to .succeed him.
Time and again his district was gerrymandered against him, and as



\



8 WILLIAM McKINLEY.

often did he put his opponents to rout and wrest victory from the
very jaws of defeat against great odds. While I had no close ac-
quaintance with Mr. McKinley, I had met liim and heard him on
several occasions. I was a member of two national conventions to
which he was also a delegate and in the proceedings of which he took
conspicuous part. He presided over one of them, that at Minne-
apolis, in 1802. I had also met and had friendly conversation with
him in the White House, and had attended the convention in Phila-
delphia which nominated him for the Presidency in 1900.

HIS PERSONAL TRAITS.

His api^earance was most impressive. A natural dignity of man-
ner clothed him as with a garment. He was of medium height,
broad shouldered, deep chested, and of a strong, compact build. He
possessed great physical strength and had enormous power of en-
durance. His capacity for work w as marvelous. He had a splendid
head and countenance. One of his personal friends said of him,
" His face was cast in a classic mold; you see faces like it in antique
marble in the galleries of the Vatican and in the portraits of the
great cardinal statesmen of Italy." His forehead was broad and
massive; his eyebrows were very thick and bushy; his eyes were
gray and piercing and set far back under his overhanging brow;
his nose was like the beak of an eagle; his mouth was broad and
firm; and his chin was square and cleft in the middle. He was
always perfectl}^ smooth shaven and scrupulously neat. His ear
was of the large and generous type, and his hair was straight and
rather long in the back of the neck. He uniformly wore a black
frock coat, a black string tie, and a tall hat. He had an air of
" breeding " and the noble gravity of a senator of the Roman Re-
public. He was perfectly cool and self-possessed. He never lost
control of himself or of the situation. He was well poised and of
unerring judgment. In forming his conclusions he was careful,
deliberate, and painstaking, and when, upon reflection, he had ar-
rived at a decision, he was firm and inflexible. His long experience
in debate had taught him to weigh his w^ords. and a certain caution
and discretion in speech had become habitual wdth him, so that he
rarely had to explain or modify a statement. He was temj^erate in
all things. He was tactful, even tempered, kindly, considerate, and
of infinite patience. In tlie hottest debates and the fiercest contests
he gave no offense and bore no malice. He treated an opponent
with a deference and courtesy that approached the chivalrous, and
in the battles of the forum his shield always bore the motto, "Noblesse
oblige." His convictions were of that intense earnestness which
characterizes religious faith, and he always had the courage of them.

His belief in the American people was unbounded. He was in-
tensely American. "^Vith hhn patriotism amounted to a passion. He
loved the great army oT"toTrers, tlie boiie and sinew, the hope and
the support of the Republic, whom Lincoln was wont to call the plain
people. He expressed this sentiment in the words. " I am for Amer-
ica because America is for the common ijeople." He loved and
trusted the masses as no other statesman — -Lincoln alone excepted —
has ever done. And the intelligent democracy of the country in-



WILLIAM Mckinley. 9

stinctively returned the confidence he reposed in them. His sincerity
was never doubted and his good faith and singleness of purpose were
apparent to ihe least discerning. He had the austere virtue of the
ancient Covenanter, but Avas free from all hypocrisy, cant, and self-
righteousness. He fawned upon no man and he looked down upon
none. He had that pride, the product of a wholesome self-respect,
which does not permit undue familiarity, but he was the most acces-
sible and approachable of men. His industry was absolutely unflag-
ging. Whatever thing he undertook he conducted with the most
indefatigable persistence. His attention to details was amazing. He
pursued his object with undeviating pertinacity and with the most
intense earnestness. He read, he studied, he marshaled facts and
authorities; he collected and collated statistics; he tabulated reports;
he managed an enormous correspondence ; he examined the diversified
industries of the land in their most minute ramifications: he scrutin-
ized the press and kept abreast of current trade literature; iie investi-
gated the causes of business phenomena ; he questioned employer and
workman, producer and consumer, native and foreigner. All day
long he was to be found in his committee room, hearing and weighing
the conflicting claims of all sorts of interests from all parts of the
country. Every night until past midnight he was at his rooms in
the Ebbitt House, buried in his books and papers and in consultation
with his colleagues, who flocked to see him. At times he was in the
minority, struggling to preserve such parts of the protective system
as might be saved from the free-trade onslaughts of the victorious
majority. Again, he was inspiring his own party, doubting and
wavering after some defeat, with his own sublime courage and con-
fidence.

AHEAD or HIS PARTY.

He had always been in advance of his party upon the great issue
with which his name has been more particularly associated. At times
some of the Republican leaders thought he was too far in advance.
In one of the fiercest battles of the rebellion a Union regiment had
advanced until it seemed impossible that a single life could survive
the storm of shot and shell which rained upon it. The colonel was
about to order his men to fall back when his attention was suddenly
drawn to the color sergeant, a young boy. who, proudly bearing aloft
the tattered Stars and Stripes, was still advancing through the leaden
hail. The colonel, in stentorian tones, called out, " Sergeant, bring
those colors back to the line ! " The young hero, with heightened
color and flashing eyes, pointing to the Old Flag, for Avhich he was
willing to give his life, responded. " Colonel, bring the line up to the
colors !" William McKinley planted the flag of the Republican Party
upon the American policy of protection to American industries,
American wages, and American workmen, and then brought the
party up to the colors. It is due to him. more than to any other,
that" this patriotic policy is now firmly established as the fixed law
of the land.

LEADER OF THE HOl^SE.

He. had served on the great Connnittee on^ Wavs^jji4.31eans^^^
lO'etmseaitrvr^^rs.'wri'en.ir^^^ of William D. KeTley, in

1890, he became its chairman and the leader of his party in name



10 WILLIAM McKINLEY,

as Avell as in fact upon the floor of the House. He introduced and
secured the passage of the bill which bore his name — the famous
McKinley tariff law. In certain sections the passage of this law was
the signal of an outburst of hysterical fury. It was violently at-
tacked and misrepresented. Although the country was in the height
of prosperity, a reaction against the Republican Party set in, and
this fact, together with the unfair rearrangement of his district by
his political opponents, now driven to desperation, defeated McKin-
ley for reelection: but in the new district, composed of counties which
had previously given Democratic majorities of 3,000, he was defeated
by only 300 votes. His opponents now flattered themselves that they
were rid of their most dangerous foe. Trickery, however, rarely
profits its authors, and this is preeminently true of political chi-
canery. Like the boomerang, it returns to destroy its promoter.

GOVERNOR OF OHIO.

In 181)1 the Republicans of Ohio were spared the task of selecting
a candidate for governor. Their opponents had done that for them.
The whole State called for McKinley. After a brilliant campaign
Avhich was watched by the whole Nation, he was elected governor by
a plurality of over 21.000. Two years later, as the result of a still
more dramatic campaign, he was reelected by what at that time was
the unheard-of plurality of over 80.000.

DEMOCRATIC HARD T1:MES.

Grover Cleveland was now President and the country was in the
depths of despondency. The triumphant Democracy, in spite of the
most solemn warnings and protests, devoid of statesmanship, but


1

Online LibraryFrank B. (Frank Bosworth) BrandegeeWilliam McKinley, an address on the life, character, and public services of William McKinley (Volume 1) → online text (page 1 of 2)