September 14: President McKinley died, 1901

On the Threshold, illustration from Harpers Weekly, September 14, 1901

"On the Threshold," illustration from Harper's Weekly, September 14, 1901

Teachers should be mining the “On This Day” feature at the New York Times, which usually features an historic cartoon or illustration from an antique Harper’s Weekly. It is a favorite feature, to me.

Yesterday, it featured the illustration from Harper’s upon the death of President William McKinley, on September 14, 1901.

At the Threshold

Artist: William Allen Rogers

his post-dated cartoon was published as President William McKinley lay dying from an assassin’s bullet. He had been shot on September 6, 1901, by anarchist Leon Czolgosz (pronounced chol-gosh) at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York. The president died on September 14. Here, McKinley is led to the Hall of Martyrs by grief-stricken personifications of the North and South. Between pillars topped by busts of the two previously slain presidents, Abraham Lincoln and James Garfield, the angel of death prepares to place a laurel wreath of honor upon McKinley’s head. (Images related to Garfield’s assassination also showed a reconciled North and South.)

There is much more at the Times site.

Robert Lincoln, the son of Abraham Lincoln, was present when McKinley was shot. Accounts I have read but not confirmed say that Robert Lincoln had been invited to attend Ford’s Theatre with his father and mother, the night his father was shot. As a member of President James Garfield’s cabinet, Robert Lincoln had been awaiting Garfield’s arrival at Union Station in Washington, D.C., when Garfield was shot.

And as a visitor in Buffalo, Robert Lincoln had as a matter of respect lined up to shake President William McKinley’s hand.

Astounding if true. Four U.S. presidents have been assassinated. Robert Lincoln was close to the first, the assassination of his father, and present for the next two. Where can we confirm that story?

McKinley’s death catapulted the do-gooder, Theodore Roosevelt, into the presidency, probably to the great chagrin of corrupt Republican politicians who had hoped that by getting him nominated to the vice presidency they could get him out of New York politics.

The rest is history.

(This is an encore post.)

9 Responses to September 14: President McKinley died, 1901

  1. […] this is an encore post featuring material from previous posts plus new sources. Fighting ignorance requires […]


  2. […] September 14, 1901:  President McKinley died ( […]


  3. Ellie says:

    We remember him here.

    Czolgosz, you done him wrong,
    You shot McKinley when he was walking along,
    In Buffalo, in Buffalo.

    The pistol fires, then McKinley falls,
    And the doctor says, “McKinley, can’t find the ball.”
    In Buffalo, in Buffalo.

    They sent for the doctor, the doctor come,
    He come in a trot, and he come in a run,
    To Buffalo, to Buffalo.

    Forty-four boxes trimmed in lace,
    Take him back to the baggage, boys, where we can’t see his face,
    In Buffalo, in Buffalo.

    The engine whistled down the line,
    Blowing every station, McKinley was a-dying,
    In Buffalo, in Buffalo.

    Seventeen coaches all trimmed in black
    Took McKinley to the graveyard, but never brought him back,
    To Buffalo, to Buffalo.



  4. Ed Darrell says:

    Maybe we should have just changed his name to “Denali,” in hopes he wouldn’t be forgotten.

    But who can forget the man who defeated Williams Jennings Bryan and the “Cross of Gold” speech?


  5. Hooray McKinley. Glad someone remembers him. Even gladder someone knows of him.


  6. Ed Darrell says:

    And, speaking of banjo pickers: Wade Mainer died September 12 — the guy who paved the way for bluegrass and Bill Monroe. He was 104.

    Great story, here:


  7. Ed Darrell says:

    Didn’t know that! Thank you.


  8. mark says:

    Many artists have recorded “White House Blues,” the ballad of the McKinley assassination, including Charlie Poole and His North Carolina Ramblers in 1926 (heard on YouTube here).


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