Excerpts from "the first rough draft of history" as reported in The Washington Post on this date in the 20th century.
President William McKinley was attending the Pan American Exposition in Buffalo, N.Y., when he was shot at point blank range by an anarchist named Leon F. Czolgosz after reaching out to shake his hand. The first bullet ricocheted off the president's button, but a second penetrated his stomach. McKinley was rushed to a hospital for surgery, but died eight days later of gangrene and infection. He was the third U.S. president to be assassinated, after Abraham Lincoln and James Garfield the century before. Czolgosz was later electrocuted for the crime. An excerpt from The Post of Sept. 14, 1901:
BUFFALO, N.Y., Sept. 14 --
The tragedy of the new century culminated this morning at 2:15 o'clock when President McKinley peacefully passed away in the presence of his wife, his brother, and sister, near relatives, members of the Cabinet, and friends. His last words were to Mrs. McKinley, at 9:10 o'clock. They were: "God's will be done."
The streets of Buffalo are filled with surging masses of sorrow-stricken people. The President breathed his last after a fight for life, covering seven days. In all that time, although at times suffering intensely, he has manifested a magnificent courage that always will be a proud heritage to the people of the nation he loved. His soul was sustained through the dark hours by the sublimest Christian serenity. From the time when he was pierced by the assassin's bullet, when he said pityingly, referring to his assailant, "Let no one harm him," up to to-night, when he voiced resignation to the inevitable to his devoted wife, every hour of suffering has been characterized by lofty Christian fortitude. No word of complaint, nor frown born of petulance, marred the even tenor of his patience.
His physicians and nurses, who were comparative strangers to him one week ago, loved him, after the first day in his sick room, with a reverence that words cannot describe. The last two hours of his life were moments almost of grandeur. With exhaustion and pain benumbing his senses, he finally closed his eyes in unconsciousness, and then as if reluctant to leave the side of the one who has shared his joys and sorrows since young manhood, he awoke and asked for Mrs. McKinley. That last private meeting, with all that it meant for both of them, is for the stricken wife alone. With a beautiful courage that seemed to rise with the need of the hours, Mrs. McKinley, though broken in health and wracked almost to the breaking point with her overwhelming sorrow, walked bravely to the bedside of the President and gave him a farewell embrace and kiss.
The walls of the vine-clad house, now historic, now embrace the President's kindred, stricken with the deepest grief, but with the grief there is the soul-satisfying consciousness that President McKinley was magnificent even in death.