On this day in 1901, President William McKinley is mortally wounded by two gunshots at the Pan-American Exhibition in Buffalo, New York. A 28-year-old anarchist fired the shots.
Despite an apparent recovery following emergency surgery, the president succumbed to gangrene and subsequent blood poisoning. William McKinley died eight days after the shooting, making him the third U.S. president assassinated.
During those eight days, McKinley forgave his shooter and showed great concern for his wife and the public.
What follows are a few quotes from William McKinley that further illustrate his character. First, these two excerpts are from his First Inaugural Address on March 4th, 1897:
“I assume the arduous and responsible duties of President of the United States, relying upon the support of my countrymen and invoking the guidance of Almighty God. Our faith teaches that there is no safer reliance than upon the God of our fathers, who has so singularly favored the American people in every national trial, and who will not forsake us so long as we obey His commandments and walk humbly in His footsteps.
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. This is the obligation I have reverently taken before the Lord Most High. To keep it will be my single purpose, my constant prayer; and I shall confidently rely upon the forbearance and assistance of all the people in the discharge of my solemn responsibilities.”
Next, this quote is from his second Inaugural address on March 4, 1901:
Intrusted by the people for a second time with the office of President, I enter upon its administration appreciating the great responsibilities which attach to this renewed honor and commission, promising unreserved devotion on my part to their faithful discharge and reverently invoking for my guidance the direction and favor of Almighty God.”
He famously said this in an August 1899 speech:
“Piety and patriotism go well together. Love of flag, love of country, are not inconsistent with our religious faith; and I think we have more love for our country and more people love our flag than ever before.”
Finally, these are reported to be his last words:
“Good-bye all, good-bye. It is God’s way. His will, not ours, be done.”