Page images

at Memphis.-His Journey Through the South a Tri-
umph.-Illness of Mrs. McKinley Stops Tour.-The Phil-
ippine Situation.-The Billion Dollar Steel Trust.-Pres-
ident's Day at the Pan-American Exposition.-The Ad-
dress of President McKinley at the Pan-American.—A
Thoroughly Cosmopolitan and Christian Ruler.-Takes
a Holiday to Niagara.-Assassinated by Leon Czolgosz.
-The President's Brave Struggle with Death.-His
Dying Words.-Mourned by the Entire Nation.-Pres-
ident Roosevelt Takes the Oath of Office.-Carries out
the Policy of President McKinley...............










CARLYLE in Cromwell, Frederick the Great and The French Revolution, and Green in his sober and picturesque History of England taught the modern Anglo-Saxon world both how to write and to read history. Facts are excellent things, and a writer should take the greatest care to sift his material, separating fact from fiction, well established information from mere traditions. Carlyle and Green, however, saw with clear vision that the living souls, about whom cluster the facts of history like the nerves and veins, the blood and flesh and bones about the human personality, were vastly more important than the mere dates on which they performed their deeds or the incidents in which they played their parts. The great Elizabethan age is made an open sesame to the twentieth century

reader by the strength of Green's drawing of Queen Elizabeth, with her patriotism and falsehood, her intellectual brilliancy and her feminine vanity, her strength as a ruler and her fondness for show and applause; and by the keen insight of the historian into the lives of the authors of her reign, the men who made the age immortal: the pen pictures given of Marlowe and Greene with their intellectual keenness and their animal impulses,-their strong mentality bound within half savage shells, each a Caliban and a Prospero in one and the same body;these things reveal the age and make it live as no dryas-dust treatment could do.

In the same way to make the modern world live, it is necessary to know the men and women who have made its history. Disraeli and Gladstone and Chamberlain are modern England, Bismarck is modern Germany: and so with the United States; to know it thoroughly and well, to grasp the spirit that animates the nation, it is only necessary to study the lives of the presidents, who are at once typical Americans and embodiments of the popular mind.

Roughly speaking, the history of the United States might be divided into two great periods,—the formative period and the period of progress. It would not be unfitting to make the division between these two periods at 1852 when Franklin Pierce was elected President. It is no easy matter in literature or in history to draw hard and fast lines separating one age from another, but certain great events in literature and history seem to distinctly mark epochs. In a sense the defeat of General Winfield Scott for the Presidency, and with that defeat the passing away forever from the stage of American politics of the great Whig party, ends a great period. Up to

this time the nation had been a struggling youth forming its character, strong and vigorous, but without definite ideals or that unity of aim that makes for true growth. It was without an ideal, and the party strife was bitter and cruel. The Whigs swept from the boards, the modern Republican party stepped on the scene and a battle royal began between the Democrats and the Republicans which has marked the era of progress that is still going on and which is rapidly making the United States the first among the nations of the world, in enterprise, in achievement, in wealth, and in wisdom; and it looks very much as though the beginning of the twentieth century was the initial step in a movement that will make her first in literature and art.

There had of course been exceptional progress made before 1852, but the second half of the nineteenth century saw the nation advance by leaps and bounds without a parallel in the world's history. Carthage, Greece, Rome, Spain grew, it is true, rapidly, but they grew" by conquest without representation," and while they became wealthy their influence throughout their Empire was the influence of a despot. It has been otherwise with the United States; her boundaries broadened by peaceful means, and save for the Mexican war she acquired no territory by the sword till the last years of the century when the Spanish islands at her doors and the Spanish possessions in the Philippines came under her sway. In neither of these cases did the nation attack a foreign power for the sake of acquiring territory.

It would be well in commencing the study of the lives of the men who have made the history of the last fifty years of the United States (and the President is more decidedly a history-maker than Czar, or

Kaiser, or King) to realise the significance of the Pierce-Scott campaign. A new era began with the election of Franklin Pierce. He came into power at what seemed to be a time of peace, but it was merely the calm before the storm; external peace gave time for the growth of internal strife, and the struggle over Kansas which began in 1854 and culminated under President Buchanan was the initial movement in the life of the Union as it exists to-day.

It was well that this civil strife came when it did. It cleared the air at the time when commercial and industrial progress was about to enter on its modern stage, when miracle-working machinery was about to change the face of the earth, annihilating space, revealing the secrets of the heavens, the earth, and the waters under the earth, and making man's lot happier and more comfortable, giving him control over the powers of the air, enabling him to throw paths across roaring torrents and wide streams, to bore his way through mountain barriers, or to climb their steep sides with safety and speed. These things have made the latter half of the nineteenth century peculiarly an age of progress, and that the modern spirit has so decidedly found a home on this continent is due very largely to the shrewd and farseeing men who have been placed in the presidential chair.

From Pierce to McKinley is a short period in time, but in growth it is the greatest period in the world's history, and in fifty years more development has taken place in material prosperity, in spiritual growth and insight than in all the previous centuries of the Christian era. This may seem an extreme statement when the mind rapidly runs over in review the great philosophers, the painters, the sculp

« PreviousContinue »