William McKinley: The Pressure on Him

cried in office
[Interesting that McKinley advised to take advantage of a physiological fact to conceal from others that he had been crying.] 1a SEE BELOW
Even in the 1890s the pressure on the President was enormous. One August evening at the White House in 1911, Major Archibald Butt, who was then aide de camp to President William Taft, heard this story about McKinley 1a:
... the Chicagoan [H. H. Kohlsaat] is full of reminiscences of the McKinley Administration and reported some of them to me. As we stood on the South Portico looking toward the monument he recalled how often he had stood there with McKinley. He spoke of one night in particular...

"We [McKinley and Kohlsaat] sat down, and he told me that they were trying to force him into declaring war with Spain. As he said this, he broke down and wept as I have never seen anyone weep in my life. His whole body was shaken with convulsive sobs. He ceased after a while, and later, when he had dried his eyes, he said he felt that he should go in to see his guests again. He asked me when we got into the light if his eyes were red, and I told him they were, but if he blew his nose very hard just as he entered, the redness of his eyes would be attributed to that cause. He did so, and I never heard any of the guests, with whom I mingled freely, comment on the fact that the President had been crying."

Cited Sources
  1. Butt, Archibald W. Taft and Roosevelt: The Intimate Letters of Archie Butt, Military Aide. Garden City, NY: Doubleday (1930). Volume 1: pages 1-432. Volume 2: pages 433-862.
    a  pp.733-734

    Comment: Butt, an Army officer, was military aide first to President Theodore Roosevelt and then to President William Taft. On April 14, 1912, Butt was at sea aboard the Titanic returning from a European vacation that Taft had insisted he take. President Taft later said: "When I heard that part of the ship's company had gone down, I gave up hope for the rescue of Major Butt, unless by accident. I knew that he would certainly remain on the ship's deck until every duty had been performed and every sacrifice made that properly fell on one charged, as he would feel himself charged, with responsibility for the rescue of others." Taft was correct. Butt did not survive the sinking.

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