9 October 2002
CLEVELAND, Grover. Two autograph manuscripts, statements upon the THE ASSASSINATION OF WILLIAM MCKINLEY AND THE DEATH OF BENJAMIN HARRISON, n.p., n.d. and 14 September 1901. Together 2 pages, 4to (10 11/16 x 8 5/8 in.) and folio (12 7/16 x 7 11/16 in.), the former slightly browned with professional repairs, the latter with minor damage to edges and telegraph officer's explanatory docket.
A PRESIDENT MOURNS TWO OF HIS OWN: CLEVELAND'S STATEMENTS UPON THE DEATHS OF HARRISON AND MCKINLEY
In retirement, President Cleveland pursued a life in academia at Princeton University and wrote frequently for the Saturday Evening Post. His presidential terms had been unique because they were non-consecutive but they were also extraordinary because Cleveland outlived both Presidents who proceeded him in the office. On March 13, 1901, Benjamin Harrison succumbed to pneumonia at the age of 67. Here, Cleveland writes a eulogy for the Associated Press: "I am exceedingly moved by the sad intelligence of Mr. Harrison's death...Not one of our countrymen should for a moment fail to realize the services which have been performed in their behalf by the distinguished dead citizen. In high public office he was guided by patriotism and devotion to duty, often at the sacrifice of temporary popularity; and in private station, his influence and example were always in the direction of decency and good citizenship. Such a career and the incidents related to it should leave a deep and useful impress upon every section of our national life."
Then, six months after Harrison's death, Cleveland received the tragic news that President McKinley had been shot at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York. After lingering until 14 September, McKinley succumbed. Cleveland prepared a second statement for the Associated Press: "This is dreadful news, and the more cruel because it strikes down the confident and comforting expectation which all our people were encouraged to entertain that their President would be saved from death. In the afflictive gloom surrounding this third Presidential murder within the memory of men not yet old, we can scarcely keep out of mind a feeling of stunning amazement that in free America, blessed with a government consecrated to popular welfare and contentment, the danger of assassination should ever encompass the faithful discharge of the highest official duty. It is hard at such a time as this to calmly and patiently await the unfolding of the purposes of God". On the verso is a handwritten note signed by H.L. Bowlby which declares: "This statement was given to me by Mr. Cleveland at a few minutes after 8 P.M. on Sept 14 1901, at which time I assured him that I would not let it go over the Western Union and telegraph wires to the associated press and other news mediums until the A.P. definitely informed me that Pres. McKinley had drawn his last breath. McKinley died about 11:20 that night and open wires carried this statement to the A.P. & other daily papers."
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