HB V

is older than it's ever been and now it's even older

9/06/2001

Passing of a president, passing of an era



One hundred years ago today, President William McKinley was shot, dying eight days later, at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York. The third assassination in 36 years, this may be the event that really started the American Century, as we think about it. Consider the immediate effect of the killing, in the installation of Teddy Roosevelt as the youngest ever president. Teddy had just undergone the most meteoric rise to power of any politician in American history, going from Assistant Undersecretary of the Navy in 1898 to Governor of New York, and then, when his reformist tendencies ran him afoul of the Republican party bosses there, pigeonholed him in perhaps the safest job possible for a maverick politician – vice president (although GOP boss Marc Hanna is said to have remarked at the time “[d]on't any of you realize there's only one life between this madman and the presidency?"). The presidency of TR thus began our emergence on the international stage in a way that even the Spanish-American War didn’t. No longer would we content ourselves with the Monroe Doctrine; we instead began to walk (not talk) softly and carry a big stick.


McKinley’s elections (1900 was a re-election) were also political turning points, in that they were the best chances of perennial candidate William Jennings Bryan. Both elections were cast by Bryan as referenda on imperialism, debt, and progressivism; and with the benefit of hindsight we can genuinely say that he may have been right. The business interests that supported McKinley won over the populists that were in favor of Free Silver and against empire. Interestingly enough, Bryan also fought hard against tariffs and in favor of free trade.


I would be remiss in my duties if I didn’t point out that this assassination may have been the final straw in the mind of the people of America against the philosophy of anarchism. As this article written two days after the shooting notes, a speech by Emma Goldman was in the pocket of the assassin, and she herself was arrested and questioned repeatedly about her role in the shooting. Personally, I think that anarchism relies far too much on the belief of the innate niceness of people. I am eternally hopeful but eminently realistic about the nature of humanity, and therefore know that anarchism won’t work. The shooting of McKinley ended the chances (if it had any) that more people in America would support anarchism, or perhaps any revolutionary political thought.


Incidentally, another milestone of the 20th century, the X-ray machine, was in the exposition too. Had it been used, the surgeons who operated on the president might have found the bullet and removed it, thus saving his life. Another fantastic “might-have-been” of history to consider.

Fun, fun, fun


Philosopher or Warrior? Jeff posts a quiz asking whether quotes are either the Ultimate Warrior (that’s right, the Pro Wrestler) or a major philosopher. I only got 6 of 11 right. This indicates to me the value of these philosophers. Or maybe it shows that the Warrior is brilliant? Nah. Answers posted soon.


I never really felt like I had to return link love, but it’s been a looooooooooooong time since any blogger but the usual suspects linked here. And Brandhast is a neat long form blog that writes about politics as well as sundry personal and funny stuff. I like it! (Yeah, and I get dissed for being in Law School, which reminds me I should wrap this up and go study Contracts)

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