Today in History, September 14: 1901 – About a year earlier, Senator Mark Hanna had been discussing with other high-powered Republican leaders whether or not to enlist New York Governor Theodore Roosevelt to be the Vice-Presidential nominee for President William McKinley’s second term. Hanna made no bones about his opposition, “Don’t any of you realize there’s only one life between this madman and the presidency?” But, other political leaders from New York state wanted the head-strong reformer out of their governor’s office, and most felt he would be rendered harmless as VP. However this former NYC Police Commissioner, Under Secretary of the Navy, Colonel of the Rough Riders and yes, Cowboy, was wildly popular and would be a boon for the ticket. When named, TR set records on the campaign trail.
On today’s date in 1901 President McKinley succumbed to infection from his wounds from being shot by an anarchist at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York. McKinley had prided himself on shaking as many hands as possible, and was prepared to shake his assassin’s hand when shot by a concealed .32 revolver.
It initially looked as if President McKinley would recover, so Roosevelt left his side in Buffalo and joined his family mountain climbing in the Adirondacks. When the first messenger ran up the mountain to inform TR that the President had taken a turn for the worse, he decided to stay with his family. When the second messenger came up the mountain to say the President was dying, Roosevelt left immediately. He once gain set records in wild wagon rides to make it to the nearest train station and return to McKinley’s side. It was not to be….WM had passed while TR was on his wild ride down the mountain.
Theodore Roosevelt paid his respects at the residence where McKinley’s body laid, then was sworn in as the youngest President at a friends home in Buffalo in a small ceremony.
When TR asked Mark Hanna for his support, Hanna had two conditions…that Roosevelt would continue McKinley’s policies (sort of did) and…if Roosevelt would stop calling Hanna the “old man”, Hanna would stop referring to TR by the nickname he hated, “Teddy.” Hanna gave his support, but the nicknames continued.