Secretary of Navy Long: President William McKinley, "Acute and Wise," Will Not Seek Third Term

June 11, 1901

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Secretary of Navy Long: President William McKinley, "Acute and Wise," Will Not Seek Third Term
Typed Letter Signed
2 pages | SMC 1186

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      Background

      Rumor had it that the popular McKinley, no sooner elected to a second term, would seek a third; and this, his friend and Secretary of the Navy says, is absolutely untrue:
       
      Yesterday afternoon I was going to drive with Agnes at four but the President sent for me and I drove with him to the Soldier's Home and back. We talked about the stir that has started about his being a candidate for a third term. As I am opposed to a third term and as I think the suggestion of it is particularly unfortunate at this time, when the cry of imperialism is raised, I am delighted that he is of that view and also would not take a nomination if tendered it. After we returned to the White House a little statement for the press was prepared.  In the evening the other members of the Cabinet came over, I going over with Peirce, and I think a statement will be published this afternoon.  The President is exceedingly acute and wise. He gauges public sentiment. He has right views of things. Then, too, personally he could not desire to have a third term with its burden of responsibility, especially if he should complete his eight years with the ability and success which have marked his administration so far.
       
      After the special cabinet meeting Davis attended, McKinley dictated and signed this statement: “I will say now, once for all, expressing a long settled conviction, that I not only am not and will not be a candidate for a third term, but would not accept a nomination for it if it were  tendered me.” After all, as power-broker and McKinley intimate Mark Hanna told McKinley, upon his nomination for his second term, “your duty to the country is to live for four years from next March.” But that happy thought would be obliterated less than three months later, when an assassin shot and mortally wounded the president in Buffalo.

      Of particular note is the mention of Dr. Rixey, the White House physician. It would be Rixey who would pronounce McKinley dead.


      Typed Letter Signed (with initials), 2 pages, quarto, Navy Department, Washington, June 11, 1901. To his daughter, Miss Margaret Long.
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