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Final words - 1901

President William McKinley who quoted a hymn as he died from an assassin's bullet.


William McKinley, a Methodist, became the twenty-fifth president of the United States in 1897. Six months into his second term on 6 September 1901 assassin Leon Czolgosz fired two shots into McKinley’s abdomen. The president developed gangrene and died in the wee hours of 14 September. Antibiotics had not yet been discovered. His last audible words were a quote from the hymn “Nearer My God to Thee.”

Wireless communication was not yet in widespread use which explains the following dispatch from New York, dated this day 19 September 1901.


“The 250 passengers of the….American liner Belgravia, from Hamburg, which arrived this afternoon at Hoboken, as the clock struck 3:30, received the sorrowful intelligence of the President’s death and funeral services.

“Instantly every one stopped and stood for five minutes with uncovered head. While the people waited, the band on the steamer Pennsylvania, lying alongside, played Chopin’s funeral march, and a quartet sang “Nearer, My God, to Thee.”


Sutherland, Allan. Famous Hymns of the World. New York, Frederick A. Stokes company, 1906.

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