President McKinley And Divine Providence
( Originally Published 1902 )
THE ceremonies at the inauguration of President McKinley and Vice-President Roosevelt were the most magnificent of any ever held in this country. The parade was not as large or imposing as the one in honor of Admiral Dewey on his return from Manila, or the one in honor of General Grant after his trip around the world; but in the beauty of the decorations, in the appearance and skill of the troops, in the multitudes of people present, and in the dignity and impressiveness of the exercises, the celebration surpassed by far any other one of the kind ever attempted in this country. At the appointed time Chief Justice Fuller stepped to the front of the pavilion to the right of the President, the President turned and faced him, and raising his right hand received the oath of office, at the conclusion of which, the Chief Justice opened the Bible in use in the Supreme Court, raised it toward the President's lips, who, bending low his head kissed the book.
The book, it happened, was open at the sixteenth chapter of Proverbs, and it is said his lips touched these verses : " He that handleth a matter wisely shall find good ; and whoso trusteth in the Lord, happy is he." " The wise in heart shall be called prudent ; and the sweetness of the lips increaseth learning." The President then delivered his inaugural address, to an audience of thirty or forty thousand which stood in the pelting rain. His address, which was brief, contained two references to the Providence of God, one over the nation, the other over himself. He said, " Intrusted by the people for a second time with the office of President, I enter upon its administration appreciating the great responsibilities which attach to this renewed honor and commission, promising unreserved devotion on my part to their faithful discharge, and reverently invoking for my guidance the direction and favor of Almighty God."
Almost all of the Presidents of the United States have been men of faith and prayer, and in their public addresses have asked the guidance of God in the administration of their office. We recall the words of Major McKinley on this subject in an address at the dedication of a Young Men's Christian Association Building at Youngstown, Ohio, September 6, 1892. He said, "The men who established this Government had faith in God, and sublimely trusted in him. They besought his counsel and advice in every step of their progress. And so it has been ever since. American history abounds in instances of this sincere reliance on a Higher Power in all great trials in our national affairs. We have never had a President from Washington to Harrison who publicly avowed infidelity or scoffed at the faith of the masses of our people."