Integrity And Industry
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
WILLIAM McKINLEY, like the other two martyred Presidents, was enriched with poverty, and exalted by obscurity, and, like them, made his way up from poverty and obscurity to the most exalted position in the land, by honesty and hard work. He earned the money, helping in the Post-Office, to pay his way in the academy, and though a mere boy when the war broke out, he was teaching school to make a living. Knowing that . Colonel Thomas Bradley and President McKinley were warm personal friends, I once asked him how he happened to meet Mr. McKinley. He said : " I had known him slightly before, but while he was chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, I had an introduction to him which I shall never forget. Foreign firms had been in the habit of manufacturing goods and stamping them with a name indicating that they had been made in this country, and that they had been made by some rival firm. I felt that the practice ought to be stopped, and I went to Washington to lay the matter before the Committee on Ways and Means, of which Mr. McKinley was chairman. I did not reach the hotel until very late at night, just before the committee adjourned. I sent my card up to the chairman's room, asking for five minutes of his time on the morrow. He sent word that every moment of the next day was bespoken, but that he would give me five minutes then. I went up to his room and said, ` Mr. McKinley, I wanted five minutes to tell you that I want forty-five minutes of your time.' He said, ` I am tired almost to death ; it is midnight, and you see I am partly undressed for bed. I do not see how I can grant your request.' I told him I represented five hundred workingmen beside myself. He replied, quickly, ` Then your cause is more important than my sleep. Proceed!' We talked together, neither of us noticing the flight of time till a quarter to three in the morning, when he said, ` Colonel, I believe in you and your cause, and, if you make as good a representation of your case to the committee as you have to me, I think the law you suggest will be recommended.' The law was recommended and passed. After that mid-night interview, I never had any difficulty in seeing how it was that William McKinley secured the nomination for and was elected to the Presidency of the United States." I then said, " Colonel, there were two traits of character illustrated in the interview which have marked Mr. McKinley's career from the very start—fair-mindedness, honesty and tireless industry. He was an ideal politician, an able statesman, but he earned his way up to what he was and what he had by square-dealing and hard work."
In his address before the Tuskegee Institute, President McKinley thus emphasized the value of these two elements of success: " Integrity and industry are the best possessions which any man can have, and every man can have them. Nobody can give them to him or take them from him. He cannot acquire them by inheritance ; he canot buy them or beg them or borrow them. They belong to the individual and are his unquestioned property. He alone can part with them. They are a good thing to have and to keep. They make happy homes ; they achieve success in every walk of life; they have won the greatest triumphs for mankind. No man who has them ever gets into the police court or before the grand jury or in the chain-gang or work-house. They give one moral and material power. They will bring you a comfortable living, make you respect yourself, and command the respect of your fellows. They are indispensable to success. They are invincible. The merchant requires the clerk whom he employs to have them. The railroad corporation inquires whether the man seeking employment possesses them. Every avenue of human endeavor welcomes them. They are the only keys to open with certainty the door of opportunity to struggling manhood. Employment waits on them ; capital requires them ; citizenship is not good without them. If you do not already have them, get them."