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Death of veep Hobart shocks D.C. in ’99

From Niles to the White House

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is part of a weekly series marking the 120th anniversary of Niles native William McKinley’s U.S. presidency.

PATERSON, N.J., Nov. 21 — Garret A. Hobart, vice president of the United States, died this morning, the New York Times reported.

Warning that his long, brave fight with death had been in vain, and that his end was nigh, came yesterday afternoon in the shape of the sharp attack of angina pectoris. He rallied from this for a brief space, but his vitality was exhausted. He sank lower and lower, with full knowledge of his condition, until, as the clock at midnight sounded the passing of another day into the void of unrecallable time, the consciousness of things mundane faded forever from his mind. A few hours later, at 8:30 o’clock, he breathed his last in the presence of his wife, his 15-year-old son, Garret A. Hobart Jr., his physician, Dr. William Newton, Mrs. Newton, who is a cousin of Mrs. Hobart; Private Secretary Frederick Evans, and Miss Alice Waddell, the nurse.

News of Mr. Hobart’s demise was known in Washington long before it became public in Paterson, where it caused some surprise, it having been announced yesterday that the vice president was holding his own. The first person to be informed was President McKinley. He had been prepared for the intelligence by Frederick Evans, who at 7:30 o’clock called up the White House by telephone and notified the president that Mr. Hobart was dying. When the end came Mr. Evans at once apprised the president. Very soon a telegram of condolence was received by Mrs. Hobart from president and Mrs. McKinley.

This was the day for the regular Cabinet meeting, but the death of the vice president overshadowed all else, and public business was not mentioned. All the members of the Cabinet, especially Attorney General Griggs, showed the emotion they felt.

After the Cabinet meeting, the president issued the following proclamation:

“To the people of the United States:

Garret Augustus Hobart, vice president of the United States, died at his home in Paterson, N.J., at 8:30 o’clock this morning. In him the nation has lost one of its most illustrious citizens and one of its most faithful servants. His participation in the business life and the lawmaking body of his native state was marked by unswering fidelity and by a high order of talents and attainments, and his too brief career as vice president of the United States and president of the Senate exhibited the loftiest qualities of upright and sagacious statesmanship.”

“In the world of affairs he had few equals among his contemporaries. His private character was gentle and noble. He will long be mourned by his friends as a man of singular purity and attractiveness, whose sweetness of disposition won all hearts, while his elevated purposes, his unbending integrity and whole-hearted devotion to the public good deserved and acquired universal respect and esteem.”

In sorrowing testimony of the loss which has fallen upon the country, I direct that on the day of the funeral the executive offices of the United States shall be closed, and all posts and stations of the Army and Navy shall display the national flag at half mast, and that the representatives of the United States in foreign countries shall pay appropriate tribute to the illustrious dead for a period of thirty days.”

In witness whereof I have set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed. Done at the City of Washington this 21st day of November, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and ninety-nine, and of the Independence of the United States the one hundred and twenty-fourth.

WILLIAM McKINLEY

By the President:

JOHN HAY, Secretary of State.

“The funeral will take place on Saturday afternoon at 2 o’clock, at the Presbyterian Church of the Redeemer, of which the Rev. Dr. David Magie is pastor. A brief service will also be held before the body is taken from the house. The burial will be in Cedar Lawn Cemetery, on the outskirts of Paterson. The last time he took a drive Vice President Hobart visited this cemetery and decked his daughter’s grave with flowers.”

Wendell Lauth of Bristol is a Trumbull County historian.

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