Mister McKinley (White House Blues)

DESCRIPTION: "McKinley hollered, McKinley squalled; The doc says, 'McKinley, I can't find the ball.'" Describing McKinley's assassination by Zolgotz, his poor medical treatment, and his funeral. MacKinley is usually said to be "bound to die."
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1926 (recording, Charlie Poole)
KEYWORDS: death homicide doctor funeral political humorous
Sept 6, 1901 - President William McKinley is shaking hands at an exhibition when he is shot by anarchist Leon Czolgosz, who felt McKinley was receiving too much attention.
MacKinley's wounds should not have been serious, but his inept doctor decided to operate immediately rather than wait for a specialist
Sept 14, 1901 - Death of MacKinley (due more to operative trauma than to his wounds). Theodore Roosevelt becomes President
REFERENCES (12 citations):
BrownSchinhanIV 337, "Zolgotz" (1 short text, 1 tune)
JonesLunsford, pp. 215-216, "Czolgosz" (1 text, 1 tune)
Cohen-LSRail, pp. 413-425, "Cannonball Blues/Whitehouse Blues" (2 texts, 2 tunes, the first being "Mister McKinley (White House Blues)" and the second the "Cannonball Blues," plus a version of a song called "Mr. McKinley" from _The Week-End Book_, which is so different that I would regard it as a separate though perhaps related song, probably not traditional)
Cohen-AFS1, pp. 118-119 "McKinley" (1 text)
Lomax-Singing, pp. 256-257, "White House Blues" (1 text, 1 tune)
Lomax-FSNA 143, "Mister MacKinley" (sic) (1 text, 1 tune)
Asch/Dunson/Raim, p. 56 "White House Blues" (1 text, 1 tune)
Cohen/Seeger/Wood, p. 228 "White House Blues" (1 text, 1 tune)
Rorrer, p. 73, "White House Blues" (1 text)
Silber-FSWB, p. 287, "White House Blues" (1 text)
ADDITIONAL: Tristram P. Coffin and Hennig Cohen, _Folklore in America: Tales, Songs, Superstitions, Proverbs, Riddles, Games, Folk Drama and Folk Festivals_, Doubleday, 1966, p. 90, "McKinley" (1 text)

Roud #787
Warde Ford, "Buffalo, Buffalo (Death of McKinley)" (AFS 4198 B3, 1938; tr.; in AMMEM/Cowell)
Bill Monroe & his Bluegrass Boys, "Whitehouse Blues" (Decca 29141, 1954)
Charlie Poole and the North Carolina Ramblers, "White House Blues" (Columbia 15099D, 1926; on AAFM1, CPoole01, CPoole05)
Riley Puckett, "McKinley" (Columbia 15448-D, 1929)
Swing Billies, "From Buffalo to Washington" (Bluebird B-7121, 1937)

cf. "Battleship of Maine" (tune)
cf. "Delia's Gone [Laws I5] (tune, some versions)
cf. "The Cannonball" (words)
cf. "Joking Henry" (tune)
cf. "White House Blues (II)" (structure, tune, words)
cf. "Huey Long" (lyrics, form)
NOTES [148 words]: I know of three derivative versions of this song: one collected in Kentucky in the 1930s, talking about Herbert Hoover (in this collection as "White House Blues (II)"), a second recorded by country-and-western singer Tom T. Hall in the 1970s, talking about Richard Nixon. Both share the title "White House Blues." The third is ""Governor Al Smith." - (PJS)
McKinley had been unpopular among farmers, most of whom had supported Democrat William Jennings Bryan, and his passing was not much mourned among country people -- thus the jaunty, humorous tone of this song. - PJS
The reference to McKinley's children earning a pension upon their father's death is completely unhistorical; McKinley married Ida Saxton (1847-1907) in 1871, but his two daughters, Katie and Ida, both died in infancy, and Mrs. McKinley was an epileptic and an invalid by the time her husband was elected President. - RBW
Last updated in version 4.1
File: LoF143

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