The principal event
in this country in the summer of 1901 was the Pan-American Exposition,
at Buffalo. Its objects were to strengthen relations already existing
and to further the interests of trade and commerce among the nations
From the first, President McKinley
had been an earnest promoter of the enterprise, and it seemed fitting
that a President’s Day should have a prominent place on the program
of events to occur on the exposition grounds.
On the day appointed, September 5,
the sky was cloudless, the birds sang, and cooling breezes rendered
the air delightful. Oh, who could have foreseen the dreadful tragedy
that was so soon to cloud all in gloom!
In honor of the occasion the city
was decked in gala attire. “Welcome!” “Welcome!” were the words
upon hundreds of flags and banners, fluttering in the breeze. 
Mounted policemen, members of the
Signal Corps, and United States marines escorted the President to
the exposition grounds. At the entrance he was greeted with a salute
of twenty-one guns, and while passing thence to the platform which
had been erected on the esplanade, and from which he was to speak,
the air rang with cheers from the vast concourse of people who had
assembled to greet the Nation’s chief.
Seated near the platform were many
distinguished people, representatives of the various American governments.
When President Milburn of the Exposition
rose to introduce the exalted guest the vast audience was for a
moment silenced. But no sooner did he utter the words, “The President,”
than the welkin resounded with prolonged cheering. When silence
was restored, President McKinley gave utterance to an address which
is regarded as the ablest of all he had ever given; an address which
has had much to do with shaping the Nation’s policy since, and which
will doubtless continue to influence its future course. 
He spoke of the pleasure he felt at
being again in the city of Buffalo, where he had been so hospitably
entertained and so cordially received by the people.
He extended words of greeting to the
representatives of foreign governments present, and congratulated
the managers of the Exposition on the success of their work.
He spoke of the benefits resulting
from expositions, financial, social and educational.
He dwelt upon the growth, prosperity
and greatness of our own country, and the necessity of maintaining
such conditions as would contribute to its future advancement; and
declared that while competition in trade and business is natural
and proper, men should not be enemies in business. The meaning of
all of which is that they should “live and let live.”
He especially emphasized the importance
of peaceful trade relations with all nations. “Reciprocity” wherever
possible, was the keynote of this great speech.
He favored the settling of international
disputes by arbitration. 
He pleaded for a more adequate steamship
service, for an Isthmian canal, and a Pacific cable.
He paid a high tribute to the late
James G. Blaine, and closed with the petition that God would grant
to our own, to all neighboring nations, and all the peoples of the
earth, “prosperity, happiness and peace.”
This, his last and greatest speech,
was most favorably received everywhere. The leading newspapers of
the country, without regard to party, commented favorably upon it,
and it has had much to do with molding the Nation’s destiny since.