Source: The Life of William McKinley, Twenty-Fifth President of the United States
Source type: book
Document type: book chapter
Document title: “President’s Day” [chapter 13]
Author(s): Snow, Jane Elliott
Publisher: Imperial Press
Place of publication: Cleveland, Ohio
Year of publication: 1908
|Snow, Jane Elliott. “President’s Day” [chapter 13]. The Life of William McKinley, Twenty-Fifth President of the United States. Cleveland: Imperial Press, 1908: pp. 65-68.|
|full text of chapter; excerpt of book|
|Pan-American Exposition (President’s Day); William McKinley (last public address).|
|James G. Blaine; William McKinley; John G. Milburn.|
|From title page: By Jane Elliott Snow, Author of “Women of Tennyson” and “Coates Family History.”|
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 represented.
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.