Source: Memorial to the Late President McKinley
Source type: book
Document type: essay
Document title: “Personal Reminiscences of President’s Day”
Author(s): Horton, Katharine Pratt
Publisher: Buffalo Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution
Place of publication: Buffalo, New York
Year of publication: 1901
|Horton, Katharine Pratt. “Personal Reminiscences of President’s Day.” Memorial to the Late President McKinley. Buffalo: Buffalo Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution, 1901: pp. 7-13.|
|full text of essay; excerpt of book|
|Pan-American Exposition (President’s Day); William McKinley (at Pan-American Exposition); William McKinley (at Niagara Falls, NY: 6 Sept. 1901); McKinley assassination (personal response).|
|Katharine Pratt Horton; Ida McKinley; William McKinley; John G. Milburn; Presley M. Rixey.|
| From page 3:
Book title taken from cover.
From cover: October, 1901.
About the author (p. 13): Mrs. John Miller Horton, First Vice-Regent, “The Buffalo Chapter,” D. A. R.; Chairman of the Committee on Entertainments and Ceremonies, Board of Women Managers, Pan-American Exposition.
Personal Reminiscences of President’s Day
PRESIDENT’S DAY, September 5, 1901, will long be remembered as one of the brightest
and happiest days of the summer’s long list of Pan-American Exposition State
or special days.
No one could foresee the sad ending of the day that was to follow; there was a certain animation, a hush of expectancy, a something, I know not what, in the very air, that morning, and as the crowd began to gather within the grounds of the Exposition, it seemed that the world and all its family were out for a holiday, on pleasure bent, to give welcome to our honored guest.
The warmth and brightness of the summer, with its flowers and cloudless skies, combined with the haze of early autumn, made an indescribably beautiful setting for the wealth of decoration in flags of all nations and varicolored bunting, the red, white and yellow, the colors of the Pan-American Exposition, sharing the honor with our own national red, white and blue. With the added attractions of a military display in honor of our President, one could not imagine a more perfect or more beautiful “fête day.”
Carriages containing the members of the Diplomatic Corps, arriving early at the Grand Esplanade, were wel-  comed by the Chairman and members of the Entertainment Committee, and places in the Tribunes were assigned them. Here we awaited the coming of the presidential party.
Leaving the home of Mr. Milburn, President of the Pan-American Exposition, in the morning at eleven o’clock, the President was escorted by a body of mounted troops to the Lincoln Parkway Gate. There the party was met by the entire military contingent of the Government on the grounds, the two local regiments of the National Guard, and the Marine Band of Washington. The parade then formed and marched through the Triumphal Causeway to the Tribunes erected on the West Esplanade.
When the President arrived with Mrs. McKinley, he with tenderness assisted her faltering footsteps from the carriage to her place next his own on the platform, from where he delivered the formal address of the day.
President Milburn made the introduction in a most impressive manner. He stood waiting until the applause had all died away, and the audience had become quiet, then merely mentioned the words, “The President.”
With close attention Mrs. McKinley followed every word uttered by the President, whose oration upon that day will be of historical interest throughout the years to come.
At the close of the President’s address, Mrs. McKinley, whose feeble health prevented her taking further part in the exercises, was escorted to a carriage by Dr. Rixey and driven back to Mr. Milburn’s house; at the same  time the President entered his carriage and, with his escort, was driven to the Stadium, where the military review was held.
Upon arrival there, the sound of the martial music and the plaudits of the crowd seemed to inspire the President with enthusiasm. Marching with the general in command, he entered into the spirit of the affair, and with long, sweeping strides, and the springing step of a boy, made the entire tour of the great arena of the Stadium.
Having been invited to join the ladies of the President’s party, I was with them in the Reviewing Stand, and when the President joined us there, he said that this reminded him of his old army days when he was “The Major,” by which title Mrs. McKinley always loved to address him.
President McKinley had a remarkable memory for names and faces, which greatly added to his popularity. When I was presented to him, he spoke of having met me the previous winter in Washington, when I was there as the official representative of the Pan-American Exposition and of “The Buffalo Chapter,” to present an invitation to the National Society, “Daughters of the American Revolution,” and to its honored head, the President of the United States, to be present and unite in celebrating “Flag-Day” as D. A. R. Day at the Exposition; June 14, 1901, was the day selected, and the event was celebrated with great success. I was also Vice-Regent of Buffalo Chapter and delegate to the National Continental Con-  gress, Daughters of the American Revolution, then in session in Washington. With a pleasant word of greeting, the President said, “Is it well with the Buffalo Chapter, Mrs. Horton?” I was glad to be able to reply, “It is well with the Buffalo Chapter, Mr. President.”
At the close of the review, President McKinley was driven to the New York State Building, where a luncheon was given in his honor by the New York State Commissioners.
At the same hour, the ladies of the President’s party were the guests of the Board of Women Managers at the Woman’s Building, Exposition Grounds, at a luncheon given in honor of Mrs. McKinley.
Following these luncheons, the President and entire party were driven to the Government Building. Here a private reception was given in honor of the President.
As Chairman of the Committee on Entertainments and Ceremonies, I was invited by the Government officials, by whom this reception was arranged, to represent the Board of Women Managers, and, in company with the ladies of the Diplomatic Corps, was present at this reception.
I had the honor of standing next to the President and could not but be impressed by the courteous and affable manner, the pleasant smile, the friendly hand-clasp, showing the innate gentleness of spirit and Christian love for humanity that was a part of the being of this noble man. These very traits in the President’s character made it pos-  sible for the assassin to accomplish his cruel design. He attempted to enter the building at this private reception, but was prevented from doing so, as admission could only be obtained by card.
President McKinley requested that a public reception should be held, so that he might have an opportunity of meeting the people, the general public, to whom he belonged; thus was given an occasion for the assassin, under the pretense of showing respectful homage to a high official, to strike down the idol of the American people.
The day after came the trip to Niagara Falls. The presidential party and a few friends were the guests of the officials of the Exposition. In the early morning hours we enjoyed a drive through the park to the railway station at the Exposition grounds, where we awaited the coming of the presidential party. We were not long kept waiting, for the President soon arrived with Mrs. McKinley, walking from the carriage to the drawing-room car in readiness for them. The President greeted all those present with the dignified and gracious manner which was characteristic of him.
On that trip from Buffalo to the Falls at every station en route were crowds to greet the President. Men stood with uncovered heads, and women and little children showed happy greetings in their faces for the man they delighted to honor, the man they held in loving reverence.
Arriving at the Falls, we drove in carriages to the center of the great bridge, where the law which prevents the  President of the United States from leaving this country while in office interfered with the trip to the Canadian side for a view of the Falls from that point. The carriages then turned and drove around Goat Island, the President greatly enjoying the beautiful views of the great Niagara that opened up through the wooded vistas of the island.
After luncheon at the Falls, we returned to the train, and, on arrival at the Exposition Grounds, the President was driven from the railway station to the Temple of Music, stopping for a few moments at the Spanish Mission Chapel. At the Temple of Music the public reception was held.
An incident connected with the reception will illustrate the kind thoughtfulness of the President. At the luncheon given in honor of Mrs. McKinley by the Board of Women Managers, Pan-American Exposition, a young woman having a very beautiful voice sang several selections most acceptably. The young ladies of the President’s family expressed themselves to me as being very much pleased. I said to them, “Remember that this young girl is in need of recognition of her ability as an artist, and is just beginning the life which she is hopeful will lead to success and renown in her profession. Any kind word or help you may be able to give her will be appreciated.” Upon hearing this, the President asked to have her sing at the reception in the Temple of Music. She was standing ready to begin her selection, and the violinist stood with  uplifted bow, to begin the obligato with which he was to accompany her, when the sad ending came to the scene at the Temple of Music, and to that long-to-be-remembered time, in the terrible tragedy that robbed the Nation of its President.
As “Daughters of the American Revolution,” we aim to instill into the hearts of all that spirit of true Americanism which was bequeathed to us by our forefathers; and had such spirit been universal among the people, the tragedy that occurred within the borders of the Queen City of the Empire State would never have occupied a page in the history of this commonwealth. The echo of sweetest music, or eloquent, patriotic oratory would alone have reverberated through the ornate arches of our beautiful Temple of Music. And thus it would have been impossible for a pistol ball, by the hand of an assassin, to have been aimed at the beloved, revered, and honored foremost citizen of this Republic, the late President McKinley.