McKinley had busy April 1899

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.

Today, April 22, 2019, is the annual egg rolling event for children at the White House. This Easter-time activity was established during the administration of Rutherford B. Hayes.

The New York Times reported on the 1899 happenings:

“WASHINGTON, APRIL 3 — Easter Monday egg rolling brought hosts of children to the White House grounds today to enjoy the hospitality of the President’s private gardens. During the afternoon, the Marine Band gave a concert for the special pleasure of the little ones. The President and Mrs. McKinley watched the fun from the portico.”

Later in the month, President McKinley’s visit to Philadelphia was announced:

“WASHINGTON, April 22 — The arrangements for the trip of the President and his party to Philadelphia upon the occasion of the unveiling of the Grant Statue on April 27 are about completed.

The party will leave here early next Thursday morning, and, arriving at Philadelphia, will go to the Bellevue Hotel. At 3 o’clock, they will attend the unveiling ceremonies and at 6 o’clock will dine at the Union League Club. At 8 o’clock they will attend the exercises in the Academy of Music.”

‘Final Ceremonies Attending the Unveiling of the Monument Held in Philadelphia Last Night’ was the headline a few days later:

“PHILADELPHIA, Penn. April 27 — The ceremonies attending the unveiling of the Grant Monument were concluded by a public meeting at the Academy of Music tonight.

President McKinley did not intend to speak. In response to loud and persistent calls from the audience, he rose, bowed and resumed his seat. The cheering continued and became deafening, and finally the President arose and spoke as follows:

“My fellow Citizens: I cannot add a single word to the just and beautiful tribute paid to the great warrior by your fellow citizens in this presence tonight. I remember half a dozen years ago to have been in Galena delivering an address at the unveiling of a statue to General Grant in that little home city in Illinois and this story was told to me: That Gen. Grant, then a Captain and out of the service, presided over their first union meeting in 1801 — the first meeting after the call for volunteers. The meeting was a large one, held in the old Court House, and inquiries were made all over the room who it was that was thus called to preside over that important patriotic assembly. Someone said ‘It is Capt. Grant.’ ‘Well, who is Capt. Grant? We never heard of him.’

“In four years from that time, he presided over the greatest Union meeting ever held beneath the flag, at Appomattox Court House, and his name was upon every lip, (applause) and his face was familiar to every American home. Subsequently he was greeted by all races and filled the whole world with his fame as he journeyed in the pathway of the sun. (applause). He was a great soldier. Lincoln issued the proclamation of emancipation, but it took the guns of Grant to give life to that decree. He will be remembered for all time and his name forever cherished as the soldier who preserved the “Union of the States.”

“He had a sacred attachment for the soldiers. The last time that the public ever looked upon his face in life was on the occasion of the parade of the Grand Army of the Republic in the City of New York, only a little while before Gen. Grant’s death and against the protests of his friends and of his physicians he was carried to the window of his house to look for the last time upon his comrades. (applause) It was a scene never to be forgotten, and attested his undying love for those who had followed him from Shiloh to Vicksburg and Appomattox.”

“He not only achieved great victories in war and great administrative triumphs in peace, but he was permitted to do what is given to few men to do — to live long enough to write with his own pen the history he had made in command of the armies of the United States. (applause) And what a splendid history it is! What a record of achievements! It should be read by all the boys and girls of the land, for it tells, in his just and simple and honest, but most forceful way, the trials and triumphs and hopes of the Army over which he was supreme commander. And when he had finished that work, he laid down his pen and like a good soldier, said to his master, ‘Let Thy will be done.'” (applause)

“And it is gratifying for us to know, as lovers of the great warrior, that the men against whom he fought in that great civil struggle and their descendants carried, with the men of the North and their descendants, the glorious banner of the free at Santiago. El Caney and Manila. (cheers and applause) And that we have a union today stronger and grander than ever before — for it is a union of hearts, North and South, a union indissoluble and a union never to be broken. (applause.) And it is gratifying to us to know that the flag which Grant and his mighty Army made glorious has lost none of its lustre as it has been carried by the Army and Navy of the United States on sea and land in two hemispheres. (great cheering) So long as we perpetuate in heart the memory of Grant, so long will the nation be secure and enduring.”

Wendell Lauth of Bristol is a Trumbull County historian.