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1900: Open vice president seat still hot topic

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.

The vice presidential running mate for William McKinley was still a topic of conversation by the second and third weeks of January 1900. The Jan. 14 Washington Post reports “The Kansas delegation to the Republican National Convention will in all probability present the name and urge the nomination of former United States Senator John J. Ingalls as Vice Presidential running mate to President McKinley.”

Ingalls’ boom was started a few days ago by ex-Lt. Gov. C. V. Eskridge, editor of the Emporia Republican.

Several prominent Republican papers have taken up the suggestion and endorsed the idea. The present plan of the Kansas Republicans is to have the matter brought up at the State convention which will nominate delegates to the national convention, and have Ingalls’ candidacy endorsed. An effort also will be made to have other Western states send delegates favorable to Ingalls.

In launching Ingalls’ boom, Eskridge said, in part, “It is conceded that ex-Senator John J. Ingalls is one of the best presiding officers in this country, and a man not only of transcendent ability, but one of the most brilliant orators and campaigners between the two oceans.

If Kansas is not recognized when we have men of such acknowledged fitness, we ought to know the reason why, and they should be good reasons, with no taint or color of sophistry about them. The Middle West has been too subservient to the party for its own good. Kansas should send a delegation to the Republican National Convention for Ingalls for second place on the ticket.”

Yet, there was more to the week than just the second in command. The Washington Post reported on the 13th there was a rumor about the White House.

“Our attention has been called to the very fluent circulation of a ridiculous story about certain functions at the Executive Mansion. This story is to the effect that when the distinguished company, invited for the occasion, assembles there — and it is well known that nobody ever goes to the White House without an invitation — and while the great men of the country, together with their wives, families and attendants, are awaiting in speechless reverence the coming of the President, one hears a bugle call — a long, shrill, palpitating blast, that charges all the house with echoing vibrations and tells the breathless multitude that Mr. McKinley is on his way.”

The Post continues on explaining how bloated foreign courts are and that they have not seen such antics in the White House. They explain “no one need waste time in an attempt to make us believe that a plain and sensible fellow-citizens through the medium of a pretentious trumpet or an idiotic bugle.”

Farris is director of the National McKinley Birthplace Museum in Niles.

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