William McKinley wins second presidential election
Editor’s note: This is part of a weekly series marking the 120th anniversary of Niles native William McKinley’s U.S. presidency.
On Nov. 6, 1900, voters (all of them men) helped William McKinley defeat William Jennings Bryan of Nebraska, the same Democratic opponent as the 1896 campaign.
McKinley was re-elected. He became the first president to win two consecutive election bids since Ulysses S. Grant in 1872. McKinley won 51.6 percent of the popular vote and 292 electoral votes. Bryan received 45.5 percent and 155, respectively.
The week of Nov. 8, 1900, brought what could only be described as jubilation. President McKinley began his journey from Canton to Washington, D.C. As was customary of the times, he traveled by train and occupied a private car called the Olympia. The train was described as being beautifully decorated with red, white and blue ribbons and yellow chrysanthemums.
According to the Washington Post, at each stop there were “great outpourings of people.” Men and women from local businesses lined the streets, waiting to greet the now twice-elected head of the nation. The president was able to shake hands with the crowds from the platform of the train and made short speeches from the rear platform of the train at several of the “more important” towns.
He addressed pottery workers still in their work aprons in Alliance. The town celebrated with McKinley with bands and banners. He was greeted by a large crowd that lined the tracks in Salem. There were children carrying American flags, a uniformed drum corps and women who were throwing bunches of chrysanthemums. He shared these words with the crowd: “My fellow citizens: It has been many years since I had the privilege of meeting an audience in the city of Salem, and I assure you that your greeting and welcome today give me very sincere pleasure.
“You are here to celebrate a victory won, not by a single party, but by the people of all parties. (Great applause.) I go back to my public duties at the Capital encouraged by your confidence, but deeply conscious of the grave responsibilities which your action of yesterday imposes upon me. I can only ask of all my countrymen their sympathy and support in the solution of the great problems that rest upon The United States, and I am sure that all of us will humbly petition the guidance of the divine ruler who has never failed this government through all its vicissitudes from its beginning to the present hour. I thank you and bid you good afternoon. (Tremendous applause and cheering.)”
McKinley was well known for his dynamic speeches that connected him to the people. He was famous for campaigning from “the front porch” and captivating his audiences. He was also a deeply spiritual leader and often referred to his faith. It has been said that McKinley’s mother always hoped her beloved son would become a Methodist bishop.
On his way back to the White House, the president also made stops in East Palestine, and Enon Valley, New Galilee, New Brighton, Rochester and Pittsburgh, Pa.
Carrie Kibby is the Manager of Adult Reference at the McKinley Memorial Library, where she also moderates monthly book clubs.