Tag Archive | President McKinley

Circus Trip 2018: Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural NHS

Day 44, Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site, Buffalo, New York

Most of you probably know that President William McKinley was shot by anarchist Leon Czolgosz while he was attending the Pan American Exposition on September 6, 1901.  That’s my birthday! Well, it is long before my actual birthday, but you get my point.

McKinley hung on for 8 days, and Vice President Theodore Roosevelt rushed to get to Buffalo to be by the President’s side.  He originally arrived on September 7, and McKinley’s prognosis was good; in fact it was so good that on September 10 doctors determined he was out of danger, and Roosevelt left to return to a family vacation in the Adirondacks.

Of course, the President soon worsened, and a telegram was sent to summon Roosevelt back to Buffalo.  He arrived shortly after McKinley died on September 14, 1901, having learned the news on his journey back.  A suitable location for the inauguration was sought and determined to be the home of Ansley Wilcox, a prominent attorney and friend of Theodore Roosevelt.  It also happened to be where Roosevelt was staying while he was in Buffalo.

The home itself was built beginning in 1840; it was the Officer’s Quarters of the Buffalo Barracks Compound, built because of concerns about a minor insurrection to the north in Canada at the time.  It was eventually sold and became a private residence, and the Wilcox family purchased the home and built an addition that doubled its size in 1896.  It is built in the Greek Revival style, with huge columns adorning its front porch.  That is how the home looked in 1901, when Roosevelt’s inauguration was held.

Roosevelt was inaugurated in the library of the Wilcox home, a small room that ended up being packed with several cabinet members, dignitaries, and the judge administering the oath.  Theodore Roosevelt was now the President of the United States.  No photos were taken of the inauguration, but several were taken of the room afterwards.

Here is where Roosevelt stood during his inauguration

The Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site is set up with exhibits on the exposition, McKinley’s assassination, and Roosevelt’s Presidency.  There is an interesting film detailing the political climate at the time, and the events that happened surrounding the assassination.  Upstairs, the rooms on the main floor of the home have been restored to what they looked like when Roosevelt was inaugurated here.  The docent led tour takes visitors to the library when Roosevelt took the oath of office, and photos taken after the inauguration are displayed.

Upstairs you can see additional exhibits and sit at a mock President’s desk!  It was certainly worth a visit and it wasn’t crowded, only averaging about 13,000 visits per year.  It is a must if you are interested in Presidential history!  If you aren’t able to visit, they have a virtual tour!

 

Circus Trip 2018: First Ladies NHS

Day 37, Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Canton, Ohio

After I left Cuyahoga Valley National Park, I went down to Canton, Ohio and spent a little bit of time there.

Canton is where the family home of Ida Saxton McKinley is located, the wife of President William McKinley.  The home is beautiful!  It was built in 1841 by Ida’s grandfather and modified in 1865; and remained in the family until 1919.  Although Ida and William McKinley didn’t own the home themselves, as her father purchased a home for them a few blocks south, the President and his wife spent a considerable amount of time living here with Ida’s sister and her family, 13 years in total.

This historic site is unique, because although the home is tied to a US President, it focuses on the story of Ida McKinley, his wife.  She was born in 1847; the daughter of a wealthy banker, and enjoyed a privileged upbringing.  She and William McKinley were married in 1871, and had two daughters together; sadly, both died in early childhood.  Ida was grief-stricken over the loss of her daughters and the death of her mother, which had occurred two weeks before the birth of her first daughter.  She believed that the deaths were God’s punishment of her, and developed epilepsy, which severely hindered her ability to participate in society.  Despite her health issues, McKinley was devoted to her and made accommodations for her seizures and ailments in his schedule and public appearances.

 

 

Of course, you probably know that during a Presidential trip to Buffalo, New York, President McKinley was shot on September 6, 1901 by anarchist Leon Czolgosz; he died of his wounds on September 14, after gangrene set in. Ida had accompanied her husband on the trip, but was not present at the shooting.  She held up well while McKinley fought to survive, but her health suffered even more afterwards.  She went back to the home in Canton where her sister Mary Barber and Mary’s family lived, and her sister cared for her until Ida’s death in 1907.  During that period, Ida largely spent her time in a rocking chair, crocheting slippers to give to her friends as gifts.  President McKinley, Ida and their two daughters are now interred in McKinley’s memorial monument in a nearby cemetery – an upcoming post!

 

 

The First Ladies National Historic Site is operated as a partnership between the National First Ladies Library, and the National Park Service.  There is a small visitor’s center in a nearby historic bank building and the home, which is open to the public on a tour.  The historic site has a movie about Ida Saxton McKinley and the role of First Ladies in general.  There was also an interesting exhibit on First Lady fashion, with featured dresses of several different first ladies in history.  It was interesting to see a perspective dedicated to the women who supported their husbands in their First Lady roles, as well as the women who took on their role for other family members, as not all First Ladies were spouses.

What a unique historic site!  I hope we will have a woman as President too, so we can see our first First Man!