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Pan-American Exposition of 1901

Images of President William McKinley at the Pan-American Exposition

Program for President's Day

Good-bye-good bye, all. It's God's way. His will, not ours, be done. Nearer my God to Thee, nearer to Thee.

—[McKinley's reported last words]

President William McKinley attended the Pan-American Exposition on September 5, 1901, the day set aside in his honor as President's Day. The schedule of his events published in the daily program for the day shows that he was scheduled to be at the Exposition from 10:00 a.m. until after 8:00 p.m.

The following photographs illustrate a few of the events on President McKinley's schedule for September 5th & 6th, as well as the public mourning upon his death September 14th, 1901.


President McKinley riding on the Great Gorge Railway at Niagara Falls, Sept. 5, 1901.

President McKinley riding on the Great Gorge Railway at Niagara Falls, Sept. 5, 1901. Photographer: G.D. Brinckerhoff. Source: Western Electrician, v.29, no.2 (September 21, 1901) p.182.

The following are images of President McKinley's President's Day Speech on the grounds of the Pan-American Exposition, Sept. 5, 1901. President's Day had originally been scheduled for June 13, 1901, during McKinley's extensive tour of the country in response to his re-election. However, Mrs. McKinley fell gravely ill during the tour and President's Day was rescheduled.1

President McKinley's Sept. 5th speech

President McKinley's Speech at the Pan-American Exposition. September 5, 1901. Photographer: Frances Johnston. Source: Photograph from the Johnston Collection in the Prints and Photographs. Division of the Library of Congress. Also in Pete Daniel and Raymond Smock. A Talent For Detail : The Photographs of Miss Frances Benjamin Johnston, 1889-1910. New York : Harmony Books, [1974], p. 73.

President McKinley's Speech at the Pan-American Exposition. September 5, 1901. Photographer: Frances Johnston. Source: American Monthly Review of Reviews, vol.24, no.4 (October 1901) p. 389.

President McKinley's Speech at the Pan-American Exposition. September 5, 1901. Photographer: C.D. Arnold. Source: Held in the Presidential Files of the Prints and Photographs Division of the Library of Congress. The image below appeared Buffalo Express, September 8, 1901. Courtesy of Stephanie Long.


"[McKinley] was always so sweet and kind and gentle," Frances [Johnston] remembered, "and so anxious to pose just the way you wanted him to, but always a little self-conscious before the camera, and so never at his best. But I finally caught him at the climax of a great speech, when he had wholly forgotten himself, and it proved his best portrait, and sadly enough, his last." This picture, which became known as the "Buffalo pose," was the model used to construct the statue of the President at the McKinley Monument in Canton, Ohio.2



Shaking Hands with the President, September 5, 1901.

Shaking Hands with the President, September 5, 1901. Photograph taken in the corridor of the Government Building. Photographer: Louis B. Hart. Source: The Buffalo Express, September 15, 1901. Reproduced in The Illustrated Buffalo Express. Buffalo, N.Y. : J. N. Matthews Company, 1901.

Cover of booklet


Early films of McKinley's final days were produced by the Edison company. They include "President McKinley's speech at the Pan-American Exposition" / "President McKinley reviewing the troops at the Pan-American Exposition" / "The mob outside the Temple of Music at the Pan-American Exposition" / "President McKinley's funeral cortege at Buffalo, N.Y.," etc.

These films and more information about McKinley's final days are are available on the American Memory web site The Last Days of a President: Films of McKinley and the Pan-American Exposition, 1901


McKinley reviewing troops in the Exposition Stadium, Sept. 5, 1901

McKinley Reviewing Troops in the Exposition Stadium. September 5, 1901. Photographer: Undetermined. Source: American Monthly Review of Reviews, vol.24, no.4 (October 1901) p. 415.

The "last posed photograph" of President McKinley

The "Last Posed Photograph" of President McKinley.In the Government Building on September 5, 1901. Photographer: Frances Johnston. Source: From the Johnston Collection in the Prints and Photographs Division of the Library of Congress [LOT 11735].

The "last posed photograph" of President McKinley, in the Government Building on 5 September 1901. Left to right: Mrs. John Miller Horton, Chairwoman of the Entertainment Committee of the Woman's Board of Managers; John G. Milburn; Senor Asperoz, the Mexican Ambassador; the President; George B. Courtelyou, the President's secretary; Col. John H. Bingham of the Government Board.

William McKinley did not care for the use of bodyguards and secret service agents, but relented to the wishes of the Chief of the Secret Service, John E. Wilkie, and the influential Republican "Boss," Senator Mark Hanna. Although the Secret Service had no official empowerment to protect the President, Wilkie exceeded his authority and assigned operative George E. Foster as McKinley's personal bodyguard.3

The President and Mrs. McKinley

The President and Mrs. McKinley. Photographer: B. Dinst. Source: Photograph from the collection of the Prints and Photographs Division of the Library of Congress. In Margaret Leech, In the Days of McKinley, New York : Harper & Row, 1959.

President and Mrs. McKinley touring the Exposition - September 5, 1901.

President and Mrs. McKinley touring the Exposition in carriage, probably after 7 p.m. on way to see the illumination of the Electric Tower and evening fireworks. September 5, 1901. Photographer: Frances Johnston. Source: The Johnston Collection in the Prints and Photographs Division of the Library of Congress. Appeared in the September 8, 1901 Buffalo Express.



Those close to McKinley had reason to be concerned for his safety. A. Wesley Johns asserts that while fears for the president's life began at the time of the Spanish-American conflict, other factors contributed to this hightened concern:4

  • Anarchism. The growth of Anarchism and the recognition that this school of thought could be dangerous. While the Haymarket Square Riots were fresh on minds of many political leaders, the recent assassinations and threats on the lives of European leaders were especially disturbing. Empress Elizabeth of Austria was assassinated in 1898; Edward VII, then Prince of Wales, was fired upon in April 1900 and King Humbert of Italy was assassinated in July of 1900.
  • Social class divisions. While the country was experiencing relative prosperity, there was a widening gap between the rich and the poor. The conspicuous consumption of wealthy industrialists constrasted greatly with the struggles of sweatshop workers and tenement dwellers. This provided fertile ground for labor disputes and the spreading of Anarchist ideologies.
  • Yellow journalism. As Johns points out, McKinley was "flayed relentlessly" by William Randolph Hearst, whose publications described him as a "puppet" of wealthy industrialists. An editorial printed in the April 10, 1901 Journal asserted that "If bad institutions and bad men can be got rid of only by killing, then the killing must be done." Of course, journalists of the period would refute this. The editor of The Nation (published by the New York Evening Post Company) wrote in the September 19, 1901 issue that "[t]he theory, which has been seriously advanced, that Czolgosz was led to assassinate President McKinley by reading a certain daily newspaper, is without a particle of evidence, and is an affront to common sense."

The president's secretary, George B. Courtelyou, (seen here to the right of MicKinley) was uneasy about the president's prolonged appearance at the Pan-American Exposition. Of specific concern was the reception to be held in the Temple of Music, September 6, 1901, the day after McKinley's speech. Courtelyou thought this unnecessary and twice attempted to cancel the engagement, only to have it reinstated by the President. 5

General William Bull was the Superintendent of Police in Buffalo. During his visit to the Pan-American Exposition, four detectives were assigned to the President, with Foster and two other secret service men, Al Gallagher and Sam Ireland. In addition, seventy-five policemen were added to the Buffalo force, augmented by Pan-American Guards, Coast Artillerymen, Pinkerton men and Railroad detectives.6


While McKinley's men feared for his safety, there did not appear to be any public concern. In the September 6, 1901 morning edition of the Buffalo Courier, there appeared an anonymous, "slightly burlesqued" account of the President's appearance and speech the day before.7 [See an image of the actual article.]

Despite the light-hearted burlesque above, a strangely "prophetic" observation appeared on the same page:

The surrounding of President McKinley by a body-guard of detectives when he appears in public, is probably as distasteful to himself as it is to abstract American sentiment, but as long as the earth is infested by malevolent cranks and unreasoning Anarchists, the precaution is entirely proper.

One can only wonder what the author(s) of these passages may have thought as the events of September 6, 1901 unfolded…


McKinley and his entourage on Goat Island, at Niagara Falls

McKinley and his entourage visit Goat Island, at Niagara Falls. September 6, 1901. Photographer: Orrin Dunlap. Source: From the Presidential Files collection of the Prints and Photographs Division of the Library of Congress ©1901 Orin Dunlap. (H9017 U.S. Copyright Office.) Also appeared in the Buffalo Courier, September 15, 1901. Also appeared in The American Monthly Review of Reviews, vol.24, no.4 (October 1901) p. 417.

President McKinley in carriage on way to the reception at the Temple of Music, with John G. Milburn (left) and George B. Cortelyou (right).

President McKinley in Carriage on Way to the Reception at the Temple of Music. September 6, 1901. Photographer: Frances Johnston. Source: From the Johnston Collection in the Prints and Photographs Division of the Library of Congress. Also appears in Pete Daniel and Raymond Smock. A Talent For Detail : The Photographs of Miss Frances Benjamin Johnston, 1889-1910. New York : Harmony Books, [1974], p. 72.

This picture was taken only minutes before the President was shot, as he greeted well-wishers in a reception line at the Temple of Music.

President McKinley Greeting Well-Wishers at a Reception in the Temple of Music. September 6, 1901 (minutes before he was shot). Photographer: Undetermined. Source: The Prints and Photographs Division of the Library of Congre


The shooting of President McKinley on the stage of the Temple of Music. Illustration by T. Dart Walker for the cover of the September 21, 1901 issue of Leslie's Weekly.

The Shooting of President McKinley on the Stage of the Temple of Music. September 6, 1901. Illustration by: T. Dart Walker. Source: The cover of the September 21, 1901 issue of Leslie's Weekly.


Crowds gather outside the Exposition's Emergency Hospital,  where President McKinley was taken for treatment.

The Exposition's Emergency Hospital, where President McKinley was Taken for Treatment. Photographer: C. D. Arnold. Source: Originally appeared in the Buffalo Express, September 8, 1901. Reproduced in The Illustrated Buffalo Express. Buffalo, N.Y. : J. N. Matthews Company, 1901.

The wounded president was taken by the electric ambulance to the Exposition's Emergency Hospital, located on the west side of the grounds near the Elmwood Avenue gate. Hospital staff included University of Buffalo medical school sophomores Burton T. Simpson and Burt J. Bixby and third year student T. Frederick Ellis. In addition to a more seasoned group of doctors, the resident physician was senior medical student Edward D. Mann, son of Dr. Matthew D. Mann, the surgeon who would operate on the president, since Dr. Roswell Park, the Exposition Medical Director, was in Niagara Falls.8

Crowds gather outside the Exposition's Emergency Hospital, where President McKinley was taken for treatment.

President McKinley's surgery began at 5:20 p.m., one hour and 20 minutes after the President was shot. Dr. Matthew D. Mann, however, was an obstetrician and gynecologist, with no experience treating gunshot wounds. Yet he was recommended by Board President John G. Milburn and performed the surgery that would remove one of the two bullets lodged in McKinley's body. The other attending physicians were P.M. Rixey, Eugene Wasdin, and Herman Mynter. Roswell Park would arrive later.

Following his surgery, the President was taken by ambulance (driven by medical students Ellis and Simpson) from the Exposition Hospital to the home of John Milburn in Buffalo for further treatment and recuperation. An anxious public and press awaited the daily medical bulletins issued by McKinley's physicians. During the eight days following the shooting, the President first seemed to rally but then finally weakened.

Thomas Leary and Elizabeth Sholes echo the prevailing observation with regard to McKinley's treatment:9

Roswell Park was a leader in Buffalo medicine, especially antiseptic practice. Dr. Mann and the others were neither trained trauma surgeons nor did they bother with disinfection, not even wearing gloves. The first bullet had done little harm; the second entered McKinley's abdomen. The physicians used improperly sanitized probes and when Mann could not find the bullet, he closed the incision without draining the wound. It was a fateful decision.

However, Jack C. Fisher, M.D., in his recent book Stolen Glory : The McKinley Assassination (Alamar Books, 2001) argues that it was severe fluid buildup and not gangrene that was the cause of death. Given the medical knowlege of the time, the President would likely have died, even if Roswell Park had performed the surgery.10

The Milburn Residence

The Milburn Residence on Delaware Avenue. Photographer: Undetermined. Source: American Monthly Review of Reviews, vol.24, no.4 (October 1901) p. 419.

The Press on "Newspaper Row"

The Press on "Newspaper Row" Receive an Update from Secretary Courtelyou. Photographer: Undetermined. Source: Buffalo Courier, September 22, 1901. Also appeared in American Monthly Review of Reviews, vol.24, no.4 (October 1901) p. 423.

Anxious citizens await word of the President

Anxious Citizens await word of the President. Photographer: Undetermined. Source: From the collection of the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society. In A. Wesley Johns, The Man Who Shot McKinley. South Brunswick, N.J. : A. S. Barnes and Co., Inc., 1970.


Whether it was gangrene or a lethal build-up of body fluid, President William McKinley died at the Milburn home on September 14, 1901. A small funeral service was held there on Sunday morning, September 15th. McKinley's casket was taken by horse-drawn carriage through the streets of Buffalo to the City Hall, where the body lay in state from 1:30 to 11:00 p.m. Early on the morning of Monday September 16th, the President's remains began a journey first to Washington D.C. and then on to Canton, Ohio, where he would lay in state and then be buried in the city's Westlawn Cemetary.


Images of Mourning in Buffalo September 15-16, 1901

McKinley's funeral cortege through Buffalo streets

McKinley's Funeral Cortege through Buffalo Streets. September 15, 1901. Photographer: Undetermined. Source: A Buffalo newspaper clipping dated September 19, 1901. Courtesy of Stephanie Long.

McKinley's casket arrives at Buffalo City Hall

McKinley's Casket Arrives at Buffalo City Hall. September 15, 1901. Photographer: Undetermined. Source: American Monthly Review of Reviews, vol.24, no.4 (October 1901) p. 426.

McKinley's casket taken into City Hall

McKinley's Casket Being Carried into Buffalo City Hall. September 15, 1901. Photographer: Oscar A. Simon & Bro., Photographers. Source: Appeared in the Buffalo Courier, September 22, 1901 and Harper's Weekly, vol.45, no.2335 (September 21, 1901) p. 966.



Citizens at City Hall Await Viewing. September 15, 1901. Photographer: Undetermined [Possibly N. Lazarnick?]. Source: Harper's Weekly, vol.45, no.2335 (September 21, 1901) p.966.

McKinley lying in state in City Hall

McKinley Lying in State in Buffalo City Hall. September 15, 1901. Photographer: Undetermined. Source: Appeared in the Buffalo Times, September 22, 1901. Photograph from the collection of the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society. Also reproduced in Thomas E. Leary and Elizabeth C. Sholes, Buffalo's Pan-American Exposition, Charleston, S.C. : Arcadia Press, 1998, p. 121.

Troops at train station as the Funeral Train prepares to depart Buffalo

Troops at the Train Station as McKinley's Funeral Train Prepares to Leave Buffalo. September 16, 1901. Photographer: Undetermined [Possibly N. Lazarnick?]. Source: Harper's Weekly, vol.45, no.2335 (September 21, 1901), p. 967.


Funeral train leaving Buffalo

The President's Funeral Train Leaves Buffalo for Washinton, D.C. September 16, 1901. Photographer: Undetermined [name at lower right is illegible]. Source: Undetermined.


Washington D.C. -- September 16-17, 1901

McKinley's casket enters the Capitol

McKinley's Casket enters the Capitol Grounds in Washington, D.C. September 17, 1901.Photographer: Undetermined. Source: [The Illustrated Buffalo Express. Buffalo, N.Y. : J. N. Matthews Company, 1901?]

View from the Capitol Building

View from the Capitol Building, Washington, D.C. September 17, 1901. Photographer: Undetermined. [Possibly N. Lazarnick?]. Source: Harper's Weekly, vol.45, no.2335, (October 21, 1901) p. 968.


Canton, Ohio -- September 18-19, 1901

The President's funeral train arrives in Ohio

The President's Funeral Train Arrives in Canton, Ohio. September 18, 1901. Photographer: Undetermined. Source: Harper's Weekly, vol.45, no.2335 (September 21, 1901) p. 988.

The McKinley home - under military guard.

The McKinley Home - Under Military Guard. September 18 or 19, 1901. Photographer: Undetermined. Source: Harper's Weekly, vol.45, no.2335 (September 21, 1901) p. 973.

Solemn procession from the train station to the Stark County Court House

Solemn Procession from the Train Station to the Stark County Court House. September 18, 1901. Photographer: Undetermined. Source: Harper's Weekly, vol.45, no.2335 (September 21, 1901) p. 973.

Funeral services at the First Methodist  Episcopal Church in Canton

Funeral Services at the First Methodist Episcopal Church in Canton. September 19, 1901. Photographer: Undetermined. Source: Harper's Weekly, vol.45, no.2335 (September 21, 1901) p. 973.



"At the Threshold" Illustration by W. A. Rogers

"At the Threshold". Illustrator: W. A. Rogers. Source: Harper's Weekly, vol.45, no.2334 (September 14, 1901) p. 909.


References:

  1. A. Wesley Johns. The Man Who Shot McKinley. South Brunswick, N.J. : A. S. Barnes and Co., Inc., 1970, pp. 27-28.
  2. This photograph of McKinley was taken by photographer Frances Benjamin Johnston (1964-1952) and is held in the Johnston Collection of the Prints and Photographs Division of the Library of Congress (lot 2967). It also appears in Pete Daniel and Raymond Smock. A Talent For Detail : The Photographs of Miss Frances Benjamin Johnston, 1889-1910. New York : Harmony Books, [1974], p. 68.
  3. A. Wesley Johns, The Man Who Shot McKinley., p. 18.
  4. Ibid., pp. 18-19.
  5. Ibid., p.20.
  6. Ibid., pp. 28-29.
  7. Buffalo Courier (morning edition), September 6, 1901, p. 4.
  8. A. Wesley Johns, The Man Who Shot McKinley, pp. 70-71.
  9. Thomas E. Leary and Elizabeth C. Sholes. Buffalo's Pan-American Exposition. Charleston, S.C. : Arcadia Press, 1998. p. 118.
  10. Jack C. Fisher, M.D. Stolen Glory : The McKinley Assassination. La Jolla, CA : Alamar Books, 2001.