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ILLIAM McKINLEY was born at Niles, Ohio, January 29, 1843. On the outbreak of the Civil War he onlisted in the army, although only eighteen years of age, and rose to the rank of Major. After the close of the contest he was admitted to the bar in his native State, and soon rose to eminence. From 1869 to 1871 he was the District-Attorney of Stark County, Ohio, after which he was elected to the House of Representatives, wherein, with the exception of a brief interval, he served until 1891. During the last two years of his service in Congress, he was Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, which reported the Tariff bill known by his name. Deprived of his seat in Congress in 1890, he was nominated by the Republicans of Ohio in the following year for Governor of the State, and was elected. Two years later he was re-elected by a large plurality, and his nomination and election to the Presidency followed in 1896. He was renominated in 1900 for the Chief Magistracy of the United States, and again elected.
AMERICAN PATRIOTISM 1
Soldiers and Sailors of Cuyahoga County, My Comrades, and Fellow Citizens: WISH the whole world might have witnessed the sight we have just seen and have heard the song we have just listened to from the school children of the city of Cleveland. With patriotism in our hearts and with the flag of our country in our hands, there is no danger of anarchy and there is no danger to the American Union. The place, the day, and the occasion upon which we assemble, fill us with patriotic emotion. They are happily and appropriately united. The old Monumental Square is filled with hallowed memories. This day registers the birthday of the Declaration of Independence; and this monument that we dedicate to-day attests that every promise of that declaration has been kept and performed. Standing in this presence, I am reminded that this public square has witnessed many interesting and memorable events. The first that I recall was on the tenth day of September, 1860, when the monument to Commodore Perry was unveiled on this square. It was a deeply interesting occasion. An immense crowd thronged this city as it throngs it today. Governor Sprague of Rhode Island, with his staff and State officers, and the members of the Legislature of that State, and the Providence Light Infantry, participated in the interesting ceremony. Governor Dennison, the first war governor Ohio ever had, delivered the address of welcome. General J. W. Fitch, remembered by the older citizens of Cleveland, was the Grand Marshal of the day, and General Barnett, whose distinguished services in the war are yet fresh in the memory of the people, and who now participates in these ceremonies, was in command of the Cleveland Light Artillery Regiment. The great historian, George Bancroft, delivered the principal address of the day. It was probably, my fellow citizens, the greatest celebration that Cuyahoga County had seen up to that time. It was on this ground, too, that the Soldiers and Sailors Aid Society of Northern Ohio, ay of the whole country, was organized, and some of the noble mothers who were at the birth of that organization are seated upon this platform to-day. These noble women gave unselfish devotion to the country, and money from all this section of the State poured into the coffers of that association for the relief of the men at the front who were sustaining the flag. It was in this square, too, that the remains of the martyred Lincoln, the great emancipator, rested as they journeyed to his Western home. It was on this very spot, almost where we stand today, that the whole population of Ohio viewed for the last time him who had been captain of all our armies under the Constitution, and whose death was a sacrifice to the great cause of freedom and the Union. Here, too, my fellow citizens, on this very spot, the remains of the immortal Garfield lay in state, attended by the Congress of the United States, by the supreme judiciary of the Nation, by the officers of the Army and the Navy of the United States, by the governors and legislators of all the surrounding States. The steady tread of a mourning State and Nation was uninterrupted through the entire night. It was here that the people looked upon his face for the last time forever. Interesting, my fellow citizens, and patriotic, as the scenes witnessed in the past have been, I venture to say that none of them has stirred so many memories, or quickened such patriotic feeling as the services we perform to-day in the dedication of this beautiful structure to the memory of the loyal soldiers and sailors who contributed their lives to save the government from dissolution. Cuyahoga County can well be proud of this great memorial. It is a fitting tribute to the soldiers living and the soldiers dead. Cuyahoga's sons were represented in nearly every branch of the military service. Almost every Ohio regiment received some contribution from Cuyahoga County, whether in the infantry, cavalry, artillery, on land or on sea. Whether among white troops or colored troops Cuyahoga County's sons were to be found, they were always found at the post of greatest danger. Nothing has so impressed me in the programme to-day as the organization of the old soldiers, carrying with them their tattered flags, which they bore a third of a century ago upon the fields of war. More than sixty of the old regimental flags will be carried by the survivors of their respective regiments, and the flag room at the capitol at Columbus could not supply the men of Cuyahoga County all the flags which they are entitled to bear. Is it any wonder that these old soldiers love to carry the flags under which they fought, and for which their brave comrades gave up their lives? Is it any wonder that the old soldier loves the flag under whose folds he fought and for which his comrades shed so much blood? He loves it for what it is and for what it represents. It embodies the purposes and history of the government itself. It records the achievements of its defepders upon land and sea. It heralds the heroism and sacrifices of our Revolutionary fathers who planted free government on this continent and dedicated it to liberty forever. It attests the struggles of our army and the valor of our citizens in all the wars of the Republic. It has been sanctified by the blood of our best and our bravest. It records the achievements of Washington and the martyrdom of Lincoln. It has been bathed in the tears of a sorrowing people. It has been glorified in the hearts of a freedom-loving people, not only at home but in every part of the world. Our flag expresses more than any other flag; it means more than any other national emblem. It expresses the will of a free people, and proclaims that they are supreme and that they acknowledge no earthly sovereign but themselves. It never was assaulted that thousands did not rise up to smite the assailant. Glorious old banner! When the Stars and Stripes were hauled down on Sumter, flags without number were raised above every fireside in the land; and all the glorious achievements which that flag represented, with all its hallowed memories, glowed with burning fervor in the heart of every lover of liberty and the Union. The mad assault which was made upon the flag at that time aroused its defenders and kindled a patriotism which could not be quenched until it had extinguished the unholy cause which assaulted our holy banner. What more beautiful conception than that which prompted Abra. Kohn, of Chicago, in February, 1861, to send to Mr. Lincoln, on the eve of his starting to Washington to take the office of President to which he had been elected, a flag of our country, bearing upon its silken folds these words from the fifth and ninth verses of the first chap. ter of Joshua: “Have I not commanded thee? Be strong and of good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord our God is with thee whithersoever thou goest. There shall no man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life. As I was with Moses, so shall I be with thee. I will not fail thee nor forsake thee.” Could anything have given Mr. Lincoln more cheer or been better calculated to sustain his courage or strengthen his faith in the mighty work before him? Thus commanded, thus assured, Mr. Lincoln journeyed to the capital, where he took the oath of office and registered in heaven an oath to save the Union; and “the Lord our God” was with him and did not fail nor forsake him until every obligation of oath and duty was sacredly kept and honored. Not any man was able to stand before him.
1 Delivered at the Dedication of the Cuyahoga County Soldiers and Sailors Monument at Cleveland, Ohio, July 4, 1894. By permission from the “History of the Cuyahoga County Soldiers and Sailors Monument.” Copyright by William J. Gleason.