101 Stories

with which I follow the road of the Family for a Century

08. McKinley Is Elected!

It was the day after election 1896! That marked the close of one of the most dramatic presidential elections of recent history. There had been mammoth rallies held everywhere at which all the campaign issues had been played up to the limit. Bryan and his free coinage of silver at the ratio of 16 to 1 was pitted against McKinley and his argument for the single gold standard. One night a torch-light procession passed our place, all the men in uniforms, riding horses and carrying torches. A regular cavalry spectacle. I can remember father now as he saddled Old Fan and (lacking both torch and uniform) rode after them, off to the rally where they were to hear fiery speeches. Remember, America was just climbing out of a depression THEN, too.

But the day after election, father wanted to finish fall plowing on the S.W. meadow over by Johnston's. So I'walked out to Clio, bought a copy of The Chicago Inter-Ocean from a much besieged newsboy on the westbound passenger train steps. Retreating to the edge of the crowd, I unfolded it and read: MCKINLEY ELECTED BY OVERWHELMING MAJORITY. That was enough. I started for home on the run, hardly stopping the run of two miles until I stopped in the field to let father read the news.

It is notable that four years later, Nov. 1900, we used the local telephone line for the first time to get the election returns when McKinley was reelected. Alas! Less than a year later he was martyred. In some way McKinley has always stood, in my mind, for the finest of everything we have had in our Presidents.

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