McKinley's Speeches

On October 12, 1887 William McKinley gave an hour long speech at the dedication of the Soldier's Monument in the Riverside Cemetery. Unfortunately, this speech was not recorded; however, we do know what was said when he spoke before the Mahoning Valley Pioneer and Historical Association on September 14, 1887. It is possible that his earlier remarks were echoed at the dedication ceremonies for many public speakers have a tendency to repeat themselves. Here are the Congressman’s opening words in his Youngstown speech:
"There are two periods in the life of an individual, a community, or a nation; the one of activity, the other of reminiscence; the one is the period of building and construction, the other of pause and retrospect; the one accompanies youth and sturdy manhood, the other is the companion of well-ripened age and purpose realized....These frequent anniversaries manifest our growing love for reminiscence, and are elevating in tone and purpose, for they tell of work well done, and increase our pride for the men who wrought so excellently, in spite of trials and hardships from which the present generation would intuitively shrink."
It was 20 months later that McKinley addressed his war comrades in New York City. He began, "The Grand Army of the Republic is on duty today, but not in the service of arms. The storm and siege and bivouac and battle line have given place to the administration of peace and the manifestations of affectionate regard for fallen comrades, in which the great body of people cheerfully and reverently unite. The service of the day is more to us, far more to us, than to those in whose memory it is performed. It reminds us of what our stricken comrades did and sacrificed and won. It teaches us the awful cost of liberty and the price of National unity, and bids us guard with sacred and sleepless vigilance the great and immortal work which they wrought". [Applause]
After an hour devoted to the memories of those who fought in the Civil War McKinley ended with these words, "Comrades, our circle is narrowing with the passing years. Every annual roll-call discloses one and another not present, but accounted for. There is a muster roll over yonder as well as a muster roll here. The majority of that vast army is fast joining their old commanders who preceded them on the other side."
William McKinley's reputation as a public speaker helped to lift him to our country's highest public office and was due in part to his great command of the English language and his ability to speak powerfully when called upon. It has been suggested that his early training on Poland's debating teams may have been responsible for his later skill as a public speaker.