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Then came the vote. McKinley, tablet in hand, jotted down the fateful figures as they were announced. "Ohio forty-six for McKinley." That settled it. It was a majority. The major calmly walked across the hall to the room where the anxious ladies were gathered, and kissed his wife and aged mother.
At the same instant, the boom of a cannon shook the house. Canton had begun its celebration. In a moment, great processions of people were hurrying to the major's house, and the major received them as he always receives them, as proud of them as they are of him.
In a short time a parade was moving. Several thousand were in line, the Grand Army posts leading, and citizens with banners, badges, and other campaign paraphernalia, falling in behind. A conspicuous part was made up of all the commercial travelers in Canton hotels, who got up an organization as the returns came in.
When the crowd massed about the McKinley home in North Market street, a well-known manufacturer, a member of the Stark county bar, and a representative citizen, who had been chosen by the committee as spokesman, in these words addressed Mr. McKinley:
Major McKinley: Your neighbors and townsmen. wish to be the first to congratulate you upon your nomination to the highest office within the gift of the people. None know better than these neighbors assembled how well this honor is merited. They were the first to witness the beginning of your public career. They saw you quit your academic studies with the ardor of youth and bravery beyond your years to devote your services to your country. The courage and ability you then displayed, promise of what
followed in later years, won for you that rank and title of which we have so long and familiarly addressed you.
"A few of your veteran comrades have again formed in line, and, joining the citizens of Canton, take this opportunity to make pronounced their high regard for you. The ability and fidelity with which you have discharged great public trusts, and the recognition by your countrymen of long and useful service to the State and nation, are exceedingly gratifying to your Canton and Stark county friends, and as welcome to your neighbors without distinction of party.
"Bearing it in mind that while you have acted in a broader field, you have not lost sight of the duties and obligations of the citizen, and with your many cares and responsibilities, you have always found time and opportunity to lend your valued assistance to all that makes for good in your community, we all unite in extending to you our hearty congratulations and good wishes."
Major McKinley listened attentively, and was visibly affected. His voice trembled a little as he began his response. He has been used to speaking to throngs, however, and soon made himself heard by hundreds. He said:
"Fellow Citizens, and Friends: I am profoundly moved as well as greatly honored by this demonstration. Non-partisan as it is in character, politics must be forbidden, and I only appear for the purpose of making grateful acknowledgment to your address and congratulations. I an not indifferent at the pleasure which you exhibit at the news just received from the Republican National convention. For days your interest has been centered upon St. Louis, and your presence in such vast numbers here testifies
not only to your good will, but to your gratification at the work there done.
"Your cordial assurances are all the more appreciated because they come from my fellow citizens of all parties and all creeds my old neighbors, my former constituents, my comrades of the Grand Army of the Republic, with whom I have lived almost a lifetime, and who have repeatedly bestowed upon me offices of great and important trust. Your warm words, Mr. Chairman, are more than reciprocated on my part, and will be long cherished and remembered.
Many of those around me have not always agreed with me nor I with them politically, but it is pleasant, as I look into your faces this beautiful day, to be able to recall that there has never been a moment of time in all the years of the past that you, irrespective of party, have withheld from me your friendship, your confidence, and your encouragement. You have always been generously loyal, and my heart to-day is full of gratitude to you all.
"There is nothing more gratifying or honorable that can come to any man than to have the regard and esteem of his fellow townsmen. And in this I have been peculiarly blessed. Never were neighbors more devoted, never friendship so unfaltering as yours has been. You have always made my cause your cause, and my home among you has been one of increasing pleasure. This city, and this goodly old county of Stark are very near and dear to me. I came here a young man. I have spent with you all of my young manhood, and I have been identified with this magnificent city and county for nearly a third of a century. I have followed its growth with unconcealed pride, and have noted
with satisfaction that it has kept pace with the most advanced and prosperous communities, and has fallen behind
"I am glad, my neighbors and fellow citizens, to greet you here. You have never failed to greet me with your best wishes and congratulations upon every occasion of my nomination to public office, commencing more than twenty years ago, when I was first named for Congress by my party. I cannot undertake to estimate the value of these many friendly demonstrations. They were so helpful; they were so stimulating; they were so encouraging; more than you could have anticipated or believed at the time.
"Your call to-day is warmly appreciated. I have no words adequately to express my appreciation of it. I thank you, Mr. Chairman, from the bottom of my heart, for what you have said as expressive of the feelings of those for whom you speak; and this, the latest evidence of your esteem, makes me more than ever indebted to you, and the happy memory of your kindness and friendship will abide with me forever."
But the celebration at Canton had only begun. Residences and business places were gayly decorated. Delegation after delegation arrived to tender formal congratulations. The next evening a large delegation of New Yorkers stopped on their return from St. Louis. Warner Miller was their spokesman. In welcoming them, McKinley said: "My fellow citizens of New York, it gives me great pleasure to meet and greet you here at my home to-day. It was most generous on your part to have paused on your journey to the East long enough to have stopped to give me the pleasure of meeting you face to face. Nothing could be more
agreeable to me than to be presented to the members of the McKinley League of the State of New York by my old friend, long a member of the House of Representatives at Washington, Senator Miller.
"All we have to do this year, my fellow citizens, is to keep close to the people [loud cheering], hearken to the voice of the people, have faith in the people, and if we do that the people will win for us a triumph for that great masterful principle which in all years of the past has given us plenty and prosperity."
Not in Canton alone were the evidences of popular rejoicing and enthusiasm. In every city in the country the nomination was received with demonstrations of approval, of enthusiasm, and of confidence in the future of the Republican party and the country.