You are here
The following article discusses President Taft’s speech and also provides descriptions of the reception for the President in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Charlotte Daily Observer 5/21/1909, p.1
PARTISAN POLITICS NOT A FACTOR IN THE DISPOSITION OF HIGH JUDICIAL OFFICES
President Taft’s Significant Utterance in Charlotte Speech Yesterday
GIVEN A HEARTY WELCOME
Downpour of Rain Does Not Dampen People’s Ardor
Illegible paragraphs from Page 1, Column 1 not included - transcription begins at Page 1 Column 2:
Entirely satisfactory to the most exacting defenders of the validity of the Declaration were Mr. Taft’s references to that famous document.
“There is a controversy,” he said, “as to what were the exact words used in that Declaration.” Not a word was uttered expressive of doubt as to the fact that Mecklenburg did declare her independence, though he did not attach nearly so much importance to the mere fact of the declarations made as to the provisions made for a new government.
“My friends,” said he, “these general declarations, unaccompanied by some general sense of the responsibility of self-government, are worth little or nothing. It is the men who go forward, knowing what they are doing, when they are cutting off their relations to one government and understand that the only justification for so doing is the practical preparation of a new government. That is what makes Anglo-Saxon liberty. That is what has distinguished our race for a thousand years—the fact that we dealt with what was practical and not with what was poetical, and oratorical and rhetorical.”
Speaking shortly after 6 o’clock to the faculty, students and friends of Biddle University, colored, President Taft expressed sympathy with the sufferings and struggles of the negro race upward, urged his hearers to look forward and not backward, to make themselves necessary to the prosperity of the South by agricultural and industrial achievements. In the realm of agriculture, he said the negro finds his natural field, as has been demonstrated by experience.
In the special train which had been placed at his disposal and aboard the private car “Olympia,” the President left for Washington last night a few minutes after 10:30 o’clock. Prior to his departure he expressed himself as delighted with his trip.
The thunder of the Presidential salute of twenty-one guns greeted the Chief Magistrate as he left his private car, Olympia, a few minutes after 10, escorted by Mayor T. W. Hawkins, Chairman Edgar B. Moore, of the celebration committee, and others. A handsome equipage awaited him and into this he quickly entered. Scattered cheering, which had heralded the entrance of the train into the Southern yards, swelled into increasing volume when the face of the President, rendered familiar to all beholders by newspaper, magazine and other pictures, appeared at the exit of the car. Continuous shouting along the whole line of march voiced the welcome of the city and section and amounted to nothing less than a distinct ovation.
THE PROCESSION INSPIRING.
Drawn up to render the President official escort of honor to the Selwyn Hotel were the four companies of the Seventeenth Regiment of Infantry of the United States army and Troop E, of the Eleventh Cavalry. As the train rolled in the bugles sounded the signal to horse. Instantly responding the soldiers sprang astride their steeds, which turned gracefully off into column eight. Heading the line of march was the Regimental Band of the Seventeenth Infantry. Following in the wake of the Presidential party was a tremendous concourse of some 20,000 unbrellaed people, filling Trade street from sidewalk to sidewalk from the square almost, it seemed, to the Southern station. The halt was made at the Selwyn, the President’s carriage turning down Church street and the party entering the hotel at the side entrance.
DARED THE RAIN.
Charlotte had awaked in the morning to find her worst fears realized and the evil predictions of the weather man all too well fulfilled. Dark clouds covered the skies completely and from them was falling steadily and swiftly one of the heaviest rains of the seasons. To have a public celebration of any sort under such circumstances seemed so impossible as to be almost ridiculous. Notwithstanding this fact, a crown of humanity had elbowed its way to the station to greet the President of the United States. The waiting-rooms were jammed from end to end and even the long shed scarce afforded adequate accommodations for the waiting thousands. The street, both in front of the Stonewall Hotel and on the opposite side was populated to its capacity. Mounted policemen under the direction of Chief T. M. Christenbury, Sergeant Youngblood and others kept clear the space necessary for the proper execution of the programme.
Meeting the train at North Charlotte, where a stop was made, the special committee appointed to receive the President, had already gone through the necessary introductions and explanations before final arrival. The members of the committee were: Mayor T. W. Hawkins, ex-Mayor T. S. Franklin, Messrs. J. P. Caldwell, D. A. Tompkins, Stuart W. Cramer, W. C. Dowd, Wade H. Harris, Maj. J. C. Hemphill, of Charleston, S. C., and Edgar B. Moore, chairman.
Guarded by two secret service men on either side of the car steps, Mr. Taft left his car, after policemen and soldiers had cleared the way. A special company of militia had been stationed in readiness for this duty.
Only a few minutes before the arrival of the important train the rain had ceased falling, as if the powers that be had relented slightly. It was a most fortunate surcease, too, for it continued until after the President had been delivered safely up-town and it permitted thousands and thousands to view him en route. Responding to the cheers he smiled and raised his silk hat graciously and yet with an unfailing dignity. An elegant carriage from Wadsworth’s it was which had been provided for this occasion. Four beautiful black horses drew it.
Accompanying the President were Messrs. Edgar B. Moore and C. A. Williams, of the central committee, and Capt. Archibald W. Butt, military aide to the Nation’s First Citizen. In the second carriage rode only secret service men, guarding the life and person of Mr. Taft. In the third were Messrs. Caldwell, Hemphill, and Thompkins. In the fourth were Messrs. Cramer, Franklin and Harris. Secret service men also walked beside the carriage in which the President rode to make sure that nothing amiss might happen.
THOUSANDS PACK STREETS.
One must have seen in order to realize the magnitude of the outpouring which braved the downpouring to go to the station. It was a revelation, for its presence had not been suspected, since it was largely under shelter. Availing themselves of the let-up in the flood, the people came forth from every quarter, filling sidewalk and street completely. Walking was accomplished with the utmost difficulty and it is hard to believe that a larger number of people could have been crowded into the territory occupied. Street car service for the time was practically suspended. Hardly a wagon was on the public streets, the drivers wisely inferring that progress would be a matter of impossibility in the face of the constant tide of humanity. After the President had entered the Selwyn the concourse gradually spread out into the other streets and the congestion was in part relieved.
“The parade will start at 1 o’clock, regardless of the weather,” was the sign posted on newspaper bulletin boards, bringing fresh assurances to the populace, already encouraged by the shifting clouds and occasional breaks of light. A little later the hour was shifted back to 12 o’clock as it became apparent that an excellent opportunity to have the parade under auspicious circumstances was present and might soon pass. Presently the sun actually peeped out, giving an inkling of how enjoyable the affair would have been had not luck played North Carolina false at the critical juncture and reviewing stand stock began to rise.
Meanwhile, within the prettily decorated library of the Selwyn, an informal reception in compliment to Mr. Taft was being tendered by the committeemen, who had charge of the celebration, and their wives. Policemen guarded both entrances, that on Church street being particularly inaccessible on account of the stretching of ropes along the sidewalk. Only those who had cards of invitation or who wore committeemen’s badges were allowed to enter.
The affair was most pleasant. Several hundred ladies and gentlemen were presented to Mr. Taft, who gave each of them a pleasant smile and a hearty hand grasp. As Mrs. Stonewall Jackson was presented he remarked on having seen her on her porch a few minutes before. Mrs. Jackson’s home was beautifully decorated and it being on the direct route, it was pointed out to the city’s distinguished visitor, who rose and stood with uncovered head until the home was passed. “You are very good, Mrs. Jackson,” said Mr. Taft, when she extended him a cordial welcome to the city.
Another rather interesting bit of dialogue, specimen of that which passed back and forth during the hour and more the reception lasted, occurred when Governor Kitchin presented Mrs. Kitchin. “This is Mrs. Kitchin,” said he, “the Governoress of North Carolina.”
“I assure you, Governor,” replied the President, “that a similar relationship exists in our family.”
The feeling of the American citizen that the President is his and he has a right to shake hands with him found expression a number of times. One such, who was evidently not used to attending inaugural balls and similar festivities, made numerous inquiries in front of the hotel while the exclusive reception was in progress as to the requirements for admission, wanting to know where tickets could be bought. Another who entered the reception hall wearing his hat as coolly as though he were but tilling the soil was reminded brusquely of his breach of etiquette by an officer in uniform. Outside, thousands were lined up on all available sides, waiting for a chance to get a glimpse of the generous proportions of the Nation’s Representative.
THE GRAND PARADE MOVES.
The mammoth parade moved from its moorings on Tenth and adjacent streets at 12:15 o’clock and wedged a way through the mass of humanity that filled Tryon street. It was headed by a squad of mounted police who did efficient work in scattering the crowd to such an extent that space was afforded the moving pageantry. It was 12:30 before the first of the parade reached the front of the reviewing stand on South Tryon street upon which President Taft had been seated alongside other notable visitors during the celebration.
The Regimental Band headed the procession proper and was immediately followed by the United States soldiers in command of Major F. B. McCoy. The President arose from his seat while Uncle Sam’s boys stepped by to the lively strains of the magnificent band in their front. The infantry was followed by the troop of cavalrymen who have been in the city since Tuesday, furnishing a distinct feature to the interesting programme of the occasion by intricate drills and manoeuvres at the Fair Grounds. The soldiers made a most excellent showing and the enormous crowd that surrounded the grandstand on South Tryon street lifted its voice in loud acclaim and appreciation of the brilliant spectacle of soldiery.
STATE SOLDIERS IN LINE.
The United States troopers were followed by a number of companies of State soldiers and these drew the single military part of the parade to a distance of more than a half mile.
Following the State troops came the Charlotte Artillery, which was loudly cheered, and following them the Charlotte Drum Corps in command of Major James O. Walker. This feature of the parade seemed to please the President immensely. He was constantly smiling and saluting the soldiers as they passed by, while the bands stationed at intervals through the procession struck the strains of “Dixie” as they neared the cheering thousands, only urging the mass of humanity on to a greater intensity of applause and appreciation.
A large number of automobiles, some adorned and others bearing only people with waving flags, came next in the order of march. Some were ornamented with the Nation’s colors and literally covered with beautiful flowers, presenting a scene of brilliance that was dazzling.
THE FRATERNAL ORDERS.
The next division in the parade was given over to the fraternal orders whose showing was splendid. The United Commercial Travelers led the procession on foot with their badges of identification in prominent display, each saluting the President as they passed the stand. A detachment of the Columbia, S. C., Council was in the parade and bore the inscription: “We are away from home, but among friends.”
Following the U. C. T.’s, the Fraternal Order of Eagles with little girls bearing long streamers as leaders, passed the review of the enormous throng. The order had a fine representation in the parade and with their umbrellas and fezzes, duck pants and other appropriate adornments, made an imposing spectacle. The Charlotte Chapter of the Woodmen of the World led the representatives of this order which came next in the line of march. Several orders of neighboring towns and the county participated in the parade.
THE INUDSTRIAL FEATURE.
A division of floats typical of the industrial pursuits of this section followed the fraternal orders in the procession.
More money was expended on the industrial feature of the parade than on any other and it was clever in the extreme. It was impressive to those in the city who had never before been given such a concrete specimen of what the city is really doing in the industrial line and while the rain materially interfered with this part of the parade, the showing of the commercial concerns of the city and neighboring cities was eminently creditable. President Taft took especial notice of this division of the procession and appeared to be particularly struck with the prominence given to the floats representative of the industrial interests of this great section. All the exhibitions by the various concerns in this city and from near-by towns were expressive in design and elaborate in their representation.
THE DISPLAY OF ‘POSSUMS.
The Charlotte Fire Department’s large equipment was next in order and was headed by Hendrix Palmer, driving the horse of Chief W. S. Orr. The chief was horseback and rode alongside his men and their apparatus. A large ‘possum occupied an exalted position on one of the wagons and the President laughed outright when he witnessed in the raw the meat that made his Georgia trip some months ago memorable. This was merely a forerunner, however, to Gen. R. A. Lee’s float that went under the name of the ‘Possum Club and which contained a number of ‘possums up in a huge limb and a number of hounds furiously barking after them. Members of the club occupied seats on the wagon. This was the signal of a brilliant bit of applause from the grandstand and from the crowd that lined the street and the Chief Executive continued to laugh as the float moved on into the distance. It had impressed him mightily.
THE COLONIAL DIVISION.
Following this interesting feature came the Colonial division of the parade, which also excited the liveliest applause and of which a more detailed description appears elsewhere.
The next division and last of the procession was given over to the Farmers’ Union which had a fine representation. One float was intended to represent the white schools of the country. Leaders of the county organization riding in a closed carriage headed this division.
EXTENT OF THE PARADE.
It was estimated that the parade was at least four miles in length. It required about one hour for it to pass in review of the President and the other notable visitors and immense throngs that lined South Tryon street. It was not only the largest parade ever formed in North Carolina, but it was also both the most representative and elaborate ever gotten together. It would have shown off to much better advantage had the weather been clear and the ornate decorations been undrooped by the melting rains. As it was, the procession attracted universal admiration and was pronounced by the distinguished visitors as being one of the most attractive ever witnessed.
The central committee, observing the threatening clouds which earlier in the day had poured out their contents to the disappointment and chagrin of the multitudes, decided at one time to postpone the parade until 2 o’clock, or an hour later than was originally intended. But about the time this conclusion was reached a rift came in the lowering clouds and the sun appeared to be anxious to get at least a smile upon the beaming countenance of the Nation’s First Statesman. Flirting thus, Old Sol induced the committee to adhere to its first plan and it was ordered that the parade move as nearly as possible at the first hour decided upon, 12 o’clock.
RAIN BREAKS INTO PARADE.
This proved to be eminently the wise thing to do, for just as the last division of the monumental parade was nearing the reviewing stand the drizzle, which had started shortly after the distinguished visitors had been seated and the procession had moved, was suddenly converted into one of the most torrential rains ever known in this vicinity. A huge cloud that appeared to have been waiting to burst upon the cheering thousands quickly came over the crowd and emptied itself upon the city.
The result approached a panic. Coupled with the fact that some of the last floats in their heighth had collided with the trolley wires and torn them down, thus creating a disturbance on the streets and with the horses, the situation was dangerous for a time. The people on the streets turned their faces at once toward the heart of the city in search of protection and rushed out amid the horses that were growing restless and afraid in the confusion. By this time the rain had increased to blinding proportions and everybody that had an umbrella had it over him. People jammed into each other and fought for a way toward shelter. Fearing that their umbrellas would not afford sufficient protection from the rain that was falling in sheets, the people on the reviewing stand made a dash for the avenues of escape and only added to the mix-up and general pandemonium.
ESCAPE WAS REMARKABLE.
It is hardly understandable that in the face of such wide-spread disorder which followed, nobody was seriously hurt. The fact that the electric circuit had been broken saved the lives of many from being instantaneously snapped by the overhead wires. It cannot be explained how the people escaped injury in the mad rush through the torrents for some place of any sort of shelter. Those who occupied the chief seats in the reviewing stand, President Taft and other notables, remained undisturbed, being afforded cover by heavy cloths which had been spread over that part of the stand. They sat by with dejected countenances, with faces full of regret that such a condition of affairs had broken in to mar the pleasure and genuine enjoyment of the fine hospitality of the city.
Coming from the space surrounding the grandstand and from the grandstand itself, the multitude of people, for there is no telling in the world to what extent was the crowd, were invited by the merchants into the stores and after these were well filled, the sidewalks were still overflowing with drenched men and women, old and young and little children whose clothing was thoroughly soaked. It was pitiable to witness the attempt of the throng to protect itself from the unkind storm.
PRESIDENT DRIVEN TO HOTEL.
As soon as any sort of a slack came into the downpour, the President was lifted into his landeau and driven back to the hotel, fully protected from the weather and without suffering any exposure that amounted to dangerous proportions.
The divisions of the parade broke up as soon as struck by the fierce storm and the riders and walkers made their way as rapidly as possible back to the city. These suffered the brunt of the downpour, many of those in the procession being totally without any sort of protection and many having on thin garments. Had the parade, by any mishap or change in the programme, been delayed for as much as 15 minutes, it would have been broken up at the point of its greatest strength and impressiveness.
More money had been spent on the industrial section of the parade than on any other and the showing was correspondingly great. Save, perhaps, for the automobile brigade, the industrial exhibit ranked all of the rest in artistic beauty, arrangement as well as size. First in line among the floats were those of the International Harvester Company, in three sections, driven by a gasoline engine and pulled by horses, and of the Southern Railway Company, consisting of one of the models of its monster locomotives on wheels. The exhibit of the International Harvester Company was unusually elaborate, several thousand dollars being represented in the display. The first float portrayed modern harvesting devices and the third those in vogue fifty years ago. The second showed the means of conveyance then used. The locomotive of the Southern Railway, drawn by eight handsome horses, was in operation as it passed in front of the reviewing stand and presented an amazing spectacle.
Of the unique floats was that of the ‘Possum Club. A persimmon tree had been transplanted bodily on the bed of the wagon, and in its branches were several fine ‘possums. A dog barked and clawed at the foot of the tree while the attendants whooped him on. The exhibit as most laughable.
THE FLOATS IN DETAIL.
The Farmer’s Union had a float with “The King Farmer” sitting on high, surrounded by fair maidens and modern farming implements.
The Beaufont Lithia Water Company’s float consisted of a huge bottle, 12 feet high, filled with the famous water.
The Carolina Manufacturing Company exhibited a model of house-construction on a finely decorated float drawn by four horses. This was particularly good, receiving the first prize.
The Mecklenburg Iron Works had a modern engine and saw mill in operation, drawn by six gaily-adorned horses.
The Pepsi-Cola Bottling Works had their monster automobile truck and another, drawn by horses, to represent the beverage “made in Charlotte.”
W. R. Stroupe, the rubber tire man, exhibited tires of all sizes and shapes for bicycles, buggies, automobiles, etc.
The T. C. Toomey Company’s float consisted of all modern improvements in plumbing. Bath tubs, and other sanitary devices, were shown in their ideal way.
The R. G. Auten Company had an electric float, with the luxuries of the present day uses of electricity shown to advantage.
The Yarbrough & Bellinger Company had its famous mule running at full tilt down the pike, hitched to a small dump cart loaded with their “black diamond” and “sparking crystal.”
The Parker-Gardner Company’s elaborately decorated float was drawn by six horses. The exhibit showed luxurious bedroom furniture and ornaments.
Ira L. Edwards displayed an ideal cottage and a couple making their home ideal. Truly “Love in a cottage.”
A SPLENDID EXHIBIT.
The Stieff Piano Company’s float, under the direction of the Charlotte manager, Mr. C. H. Wilmoth, exhibited the superior qualities of the Stieff instruments.
Belk Bros. had a large “sight-seeing” automobile decorated for the occasion.
The Charlotte Poultry Association and the Charlotte Poultry Supply Company combined their exhibit of fancy fowls, made beautify by the high grade of supplies furnished them.
Other floats were those of B. D. Springs & Co., Good Roads Machinery Company, General Fire Extinguisher Company, J. W. Wadsworth’s Sons’ Company, C. F. Shuman, a very ornate exhibit; Charles Stroupe, Southern Hardware Company, Stone-Barringer Company, C. H. Robinson & Co., Frank F. Jones Rock Hill Buggy Company, and the Efird Department Store.
The buggy of Mrs. Annie Smith Ross was beautiful with its decorations of yellow roses.
The family of Mr. B. J. Summerow were in a most attractive cart of pink roses.
The old-style coach of the Liberty Hall Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, in which rode the regent and three other ladies, was beautiful in its decorations of white and green. The ladies were dressed in colonial costumes and were pictures with their powdered hair and wearing expensive heirlooms.
THE JUDGES NON-PLUSSED.
In awarding the prizes for the industrial parade, the judges were greatly puzzled as all of the floats were most expensive and beautiful. One of the most elaborate and worthy of all the exhibits was that of the Little-Long Company, which, on account of the crush and confusion caused by the rain storm, did not reach the grandstand on which the judges were making mental notes and commenting as the floats passed by.
The float of the White House Coffee was one of the most artistic of the parade. The color scheme was blue and gold. The horses, six handsome black animals, were ornamented with covers of blue and on their heads were large white plumes. The float itself was a large tally-ho draped in blue and gold. Large signs of White House Coffee, carrying out the color scheme, were on the sides of the vehicle. The President, on seeing this float, wore an unusually broad smile.
The water wagon float was unique and different from all the others. Upon it were a number of the young men of the city, dressed in the stars and stripes, wearing high beaver hats and making attractive Uncle Sam togs. On passing the President, at the direction of Mr. John R. Ross, head of this float, the members arose, placing their hats over their left shoulders. Smilingly the President turned and said, “That’s all right.” On the float were Messrs. John R. Ross, C. C. Coddington, H. A. Morson, R. P. Gibson, D. M. Young, W. R. Taliaferro, Jr., J. A. Tate, F. M. Caldwell, T. R. Brem, M. L. Cannon, F. L. Smith, H. C. Jones, T. S. McPheeters, Levi, H. W. Moore and Dr. W. M. Hunter.
THE SIGNERS REPRESENTED.
Unquestionably the local color feature of the entire parade was that of the Colonial division. Of the floats, first in honor as in place was that portraying Queen Charlotte. This float was preceded by four buglers on horseback, fittingly garbed, and flanking it was a great American eagle trimmed in gold, typifying the Union in all her glory. Miss Julia Alexander sat within the bird’s outstretched wings, representing Queen Charlotte and North Carolina. The other original colonies were represented by Misses May Beverly Alexander, Julia Irwin, Alma Maxwell, Blandina Springs, Katherine McDonald, Margaret Barringer, Mary Springs Davidson, Elizabeth McBee, Lottie Alexander, Margaret Morris, Adelaide Orr and Sarah Wilson. All of these young ladies are descendants of the signers of the Mecklenburg Declaration and hence their choice.
Another float bore a monument to Rev. Alexander Craighead, pastor of Sugar Creek Presbyterian church in 1758, who was the first minister in America to preach civil and religious liberty and independence. The inscription on the shaft stated that it was perhaps more largely due to Rev. Alexander Craighead’s preaching and influence that the immortal Mecklenburg Declaration was promulgated.
John McKnitt Alexander was not forgotten in the parade, for there was a float with a beautiful shaft on it erected to his memory. John McKnitt Alexander was secretary of the famous meeting at which the Mecklenburg Declaration was adopted.
Following these special floats there came those of the several counties. Union was represented and so also Stanly, Wilkes, Iredell, Cabarrus, York and Chester, the last two named being in South Carolina. Each of these floats carried six citizens from the counties named and bore flags proclaiming them to be descendants of the patriots of the particular counties in question.
The float of floats from the historical standpoint, however, was that to the memory of the signers themselves. The float was fashioned after the olden times, and bore fourteen of the lineal and direct descendants of the signers, as follows: Dr. George W. Graham, Messrs. Baxter Caldwell, S. B. Alexander, Sr., Dr. J. R. Irwin, Baxter Davidson, W. W. Phifer, J. B. Alexander, Dr. E. Brevard, W. C. Maxwell, F. M. Caldwell, F. R. McDowell, J. L. Chambers, R. O. Alexander and W. S. Alexander. All of these gentlemen were becomingly dressed, wearing silk hats and Prince Albert coats. They offered striking figures.
The success of the exhibit was due to the untiring efforts of Mr. R. O. Alexander, chairman of the committee.
For beauty and artistic arrangement, the automobile division surpassed all others. One of the larger and more lovely cars was the White Steamer of Mrs. C. B. Bryant, covered with lavender and purple wisteria, the machine being enveloped with the beautiful blossoms, a veritable picture. In the car with Mrs. Bryant, all dressed in white, were Misses Jessie Lipscomb, of Gaffney, S. C.; Many Brockenbrough, Helen Brem and Laurie Spong. That the committee of judges deemed it worth of mention was evidence by the fact that they awarded it first prize.
The car of Mrs. S. B. Alexander also presented a lovely spectacle covered as it was with violets, of three shades, with, medium and dark blue, not one particle of the machine itself being visible, the wheels, steps, guards and even the under framework being most artistically draped. It reminded one of the specimen cars decorated for some mammoth floral exhibition or those of Mardi Gras. More than $100 worth of violets alone were devoted to the work, the arrangement being most cleverly achieved by Mr. C. C. Coddington, factory representative of the Buick Motor Company, builders of the car in question. The liveliest applause greeted the appearance of this car, as well as the others.
The lovely wisteria on a green background was the beautiful decoration of Miss Nancy Brown’s Baker electric. As the car passed the crowded reviewing stand, a more beautiful sight could hardly be imagined, the difficult problem to determine being whether the young ladies in the car or the car itself, enveloped and bedecked as it was, was the more lovely.
The Franklin of Mrs. Charles A. Bland was another one of the many objects of beauty in the parade. Yellow was the color scheme and right cleverly was it done.
The automobile of Mr. H. H. Orr was one of the loveliest of the parade, decorated as it was with white snowballs. This car represented Charlotte Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution and was artistically and most appropriately adorned throughout. On each door was the D. A. R. insignia, consisting of a blue wheel with 13 spokes and bordered by 13 stars of gold and a distaff of flax. On the front appeared the letters in blue and on the back the name of the chapter also in letters of blue. The wheels were in blue and white, the D. A. R. colors.
The float of Mecklenburg Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution, was one of exceeding beauty, the judges awarding it second prize, a most deserved honor. Any attempt at a description in such conscribed space would not do the subject justice. It is enough to say that it was artistic and appropriate to the great association portrayed. The wheels were beautiful, carrying as they did the emblems of the chapter, the spinning wheel, etc.
FLOCK TO AUDITORIUM.
The news that the President would speak at the Auditorium at 4 o’clock in the afternoon spread rapidly, perhaps because everyone had mentally forecasted this move. It was the only one possible. A continuous fall of rain rendered out of the question any further out-of-door exercises, although the speaking was intended to occur at the presidential reviewing stand which was now water swept. Yet it was still pretty in its beautiful decorations and in the lights of the thousands of electric globes, into which the current had been turned, together with those on the streets, at the hour of the President’s arrival. The scene presented was therefore almost semi-nocturnal.
A half hour before the afternoon concert of the May music festival at the Auditorium had been brought to its abbreviated termination hundreds of people were knocking in vain at the front entrance for admission. Finally the doors were opened, the assemblage poured in and the closing number of the programme was heard by a thousand or more who held no tickets of admission. The Auditorium as soon comfortably filled above and below and several hundred men stood up in the rear until their curiosity had been sufficiently fed.
A more enthusiastic audience could not have been desired than that which Charlotte and Piedmont North Carolina gave him. Cheering for several minutes as he entered the hall, standing until he was seated, following closely every utterance, almost hanging upon his words, his auditors were there with applause and shouts of approval at all the utterances which seem especially in accord with the views of his hearers. And these coincidences of view were many. Hardly a word, if one, was uttered by the speaker as a declaration of view in which practically every person in the audience did not concur. Some of these demonstrations have been noted in the body of the remarks.
Perfect familiarity with the friendly disputes about the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence was indicated by the President when he referred to “certain unregenerate persons who live in South Carolina and elsewhere,” who had denied its existence as a fact and an especial hit was scored by his story which topped off his query, “What the devil is a man who does not believe in the Declaration of Independence of Mecklenburg doing in this presence?” Major Hemphill, who sat on the rostrum, was of course the target at which the shot was aimed. And it went home. The crowd was “on” in an instant.
HIS MANNER DIRECT.
Though he made not one attempt at a rhetorical speech; though he made not one essay at labored eloquence, the President’s talk was direct and incisive. For the most part he talked in deadly earnest, striding occasionally up and down the rostrum and driving home his points by vigorous gesticulations. It was only once in a while, in the midst of some pleasantry, that his face relaxed into the famous smile which so well becomes it. He was not in the best of physical form, so far as concerned public speaking, having made a number of addresses on the day previous in Virginia. “I’m sorry,” he remarked once, parenthetically, “that I left my voice in Petersburg.” But though huskiness was evident, his enunciation was careful and distinct and probably the persons seated in the remote sections of the hall had little difficulty in understanding him.
Mr. Taft is evidently a practical man. The emphasis of the that which is useful and that which has a direct and effective bearing on human life ran through his speech. The very form of the content of his speech, his very manner of delivery exhibit this mental proclivity of the President as strongly as do the well-selected words in which he laid emphasis upon the workable phases of our government whose practicability renders them invaluable to the whole people.
A SIGNIFICANT SPEECH.
There is no doubting the fact that the audience realized that it was enjoying an unusual privilege in listening in its home town to an address by the President of the United States. And yet full realization did not come so easily at first. Once or twice when utterance was given to some truth which voiced the sentiments of the audience although not always given full recognition, the spectators applauded spontaneously from impulse. Then, just as the applause was dying away, there swept over the large assemblage a fuller realization of the significance of it all; that the man who was saying these things stood in the courts of the world as the representative of the American people; that in his is vested all the powers of the Executive; and that he, more than any other man in the United States, is in a position to bring about the conditions desired. As the realization dawned, out broke the applause again; louder grew the cheering and longer was it continued. It was as though the people realized that here was the embodiment of the executive powers of the national government, too long in times past regarded by the South as an alien government, standing among them, come to shake hands with the South; and as though they desired to reciprocate this sentiment by meeting him half way. Especially was this true when the speaker said, for instance, simply and plainly, but with evident sincerity, “Now, if there is anything that I can do in my administration to make that feeling of approaching union more close, I shall do it,” one of these incidents occurred.
Another such demonstration followed his declaration that he purposed to build up the Federal judiciary in the esteem of the people of the South by appointing to its bench only such men as command the confidence of the people from whom they come.
Governor and Mrs. Kitchin ascended the rostrum a few minutes before the arrival of the President. In the interim there were scattering calls for “Kitchin,” but the Governor merely smiled. Other distinguished guests arrived and took their places on the stand. Soon the President entered with his customary escort. Instantly the assemblage rose, cheering and applauding. The reception was gratifying. Governor Kitchin arose and in a clear, strong voice, which he seemed to use to the extent of its every inch of carrying power, spoke the words of introduction, presenting the President to the assembled audience.
ADDRESS BY GOVERNOR KITCHIN.
“It is unfortunate,” said Governor Kitchin, “that these exercises must be held indoors, instead of outside, where everybody could see and hear. To-day is the Twentieth of May, and my countrymen, if the floods that have descended to-day could not dampen the ardor of the Twentieth of May spirit, you may know that that spirit is warmed by the eternal truth.
“Mr. President, I understand that when you were inaugurated in Washington—a happy event, at which I could not be present—the storms there raged, but I will guarantee that we have convinced the President that we could have surpassed any inauguration time, if it had just been winter time.
“The Chief Magistrate of this nation has often faced vaster crowds than this, in the greater cities of the country; in immense auditoriums often have 12,000 and 15,000 people heard him, but never did a truer people, a nobler people, or a more patriotic people hear him than will hear him to-day; a people who seek for the truth, and worship at the shrine of justice, whose loyalty to home and country and God is unstinted; a people whose patriotism is as boundless as the influence of the American Republic.
“Ladies and Gentleman: The vast crowds that have gathered in this beautiful city in this May-time this year, are not merely paying tribute to history and heroism and patriotism, but they come, Mr. President, to pay tribute to the eminent character, the splendid fame, the worthy services and the exalted position of the President of our common country. Fellow countrymen of the Carolinas, this sea of intelligent faces, this happy audience, demonstrates a welcome to him far beyond the power of man to express in words.
“And yet it has been fitting that your honorable servant not merely in his own behalf, and voicing his own sentiments of joy, but in behalf of the great Commonwealth of Carolina, should participate in the exercises as an official evidence of the sincere pleasure, of the genuine welcome, which North Carolina tenders to-day to one whose strength was great enough to make him the leader of a great political party; whose manhood and magnetism and patriotism and greatness were sufficient to make him the highest official of the greatest people in the universe.
“Carolina, I present to you His Excellency, the President of the United States, Honorable William Howard Taft, who will speak to you.”
PRESIDENT TAFT’S ADDRESS.
“Governor Kitchin and Ladies and Gentlemen of the Carolinas:
“One of the embarrassments that attends the intense pleasure I have in coming into the Southland is the consciousness that I will have to do some speaking, and that you are so used to eloquence of the highest order that I have to submit myself to a comparison that is always invidious. I am here this afternoon merely to talk to you. What I have to say will not rise to the dignity of a speech.
“In the first place, I should like to express my sincere gratitude to the Governor of your State, to the Senators of your State, and to the Congressmen of your State, who have done me the honor to be present on this occasion, and to give me welcome. I should like to include, too, those members of the Confederate veterans, those members of the Grand Army of the Republic, those members of the Daughters of the Revolution, that distinguished lady, the widow of Stonewall Jackson, and all the other charming and delightful people who exposed themselves to the elements this morning to celebrate this day, and in part, I hope, to give me welcome.
“I wish to express also to the committee of arrangements my deep regret that Mrs. Taft was not able to be present to share the welcome which your committee was good enough to tender her. I assure you I don’t make near so good a show when the better half of my firm is not with me.
“We are here to celebrate a declaration of independence. There are some unregenerate persons (laughter) who live in South Carolina (laughter) and elsewhere that for various motives have cast a doubt upon the claim. Now anybody that comes to Charlotte who is not willing to admit in the full the Declaration of Independence made in Mecklenburg, is in the position of a man of whom a lord justice of the Court of Appeals of Ireland told me. I met him in Canada. He had a good deal of experience in courts, and he was redolent with Irish stories. He said that he was holding court in the County of Tipperary, and that a man came before him and a jury charged in the indictment with manslaughter, and that the evidence showed that the deceased had come to his death by a blow from a blackthorn stick in the hands of the defendant; but the evidence also showed that the man who died had a ‘paper skull,’ as it is called in medical parlance—unduly thin. The verdict brought in was that of ‘guilty of manslaughter,’ and his lordship called the man before him, and asked him whether he had anything to say why the sentence of the court should not be pronounced upon him. The defendant, turning to his lordship said, ‘No, your lordship, I have nothing to say, but I would like to ask one question.’ ‘What, my man, is that?’ said he. ‘I would like to ask ‘What the divil a man with a head like that was doing in Tipperary?’ (Laughter) I would like to add in explanation of my position, what the divil a man who does not believe in the Declaration of Mecklenburg is doing in the presence? (Laughter and applause)
“The claim is that more than 12 months before the members of the Continental Congress declared that it was necessary to have a separate and independent government in this country, free from British control, that Declaration was made in the court house in this Town of Charlotte by a committee of the county, of whom there are now descendants living among you entitled to your respect and to your congratulation on such ancestry. There is a controversy as to what the exact words were that were used in that Declaration. I am not going to enter upon any such discussion, but I am going to point out what seems to me to be, whether you take one version or the other, the very important part of that Declaration viewed from the standpoint of practical patriotism and practical statesmanship.”
THE IMPORTANT PROVISIONS.
“The general declaration as to the rights of man I do not count nearly so important, looked at from the standpoint of the responsibility of the people who made it, as the practical provision contained in that Declaration for a government which was to succeed the British government, and to accept all the responsibilities, to maintain a government of law and order, and a government which should have a military force to defend itself. My friends, these general declarations, unaccompanied by some sense of the responsibility of self-government, are worth little or nothing. It is the men who go forward knowing what they are doing when they are cutting off their relation to one government, and understand that the only jurisdiction for so doing is the preparation and the practical preparation of a new government. That is what makes Anglo-Saxon liberty; that is what has distinguished our race for a thousand years, that we dealt with what was practical and not with what was poetical and oratorical and rhetorical.
“I want to call your attention in enforcing what I am talking about to the guaranties of life—the guaranties as we know them in the constitution of life, liberty and property. They consist in general resolutions, that we believe in liberty, and we believe every man ought to be free, and we believe that he ought to be treated justly, and we believe he ought not to be imprisoned except lawfully. Is that all? No. That is not all we have in our constitution. If that were all we had, it would not be worth the paper it is written on; it would not be worth more than the hundred constitutions that have been made in various countries, it would be invidious to mention which constitutions have gone down and haven’t made a ripple on the ocean of civilization.
WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS.
“What is it in the constitution of the United States inherited from our British ancestry that makes that instrument and all the instruments of the State constitutions so valuable? It is that each guaranty is a practical method of procedure by which the liberty and the rights of the individual are secured. What are they? The writ of habeas corpus. What is that? That is a method of procedure. It is a method by which a man when he is imprisoned has the right to go to any judge and say to that judge, ‘I wish you to call my captors here and have them tell you whether I am lawfully imprisoned or not,’ and if that judge does not do it, he has a right of action against him which usually involves imprisonment.
“That is a practical method. It is a procedure. It is not a general declaration. It is something that everybody can tell about. I am a little more emphatic about this because I have come up against the other kind of declarations in some of my experiences in the Philippines. A gentleman came to see me one morning, the leading counsel in Manila, who had drafted the constitution of the Philippines, and at the same time an old man came in with a petition to me. I was then chairman of the Philippine commission, and the petition showed that this old man’s son had been six years in Bilibid, imprisoned without a trial, and without knowing what he was there for.
“I said to the lawyer, ‘Why don’t you get out a writ of habeas corpus?’ He said, ‘What is that writ?’ I said, ‘It is a petition inquiring into the lawfulness of his imprisonment, and General Otis has issued the order granting that writ or the allowance of that writ, and you can have it here.’
“He asked me to draw up a petition, which I did, and he took it into one of the local courts, which happened to be presided over by an American. He went out to Bilibid prison and before he got through that day he had filed ninety petitions for the writ of habeas corpus to release people at Bilibid prison who had been there from four to ten years. When they heard how he had gotten them out, they wanted to attend in a mass and come and thank me at my house. I expressed my appreciation of their gratitude, but as I was not quite sure but that half of them ought to have been where they were anyhow, I excused them from coming and received an acknowledgement in the form of a table ornament, such as they give in the Philippines, which consists of a bundle of toothpicks. (Laughter)
OTHER LEGAL PROCEDURE.
“To go on, the writ of habeas corpus is one thing; an indictment by a grand jury is another. That is mere procedure. This is not a general right. It is a mere form of procedure. The right of trial by jury is another form of procedure. Then there is the fourteenth amendment and the other, the fifteenth amendment to the constitution, which accords to every one the right not to be deprived of his property without due process of law. That does not say that you are not to be deprived of your property unjustly. You may be. All that it says is that you shall have a hearing before a tribunal, and that if a man is going to rob you he has got to rob you in a regular way. (Laughter)
“Now, that is practical. The Anglo-Saxon ancestor knew that if he could once get it before court he would have a show for his white alley, that he would have a day in that court, and that that was the true basis of civil liberty. So it is with the declarations that were made at Mecklenburg. You go over them and see that they create selectment, they create military guards, they create courts with jurisdiction, they create courts to make collection of debts, and they made every provision which a single community like a county could make, together with commitments for felony, to await the decision of courts to be created by the highest authority under the authority of the General Congress. Now there are things in that Declaration that make me thrill with pride, that there was a community in this country, and I venture to say this was not the only community, but it seems to have been the one most charged with its sense of responsibility—which knew that self-government was not a mere gift, but it was something when it is to be enjoyed must be enjoyed with a full sense of its responsibility, and with the idea that there is a duty imposed on everyone who enjoys it of seeing to it that it is carried on for the benefit of all.
THE DECLARATION, A FACT.
“The Scotch-Irishmen who lived in this community were hard-headed. They were willing to take upon themselves the risk of being strung up as traitors to Great Britain; they were willing to fight it out, as they did so often thereafter in the Hornets’ Nest; (cheers) but they recognized their responsibility as citizens and as individuals, that if they went into the business of self-government, they must make that government worthy of the name. Now, it is a fact that by reason of the lax government which Great Britain was able to give our colonies—I say ‘lax’—it was lax, but it was unjust by fits and starts, we were—our ancestors were—the best prepared people for self-government that ever assumed an independent government. They had had 200 years of independence in the sense of distance from the home government. When brought to mind they were attached occasionally by such tyranny as Governor Tryon manifested in North Carolina and as was manifested by other Governors at different times throughout the other colonies, but all that time we were gathering experience, we were gathering a sense of responsibility as to our own communities so that when in ’75 you declared your independence here, and in ’76 we all declared our independence at Philadelphia, we were in a condition with men as great, as able, as full of the knowledge of statecraft as any nation in Europe or any nation that ever lived, to step into the ranks of nations and carry on a government worthy the consideration of the entire world.
THE WAR IS OVER.
“Now, we have had a great deal of experience since that time. We have been through a number of wars. We watched the institution of slavery grow by unfortunate circumstances until it seemed to be an issue that had to be fought out, and that we could not cure the body politic except by an excision that threatened the whole physical structure of the nation. But we have lived that through: You in the Southland had the troubles, the suffering, the sad loss as burned into your hearts with much more emphasis than we in the Northland, because here was the center of the war, and it is entirely natural that in that forty years which have succeeded the war, that their condition, even after the magnanimous spirit shown on both sides at Appomattox was blazoned to the world there should continue a bitterness of feeling that time and long time could only erase; but when we look back I think we much congratulate ourselves that even in that time the feeling has so largely disappeared, and that we are now a more united country than ever since—I should say even a decade before the war. (Applause).
“One could not stand, as I did, on the platform yesterday, and see 1,200 Union veterans from Pennsylvania, who had taken part in the battles about Petersburg, meet and fraternize with 500 veterans of the Confederacy in their gray, and hear the expressions of mutual esteem and mutual appreciation of the bravery on both sides and the desire to further unite without being convinced that that is a sincere and a deep-rooted feeling on both sides. It is true that political divisions have continued in such a way as at some times to seem to perpetuate the lines which were made at the time of the war, but even those lines are rapidly disappearing; and it is the duty of all of us with respect to political partisanship to wipe out those lines as far as we can, and to see, so far as we may, that in each State the tolerance of opinion shall continue until there shall be respectable parties on both sides of the line, because it is essential to have a good opposition to have a good government.
PROMISES TO HELP.
“Now, if there is anything that I can do in my administration to make that feeling of union more close, I shall do it. When I was running for the presidency, I prided myself on having been the first Republican candidate that ever came into North Carolina seeking suffrages for the Republican party. I did not carry the State, but I had a mighty good time. (Laughter and cheers). I am anxious, of course, speaking from a partisan standpoint and leaving my official position for a moment, that the Republican party of North Carolina should be strengthened merely to have a good fight every election, and of course in so far as I may legitimately I should be glad to build up the Republican party. Now, I understand that some of my Republican friends think that I have lost sight of the Republican party (cheers and laughter) in putting into office in North Carolina a gentleman now upon the Supreme bench of the State, but a lawyer of the highest eminence and learning and integrity, and a Democrat. (Cheers)
“I promised, after I was President-elect, not before the election, to the South that I would do the best I could to wipe out the feeling that the central government at Washington was a government alien to the Southland, and I pointed out that the only way by which the Executive could cure that feeling was, in so far as in him lay, to put into office men in whom the community at large, without regard to party, would have the highest confidence. Now, I am trying to do that, and I am going to appoint Republicans and I am going to appoint Democrats, striving in each case to get a man who will commend himself to the community in which he lives. (Cheers).
“It is suggested that it is an insult to the Republicans of a district to appoint a Democrat a judge because from that is to be inferred that there is no Republican worthy of the appointment, and I understand that there are some gentlemen in the Democratic party who are willing to make that inference as strong as possible. (Laughter) But I venture to say that when the whole account is added up, that spirit will have disappeared and the Democrats who seek to utter it will find that it is not such a popular method of attacking the Republican administration after all.
SHOULD COMMAND RESPECT AT HOME.
“I pleaded to my Republican friends as a vindication and justification of my course, the course of as orthodox a Republican as ever filled the Executive chair, and a man than whom there never was a President who did so much to maintain the standard of the Federal Judiciary, as Benjamin Harrison, for he deemed it his duty to put one Democrat on the Supreme bench and two on Circuit Courts of Appeal. The Federal judiciary, my dear friends, to my mind is the strongest bulwark that we have in all this country to protect ultimately our institutions of civil liberty. There are the things in the Federal constitution that we must love and must hug to our bosom if we continue this civilization, and therefore there is no more sacred duty that the Executive has than in the selection of men whose appointment and services on the bench will strengthen it with all the people at large and therefore, ordinary considerations of political partisanship have much less application to the appointment of judges than they do to other and temporary offices. The Federal judiciary should be as much appreciated in the South as it is in the North, and if I have an opportunity to make any appointments in the South, it will continue to be the chief duty I have to make such appointments as shall appeal to all the people whether they be Republican or Democrat (cheers) and I urge ‘all citizens’ whether they be Republicans or Democrats, to accept the appointments made as men, if they are men, who will carry on their high duties with a single eye to the administration of justice, and not to make use of them for any partisan argument or partisan appeal.
THE PRESIDENT CLOSES.
“And now, my dear friends, I have got to the end of my speech, I believe. I think not that we are at a point where there is to be a political revolution in the South. I never had such a dream. But I believe we are on the eve of such a condition in the South that there shall be complete tolerance of opinion and that there shall grow into respectable power an opposition party in each State which shall tend to the betterment of the government as it exists in the State and which shall give us occasionally, as you have already given us in North Carolina, a Republican in a crowd of Democrats, in order that we may have represented in the Congress at Washington your views without regard to some past issue, without regard to the ghost of an issue that really ought not to influence you in enforcing those particular economic views that you really entertain.
“Let me again say to you, how my heart has been aroused by the cordiality of your reception, by the nonpartisan welcome of your distinguished Governor and your Congressmen and your Senators, whether Republicans or Democrats, and to say to you that I haven’t spoken here consciously a word to influence you in a partisan way, but it is impossible to discuss the conditions without mentioning the parties. I hope you will therefore forgive me for an apparent reference to political conditions when I am really only extending to you the right-hand of fellowship as Americans, explaining possibly by inference some of the difficulties of conducting this government as its Chief Executive. I thank you.
FLYING TRIP MADE.
Immediately at the conclusion of his speech, which was followed by another ovation, the President entered an automobile, and was swiftly driven to Biddle University in the western outskirts of the city where a select audience of the colored race, considerably above the general level of intelligence, was awaiting to hear him speak words of encouragement to the colored race. This concession to the college had been made by the committee of arrangements several weeks ago as the result of the earnest expressions of desire for a visit from the President made by the leaders of the negro race in the city and the energetic efforts put forth to that end. They wanted the event and they went forth and captured it.
Four or five hundred students and other colored people, men and women, occupied the auditorium of Biddle at the western end of the main building. Upon the rostrum sat a number of prominent colored men. There, too, were Mayor Hawkins and others.
It was an attentive hearing which the colored folks gave the President. With the exception of the college yells given by the students with a speed and vim which would be hard to beat, the spectators did not cheer as the white people did at the Auditorium. They applauded, but their applause came in veritable whirlwinds of sound. And it came at the proper places, too. When the President expressed sympathy for the race in the sufferings which circumstances have imposed, when he urged them to success through the performance of the simple duties which lie nearest, when he advised them to meet the handicaps which nature and fate had placed upon them by progressing and succeeding and prospering in spite of these, the audience was at once responsive.
The President said that experience had shown that the negro is primarily best fitted for agricultural pursuits and predicted that in the centuries to come the race will take over the agriculture of the South and by means of the industrial education which such schools as Biddle are giving will improve that industry by the employment of the most scientific methods and by industriously utilizing its possibilities. Mayor Hawkins spoke first.
THE PRESIDENT AT BIDDLE.
President Taft was introduced to the body including the students of Biddle University by Mayor T. W. Hawkins in the following words:
“My friends and fellow citizens: We have with us this evening the President of the United States of America, who has consented to make an address to you. We have a President who represents no section, no race, but represents the whole people. It is with great pleasure that I present to you the President of the United States of America, His Excellency, William H. Taft.”
BIDDLE’S PRESIDENT SPEAKS.
The president of Biddle University then said:
“We extend to you a most cordial welcome to Biddle University on this grand occasion. We twice welcome the President of the United States. We welcome you, Mr. President, because of the exalted position which you occupy in this great nation. We welcome you because of the great principles for which you stand—those principles which make nations great; yes, those principles without which no nation can be great.
“It is gratifying to have you here, because we feel that your presence and your words will prove a benediction to the institution of learning which we have the honor to represent—a school which during the 12 years of its existence, has been quietly training men for efficient service in this country.
“The training given at Biddle University is three-fold—industrial, literary and moral. The Bible is used as a text-book, and is taught as to make it effective in the lives and character of its students.
“Men are taught here to be moral, industrious and law-abiding. Our graduates, now one thousand strong, have distributed themselves in 30 States of the Union, and by applying the principles taught here, are fast solving the negro problem.
“Again we welcome the President here, because of the opportunity this will give him of learning of the interest which the white people of Charlotte and Mecklenburg county have in the colored people. We venture to say that a better feeling between the races does not exist in any other section of the country. This condition may be attributed to several things—first, good men are usually kept in office; such men as Mr. T. W. Hawkins, our new mayor. Another is that fair-minded men control the newspapers. We had with us a short time ago on this platform Mr. D. A. Tompkins, who, in my estimation is one of the greatest men South Carolina has ever produced, or North Carolina has ever adopted. This good feeling is to be attributed to the pulpits, both white and colored. I am too modest to say that another reason, is the work and influence of Biddle University.
“Just a word as to the history of Biddle University. The institution was founded in 1867, under the auspices of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, and is named in the memory of the late Major Henry J. Biddle, of Philadelphia, whose widow, Mrs. M. D. Biddle, gave the first money for the founding of the school. And Mrs. Biddle is still helping this school. A citizen of Charlotte, Colonel Myers, gave the institution the first eight acres of land. I am of the opinion that this building is on a portion of the land given my Mr. Myers.
“Therefore, Mr. President, in welcoming you to Biddle University, a negro institution of learning in which both the North and the South, as you have seen, have shown practical interest, we desire to state that the chair in which you sit was purchased by the faculty of Biddle to serve you on this occasion, after which it is to be kept in the institution as a souvenir.”
After this the college students gave a ringing yell of Yale.
ADDRESS OF MR. TAFT.
President William H. Taft, then arose and began:
“My friends,” said he, “I congratulate you on being able to give with accuracy the Yale cheer. I think I used to, when I was in college study the frogs, but they didn’t have that cheer in my day, and I could not pass the civil service examination of the subject.
“Mr. Mayor, Mr. President and My Fellow Citizens:
“I never go south of the Mason and Dixon line, and think that I have done my full duty, unless I have taken in some way, or accepted in some way an opportunity to express my profound sympathy with the colored race, and my earnest hope in the success of the struggle that they are making. I wish that, because they are so much more an important part of the population south of the Mason and it is not until a man has come down here and studied the conditions and until he has made himself acquainted with the race here, that he is able to speak with some confidence as to the working out of the problems which are before you.
“Now I do not wish to be oblivious of the troublous times through which you and your fathers and mothers have passed, or of the burdens, and possibly the cruelties which circumstances have made it necessary for you to bear, but I thank God that those things are passing away and the proper place for your eyes to be, for your hopes to be directed, for your thoughts to be pushed, is forward and not backward. (Applause.) There is growing over the entire South a feeling due to the development of the economic conditions, that you will be a necessity for the prosperity of the South, if you will only do what you ought to do to make your race happy and to make it yourself.
TO INTEREST OF BOTH RACES.
“You can demonstrate to the white men of the South, by making yourself members of the community, that it is as much to their interest to treat you well as it is to your interest to have them treat you well.
“I don’t want to minimize the importance of the political rights, but I do wish to emphasize the fact that those rights attend and follow economic and industrial success, when they are not accorded to economic and industrial failures and lack success.
“I have just been addressing a large audience at the Auditorium at some length on certain features of the conditions of the South. To you I will speak of some other conditions which I did not there mention. One of the most satisfactory developments in the last ten years, and the very thing which your president has emphasized, is the interest that your Southern white neighbor is taking in your welfare, your education and your profit. (Applause.) It is easy enough for us of the North to criticize both sides and to express sympathy and hope that things are coming out, but the place where the thing is done is here, where you live, and, therefore, it is with the whites who are your neighbors, that there is to arise that feeling which is to be beneficial to both and to make you more useful to the community than you are.
“It has been my good fortune to meet large audiences of colored people in Atlanta, Augusta, Tuskegee and in Virginia, and to talk with white and colored men the South over. I have the honor to be a member of the James trust fund, a fund of $1,000,000 or over, to be invested in teaching industrial colored schools. I also have the honor to be a trustee of Hampton Institute, and I am thrown with a great many of the trustees and these funds for the general education of the colored race of the South, and I therefore feel myself to be in position to be able to say that things are moving on, and that there is a ground for hope. We are getting there every year. We are catching up. Now I am not going to give you to understand that I don’t know the burden of a race feeling, for I realize that oftentimes there is an agonized feeling; when the negro feels that the whole world is against him because of that race feeling.
“The way to meet it and to face it is to recognize it; go on and do your duty, live and prosper, and be prosperous in spite of it. (Applause.)
“Your fellow citizen, Mr. Dancey, I think now the recorder of deeds at Washington, gave me a list of the schools and colleges in North Carolina, to indicate to me what is being done for the negro and by the negro. That which is being done for the negro by the whites in the South is encouraging for which it accomplishes. That which is being done by the negro himself is more encouraging, because it proves that he has within himself the power to do things himself, and to push himself along.
“Now there are gentlemen, and I don’t know but what there are some of your colored race, who say ‘Well, there is no hope for the negro in America; we must ship him out of the country. It is hopeless to have two races, white and black, and think that they can’t live together.’ Well, we have been living together fifty years, and just how we are going to stop, nobody yet has been able to explain. There are some statesmen that say it is impossible, and we must ship the negro away. I don’t know where, perhaps to Africa, perhaps to a desert island. There are ten million of you and you are growing and perhaps in the next 10 or 15 years there may be fifteen million. (Applause.) While these gentlemen are explaining, the problem of the moving is getting more and more difficult. It is an absurdity; it is chimerical to talk about any such remedy for what is called the race problem. The time is coming, in my judgment, when the business men of the South are going to recognize much more fully than they do to-day, the great advantage the South has in your presence on the soil.
“Your race is adopted to be a race of farmers first, and all the time. You have shown it in the start, by the way you have taken over the agriculture of the South, and you are going to justify that by improving the agriculture, under the influence of the industrial education, which this school and other schools are going to give you within the next three or four years.
WORK WITH WHAT YOU HAVE.
“As the Rev. Mr. Walker, who introduced me to a meeting of the colored Young Men’s Christian Association in Augusta, said, “This is a very pleasant place; we are on good terms with the white people, and the white people are on good terms with us, and there is not any place between this and glory, that we want to go until we go to glory.’
“The sensible doctrine is to work with what you have. You know what you have. I don’t need to tell each of you that if you do your duty you can do a great deal better than you are doing now. We all know that there is something that we can do more, if we were a little more industrious than we are. Some of us fall a good deal farther short than others, but there is always improvement in every one of us, and I shall have accomplished my purpose if I have conveyed to your hearts and souls the belief that there are millions of people in this country, not black people but white people, North and South, who are sympathizing with you in your struggle for better things, and who are willing to do what they can to help you on. To men in your position, sympathy is worth a lot, and as President of the United States, as a Representative in that sense of the eighty millions of the people, I want to convey to your heart and soul that message of sympathy and God-speed in the work of your heart.”
PUBLIC RECEPTION LAST NIGHT.
President Taft was tendered a public reception last night at the Selwyn, those being in the receiving line, beside himself, being Governor W. W. Kitchin and wife, Congressman E. Y. Webb, Congressman John Motley Morehead, Congressman William A. Rodenberg and wife, and Senator J. F. Johnston, of Alabama. It would be hard to estimate the size of the crowd that grasped the hand of the Chief Executive during this reception. A large number of ladies and gentlemen, many of them being visitors from various parts of the Carolinas, were in the line and enjoyed the privilege of shaking the hand of the president and the other distinguished visitors.
The reception was held between the hours of 9:30 and 10:30 o’clock, during which time there was a constant stream of visitors rushing to and from the hotel. The crowd was not at all difficult to manage, it having been so arranged that extraordinary precision marked the handling of the throng. President Taft, despite the day’s hard and trying duties, was in the best of good humor and appeared to enjoy the occasion. His jollity was at no time during his stay in the city more noticeable than last night.
This public reception was tendered in addition to the reception given yesterday morning when the special receiving committee and the various committeemen who have been at work on the celebration were given the opportunity of acquainting themselves with the distinguished guest of the city. President Taft was also the recipient of other honors during his stay here. The Selwyn was his headquarters and his suite of rooms were elegantly arranged, giving him due privacy and as luxurious quarters as he will find in any Southern hostelry.
AWARDS OF THE JUDGES.
For best decorated vehicle furnished by secret order, “Landing of Columbus,” first prize; Mecklenburg Chapter, Daughters of American Revolution, second prize.
For best decorated automobile or double team, No. 2, Mrs. C. B. Bryant, first prize, Davidson, second prize.
For best pony cart or buggy, No. 3, Mrs. F. D. Letheo, first prize, and No. 1, Miss Annie Summerrow, second prize.
For best individual buggy, No. 12, Mrs. Fred Misenheimer, first prize, and No. 4, Miss Kate C. Smith, second prize.
The judges of this division of awards were Messrs. James H. Caine, of Asheville; James J. Farriss, High Point, and James A. Robinson, Durham.
For the best float in the industrial parade, as to general effect, execution of construction, suitability and progressiveness, the first prize, $100, was awarded to the Carolina Manufacturing Company; the second prize, $50, to the International Harvester Company; the third prize, $40, the Mecklenburg Iron Works, and the fourth prize, $20, White House Coffee.
The judges of this division were Captain James McNeill, of Fayetteville, and Mr. John Roddy, of Rock Hill, S. C.
THE PRESIDENT DINED.
The President was the guest of honor at an elaborate dining given in the small banquet hall of the Selwyn last evening at 8 o’clock by the central committee of the 20th of May celebration. There were present, aside from the President, Mrs. Stonewall Jackson, Major J. C. Hemphill, of Charleston, S. C.; Mr. D. A. Tompkins, Senator Lee S. Overman, Senator J. F. Johnson, of Alabama; Captain A. W. Butt, Congressman and Mrs. W. A. Rodenberg, Governor and Mrs. W. W. Kitchin, Mayor and Mrs. T. W. Hawkins, Lieutenant Governor T. G. McLeod, of South Carolina; Congressman and Mrs. E. Y. Webb, Congressman J. M. Morehead, Mr. and Mrs. C. W. Tillett, Mr. W. H. Harris, Mr. and Mrs. C. A. Williams, Mr. and Mrs. P. M. Cave, Mr. and Mrs. Vinton Liddell, and Mr. And Mrs. E. R. Preston.
Mr. Edgar B. Moore entertained the President at lunch at 2 o’clock, his invited guests being Senators Overman and Johnson, Mr. F. Stikeleather, of Asheville, chief marshal; Mr. C. O. Kuester, vice president of the Greater Charlotte Club; Mr. W. T. Corwith, secretary of the Greater Charlotte Club, and Messrs. C. A. Williams, P. M. Cave, James W. Wadsworth and N. V. Porter.
THE PRESIDENT DEPARTS.
Shortly after 10:30 o’clock last night, President Taft, accompanied by a specially appointed committee, left the Selwyn Hotel and at the Southern depot boarded his private car, “Olympia,” in which he returned to Washington. Prior to his departure he expressed himself as having immensely enjoyed his stay in the city an, with the promise on occasion to make a second visit to the Queen City, bade his entertainers farewell.