The Visitors


For you all you Presidential who-went-where-when obsessives, The 48th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry/ Civil War Musings blog has a roundup on Presidential visits to the Antietam battlefield near Washington.

mckinley-antietham.gif With the special bonus of extensively documenting future President McKinley’s participation in the battle, where he heroically shuffled coffee to the front lines under fire.

Hey! Ladies!

first-ladies-ornamentlaura-bush-and-abigai-fillmore.pngThe National first Ladies Library is losing the sugar daddy who brings in four-fifths of it’s income. The Library is based in a Canton Ohio house once belonging to President William McKinley and wife Ida, and serves up a weird amalgam of decorating and democracy, a great deal of former White House china with a side bar of first lady anecdotes.

Retiring Ohio Republican Representative Ralph Regula has funneled cash to the Library for years through his position on the House appropriations Committee. The First Ladies’ most recent filing shows government grants accounted for $1,028,991 of the Library’s $1,344,415 revenue.

The Library’s Founder was sort of coy with CNN on where it all came from:

“You know, surprisingly, it hasn’t been difficult to raise the raise the funds. It seems to be an idea whose time has come. We raised over three and a half million from private and corporate funds.”

And she’s not sweating to do it either. The Library’s most recent filings for have her paid $68,808 for a 30 hour week.

She’s Regula’s wife Mary.

What does the money buy? They have a building and a library, from which they launch educational programs such as “Right To Read “The White House Pets”‘ Grades: K-6

“A First Lady will relate stories about many of the Presidential pets and the families who loved them. The program continues with a First Lady reading a book to your class with the help of puppets and possibly a willing student.”

They sell tchotskies in some way connected with first ladies, with Betty Ford and Nancy Reagan not represented.

You can save big on the Laura Bush China Box – prices slashed to $24.95 from $53.00! first-ladies-laura-bush-blue-bonnet_medium.jpg

Some of their expenses seem odd. In 2004, the most recently available yearly report, they spent $94,000 on “website update.” Look at the thing.

They paid Carl Sverrazza Anthony a hundred thousand dollars for his services as an author and historian in 2004. Anthony has carved out a specialty writing not terribly deep tomes commemorating first ladies and their offspring. The Library appears to be sponsoring him in writing a biography of McKinley’s wife Ida Saxton, the first volume of which has appeared this year. carlanthonybook.gif No information on their web site about who gets the book’s royalties if any.

The Greats Give Back


The Washington Post today takes note of a Manhattan Institute study exploring and deploring the decline in public schools named for Presidents and other Greats.

It’s all about the civic virtue, they claim. By Naming Names we ritually affirm the greats who’ve gone before and the superior system they represent, although the linkage of this with the surprising numbers of schools named for Millard Fillmore or James Buchanan unclear.

St. Louis boasts the McKinley Classical Junior Academy, “Home of the Goldbugs.” goldbug3.jpg

Their continued pressing down upon the brow of labor is to be admired, but what do they actually learn by it?

The Manhattanists claim to be puzzled more schools aren’t named for Martin Luther King what with all the multicuturalness and all. They seem disappointed they can’t beat that familiar dog once more.
That the Institute is a magnet for right wing oddities goes unmentioned in the Washington Post article. One leading light is Myron Magnet, a Martin Van Buren reenactor myron-magnet.jpg whose Big Idea is that hippie LSD consumption in the 60s led to those black folk signing up for welfare[“The Dream and the Nightmare]. The Washington Post laid out this crackpot’s influence on George Bush before the election in 2000, so we can’t say we weren’t warned.


Do You Know Me?


A martyred president, cut down by a lone assassin before a popular imperialist adventure turned sour. The death of William McKinley was memorialized across the country with enormous numbers of statues and monuments. A hundred and six years later his massive Ohio burial place marks it’s own centennial striving to answer such questions as, “Why do bees make honey?”


Lately we don’t hear so much about Ohio’s last president but Taft.

Back in the day they built monuments where he died:


Wrote songs: mem-music.jpg

Commemorated McKinley’s coffee service for Gettysburg front line soldiers: mckinley-2-sm.jpg

And plunked down statues as far as the eye can see.







Muskegon, MI

San Francisco:


Arcata, CA:arcata.jpg

[This one has a myspace page: crap music warning!]

McKinleyization also spawned the first presidential assassin snuff film:

It wasn’t an endless wave of memorializing. A proposal to commemorate McKinley in Washington DC where 16th Street North West climbs to Meridian Hill Park didn’t come to pass.

McKinley briefly got press during the flowering of George W. Bush’s uniting, when presidential svengali Karl Rove modestly allowed that his model was Mark Hanna’s creation of McKinley’s fairly durable Republican majority.

Lately we don’t hear so much.

Grover Cleveland, our contemporary?


What didn’t he foretell! Presidential homes as tent pole for real estate speculation, child bride marrying, descendants reduced to reenactors?

Upstate New York citizens are slowly awakening to the tourist gold which lies at their feet, and yet another “presidential library” is the pan through which Buffalo’s ore will be sifted, or something.

As you are no doubt aware, Grover Cleveland served America not only as our only non-continuously termed chief executive [and as one bounced from office while receiving the majority vote], but as Buffalo Mayor and New York Governor.

Buffalo sees the tour buses rolling in. Not only will the Cleveland “Library” promote presidentus interruptus, but the town can cash in on the McKinley assassination at last!

And none too soon. The home where McKinley died after his crazed anarchist encounter [is there any other kind?] was sadly destroyed.

A rather pathetic stone in a road strip marks the shooting site where the Temple of Music stood.


Teddy Roosevelt has had the luck of having the Buffalo home where he took the oath preserved, so presidentists who also share a late Victorian furniture passion have somewhere to go.