Dave Smith, a member of Town One Streetscapes and the Poland Historical Society recently discovered a speech given by President William McKinley specifically for residents of Poland. He said he ran across it while researching the web for information on McKinley.
The McKinley speech appeared in an 1896 publication in Reading, Pa. It was in coverage of William McKinley giving a talk before a crowd of 300 Poland residents who traveled to Canton.
"Recently the citizens of Poland honored William McKinley on his 170th birthday by hanging a wreath at the site of his boyhood home," Smith said. "The event was planned to raise the awareness of Poland residents and citizens to the fact that the McKinley family resided in Poland during McKinley's school days. It was then that he developed the knowledge, debating skills, and character that would serve him throughout his life. Of course, Poland residents continued to admire McKinley after he moved to Canton and he returned their affection."
He said, in October of 1896, the 300 Poland residents traveled to McKinley's Canton home to show support for his campaign for the presidency. During that visit, he gave the following speech:
"I don't know anything that has so deeply touched me as to receive a visit from the home of my boyhood. Old Poland township is very near and dear to me. I spent most of my boyhood with you. I entered the service from your town. The company to which I belonged was made up of the boys of that township and I see you carry the same old starry banner that you carried then, and for which you gave or were willing to give, your lives. I returned to Poland at the conclusion of the war and received my education as a lawyer in your township. I left in 1867 and came to this little city, but there has never been a moment of time that my heart has not gone back to that dear old township with which are associated so many tender and sacred memories, and there has never been a moment of time since I left that I have not felt and appreciated that I had your good wishes and prayers, and whenever I stood for public office I always had your votes"
Smith said acconts say McKinley finished his speech then greeted each of his former neighbors with a handshake and a "pleasant word."
Smith said he will enter a transcript of the speech into the Poland Historical Society archives.