Statehouse to Commemorate Anniversary of Ohio Governor and U.S. President William McKinley’s Birth

Ohio Statehouse buildingThe Ohio Statehouse will observe the 170th anniversary of Ohio Governor and U.S. President William McKinley’s birth on his January 29th birthday with its annual Red Carnation Day.  The day-long commemoration honors McKinley and his contributions to Ohio, the country and world while serving as Ohio Governor and U.S. President.  William McKinley was born on January 29, 1843 in Niles, Ohio.

Individuals wearing a red carnation or dressed in scarlet during this special day will receive a 20% discount on one item (some exclusions apply) in the Statehouse Museum Shop and a 10% discount on purchases in the Capitol Cafe. The shop and cafe are located on the ground floor of the Ohio Statehouse.  Red Carnation Day will also feature information highlighting President McKinley during Statehouse tours.

The day of remembrance also includes a special McKinley exhibit and looping video montage that will be on view in the Ohio Statehouse Rotunda.  The video presentation consists of 12 rare, early film clips called actualities, that document President McKinley reviewing troops and giving a speech at the 1901 Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York, the day before his assassination; the scene of a crowd exiting the “Temple of Music” just moments after McKinley was shot by Leon F. Czolgosz; and McKinley’s funeral procession at Buffalo, New York, Washington, D.C. and Canton, Ohio. The piece concludes with an unusual early film clip called “The Martyred Presidents,” a vignette paying tribute to Abraham Lincoln, James Garfield and William McKinley, all of whom were assassinated in office.

The film was created by Thomas A. Edison, Inc. and is from the collections of the Library of Congress.

About the State Flower and its Connection to William McKinley

President William McKinley was assassinated in 1901 during a visit to the Pan American Exposition in Buffalo, NY. Shot twice with a hand gun, President McKinley survived eight days before his death on September 14.  On February 3, 1904, the Ohio General Assembly enacted legislation making the scarlet carnation the state flower. This was done specifically to honor William McKinley, Ohio Governor (1892-1896) and U.S. President (1897-1901), who regularly wore this type of flower on his lapel.

McKinley’s floral signature goes back to the election of 1876, when he was running for a seat in the United States Congress. His opponent for the seat was Levi Lamborn, of Alliance, Ohio. Lamborn was a physician and keen amateur horticulturist, and had developed a strain of bright scarlet carnations he dubbed “Lamborn Red.”  Dr. Lamborn presented McKinley with a “Lamborn Red” boutonniere before their debates, and after his election victory, the future President saw the red carnation as a good luck charm. He wore one on his lapel regularly and presented visitors to his office carnations from a vase.  Moments before he was shot by an assassin, it is reported that McKinley had removed the carnation from his lapel and presented it to a young girl.  Dr. Lamborn was instrumental in efforts to enact the legislation that made the scarlet carnation the state flower of Ohio. In 1959, the Ohio Legislature named Alliance, Ohio “the Carnation City.”

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