October 13, 1899: President McKinley Visits the Zenith City

On this day in Duluth in 1899, President William McKinley became the first sitting president to visit the Zenith City—but it wasn’t his first time in town. He had visited Duluth twice before he was president, but while he was still considered “one of the most notable men in public life,” as described by the Duluth News Tribune. Prior to his visit, the newspaper anticipated a mutual love-fest between the city and the president, stating that “President McKinley has always entertained the kindliest feelings toward Duluth. He is personally acquainted with many people here, and it is said that his sentiments toward Duluth have had weight in his itinerary of his Western trip.” The committee to meet and greet the president reads like a who’s who of Duluthians from the time: Jed Washburn, Luther Mendenhall, Captain Alexander McDougal, Captain A. B. Wolvin, George Barnum, W. C. Sargent, W. E. Culkin, W. J. Olcott, Judge J. D. Ensign, Z. D. Scott, George Crosby, A. L. Ordean, Mayor Henry Truelsen and Congressman Page Morris were among the throng of Republican men of means who supported McKinley at the time.

A sketch of President William McKinley made ca. 1899. (Image: Public Domain)