Today, the World’s Columbian Commemorative Silver Half Dollar Coin remembers the impromptu speech made by ex-President Harrison on June 16, 1893 for the dedication of the Indiana Exhibit.
Though he was instrumental in signing the legislation supporting the World’s Columbian Exposition, he was unable to attend the formal dedication in October 1892 while still President.
However, he did attend the dedication ceremony of the Indiana Exhibit.
This time, he was not on the presentation agenda, however the people continued to chant his name until he responded with a short speech.
From the archives of the Chicago Tribune, an article on the World’s Columbian Exposition included parts of his short speech.
Ex-President Harrison Introduced
The Governor’s utterances were frequently interrupted with applause.
Before retiring he said:
Ladies and Gentlemen:
Another glory is left to Indiana. It is the only State in all the Union that has an ex-President to assist in its dedication.
A storm of applause greeted Mr. Harrison, and when quiet was at length restored he spoke as follows:
It gives me great pleasure to participate as a citizen today in these exercises, organized by our public authorities with the view of providing a home upon this magnificent grounds for the people of Indiana.
I am glad to be here with those who call Indiana their home, with those to whom it is the State of their adoption, and to take our place here among the other great States of the Union in this beautiful and effective contest in which the riches and resources of the great States are so combined as to give an accurate conception of the greatness of the Union of the States, of which Indiana is and always will be a goodly part.
I am glad that so many of our people are here today and increasing thousands I hope will follow to have that inspiring benefit which comes from an examination of this great display.
I have felt from the origin of the conception of the World’s Columbian Exposition the greatest interest in its complete success.
It was with a feeling of gratification that I officially participated in the acts of legislation that created it.
I have followed it through all the course of its development, converting this plain that lay without attractiveness, without one building, into this garden of beauty, this magnificent White City, so gloriously typical of the power, art, and industry of our people.
I have no patience with those, who come here to criticize, with those who have had no appreciation of the work that has been done of the National Commissioners, of the local organization, and the representatives of the different States, to whom is due a great deal of the glory of this enterprise.
Let us come here and think of something else than this petty nonsense; let us come here to open our eyes and ears to the great educational suggestions; let no one fail to spread abroad throughout all the land to encourage every man, woman, and child to come and look upon it, for there will not be in a generation to come and perhaps never again such a scene as we have here today.
It is conceded, I think, by those traveled and educated representatives from foreign lands who have seen the best attempts of the nations of the whole world and all international expositions that we have vastly surpassed every attempt of the past.
We should find this a matter of national pride.
I want to see this Exposition and every phase of it a great success.
I would be glad if every voice that has been lifted to discourage and dissuade our people from coming to it might be hushed forever and with one acclaim our people might rally to make this Exposition a triumph in the pecuniary and educational results, as it is in the preparations which have been made for the people.
I congratulate Chicago upon what has been done here.
When this scheme was first proposed I was of the opinion that only New York could organize an international Exposition, but I made a mistake and I believe today that Chicago is the only city in the world.
I am glad that Indiana is an honorable part in this Exposition.
The proximity of our State should give to all our people an interest as it enables more of our citizens to visit the Exposition than the far-lying States.
The World’s Columbian Commemorative Silver Half Dollar Coin shows with an image of Benjamin Harrison.