DATE OF EVENT: Monday, July 2, 1900
DATE PUBLISHED: Monday, July 2, 1900, in The Kansas City Star
Editor’s note: Only three months earlier, Kansas City had rebuilt Convention Hall so the Democratic National Convention could be held there. And no sooner had those delegates arrived than the Republican vice presidential nominee, Teddy Roosevelt, stole the spotlight from William Jennings Bryan, the Democrats’ darling.
Roosevelt caused a near-riot when his train pulled into the Kansas City, greeted by a crowd of almost 10,000. Despite the frenzy, no one appeared to have been hurt.
“That’s a pretty good reception for a town where they are holding a Democratic national convention.”
Theodore Roosevelt’s special train was leaving the Union depot for Oklahoma as he said this. He dropped into a chair in the private car, threw his “Rough Rider” campaign hat into another chair and began mopping the perspiration that was streaming down his face.
Thousands of people were on the platform of the Union depot this morning at 8:30 o’clock when the car with Roosevelt standing on the platform was pushed in. Roosevelt’s hat was in his hand.
“Look at that crowd,” he said.
The crowd saw him at the same moment and a cheer went up. The people, swarming over the railroad tracks, surged toward the incoming car. Roosvelt’s face looked troubled. He waved his soft felt hat and shouted:
“Out of the way. Get out of the way for heaven’s sake, or you’ll be run over.”
The car was pushing slowly ahead of a switch engine. It moved right into the midst of the crowd, which surged back frantically and affrighted, barely missing disaster. The slow-moving car pushed the crowd as the prow of a boat moving against the current pushes ahead a wave of foam. All plans of reception committees were upset by the number of the people and their enthusiasm. Policemen were useless. They were swallowed up by the people and were pushed wherever the great mass of people surged.
At last the car came to a stop and Major William Warner, standing beside Roosevelt, said to him:
“I guess I’d better go ahead and say a few words to quiet them.”
“Yes, you do,” replied Roosevelt.
Warner raised his hat and began:
“In this busy hour of the morning we, the dwellers in the twin cities —
“Wait a moment. Wait a moment,” shouted Major Warner.
His words were unheard. All the people were looking at Roosevelt. They were lost to all sense of danger or of pain. As they were pushed, pulled, dragged, lifted up and twisted around, their clothing torn, their hats lost, their faces streaming perspiration, their eyes were fixed on Roosevelt, and they cheered and howled.
There was real danger in the actions of the crowd. Women were in it by hundreds and they screamed and fainted. It was oppressively hot beneath the corrugated iron roof of the depot shed. Roosevelt, for once in his life, was excited. He cried:
“Stop this. Stop this. For God’s sake, men, you’re killing each other.”…
Those nearest the car platform were reaching up their hands to Roosevelt. In the crowd men acted as if they had lost all self-control. With clothing bedraggled, neckties awry, collars wilted, one hand clutching a hat, and their voices hoarse with cheering, they reached up their hands to Roosevelt, shouting: “Teddy, Teddy, Hurrah for Roosevelt!”…
Very few heard what Roosevelt said. The people were excited and uncontrollable. J.K. Cubbison, on the car platform, said to Major Warner:
“Talk to ’em and stop ’em.”
“Talk to ’em,” shouted Warner. “Why, I’ve talked to mobs all my life and this is the worst I ever saw. You can’t do anything with this crowd.”…