A Republican Banquet to Honor a Fallen President — Who Was Not Named Lincoln

banquet-headlineMonday morning, January 27, 1907, a technological drama unfolded in front of the New St. Charles Hotel in Norwalk, Ohio. The next evening, another drama, this time of a political nature, occurred in the lobby and corridors of that hotel, as the Republicans of the city gathered for a banquet in the honor of the late President William McKinley.

sheldon-laning

Stephen Laning

Toastmaster of the banquet was Jay Laning, father of

eugene-bloxham

Eugene Bloxham

Sheldon Laning, a member of the Norwalk High School Class of 1907. Stephen was also in attendance at the banquet, along with fellow classmate Eugene Bloxham. Although they were at least four years from being eligible to vote, these two young men already showed an interest in politics. The Norwalk Daily Reflector reported that young men made up “fully three-quarters of that gathering,” and editorialized that their attendance bode well for the future of the party.

jp-laningToastmaster Jay Laning was a long-time member of the Grand Old Party, and a leader of the community. The previous year he had been elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, and in March, he would begin serving in the Sixtieth U.S. Congress, representing Ohio’s Fourteenth District. Jay Laning was born in New London, Ohio, and in 1882 moved to Norwalk, where he practiced law and established a successful publishing business. He served on the the city council from 1887 to 1889, and in the Ohio Senate, 1894 to 1898. In 1904 and 1908 he was a delegate to the Republican National Convention. Now he was a U.S. Congressman, and his star seemed on the rise, as alluded to in this poem of introduction.

jay-laning-poem

This poem may seem ridiculous to us today, but I think it gives us the image of a man driven by ambition. And what were those ambitions? Did he aspire to the highest office in the land? If he did, he did not achieve it: there never was a President Laning.

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Here is another curiosity from over a hundred years ago: the banquet of the menu.

banquet-menu

Quite a spread, don’t you think? I would have enjoyed it. At least there wasn’t any kale!

 

Sources:

“Greatest Banquet in Club’s History,” The Norwalk Daily Reflector, January 30, 1907, page 1, column 1.

“Orators Tell Again of the Greatness of McKinley,” The Norwalk Evening Herald, January 30, 1907, page 1, column 5.

 

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