EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

January 15, 2009

Presidents and poison kisses: an inaugural story


Grover Cleveland's inauguration was big news in Oshkosh, Wis., on March 4, 1885. So was an alarming report that kissing causes death.

The Associated Press has been going back through history to find some of its stories as they appeared in the nation's newspapers on inauguration days. Here is an excerpt of the AP's story on Cleveland's inauguration in The Oshkosh Daily Northwestern — along with a look at what else was on the front page.

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President Cleveland: He takes the oath of office as the next president of the United States

Washington, March 4 — There are fully one hundred thousand strangers in the city today. Never before were such crowds seen in Washington as to-day, as early as ten A.M., occupied the streets along the line of march. Almost every building in the city is decorated. Graceful arches span the streets through which the procession is to march and the decorations on many buildings are very elaborate.

AT THE WHITE HOUSE

President Arthur breakfasted with his family at the White House about 2 A.M. An hour later Vice-President-elect Hendricks in company with Senator Hawley, of the committee of arrangements, drove up to the White House in an open barouche lined with crimson satin and drawn by four beautiful white horses. Just as he arrived President Arthur's carriage containing Senators Sherman and Ransom started to Arlington for the President-elect. This carriage was also an open barouche drawn by four spanking bays.

After a short delay Cleveland entered the carriage in company with the Senators and was rapidly driven to the White House where President Arthur and Hendricks were waiting.

IN THE PROCESSION

At 10:30 the Presidential party left the mansion and entering their carriages took their places in the line of procession which formed in the meantime. Cleveland and Arthur and Senators Sherman and Ransom occupied the first carriage. They were greeted with the wildest enthusiasm. The first division of the procession escorting the President elect, then began its march to capitol; the scene on Pennsylvania Avenue baffles description. Great surging masses hid the sidewalks. Above them stately buildings were covered with cloths of various colors arranged in patriotic devices. The soft, spring-like breezes stirred innumerable flags and streamers, and special aids in brilliant uniforms dashed hither and thither lending animation to the scene. The regular troops came first. Their ranks extended clear across the avenue and presented a most imposing appearance. The marine corps with a magnificent band came next, followed by the artillery battalions. ... The party received an ovation all along the line of march. Men cheered, women waved handkerchiefs and clapped hands and the greatest enthusiasm was evinced by the immense throng. President elect Cleveland kept his silk hat in his hand and bowed right and left as his carriage rolled slowly along. A number of colored militia formed parts of the first division and presented a highly creditable appearance. ...

TAKING THE OATH

A little before eleven o'clock the doors of the President's gallery of the Senate were opened and the people entitled to admission were escorted in. ...

The arrival of the diplomatic corps, 50 strong, clad in their uniforms varying from silken robes and mandarin caps of Chinese to the gorgeous gold-bedecked dresses of the Europeans, occasioned a suspension of the buzz of conversation for the moment. They entered unannounced and were escorted to seats in front and upon the right of the chair. Just before the entry of the members of the supreme court, arraigned in their ample black silk gowns and preceded by their marshal, the annual act of turning back the hands of the Senate clock was performed by the veteran doorkeeper, Capt. Isaac Basset. The supreme court justices were placed upon the right front of the chair.

ARTHUR'S ENTRANCE

President Arthur was now announced and his coming was greeted with warm clapping of hands, in recognition of which he bowed gracefully to the assemblage. A moment later and the buzz of conversation was again suspended in anticipation of the announcement: "The President-elect of the United States."

CLEVELAND COMES

Mr. Cleveland had already entered the hall with his escort and halted within the assemblage. On his arrival being announced there was applause and clapping of hands at first and then cheers loud and prolonged welcomed him, when a stalwart voice in the gallery arose above the din demanding "Three cheers for Grover Cleveland." This was not held by the assembly to be in good taste and Edmunds proclaimed that order must be maintained or the galleries will be cleared. ...

THE INAUGURAL AND OATH

At precisely 12:30 P.M., the procession appeared, coming out of the east door of the capitol. President Arthur stepped to the front of the platform, followed by President-elect Cleveland, Chief Justice Waite and the Sergeant-at arms of the Senate. Cleveland then began his inaugural address to the vast throng, estimated by Senator Hawley at 150,000.

At the conclusion of the address he turned to the chief justice and bowing to him said: "I am now ready to take the oath prescribed by law." As the chief justice arose to administer the oath, the vast assemblage cheered again and again. The crowd preserved perfect quiet while the impressive ceremony was taking place. After the oath was administered the throng crowded around from the platform and offered congratulations.

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Also on the front page in Oshkosh was a report written by a physician at a medical conference:

POISON IN KISSING

Lives are daily sacrificed and diseases are daily communicated by the promiscuous habit of kissing. As a custom it should be abandoned among women in their greetings. ... In the sacred precincts of the fireside, when death has laid its relentless hands on one of its members, the common practice of kissing is liable to induce septicemia, and thus other precious lives be exposed to the venomous sting of death.

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NEXT: Franklin Roosevelt