Taft Visits Cape Girardeau

Is a stop on a Mississippi River trip from St. Louis to New Orleans sponsored by the Lakes to Gulf Deep Waterway Association to promote improvements for the river to become a major transportation waterway.
Lands in Cape October 26, 1909, 6 am, for a speech in front of Academic Hall at 7 am.

From The Daily Republican 26 October, 1909:
Head of Nation Was Our Guest; Cape Held Stage for One Hour
Program was Carried Out Promptly and the Guests Departed on Schedule Time
– Exercises a Complete Success –
President Spoke at Normal
Big Bouquet Presented by Schoolgirls
President Planted Tree

The ringing of the telephone bells at 4 o’clock this morning awakened the sleeping citizens of Cape Girardeau to the fact that the presidential fleet would soon arrive, and the answering flashes of light from the windows of the residences all over the city gave evidence that the signals had been received.
It appeared as though a magician had swept his wand over the sleeping city, for where all was dark one minute, thousands if lights were flashed through the darkness the next, soon the slumbering population had been transformed into a living, moving enthusiastic people, with one idea in common – to see the chief executive of the nation.
A little after 5 o’clock a long whistle, preceded by three short blasts, gave toke that the flag ship Oleander, bearing the President, was passing old Fort A, and the presidential salute of twenty-one guns, fired by a detail from the battalion of the sixth regiment gave official notice that the President of the United States was a guest of Southeast Missouri.
Early as it was, crowds of people lined the heights overlooking the city to the north and the crowds were continually increased by belated citizens hurrying to the places of vantage for several minutes after the pageant had passed.
Through the dim light of the early morn the vessels sailed proudly by, their forms indistinctly seen, but the shining of the many electric bulbs showed where each boat was.

Salute Fired

The firing of the salute awakened the echoes, and broke a silence that had lasted for nearly half a century, so far as the firing of artillery betokened the presence of a commander in chief of the army and navy, and for the first time in the history of Cape Girardeau and Southeast Missouri the presence of the commander in chief of the army will officially announced.
With the passing of the boats came the scattering of the crowds, all desiring to secure other points for a closer view of the chief man of the nation and his retinue. Some hastened to the levee front, while others, with more forethought, betook themselves to places nearer to the Normal school grounds, so that a shorter time would elapse between the passing of the parade and the beginning of the exercises at the school.
The boats were maneuvered into their proper stations at the wharf, but the President and his party did not come ashore until 6 o’clock.
As the President stepped onto the Missouri shore, Chairman Regenhardt of the executive committee presented him with the beautiful badge which had been provided for him as a memento of his visit to Cape Girardeau.
The visitors were met by the various committees who had been assigned to the different boats, and they were conducted to their cars for the trip out to the Normal School grounds, where, in front of Academic Hall, the exercised were carried out.
The levee where the boats landed had been roped off and a patrol of Company K kept the space clear for the passage of the visitors to their automobiles an special trolley cars that were in waiting.
It was just six o’clock when the distinguished guests of the city began coming ashore, and the riverfront and the streets leading down to the wharf were packed with loyal citizens of South Missouri waiting to greet them. All houses in the neighborhood of the landing place were utilized as points of vantage for a better view of the notables as they left the boat, and the assembled people gave vent to their enthusiasm by prolonged and hearty cheers.

The Bodyguard.

A cavalcade of rough riders from the 101 Ranch show followed Chief of Police Martin in he formation of the parade out to the Normal grounds, and after these came the Southeast Missouri sheriffs, who precede the President’s automobile. After the President’s vehicle the autos bearing the other distinguished visitors followed.
Other distinguished members of the party were conducted to the special trolley cars that had been reserved for them, and at the time designated on the schedule the party reached the Normal grounds, where in front of Academic Hall, the platforms and speaker’s stand had been erected.
Chairman Regenhardt presented Mayor Leming, who presented Governor Herbert S. Hadley, and he in turn introduced President Taft to the throng of people assembled on the terraces of the campus leading from Normal Avenue to Academic Hall.
When the President arose to address the audience six school girls advanced onto the platform and presented him with a monster bouquet of American Beauty roses. Miss Ruth Glenn presented him with the flowers, and she was accompanied by little Misses Pearl Stone, Irene Pott, Oma Hutes, Antonia Schrader, and Marie Waldman. We have all heard and read about the Taft smile, but it is necessary to see it to fully appreciate it. When he looked out over the audience and smiled in response to the greeting of the assembled people he smiled -–and the crowd smiled with him. When he prefaced his remarks by saying: "It’s not so bad after you do get up," and further added that two things would be remembered by him in connection with his visit to Cape Girardeau – his having walked with a gentleman larger than himself
, and the unusual spectacle of the rising sun, he demonstrated that his good nature could excuse the necessity for responding to a call at an hour which is usually spent in slumber.
The President expressed his regret that he could not accept of the invitation to visit the drainage district of Southeast Missouri, where so much had been done in the way of reclaiming the lowlands and of converting them into farming regions which would rival the fertile fields of other parts of the state.
His speech of twenty minutes was distinctly heard, despite the fact that he was suffering from the effects of a severe cold, contracted in Texas, and his voice was yet quite horse.
At the completion of the President’s speech he was escorted to a place on the campus which had been selected for the place to plant the young elm tree. The hole was dug, the tree, a beautiful young sapling, was placed therein, and the President, with a shovel decorated with the national colors, cast in the dirt about the roots, and the Taft tree became a growing part of the surroundings of the Cape Girardeau Normal school.

The Taft Tree.

At the completion of this ceremony seats in the vehicle were taken and the return trip to the waiting boats begun.
The return was made by a different route, taking in other streets than those over which the trip to the Normal had been made and the part earmarked on their steamers for a continuation of the trip down the Fathers of Waters which is hoped will be of great benefit to the people of the Mississippi valley.
The great throng of people began to move toward the river and all streets leading in that direction were black with the hastening crowds. And during the embarkation of the eminent party of visitors, and until the last vessel had gotten under way, the crowds remained on the riverfront, and not until the salute of the battery in the south end of the city that the President and his party had left the city did the crowds of people turn their thoughts to other matters.