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McKinley and the First White House Press Corps

  • Stephen Ponder
Chapter

Abstract

When President William McKinley led the United States into war against Spain in 1898, it was an extraordinary experience for the presidency as well as for the nation. The major fighting in Cuba and the Philippines was brief, between April and September, and the outcome was never in doubt. But the war marked the beginnings of an “imperial presidency,” as Arthur Schlesinger later described it, as well as the foundations of a recognizably modern relationship between the President and the Washington press corps.1

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., The Imperial Presidency (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1973), 82–90.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    W. Dale Nelson, Who Speaks for the President? The White House Press Secretary from Cleveland to Clinton (Syracuse, N.Y: Syracuse University Press, 1998), argues that Cortelyou was the first modern press secretary.Google Scholar
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    George F. Parker, Recollections of Grover Cleveland (New York: Century, 1911), 375.Google Scholar
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    The quotation is from W. W. Price, “Secretaries to the Presidents,” Cosmopolitan 30 (March 1901): 491.Google Scholar
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    The quotation is from David S. Barry, “News-Getting at the Capitol,” Chautauquan 26 (December 1897): 282.Google Scholar
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    The incident is described by David S. Barry, Forty Years in Washington (Boston: Little, Brown, 1924), 219—21,Google Scholar
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    Michael Schudson, “The Politics of Narrative Form: The Emergence of News Conventions in Print and Television,” Daedulus 3 (Fall 1982): 101—2.Google Scholar
  19. 28.
    For brief discussions about McKinley and the press by McKinley’s principal biographers, see Gould, The Presidency of William McKinley, 241; Margaret Leech, In the Days of McKinley (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1959), 230—1,Google Scholar
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    Arthur Wallace Dunn, Gridiron Nights (New York: Frederick A. Stokes, 1915), 18, 30–4.Google Scholar
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    The quotation is from Albert Halstead, “The President at Work—a Character Sketch,” Independent 53 (5 September 1901): 2081.Google Scholar
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    See Edward G. Lowry Washington Closeups: Intimate Views of Some Public Figures (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1921), 127–9.Google Scholar
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    The quotation is from David S. Barry, “George Bruce Cortelyou,” World’s Work 5 (April 1903): 3337–40. See also Leech, In the Days of McKinley, 230.Google Scholar
  26. 75.
    For a description of the technological limitations involved, see Melville E. Stone, Fifty Years a Journalist (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday Page, 1921), 313–4.Google Scholar
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    The quotation is from Isaac F. Marcosson, Adventures in Interviewing (New York: John Lane, 1919), 18.Google Scholar
  28. 83.
    O. O. Stealey Twenty Years in the Press Gallery (Stealey 1906), 34—5.Google Scholar
  29. 86.
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  30. 89.
    W. W. Price, “How the Work of Gathering White House News Has Changed,” Washington Evening Star, 16 December 1902,Google Scholar
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© Stephen Ponder 1998

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  • Stephen Ponder

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