Chicago Mayor, Carter Henry Harrison Sr., Last Speech before His Assassination on the Evening of October 28, 1893.

Saturday, October 28, 1893, Mayor Harrison was at the Chicago World's Columbian Exposition. It was the last day of the last week of that noble Exposition, in which he took such pride, and to the success of which he had contributed so much. The ceremonies of the day were such as to enlist his heartiest interest. It was the day upon which the mayors of nearly a score of the larger cities and towns of the United States had gathered at the "White City."
The Peristyle and the South Pier provided a grand
water entrance to Chicago’s 1893 World’s Fair.
The forty-eight columns that comprise the Peristyle
represent the States of the Union and the territories.
The Music Hall is visible in the lower-left corner.
There were music and addresses in the Music Hall. Close friends of the mayor declared that afternoon they had never seen him more alert, more magnetic, in finer fettle. He bore his sixty-eight years with the lightness of a lad of twenty. The announcement of his pending marriage had just been made. The speech he made that afternoon was youthful in its audacity; and when he declared with mock seriousness, "I intend to live for almost half a century " his auditors forgot, in the presence of his magnificent vitality, that this man was already within two years of the Scriptural limit of threescore years and ten.

The speech he delivered that afternoon—the last public utterance of Carter Henry Harrison Sr.—is quoted here:

"Mayors of the various Cities who are our Guests, and you, Officials of Chicago, and of other Cities: It is my pleasing duty to welcome you to Chicago to witness the dying scene of this magnificent Exposition. It is a little chilly in weather, but the sun is coming out, and you have a warm beat from the heart of our people. Thus it is that at the dying scene, while these beauties are passing away, this World's Fair is showing itself in its most majestic proportion, as the moment approaches for it to pass away forever. Mr. Madden has said to you words of praise of the efforts of our sister cities in helping to make this thing a success. All who have visited the World's Fair are glad of the opportunity they have had to see such a scene of grandeur, and I myself deeply pity any American who has lost the opportunity of coming here. 
The final speech of Chicago Mayor Carter Harrison Sr., He would be killed that night.
I have sometimes said what I would do if I were President of the United States. If I were today Grover Cleveland I would send a message to Congress and would say in that message that the World's Columbian Exposition has been a success, ay, beyond the expectation of any man living. It was fitting for us to celebrate the greatest event of the world, the discovery of two continents. Six months has been altogether too short a time for this greatest of all world's-fairs. The President should say that it has beaten itself; and the American people should today make an appropriation through its Congress to preserve these buildings until next year, and notify all the world to come here. At the end of this week we shall have had 22,000,000 admissions to these grounds. No doubt many of them have been duplicated many times. There have probably been 10,000,000 or 12,000,000 of Americans inside these grounds. We have in the United States 65,000,000, ay, nearly 70,000,000 inhabitants, and the Congress should declare that another year he given us that all Americans could have an opportunity to come here. The Exposition, the directory, has not the means to continue it. It is a national enterprise, and the Nation should breathe new life into it and let us have the Fair for another year, and next year we would have an average attendance of 250,000 a day.

This World's Fair has been the greatest educator of the nineteenth century, the greatest this century has seen. It has been the greatest educator the world has ever known. Come out and look upon these grounds, upon this beautiful 'White City.' The past has nothing for its model; the future will be utterly incapable of competing with it, ay, for hundreds of years to come. This great White City has sprung from the morass (an area of muddy or boggy ground). Only two years ago this was the home of the muskrat. Two years ago this thousand acres which is now covered by these palaces lay but a little above water and much beneath it. Look at it now! These buildings, this hall, this dream of poets of centuries is the wild aspiration of crazy architects alone. None but a crazy architect could have supposed that this scene could be created. In two years it has sprung up from the morass and has risen, all that you see here, crystallized in staff, looking like marble. It has been my good fortune to have seen all the cities of the world, or nearly has been my good fortune to have been among the ruins of the great cities of the Old World. I have stood upon the seven-hills of Rome; from Capitoline I have looked over and tried to re-people old Rome. I have been in Athens. Around me were ruins. I had enough imagination to rehabilitate them. I have stood among the ruins of all the old cities, but no imagination could recall any of those ruins and make them compare with this White City. A man said to me yesterday in walking around these grounds: 'Who could have conceived this? What brain brought it forth? What genius instigated the idea of these magnificent buildings and their groupings?' I said to him: 'there is an old adage: "Fools enter where angels dare not tread." Our people were wild, crazy, if you choose. They conceived all that the madness of genius could conceive. There have been great men who have said that genius was insanity. Genius is but audacity, and the audacity of the "wild and woolly West," and of Chicago has chosen a star and has looked upward to it and knows nothing that it will not attempt, and thus far has found nothing that it cannot accomplish. It was the audacity of genius that imagined this thing. It was the pluck of the people, congregated from all the cities of this Union, from all the nationalities of the world, speaking all languages, drawing their inspiration from three thousand miles of territory from east to west, from yonder green lake on the north to the gulf on the south, — our people who have never yet found failure.

When the fire swept over our city and laid it in ashes in twenty-four hours, then the world said: 'Chicago and its boasting is now gone forever.' But Chicago said: ' We will rebuild the city better than ever,' and Chicago has done it. The World's Fair is a mighty object lesson, but, my friends, come out of this White City, come out of these walls into our black city. When we get there we will find that there is an object lesson even greater than is the World's Fair itself. There is a city that was a morass when I came into the world sixty-eight and one-half years ago. It was a village of but a few hundred when I had attained the age of 12 years in 1837. What is it now? The second city in America! And you, people of the East, look well to your laurels. I told Mayor Gilroy the other day: ' Look well to your laurels.' For the man is now born, and I myself have taken a new lease of life, and I believe I shall see the day when Chicago will be the biggest city in America, and the third city on the face of the globe. I once heard Tom Corwin tell a story of a man who was on the witness stand, over near the eastern shores of Maryland. They asked him his age. He said he was 30. 
'Why,' said Mr. Corwin, 'you look 50.' 
'Well,' the witness answered, 'during fourteen years of my life I lived in Maryland, and I don't count that.'

I don't count the last from the year 1892, the four hundredth anniversary of the discovery of America. I intend to live for more than half a century, and at the end of that half-century London will be trembling lest Chicago shall surpass it, and New York will say, 'Let it go to the metropolis of America.' It is but a little while when I expect to get on a magnificent steamer at Chicago's wharf and go to a suburb, — New Orleans, the Crescent City of the globe. Mr. Mayor of Omaha, we will take you in as a suburb. We are not narrow-minded. Our heart is as broad as the prairies that surround us.

But we are here, gentlemen, to receive the mayors and the officials of our American cities. The day is propitious. I hope Congress will see this day and continue the Columbian Exposition for another year. The people of the world did not know what we had here. Some envious newspapers have misrepresented us. Philadelphia has always been kind to us. I recollect the maiden speech I made in Congress. It was for the Centennial appropriation at Philadelphia. We Democrats were always for the appropriation, and I, as a Chicagoan, was for Philadelphia and the appropriation. If, however. Congress should fail in its duty, then what is our position? The birth of the World's Columbian Exposition was a marvelous one. Its building was also marvelous. But in a few days something more marvelous sprang up. These buildings were filled with marvelous exhibits. Look at this hall. There are but few in the wide world that equal it. The New York building has a hall that should be crystallized and covered over with glass. Brazil has a building, — one that we would not think could emanate from South American genius. Japan, Sweden, Germany, England, Siam, and far-off Ceylon, have buildings which are marvels of beauty; but in a few days they will be gone forever.

It almost sickens me "when I look at this great Exposition to think that it will be allowed to crumble into dust. In a few days the building-wrecker will take hold of it and it will be torn down, and all of this wonderful beauty will be scattered to the winds of heaven. Mr. Burnham, the architect and partner of Mr. Root, who is really the designer of this thing, — poor Root is dead, gone forever; but it is a pleasing thought that probably at the yonder side he may look down and see what has been done; it must be with a feeling of great pleasure and great pride when he looks down on what he has designed, — Mr. Burnham said the other day:
'Let it go; it has to go, so let it go. Let us put the torch to it and burn it down.'
I believe with him. If we cannot preserve it for another year I would be in favor of putting a torch to it and burning it down and let it go up into the bright sky to eternal heaven. {{Burnham and Root were one of Chicago's most famous architectural companies of the nineteenth century. It was established by John Wellborn Root and Daniel Hudson Burnham.}}

But I am detaining you too long. I did not expect to make a speech of any length. But when I speak I never know what I shall say. There is an inspiration at this place, and I could go on talking from now until nightfall about the glories of the Fair. We welcome you here and tell you no statistics. We Chicagoans have put millions in these buildings. Chicago has $5,000,000 in them. It will get nothing back, but you won't find a Chicagoan that has come here that regrets the expenditure of that $5,000,000. The man that says that Chicago has wasted money is a lunatic. It has not been wasted. This Fair need not have a history to record it. Its beauty has gone forth among the people, — the men, the women, ay, the child has looked upon it, and they have all been well repaid for this wonderful education.

No royal king ordered it, but the American people with the greatest of pluck, with the pluck born under the freedom of those Stars and Stripes, made this thing possible, — possible to a free people. It is an educator of the world. The world will be wiser for it. No king can ever rule the American heart. We have the Monroe doctrine. America extends an invitation to the best of the world, and its Stars and Stripes will wave from now on to eternity. That is one of the lessons we have taught. 

But I must stop. If I go on another moment I will get on to some new idea. I thank you all for coming to us. I welcome you all here; in the name of Chicago I welcome you to see this dying effort of Chicago, — Chicago that never could conceive what it wouldn't attempt, and yet has found nothing that it could not achieve. I thank you all." 

Mayor Carter Henry Harrison, Sr.

Four hours after the plaudits of his hearers died away Mayor Harrison lay dead in the home which had been his for a score of years. Death came to him in sudden and terrible guise. 

READ THE ARTICLE: Patrick Eugene Prendergast assassinated Carter H. Harrison Sr, the Mayor of Chicago, on October 28, 1893.