On this day in 1916: Woodrow Wilson visits Charlotte for Meck Dec Day. “A hearty cheer greeted the president as he left the train, and he smiled warmly and doffed his silk hat in response,” The Observer reports. “Southern crowds are not much on cheering except when ‘Dixie’ is played; they usually prefer to gaze in silence, but the president and Mrs. Wilson were greeted with vocal demonstrations wherever they went.”
Wilson, however, is soon overshadowed by Mayor T. L. Kirkpatrick, who takes the speakers’ platform to introduce Gov. Locke Craig. Undeterred by the sight of spectators and soldiers fainting in the steamy heat, Kirkpatrick offers a 40-minute review of Mecklenburg history. When the mayor at last yields, Craig introduces President Wilson in a single sentence.
Kirkpatrick, who will suffer considerable teasing about having spoken more than twice as long as the president, always insists that Wilson told him he was not feeling well and to stretch his remarks. The mayor’s speech makes such an impression on First Lady Edith Wilson that she scathingly recalls it in her memoirs.