President Taft’s visit to Charlotte on May 20, 1909 not only spawned the term “Taft rain,” it also served as occasion for debut of the “Mecklenburg March.” Our colleagues at the Charlotte & Mecklenburg public library have a 2009 recording of the march online (though it doesn’t seem to working right now). No doubt many Mecklenburgers (especially those whose roots lie near the spring where the
supposed signers met) echo the sentiments found in the march’s only lyrics. This copy of the sheet music is from the papers of a proud Mecklenburger and staunch believer in the Meck Dec. We’re still looking for a little more information on Janie Alexander Patterson. We know that she was a “Miss” when she wrote this composition. And that she later became Janie Alexander Patterson Wagoner.
On this day in 1909: President William Howard Taft visits Charlotte for Meck Dec Day and the dedication of the 12-story Realty Building, the Carolinas’ first steel-frame skyscraper.
Just as a parade past Taft’s reviewing stand ends, a sudden downpour sends thousands running for cover. The president’s speech, moved indoors, opposes partisan politics in the federal judiciary. But it will be the “Taft rain” that Charlotteans remember.
Later, at what will become Johnson C. Smith University, Taft sits in a chair custom-built to accommodate his 325 pounds and urges blacks to continue pulling themselves up by their bootstraps.
These two postcards from the collection mark Taft’s visit to Charlotte.