McKinley also came along during the infancy of electronic communications. His campaigns of 1896 and 1900 were too soon to put his voice on the airwaves, but it was, remarkably, captured on cylinders. In this recording -- which has a long prologue made much latter by someone named William Wedge describing the campaign of 1896 -- there's a bit of a campaign speech by McKinley. He made such speeches at his porch in Ohio, a 19th century way to run for the presidency, while his opponent William Jennings Bryan practiced a proto-20th-century campaign by traveling the country on the stump.
By the time McKinley gave this speech, at the Pan-American Exposition in 1901, he'd been re-elected and was beginning to have second thoughts about his longstanding support for trade protectionism. It was among his last speeches, if not his very last. How unfamiliar the timbre and cadence of the voice is. It's the 19th century, so little of which is preserved, speaking to us.