William McKinley statue.

William McKinley, Auctioneer of Allegory

Field review by the editors.

San Jose, California

President McKinley gave a speech in San Jose only four months before he was assassinated. A year-and-a-half later, on February 21, 1903, a statue of McKinley by sculptor Rupert Schmidt was unveiled on the exact same spot. He stands, top hat in hand, and appears to be auctioning off a pile of bronze allegorical objects slumped against the statue's pedestal, including a torch, a cross, a food-stuffed cornucopia, and the Ten Commandments tablets. Behind McKinley's right leg is what looks like a axe and a bundle of dynamite. In front of his statue is a small cannon, warning off any McKinley monument assassins.

An excerpt from the speech McKinley gave on May 12, 1901, is inscribed on the side of the pedestal: "The Constitution is a sacred instrument, and a sacred trust is given to us to see to it that its preservation in all its virtue and its vigor is passed on to the generations yet to come."

Over a hundred years have passed since the statue's dedication (so it's time for a virtue and vigor check!). Today it seems to be a popular nesting spot for chess players, loiterers, and the homeless. During our visit we were the only ones looking at the statue. A yellow stain runs down McKinley's uncovered head, as if he's just suffered a mustard packet broadside -- but it's probably just pollution and a weathering peculiarity.

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William McKinley, Auctioneer of Allegory

Address:
N. 1st St., San Jose, CA
Directions:
In St. James Park. On the east side of N. 1st St. just south of E. St. James St.
Admission:
Free
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In the region:
MerLion - Fish with Lion Head, Cupertino, CA - 7 mi.

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May 25, 2019

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