Two Hundred and Eighty Seven Days: July

Liberty Bell PPIE
The Liberty Bell arrives.


The midpoint of the Exposition had come in the month of July. Summer and the fair were in full swing, as the attendance and earnings began to show it. Patriotism and summer travel were at their peak this month-a month, which would celebrate the country, her freedom and three men whom were at the center of the impending war debate. July first opened the month with a celebration of the President of the United States-Woodrow Wilson Day.

This day served as a rally with which to show support for the President. Months after the sinking of the Lusitania, tensions were high and pressure was mounting from both sides of the debate. The event began with the participation of the President himself. Wilson pressed a button from his respite in New Hampshire, which unfurled a grand American flag above the Exposition, as the battleship Oregon fired her guns and the citizenry rose in impromptu to the playing of “The Stars and Stripes Forever”, by Souza’s Band. Speeches were made in support of the President and emphasizing the great burden he bore.


Over three hundred thousand people visited the exposition on Independence Day weekend. Saturday July 3rd and Sunday July 4thserved as lead up to the 5th, which included the bulk of the commemorations. There were races, greased pole climbing contests, a fireman’s display of fighting a burning building, concerts and fireworks.

July 5th’s parade was grand. Military personnel, citizens, bands, floats, and automobiles left the Embarcadero at 10 a.m. and traveled to the Exposition on citizen-lined streets. The route ended at the Tower of Jewels where the day’s orator, William Jennings Bryan waited to deliver. Bryan (later famous for arguing the prosecution in the Scopes Trial) had recently resigned as the Secretary of State under President Wilson over disagreements over the handling of the European conflict. Bryan spoke for one hour, during which it rained on and off. This did not deter the almost eighty thousand listeners. He spoke of peace and concluded his remarks thusly, “ Across the seas our brothers’ hands are stained in brothers’ blood. The world has run mad. They need a flag that speaks the sentiment of the human heart, a flag that looks toward better things than war.” Mr. Bryan stayed at the Exposition making several speeches and enjoying a dinner dedicated to him on the 6th.


July was the busiest month of the Exposition with over one hundred special days packed into just thirty-one. Another monumental moment in the Exposition year occurred on July 17th as the Liberty Bell finished her cross-country train ride and arrived at the exposition. Along the way, the bell made many stops. Often, the amount of visitors exceeded the population of the towns. The Liberty Bell drew one hundred thousand plus visitors on her day.

Roosevelt Day PPIE
Teddy Roosevelt rouses the crowd.


The man who built the canal arrived in San Francisco on July 20th to adoring throngs. Teddy Roosevelt was in town and July 21stwas the day the exposition dedicated to the man that made it possible. The Colonel made his speech at the Exposition at two o’clock. However, he was so popular a speaker, attendees arrived and started jockeying for seats four hours early. Whether intentional or not, Roosevelt and Bryan served as foils to each other. Roosevelt spoke boisterously of the importance of a strong military and called for universal service among the nation’s men. He spoke, “ No nation ever amounted to anything if its population was composed of pacifists and poltroons, if its sons did not have the fighting edge, if its women did not feel as the mothers of Washington’s Continentals felt; as the mothers of the men who followed Grant and Lee felt. Men who are not ready to fight for the right are not fit to live in a free democracy.”


Last updated: July 15, 2015

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