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In Their Own Words

September 19, 1895

Newspaper Gushed Over Cotton States Opening

Reporting on the previous day’s opening ceremonies for the Cotton States and International Exposition, the front page story of the Atlanta Constitution proclaimed:

“The thunder of a hundred guns just at sunset yesterday was the signal that the exposition was formally opened.

“A minute before Grover Cleveland, president of the United States, sitting in his library at Gray Gables, had touched the electric key. The sharp metallic click of the instrument being watched by 3,000 people at Atlanta, sounded clearly in response.

“The crowd cheered. The cannon thundered. The steam hissed and the machinery started.

“The south’s greatest exposition was officially opened.

“Twenty-five thousand people saw the opening. The largest and longest military parade ever seen in the city marched from the city to the grounds to witness the ceremonies. Over half the states in the union were represented by distinguished representatives. Many foreign countries had representatives in line.

“The opening exercises were deeply impressive… . It was a scene that marked an era in the south’s history. It marked the industrial awakening of a great section and initiated a new departure in the relations of its races. What was happening on the stage of the auditorium, where the opening exercises were held, possessed nothing more than the significance of a historic event.

“The first day of the great show was intensely gratifying. It far surpassed in rate of attendance and interest the highest spectations of the directory. It was a great day, a memorable day, a day to be remembered.

“It started the exposition upon a career and promises many rich triumphs to those who are bone and sinew of the enterprise.”

Source: Atlanta Constitution, Sept. 19, 1895