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President Taft and others saluting the flag at Plattsburgh Barracks, July 7, 1909

The Tercentenary Celebrations on Lake Champlain

In 2009 the region celebrates the 400th anniversary of the discovery of Lake Champlain by Samuel de  Champlain. 100 years earlier, Vermont, New York and Quebec invited the world to come see and celebrate what the intrepid French Explorer had found— a rich and beautiful place which had been inhabited by native peoples for generations before. This is Part IV of the story of those festivities.

By James P. Millard

Part IV
Wednesday, July 7 at Plattsburgh and Cliff Haven


"Wednesday, Tercentenary week, interest centered at Plattsburgh. Here, President Taft with representatives of France, Great Britain and Canada, the states of Vermont and New York and other distinguished guests, after a reception at Cliff Haven and luncheon at the home of Hon. Smith M. Weed, proceeded to Plattsburgh Barracks.

Assembling for review         scene alongside parade ground at Plattsburgh Barracks        Royal Highlanders         President Taft reviews the troops 
Plattsburgh Barracks, July 7, 1909: Left to right; Assembling for review, scene alongside parade ground, Royal Highlanders; President Taft reviews the troops.
(click on thumbnails to see a large images)

There, the presidential salute of twenty-one guns announced the arrival of the Nation's Ruler. With the blue of lake, mountains and sky for a background, from a reviewing stand, holding thousands, the President viewed the marching columns of the "boys in blue" of the regular army, the Governor General's Foot Guards of Canada in scarlet, the picturesque Highlanders, companies of our State National Guard in khaki, veterans of '61, organizations, civic and fraternal, with floats and pageants, the whole commanded by Col. C.D. Cowles.

After the parade, Hon. H.W. Knapp introduced the speakers, of whom Gov. Hughes was the first, followed by President Taft, Ambassadors Jusserand and Bryce, Postmaster General Lemieux and Senator Root. The latter gave an able address on "The Iroquois and the Struggle for America." Hon. Daniel W. Cady of New York read an original poem.

Grandstand exercises at Plattsburgh Barracks        Dignitaries arriving at Plattsburgh        Floats at the parade downtown        Huge throngs crowd the streets of the city
Festivities at Plattsburgh in 1909: left to right; Grandstand exercises at Plattsburgh Barracks, dignitaries arriving at Plattsburgh, floats at the parade downtown, huge throngs crowd the streets of the city.
(click on thumbnails to see a large images)

Following the speaking, the President reviewed the assembled troops in a brigade parade and the Presidential party returned to Hotel Champlain, where, in the evening, a banquet was served to five hundred guests of the Governor and New York State Commission. In the meantime, at the mouth of the Saranac, the performance of the Indian pageant and fireworks closed the eventful day."1

President Taft and other dignitaries at Cliff Haven

Catholic Summer School at Cliff Haven in 1909The day's activities began with a reception at the Catholic Summer School in Cliff Haven. Here, in a rustic setting, President Taft joined with a crowd numbering in the thousands in the singing of "America the Beautiful." Remarks were made, following which the Presidential party left for Plattsburgh Barracks.

Downtown Plattsburgh hosted a parade, attended by huge numbers of spectators. Later in the day the crowds moved to the Parade Ground at Plattsburgh Barracks, where the visitors were treated to a Presidential review of troops from the United States and Canada. This day also ended with the popular "Indian pageant" and spectacular fireworks display.

Continued here...  


2 The Champlain Tercentenary: Report of the New York Lake Champlain Tercentenary Commission.1911:Prepared by Henry Wayland Hill, LL.D., Secretary of the Commission. Albany: J.B. Lyon Company, State Printers.

LA GRANDE SEMAINE:  FÊTES DU TROISIÈME CENTENAIRE DE LA DÉCOUVERTE DU LAC CHAMPLAIN. 1909: RÉDIGÉ PAR J.-ARTHUR FAVREAU. Secrétaire de la Société Historique Franco-Américaine. Worcester, Massachusetts: Compagnie De Publication Belisle.

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