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Witnessing History: A Silent Film of President William McKinley Shot by Thomas Edison in 1901

Witness history in this incredible silent film of President William McKinley, shot by Thomas Edison in 1901 at the Capitol. Thanks to the Library of Congress, we can see what life was like over a hundred years ago!
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A digitized silent film from 1901 offers a remarkable glimpse into presidential history. The rare footage shows President William McKinley walking through festivities with a crowd, captured by inventor Thomas Edison’s early motion picture camera. This short video documents one of the first U.S. presidents on film and preserves a fascinating moment in time from over a century ago. Getting to see McKinley, who served as president from 1897 until his assassination later in 1901, on video is truly remarkable from a historical perspective.

This significant early film document gives unique insight into what life and events were like during the era over 100 years ago. Viewing McKinley celebrating with the public in the vintage black-and-white visuals is like taking a trip back to the past. The technology used to make this film was cutting-edge for 1901, when motion pictures were still a new invention and novelty. Capturing a sitting president likely required meticulous planning by Edison’s film crew. Overall, these rare images of McKinley provide an invaluable glimpse of history by documenting a visual record of what things were like in America during his presidency. This short silent film is a treasure for history buffs and anyone interested in seeing a president on camera from the early 1900s.

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