William McKinley was elected in 1897 as the 25th president of the United States. Though his time in office was short, he is remembered in his home state of Ohio where the scarlet carnation was made the state flower after his death. Every September 14 is celebrated in Ohio as Red Carnation Day.

McKinley's Lucky Flower

During his run for United States Congress in 1876, McKinley's opponent, Levi Lamborn, presented him with a bright red carnation. Lamborn, a horticulturist, had developed the special flower himself. McKinley, who pinned the boutonierre to his lapel before debates throughout the campaign, came to see the red carnation as good luck. From that time forward, he typically wore one. He also kept them in a vase in the Oval Office, offering one to his visitors.

McKinley's Luck Runs Out

While visiting the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York, President McKinley took part in a greeting line. It was reported that while shaking hands with people in the Temple of Music, he encountered a little girl to whom he gave his red carnation. Moments later, an assassin emerged from the crowd. Leon Czolgosz, an anarchist, shot the president twice. McKinley survived for several days until infection and gangrene set in. He died on September 14, 1901.