President McKinley’s Secretary Cancels McKinley's Engagements "Owing to Mrs. McKinley's Serious Illness"

June 4, 1901

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President McKinley’s Secretary Cancels McKinley's Engagements "Owing to Mrs. McKinley's Serious Illness"
Typed Letter Signed
1 page | SMC 1861

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      Background

      Whether the cause was epilepsy, or a blood infection, or gastro-intestinal, or cardiovascular, or even, as some uncharitably posit, drug addiction, Ida McKinley was widely thought to be at death’s door, come May 1901. Toward the end of the month she was better, but on the 31st, failed again: so much so that the President canceled his appointments to attend his wife at her bedside. On June 5th, her physician pronounced her condition “admittedly grave” - causing the President to put off, among other engagements, attending President’s Day at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo. That trip, scheduled for June 13th, as part of a Northeastern swing, would be postponed until September. Then, of course, an assassin would await him, and there Mrs. McKinley, at last recovered, became a widow. She would remain such, for six more years, until dying of a stroke in 1907.

      In this letter McKinley’s devoted secretary, George Cortelyou, writes that “owing to Mrs. McKinley's serious illness the President will be unable to spend a longer time in New England than is required to go direct to Harvard University and participate in the exercises there; and it is in fact doubtful whether he will be able to leave Washington at all in the near future.” McKinley, in fact, did not attend the Harvard commencement; Vice President Roosevelt went in his place.


      Typed Letter Signed, 1 page, octavo, Executive Mansion, Washington, June 4, 1901. To General W.W. Blackmar in Boston. With transmittal envelope.
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