Grover Cleveland Worries He Cannot Bring His Baby Into Recently Quarantined White House After His Inauguration

February 20, 1893

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Grover Cleveland Worries He Cannot Bring His Baby Into Recently Quarantined White House After His Inauguration
Autograph Letter Signed
3 pages | SMC 1967

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      Background

      To his dear friend and attending physician, an anxious President Cleveland, concerned for his infant daughter’s safety, puts a crucial question: “Is there any way to make the White House free from the dangers of Scarlet fever, between now and the 4th of March?” Cleveland, who was due to be inaugurated on the 4th, was deathly afraid that the Scarlet Fever which had struck President Harrison’s baby grand-daughter, and subsequently caused the quarantine of the White House for most of January, might still be lurking on the premises:

      Can it not be in some way put in the hands of Dr. Billings and if it was would you be satisfied with his assurance of safety?.... Of course we are neither of us willing to take our baby into the White House against your judgments which we understand to be opposed to such a state in present conditions.

      There was also, Cleveland explains, a political ramification to his concern:

      I am afraid that our living outside of the White House will shock the Lieutenant that usually accompanies our inauguration and will be such a departure from customs and traditions as would lead to great deal of popular disappointment. I ought not to trouble you but if you can put us on the track of things to do in order to allow us safely to go into the White House after inauguration - with our child, I shall be in a deeper sense than ever your debtor.

      “Baby Ruth”, Cleveland’s eldest child, moved into the White House and lived there, happily and healthily: it was only when Cleveland was out of office, in 1904, that she suddenly caught diphtheria, and died. The blow, Cleveland said, was almost unbearable.


      Autograph Letter Signed, as President-Elect, 3 pages, octavo, Lakewood, New Jersey, February 20, 1893. To Dr, Joseph Bryant. 
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      Lakewood, N. J.
      Feby 20. 1893

      Dear Doctor

      Is there any way to make the White House free from the dangers of Scarlet fever, between now and the 4th of March?  Can it not be in some way put in the hands of Dr Billings and if it was would you be satisfied with his assurance of safety?

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      Page 2 transcript

      I am afraid that our living outside of the White House will shock the Lieutenant that usually accompanies an inauguration and will be such a departure from customs and traditions as would lead to a great deal of popular disappointment  

      Of course we are neither of us willing to take our baby into the White House against your judgments which

      Page 3/3

      Page 3 transcript

      we understand to be opposed to such a state in present conditions.  

      I ought not to trouble you but if you can put us on the track of things to do  in order to allow us safely to go into the White House after inauguration -- with our Child, I shall be in a deeper sense than ever your debtor.  

      Yours Sincerely  

      GROVER CLEVELAND 

      Dr J. D Bryant