First Lady’s Illness Interrupted McKinleys’ Transcontinental Travel | News, Sports, Jobs


On May 8, 1901, William and Ida McKinley became the first president and first lady to visit the state of California as part of a transcontinental train journey to visit the states.

Unfortunately, the trip did not go as planned as Ida McKinley fell ill with blood poisoning from a cut on her finger, and her condition worsened as the train traveled through California from Los Angeles to the Santa Clara Valley on May 10.

The president was scheduled to visit San Jose May 13-15. Instead, on the afternoon of May 12, a special train took the President and Ms McKinley to a private house in San Francisco because Ms McKinley’s health had taken a hit. turn for the worse. Upon their arrival, the president stayed by the first lady’s bedside, apart from two outings – one on May 14 for a parade that officially welcomed him to the city, and one the day before her visit to San José.

In San Jose, the president was honored on the opening day of the Carnival of Roses. The Ladies’ Auxiliary Society prepared a special gift for President McKinley, which Mrs. EO Smith was honored to present with the following words: “President McKinley: This floral offering, which has been prepared for you by the faithful women of the Santa Clara Valley, is without doubt the largest collection of cut flowers arranged as an offering to any human being in any party. of the world, but this point is of minor importance. The fact that this bouquet is 25 feet tall and 60 feet in circumference and carries the weight of a ton of flowers doesn’t matter much to you compared to the other fact that 2,000 faithful women have come close. and from afar, bringing with them the most beautiful flowers from their gardens, and left them here for the beloved president of their beloved country. Those who live in mansions amid acres of flowers, and those who live in chalets where the only rosebush blooms above the glass, all also contributed to these offerings. It is not a single bouquet. It is a “bouquet of bouquets”, typical of our republic of states, in that its glory is manifested by the harmonious union of several in one. We regret that you cannot take it with you in its entirety, but you can see its beauty and inhale its scent, and may it accompany you in your busy life, a constant reminder of the loyalty and patriotism of the women of God. Flower Garden, “the pleasant valley of Santa Clara. President McKinley, on behalf of the women of this valley, I have the honor to present this bouquet to you.

President McKinley responded to the Ladies’ Auxiliary Society and all who were present to see him: “We had many warm and generous greetings on our trip from the Potomac to the Pacific Slope, but none were more interesting. , more generous and more memorable than what the people of Santa Clara County and San Jose give us today. We are all proud of our states, and maybe we are, whether we are from the North or from the South. We are proud of our birthplace and our state citizenship; but above all we rejoice in the great nation, in the glory of its achievements, in the flag which represents freedom and secularism, and in the Constitution of the nation which shelters us all.

“We’ve seen it all in California; we have eaten your fruit and your fish; we have tasted the scents of your flowers; we visited the old missionary churches where the altar of religion was raised for the first time, and whose chimes have resounded through the centuries their message of hope and blessing; we have heard the crashing waves of your ocean; we have felt the sun – and we have been tanned a bit by its rays, but all the time we have felt the warm touch of your hearts.

At 10 a.m. on May 15, Secretary George Cortelyou issued an official bulletin announcing the cancellation of the president’s planned visit to other states and planning to return directly to Washington as soon as the first lady’s health improved sufficiently. to resist the trip. Ms McKinley was conscious and unconscious, and Cabinet members appealed for her condition as they feared the worst but hoped for the best.

On May 16, 1901, The New York Times reported: “Madam. McKinley’s disease has cast a shadow over the whole town. People have shown their sympathy in myriad ways. Throughout the day, small groups have been standing across the street in front of the mansion. Scott, silently gazing at the blinds drawn in the room in which the country’s first lady lay. News of the seriousness of her illness evidently traveled quickly, as from across the country this afternoon telegrams poured in to the President expressing sympathy for Mrs McKinley and asking for news of her condition. How soon will Mrs McKinley be able to travel, if at all, is a question no one can answer now. stay here longer than next Monday, when the party was originally due to leave. It is likely that it will be a bit later before she can endure the long journey across the continent; but as soon as she is strong enough , the journey will be by the most direct route, probably the Union Pacific. No stops will be made and it is believed that the trip can be completed in five days. “

The President and Mrs. McKinley were able to leave on May 25 and return to Washington on May 30, 1901.

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