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ABOUT THE WHITE HOUSE * FIRST LADIES



OUR FIRST LADIES:
18th Century
about_first_ladies_marthawashington Martha Washington
about_first_ladies_abigailadams Abigail Adams

19th Century
about_first_ladies_marthajefferson Martha Jefferson
about_first_ladies_dolleymadison Dolley Madison
about_first_ladies_elizabethmonroe Elizabeth Monroe
about_first_ladies_louisaadams Louisa Adams
about_first_ladies_racheljackson Rachel Jackson
about_first_ladies_hannahvanburen Hannah Van Buren
about_first_ladies_annaharrison Anna Harrison
about_first_ladies_letitiatyler Letitia Tyler
about_first_ladies_juliatyler Julia Tyler
about_first_ladies_sarahpolk Sarah Polk
about_first_ladies_margarettaylor Margaret Taylor
about_first_ladies_abigailfillmore Abigail Fillmore
about_first_ladies_janepierce Jane Pierce
about_first_ladies_harrietlane Harriet Lane
about_first_ladies_marylincoln Mary Lincoln
about_first_ladies_elizajohnson Eliza Johnson
about_first_ladies_juliagrant Julia Grant
about_first_ladies_lucyhayes Lucy Hayes
about_first_ladies_lucretiagarfield Lucretia Garfield
about_first_ladies_ellenarthur Ellen Arthur
about_first_ladies_francescleveland Frances Cleveland
about_first_ladies_carolineharrison Caroline Harrison
about_first_ladies_francescleveland Frances Cleveland
about_first_ladies_idamckinley Ida McKinley


20th Century
about_first_ladies_edithroosevelt Edith Roosevelt
about_first_ladies_helentaft Helen Taft
about_first_ladies_ellenwilson Ellen Wilson
about_first_ladies_edithwilson Edith Wilson
about_first_ladies_florenceharding Florence Harding
about_first_ladies_gracecoolidge Grace Coolidge
about_first_ladies_louhoover Lou Hoover
about_first_ladies_eleanorroosevelt Eleanor Roosevelt
about_first_ladies_besstruman Elizabeth Truman
about_first_ladies_mamieeisenhower Mamie Eisenhower
about_first_ladies_jacquelinekennedy Jacqueline Kennedy
about_first_ladies_ladybirdjohnson Claudia Johnson
about_first_ladies_patnixon Patricia Nixon
about_first_ladies_bettyford Elizabeth Ford
about_first_ladies_rosalynncarter Rosalynn Carter
about_first_ladies_nancyreagan Nancy Reagan
about_first_ladies_barbarabush Barbara Bush
about_first_ladies_hillaryclinton Hillary Clinton

21st Century
about_first_ladies_laurabush Laura Bush
administration_michelle_obama Michelle Obama



IDA SAXTON MCKINLEY
b.1847 -- d.1907

There was little resemblance between the vivacious young woman who married William McKinley in January 1871--a slender bride with sky-blue eyes and fair skin and masses of auburn hair--and the petulant invalid who moved into the White House with him in March 1897. Now her face was pallid and drawn, her close-cropped hair gray; her eyes were glazed with pain or dulled with sedative. Only one thing had remained the same: love which had brightened early years of happiness and endured through more than twenty years of illness.

Ida had been born in Canton, Ohio, in 1847, elder daughter of a socially prominent and well-to-do family. James A. Saxton, a banker, was indulgent to his two daughters. He educated them well in local schools and a finishing school, and then sent them to Europe on the grand tour.

Being pretty, fashionable, and a leader of the younger set in Canton did not satisfy Ida, so her broad-minded father suggested that she work in his bank. As a cashier she caught the attention of Maj. William McKinley, who had come to Canton in 1867 to establish a law practice, and they fell deeply in love. While he advanced in his profession, his young wife devoted her time to home and husband. A daughter, Katherine, was born on Christmas Day, 1871; a second, in April 1873. This time Ida was seriously ill, and the frail baby died in August. Phlebitis and epileptic seizures shattered the mother's health; and even before little Katie died in 1876, she was a confirmed invalid.

As Congressman and then as governor of Ohio, William McKinley was never far from her side. He arranged their life to suit her convenience. She spent most of her waking hours in a small Victorian rocking chair that she had had since childhood; she sat doing fancy work and crocheting bedroom slippers while she waited for her husband, who indulged her every whim.

At the White House, the McKinleys acted as if her health were no great handicap to her role as First Lady. Richly and prettily dressed, she received guests at formal receptions seated in a blue velvet chair. She held a fragrant bouquet to suggest that she would not shake hands. Contrary to protocol, she was seated beside the President at state dinners and he, as always, kept close watch for signs of an impending seizure. If necessary, he would cover her face with a large handkerchief for a moment. The First Lady and her devoted husband seemed oblivious to any social inadequacy. Guests were discreet and newspapers silent on the subject of her "fainting spells." Only in recent years have the facts of her health been revealed.

When the President was shot by an assassin in September 1901, after his second inauguration, he thought primarily of her. He murmured to his secretary: "My wife--be careful, Cortelyou, how you tell her--oh, be careful." After his death, she lived in Canton, cared for by her younger sister, visiting her husband's grave almost daily. She died in 1907, and lies entombed beside the President and near their two little daughters in Canton's McKinley Memorial Mausoleum.


Click about_presidents_williammckinley here to read the biography of President William McKinley.

MD5: b4feff6a71cf1243ef726081a659bede
Original URL: http://whitehouse.gov/about/first_ladies/idamckinley/

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