March 4, 1897 – September 14, 1901
|Preceded by||Frances Cleveland|
|Succeeded by||Edith Roosevelt|
|Occupation||29th First Lady of the United States|
Early life and marriage
Ida was born in Canton, Ohio, the elder daughter of James Saxton, prominent Canton banker, and Katherine DeWalt-Saxton. Her grandfather, John Saxton, in 1815 founded The Repository, the city's first and now its only newspaper. A graduate of Brook Hall Seminary, a finishing school in Media, Pennsylvania, Ida was refined, charming, and strikingly attractive when she met William "Bill" McKinley at a picnic in 1867. They did not begin courting until after she returned from a European tour in 1869. While single, she worked for a time as a cashier in her father's bank, a position then usually reserved for men.
William McKinley, aged 27, married Ida Saxton, aged 23, on January 25, 1871, at the First Presbyterian Church in Canton, then still under construction. Following the wedding, performed by the Reverend E. Buckingham and the Reverend Dr. Endsley, the couple attended a reception at the home of the bride's parents and left on an eastern wedding trip.
Possessed of a fragile, nervous temperament, Mrs. McKinley broke down under the loss of her mother and two infant daughters within a short span of time. She developed epilepsy and became totally dependent on her husband. Her seizures at times occurred in public; she had one at McKinley's inaugural ball as governor. Although an invalid the rest of her life, she kept busy with her hobby, crocheting slippers, making gifts of literally thousands of pairs to friends and acquaintances.
|Offspring of William McKinley and Ida Saxton (1847-1907)|
|Katherine McKinley (1871-1876)|| |
|Ida McKinley (1873-1873)|
First Lady of the United States
President McKinley took great care to accommodate her condition. In a break with tradition, he insisted that his wife be seated next to him at state dinners rather than at the other end of the table. At receiving lines, she alone remained seated. Many of the social chores normally assumed by the First Lady fell to Mrs. Jennie Tuttle Hobart, wife of Vice President Garret Hobart. Guests noted that whenever Mrs. McKinley was about to undergo a seizure, the President would gently place a napkin or handkerchief over her face to conceal her contorted features. When it passed, he would remove it and resume whatever he was doing as if nothing had happened.
The President's patient devotion and loving attention was the talk of the capital. "President McKinley has made it pretty hard for the rest of us husbands here in Washington," remarked Mark Hanna.
Later life and death
With the assassination of her husband by Leon Czolgosz in Buffalo, New York in September 1901, Mrs. McKinley lost much of her will to live. Although she bore up well in days between the shooting and the president's death, she could not bring herself to attend his funeral. Her health eroded as she withdrew to the safety of her home and memories in Canton. She was cared for by her younger sister. She survived the president by less than six years, dying on May 26, 1907. She was buried next to him and their two daughters in Canton's McKinley Memorial Mausoleum.
Ida's childhood home, the Saxton House, has been preserved on Market Avenue in Canton. In addition to growing up in the house, she and her husband also lived there from 1878–1891, the period during which the future President McKinley served as one of Ohio's Congressional Representatives. The house was restored to its Victorian splendor and became part of the First Ladies National Historic Site at its dedication in 1998.
- ^ "Mrs. McKinley in a Critical Condition". The New York Times. May 16, 1901. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9405E4DB1030E132A25755C1A9639C946097D6CF. Retrieved 19 January 2010.
- Original text based on White House biography
| First Lady of the United States|
1897 – 1901
| Succeeded by|