McKinley spends Christmas in D.C.

The newspapers reported that “by courtesy and custom, as well by the calendar, Christmas is here, but the winter weather that New York families look for at Christmas time has not been here since a year ago until right upon Christmas Eve.”

Christmas Day was quiet and peaceful at the White House. All official functions were suspended and throughout the day the doors of the executive mansion rarely swung on their hinges. President and Mrs. McKinley early in the day went for a short drive about the city. The weather was perfect — clear, cloudless and crisp.

A messenger arrived at the White House with a great basket of pink roses, orchids and lilies of the valley, marked simply “For the President.” The only guests at the White House were two of Mrs. McKinley’s nieces, Miss Duncan and Miss Barber, as reported in the press. The Christmas dinner was purely a family affair.

The vice president and his wife spent the day at their Paterson, N.J., home, and members of the president’s cabinet spent the holiday at their Washington homes.

Christmas Day at the White House was observed quietly because of the recent death of the president’s mother and the more recent death of his cousin, Mrs. Charles R. Miller of Canton.

The White House schedule for the remainder of 1897 was omitted with the executive mansion remaining closed for New Year’s Day for the first time in many years.

Wendell Lauth of Bristol is a Trumbull County historian.