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Illness interrupts schedule

The New York Times reported on the President William McKinley’s health in its Jan. 8 issue:

“WASHINGTON, Jan. 7 — President McKinley has a slight cold this morning and is denying himself to all callers. The cold is not serious and will not interfere with the reception to the Diplomatic Corps to be given at the White House Wednesday night. The President and Mrs. McKinley have abandoned their proposed trip to Canton Thursday, where they were going to attend the funeral of Assistant Paymaster of the Navy Barber, who was a nephew of Mrs. McKinley. “The prevailing epidemic of influenza has caused quite a large Congressional sick list. Speaker David B. Henderson is progressing well and is out of bed, but it was not deemed advisable to have him resume the duties of the Speakership today. Chairman Henry Clay Payne of the Ways and Means Committee was among those slightly indisposed today, and did not attend the session of the House.”

“Secretary John Hay is still indisposed, and, although his cold has abated, it was not deemed prudent for him to go to his office this morning.”

The Washington Evening Star newspaper reported this additional story:

“Secretary George Cortelyou announced this morning that owing to the President’s indisposition, the reception at the Executive Mansion arranged for tomorrow (Wednesday) evening, January 9, will be postponed until a date yet to be decided upon. This will be duly announced, and invitations for tomorrow night will hold good for the reception when a new date has been fixed.

While the President’s cold is not of a serious nature, his physician has enjoined rest for a few days. The postponement of the diplomatic reception has given rise to stories that the President is quite ill, but Secretary Cortelyou asserts that these are unfounded. A “stubborn” cold, which has not improved since yesterday, is described as the cause of the indisposition. Dr. P. M. Rixey, the White House physician, is in charge of the case. He was at the White House three or four times yesterday and was with the President until late last night. The number of his visits, however, is no occasion for alarm, as Dr. Rixey always calls about twice each day to see how Mrs. McKinley is getting on. He seldom stays over a few minutes each time. His social and personal relations at the Executive Mansion are also close.”

“Bad colds and grip (influenza) are said to be epidemic in Washington now. From a cold to a serious case of grip is a short and quick step, and it is believed that Dr. Rixey is advising caution in the President’s case so as to forestall a case of grip.”

The New York Times gave the following update:

“WASHINGTON, Jan. 8 — The President is still suffering from his cold, and on the advice of Dr. Rixey has decided to stay in his room for three or four days. There will be no Cabinet meeting today, and the invitations for the diplomatic reception tomorrow night have been recalled. The reception will be held at a further time not yet decided upon. It is stated at the White House that the President is not seriously ill, but has a bad cold, and these steps are taken as a precautionary measure.

At 5 o’clock this evening Secretary Cortelyou said concerning the President’s illness:

The President’s cold has developed into a well-defined case of the grip. His physician states that there are no complications, and that everyting is progressing favorably. The disease must run its regular course, and the President therefore is not likely to be out of his room for some days.”

Jan. 9:

“President McKinley was still in bed this morning, but it was announced that his case is yeilding readily to treatment and that there are no unfavorable symptoms or complications. Secretary Cortelyou, after a conference with Dr. Rixey last night, announced that the President’s cold had developed into a well-defined case of grip. The transition from a stubborn cold to a case of grip began yesterday, following the usual course. The President spent most of yesterday in bed and remained there again today. He is not under the care of a trained nurse, as the regular White House attendants are capable of handling the case.

The President has no fever now, and only once has there been a slight febrile excitement.

From the nature of the disease, the President will be confined to his room some days. It is doubtful if he will be in his office for the purpose of attending business or receiving visitors for six or seven days. A case of grip, even when mild, usually lingers around with its victims for a considerable period.”

The Evening Star, Jan. 11:

“When the President gets well enough to go out again he will have his new team of beautiful bay horses to drive. This is the team that was bought recently at Akron, Ohio. The animals have just arrived. They are much larger than the mixed team now in use, measuring a full 16 1/2 hands high and weighing in proportion. The President really selected the team personally. While gentle, they are spirited. The President likes a ride behind a good team of horses. He has not yet taken to automobiles or locomobiles. The makers of these vehicles have tried hard to interest him through other persons, but he thinks that he likes the old-fashioned way of locomotion best.”

Wendell Lauth of Bristol is a Trumbull County historian.

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