McKinley signs Spanish peace treaty in Washington

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is part of a weekly series marking the 121st anniversary of Niles native William McKinley’s U.S. presidency.

This story appeared in the Washington Post:

WASHINGTON, FEB. 10 — The official copy of the treaty of peace with Spain, bearing the signatures of the Spanish and American Commissioners, which was ratified by the Senate last Monday, as certified by Vice President Garret Hobart, was signed by the President and Secretary John Hay ay 2:35 this afternoon in the library of the executive mansion.

There was little formality observed, although a number of persons were present by invitation of the president. While signing the document, the president and the secretary of state sat at the round table in the center of the library. The pen was an ordinary gold one which the President frequently uses in his office work. The ceremony occupied only a very few minutes, and at its conclusion Secretary Hay replaced the document in its crimson velvet case and took it to the State Department for transmission to Madrid.

Besides the President, there were present Mrs. McKinley, Secretary Hay and daughters, Mr. and Mrs. J.J. Brooks, and Mr. and Mrs. Spencer Borden, who are guests at the White House, Abner McKinley and Lt. Col. B.F. Montgomery, United States Volunteers.”

In addition to the White House events, the winter weather in the nation’s capitol was the big topic among local residents. The newspaper reported:

“Washington has never seen such a storm as this today — a continuation of a prior Monday’s storm. For the first time in the memory of the oldest inhabitant, travel is practically stopped. One car line propelled by cable has kept its road open, but it is one of the least traveled of three principal lines. Hacks, which refuse to serve, would be patronized at any price.

The government clerks did not appear in their places in large numbers, about one-third of the force reporting. All might have remained off duty without risk as all absences were excused. The Congress was very slimly attended in both houses, and the attendance would have been smaller if senators and representatives could have foreseen that tonight’s storm would have been worse than this morning’s.

The snowfall which began on Saturday evening has continued without cessation, the official measurement in 50 hours being 20 inches on top of the heavy fall of a few days preceding. Driven by a high northwest wind, it had drifted in banks of from five to eight feet in depth, suspending all traffic, tying up the street car lines, cutting off the city from all outside communication by rail, and causing untold suffering among the poor.

At nightfall, the streets were deserted by both pedestrians and teams. The drifting snow has rendered most of the wide avenues and uptown streets impassable, and four hourses to single wagons endeavoring to break through with supplies is a common sight. In many instances, pack horses have been resorted to, and all day they could be seen struggling under double bundles of provisions or sacks of coal. Telegraphic and telecommunication has not, however, been seriously interfered with, as the light, dry snow does not weight the wires.”

Wendell Lauth of Bristol is a Trumbull County historian.