Ida McKinley said after her husband’s assassination, “He is gone, and life to me is dark now.”
First Ladies of the US Ida McKinley Full Image

Ida McKinley

Ida Saxton McKinley
Years of service: 1897-1901
Born: 1847

First Ladies of the US Ida McKinley Full Image

After completing her education, Ida Saxton worked in her father’s bank until 1871, when she married the rising political star Major William McKinley. Complications after her second pregnancy left Ida with epileptic seizures. Following the deaths of both her young daughters, she suffered severe bouts of depression. When she was healthy, she continued to live and travel much as before. Ida decisively refused to let the social stigma of epilepsy define how she would live, especially as First Lady. She attended all State Dinners seated next to the president in case she experienced a seizure. He would cover her face with a napkin until it ended. Ida was the only First Lady to publicly support the women’s suffrage movement until the 19th Amendment passed in 1920. An assassin’s bullet claimed the life of President McKinley in 1901, and Ida lost her advocate for leading a public life.

Want to learn more? Read "The Misconception of Ida McKinley" by Stephanie Bohnak, Director of Education & Outreach


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First Ladies as Teachers, Educators, and Librarians.

The right to an education is a foundational principle of America’s history, and many First Ladies have taken up this cause. We celebrate National First Ladies Day by kicking off this featured exhibit, presented by Huntington Bank.