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Source: Topeka State Journal
Source type: newspaper
Document type: article
Document title: “Weakened by Cigars”
Author(s): anonymous
City of publication: Topeka, Kansas
Date of publication: 16 September 1901
Volume number: 28
Issue number: 220
Pagination: 5

“Weakened by Cigars.” Topeka State Journal 16 Sept. 1901 v28n220: p. 5.
full text
William McKinley (medical condition); William McKinley (use of tobacco).
Named persons
Ulysses S. Grant; William McKinley; Presley M. Rixey.


Weakened by Cigars


General Breaking Down of the President Attributed to Tobacco.

     Washington, Sept. 16.—The failure of President McKinley’s heart at the critical time of his illness was not unexpected here. Personal friends of the president knew for years that his heart had been gradually weakened by the excessive smoking of strong, black cigars. During May, 1899, he was compelled to go to Hot Springs, Va., to rid himself of nervousness, insomnia and fluttering of the heart caused by excessive smoking.
     The president also had a severe attack of rheumatism. The doctors attributed his general breaking down largely to smoking, and on their advice he curtailed his allowance of cigars.
     Always a lover of a good cigar, President McKinley had thousands of them presented to him by admiring friends. After the war with Spain army officers and others in the new possessions sent him boxes of the heavy native cigars. a [sic] smoker as was Gen. Grant, and seldom was seen without a cigar in his mouth. When the door of the cabinet room was opened to admit a visitor a blue haze of tobacco smoke puffed out and President McKinley could be seen adding to its volume. From early morning until he retired the president smoked almost continuously.
     He did not like mild cigars, and insisted upon having the heavy black ones. At one time during that year he smoked from seven to ten of the strongest cigars each day. The tobacco was of the Vuelta Abajo variety and the cigars of the perfecto size.
     The prodigious supply doubtless tempted the president to smoke more than he otherwise would. He excused himself by saying it gave him relief from neuralgia.
     In February and May of 1899 he noticed that his health was breaking down. His condition was even worse than during the war, when the strain upon him was terrific. He could not sleep, was extremely nervous and had a mild attack of “tobacco heart.”
     At Hot Springs, Va., he endeavored to break himself of the habit, but was only partly successful. He found it impossible to resist the temptation when he saw others smoking. On the advice of Dr. Rixey he curtailed his allowance to four cigars a day, but recently even this limit was frequently exceeded.
     During times when the president was laboring under a great mental strain he invariably sought relief by lighting a cigar.
     The doctors said he had no organic weakness of the heart, but insisted that he stop smoking. He liked to put a cigar in his mouth and hold it there. Two thus chewed but not smoked were found in his pockets at Buffalo.
     The probabilities are that the attack of grip from which the president suffered last December and January had much to do with weakening his heart. His intimate friends lay most of the trouble with his heart to the grip.



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