President Benjamin Harrison

Baby McKee

December 24, 1889
On this day, the White House's first Christmas tree was set in place to delight "Baby McKee," the favorite grandson and namesake of President Benjamin Harrison.
A 1967 article from the Indianapolis Star said,

“There had never been a Christmas tree in the White House before. Some people thought the whole thing pretty frivolous but President Harrison was adamant and set the gardeners to finding the just-right tree. It was to be tall and full and round like the trees he had had when he was a boy and found oranges and nuts in the toes of his stockings.”

All through Christmas Eve afternoon, the White House gardeners worked to set the tree in place in the library over the Blue Room. No one was permitted to decorate the tree; that honor was reserved for the president and his wife. However, history tells us that the gardeners all stayed to watch.
After dinner, President Harrison and first lady Caroline Scott Harrison decorated the tree with fat ropes of tinsel and old-fashioned candles. The President crowned the tree with a large star, and the first lady

"stretched and stooped to fill the branches with presents."

The Harrison White House at Christmas was the picture of a classic Victorian holiday scene. One can almost imagine the scene that day - with Baby McKee or little Benjamin - his wispy blond hair, sailor hat, and long white hand-tucked dress imitating the President as he walked the library with his lamb on wheels behind him. Benjamin was also quite taken with his jack-in-the-box.

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President Benjamin Harrison
President Benjamin Harrison

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