William McKinley

William McKinley
25th President of the United States
In office
March 4, 1897 – September 14, 1901
Vice President
  • Garret Hobart (1897–1899)
  • None (1899–1901)[a]
  • Theodore Roosevelt
    (Mar–Sep. 1901)
Preceded byGrover Cleveland
Succeeded byTheodore Roosevelt
39th Governor of Ohio
In office
January 11, 1892 – January 13, 1896
LieutenantAndrew L. Harris
Preceded byJames E. Campbell
Succeeded byAsa S. Bushnell
Chairman of the
House Ways and Means Committee
In office
March 4, 1889 – March 4, 1891
Preceded byRoger Q. Mills
Succeeded byWilliam M. Springer
Member of the
U.S. House of Representatives
from Ohio
In office
March 4, 1885 – March 3, 1891
Preceded byDavid R. Paige
Succeeded byJoseph D. Taylor
Constituency20th district (1885–87)
18th district (1887–91)
In office
March 4, 1877 – May 27, 1884
Preceded byLaurin D. Woodworth
Succeeded byJonathan H. Wallace
Constituency17th district (1877–79)
16th district (1879–81)
17th district (1881–83)
18th district (1883–84)
Personal details
William McKinley Jr.

(1843-01-29)January 29, 1843
Niles, Ohio, U.S.
DiedSeptember 14, 1901(1901-09-14) (aged 58)
Buffalo, New York, U.S.
Cause of deathAssassination
Resting placeMcKinley National Memorial,
Canton, Ohio
Political partyRepublican
Ida Saxton (m. 1871)
ParentsWilliam McKinley Sr.
Nancy Allison
SignatureCursive signature in ink
Military service
Years of service1861–1865 (American Civil War)
Unit23rd Ohio Infantry
Battles/warsAmerican Civil War

William McKinley (January 29, 1843 – September 14, 1901)[b] was the 25th president of the United States, serving from March 4, 1897, until his assassination six months into his second term. McKinley led the nation to victory in the Spanish–American War, raised protective tariffs to promote American industry and kept the nation on the gold standard in a rejection of free silver (effectively, expansionary monetary policy).

McKinley was the last president to have served in the American Civil War and the only one to have started the war as an enlisted soldier, beginning as a private in the Union Army and ending as a brevet major. After the war, he settled in Canton, Ohio, where he practiced law and married Ida Saxton. In 1876, he was elected to Congress, where he became the Republican Party's expert on the protective tariff, which he promised would bring prosperity. His 1890 McKinley Tariff was highly controversial, which together with a Democratic redistricting aimed at gerrymandering him out of office led to his defeat in the Democratic landslide of 1890. He was elected governor of Ohio in 1891 and 1893, steering a moderate course between capital and labor interests. With the aid of his close adviser Mark Hanna, he secured the Republican nomination for president in 1896 amid a deep economic depression. He defeated his Democratic rival William Jennings Bryan after a front porch campaign in which he advocated "sound money" (the gold standard unless altered by international agreement) and promised that high tariffs would restore prosperity.

Rapid economic growth marked McKinley's presidency. He promoted the 1897 Dingley Tariff to protect manufacturers and factory workers from foreign competition and in 1900 secured the passage of the Gold Standard Act. McKinley hoped to persuade Spain to grant independence to rebellious Cuba without conflict, but when negotiation failed he led the nation into the Spanish–American War of 1898the United States victory was quick and decisive. As part of the peace settlement, Spain turned over to the United States its main overseas colonies of Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippines while Cuba was promised independence, but at that time remained under the control of the United States Army. The United States annexed the independent Republic of Hawaii in 1898 and it became a United States territory.

Historians regard McKinley's 1896 victory as a realigning election in which the political stalemate of the post-Civil War era gave way to the Republican-dominated Fourth Party System, which began with the Progressive Era. McKinley defeated Bryan again in the 1900 presidential election in a campaign focused on imperialism, protectionism and free silver. His legacy was suddenly cut short when he was shot on September 6, 1901 by Leon Czolgosz, a second-generation Polish-American with anarchist leanings. McKinley died eight days later and was succeeded by his Vice President Theodore Roosevelt. As an innovator of American interventionism and pro-business sentiment, McKinley's presidency is generally considered above average, though his highly positive public perception was soon overshadowed by Roosevelt.

Early life and family

William McKinley at age 15

William McKinley Jr. was born in 1843 in Niles, Ohio, the seventh of nine children of William McKinley Sr. and Nancy (née Allison) McKinley (1809–1897).[1] The McKinleys were of English and Scots-Irish descent and had settled in western Pennsylvania in the 18th century, tracing back to a David McKinley who was born in Dervock, County Antrim, in present-day Northern Ireland. There, the elder McKinley was born in Pine Township, Mercer County.[1]

The family moved to Ohio when the senior McKinley was a boy, settling in New Lisbon (now Lisbon). He met Nancy Allison there and married her later.[1] The Allison family was of mostly English descent and among Pennsylvania's earliest settlers.[2] The family trade on both sides was iron-making, and McKinley senior operated foundries throughout Ohio, in New Lisbon, Niles, Poland, and finally Canton.[3] The McKinley household was, like many from Ohio's Western Reserve, steeped in Whiggish and abolitionist sentiment, the latter based on the family's staunch Methodist beliefs.[4] William followed in the Methodist tradition, becoming active in the local Methodist church at the age of sixteen.[5] He was a lifelong pious Methodist.[6]

In 1852, the family moved from Niles to Poland, Ohio so that their children could attend the better schools there. Graduating from Poland Seminary in 1859, he enrolled the following year at Allegheny College in Meadville, Pennsylvania. He was an honorary member of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity.[7] He remained at Allegheny for only one year, returning home in 1860 after becoming ill and depressed. He also spent time at Mount Union College in Alliance, Ohio as a board member.[8] Although his health recovered, family finances declined and McKinley was unable to return to Allegheny, first working as a postal clerk and later taking a job teaching at a school near Poland, Ohio.[9]

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