William McKinley
William McKinley Twenty-Fifth President 1897-1901 Born: 1/29/1843 Birthplace: Niles, Ohio William McKinley was born in Niles, Ohio, on Jan. 29, 1843. He taught school, then served in the Civil War, rising from the ranks to become a major. McKinley opened a law office in Canton, Ohio, and in 1871 married Ida Saxton. Elected to Congress in 1876, he served there until 1891, except for 188385. His faithful advocacy of business interests culminated in the passage of the highly protective McKinley Tariff of 1890. With the support of Mark Hanna, a shrewd Cleveland businessman interested in safeguarding tariff protection, McKinley became governor of Ohio in 1892 and Republican presidential candidate in 1896. The business community, alarmed by the progressivism of William Jennings Bryan, the Democratic candidate, spent considerable money to assure McKinley’s victory. The chief event of McKinley’s administration was the war with Spain, which resulted in the United States’ acquisition of the Philippines and other islands. (whitehouse.gov) Fast Fact: Under William McKinley the Nation gained its first overseas possessions. . (www.mckinley.lib.oh.us/musemum/biography.htm) Biography of William McKinley 25th President of the United States William McKinley was the 25th president of the United States. He was born on January 29, 1843 in Niles, Ohio, a town of about 300 people at that time. He was the 7th child born to William and Nancy Alison McKinley (of Irish and Scotch descent). His father leased an iron foundry in Niles. William attended a one-room schoolhouse that stood on the site of this memorial. The family moved to Poland, Ohio when he was nine years old so that the children could attend a private school there called the Poland Academy. In school William enjoyed reading, debating, and public speaking. In fact, he was the president of the schools first debate club. When he was 16 he attended Allegheny College in Meadville, Pennsylvania, for a short time before illness forced him to return home. When he regained his health he did not return to Meadville because of the familys changed financial situation. Instead, he worked for awhile as a postal clerk. When the Civil War broke out on April 12, 1861 he was teaching at Kerr School near Poland, Ohio. He and a cousin, Will Osbourne (who later became mayor of Youngstown) enlisted as privates in the 23rd regiment, Ohio Volunteer Infantry, which was under the command of Rutherford B. Hayes, the future U.S. president. His first battle was at Carnifax Ferry, W. Virginia. He was later promoted to commissary sergeant and at the Battle of Antietam (September 17, 1862), while his regiment was under intense enemy fire, and against the advice of his superiors, he took food to the troops. Because of this act of bravery, he was promoted to the rank of second lieutenant. By the time the war was over he had attained the rank of brevet major. William returned to Poland, Ohio where he studied law with Judge Charles Glidden. In 1866 he entered law school in Albany, New York, but he did not graduate. In 1867 he was admitted to the bar in Warren, Ohio. He moved to Canton, Ohio where two of his sisters were schoolteachers and he got a job working for Judge George Belden. Belden was so over-burdened with cases that he offered one to McKinley. McKinley won the case and so impressed the judge that he was paid $25.00 for the case and was given a job. Later, McKinley opened his own law office and became active in the politics of the Republican Party. He was elected Prosecuting Attorney of Stark County in 1869. While doing business at a local bank he met Ida Saxton, who was the daughter of a local banker and was also the “Belle” of Canton. They married in January, 1871 and their first daughter, Katherine, was born on Christmas day of that year. Their second child, Ida, was born in 1873 and died at the age of 4 months. That same year, Mrs. McKinleys mother also died. Two years later, their first daughter, Katie, died of typhoid fever. Mrs. McKinley became ill with depression, phlebitis, and epilepsy, which left her a semi-invalid who needed constant care. Mr. McKinley was always concerned about her and he was known for his devotion to her. McKinley won election to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1876. His opponent, Levi Lamborn, had been wearing a scarlet carnation during a debate. Shortly after this debate, McKinley began wearing a scarlet carnation in his lapel. He was rarely seen, while serving as congressman and governor, without his trademark carnation. (In 1904, Ohio adopted the scarlet carnation as its official state flower.) McKinley served 7 terms in Congress from 1877-1891, except for a 9-month period in 1884-1885. The House ruled that his opponent, lawyer Jonathan Wallace, had actually received the most votes in the 1882 election, so Wallace took McKinleys seat for the rest of the term. McKinley easily regained the office in the 1884 election. McKinley consistently won re-election even though the districts he represented were heavily Democratic and the boundaries of the districts were often changed so as to bring about Democratic victories. As a congressman, he focused his energies on the tariff problem and became known as a protectionist and as a persuasive speaker. He was generally associated with being on the side of big business. But he also worked hard for labor and later, as governor of Ohio, he encouraged employees to join labor unions and criticized employers who refused workers the right to organized. Also as congressman he supported gold over silver as the backbone of Americas money system. In 1889, Thomas Reed of Maine defeated him for the position of Speaker of the House. McKinley lost his next bid for Congress and returned to Canton in 1891. Reasons for his defeat were gerrymandering of the Democrats and unpopularity brought about by the McKinley Tariff, which had greatly increased consumer prices. As governor, a position he held for two terms from 1891-1895, he proposed laws to protect railroad workers and address the issue of child labor, and a state board of arbitration was established to deal with labor and business problems. During this time as governor he became friends with millionaire industrialist Mark Hanna from Cleveland, Ohio. Its said that McKinley defended mineworkers in suits they had against Mark Hanna, who was the mine owner. Mark Hanna was so impressed with McKinley that they became good friends. Popular opinion has it that Hanna led McKinley to political power and success. But, some think that McKinley used Hanna to meet his own political goals. In 1892 McKinley chaired the Republican National Convention and was almost nominated for the presidency. Mark Hanna had unofficially opened a McKinley-for-President headquarters in Minneapolis, Minnesota (site of the convention). In 1893, McKinley faced a personal crisis that almost sidetracked his political career. He had co-signed bank notes totaling more than $100,000.00 to help a friend start a business. The business failed and McKinley was expected to repay the bank loans. McKinley did not have the money. His friends, led by Mark Hanna, raised enough funds to repay the loans. The public was sympathetic for McKinley and he was re-elected as governor in 1893. In 1896, …..the Republicans again supported McKinley and he was nominated as the Republican presidential contender with Garret Hobart, a New Jersey senator, as his running mate. The Democratic opponents were William Jennings Bryan, a great orator from Nebraska, whose running mate was Arthur Sewall, a wealthy Maine shipbuilder. McKinleys platform was based on the protective tariff and the gold standard, which became the main issue of the campaign. Bryan favored an unlimited number of silver coins being made to increase the nations money supply. He attracted national attention at the Democratic National Convention with his “cross of gold” speech. Bryan traveled all over the country, traveling 18,000 miles, giving whistle-stop speeches while McKinley conducted a “front-porch” campaign in Canton, partly because he didnt want to leave his ailing wife. Over 750,000 people visited Canton to hear him speak. Newspapers nationwide reprinted his speeches. This campaign is noted for being the first one to hand out campaign buttons and memorabilia such as walking sticks, umbrellas, ribbons, soap babies, etc. McKinley won the election with more than 7 million of the nearly 14 million votes. His priorities as president were to increase the protective tariff and make gold the standard of our money system. The passing of the Dingley Tariff in 1897 increased the tariff, and in 1900 Congress passed the Gold Standard Act. Although domestic issues dominated the campaign, foreign affairs would occupy a large part of President McKinleys terms in office. Because of growing interest in Cuba, which was fighting for independence from Spain, the president sent the battleship USS Maine to Havana to protect American interests. Earlier he had tried to get Spain to negotiate with the rebels, but on February 15, 1898, the Maine exploded, killing 266 of its 354 men. At this time there was much anti-Spain sentiment in the U.S., partly because of the “yellow journalism” brought about by the sensational headlines in the newspapers of William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer. Greatly pressured by public opinion, McKinley asked Congress for authority to take action. Subsequently, the U.S. declared war on Spain. The U.S. blockaded the Spanish ships inside Santiago Harbor, Teddy Roosevelt and his Rough Riders stormed up San Juan Hill and took possession of the area, and in the Philippines, Commodore George Dewey sailed into Manila Bay and sunk all the Spanish ships there. The war last approximately 110 days and at the ensuing “Treaty of Paris,” Puerto Rico and Guam became U.S. possessions and, for $20 million, we acquired the Philippines as a territory. With the accession of these lands, the U.S. became a world power under President McKinley. Because of its new possessions in the Pacific Ocean, the U.S. became more involved in Asian politics. In 1898, McKinleys administration issued the “Open Door Policy” in trade relations with China. This policy supported equal access to the profitable Chinese trade. In 1900 a secret Chinese society know as the Boxers began an uprising to drive out foreigners. President McKinley sent 5,000 troops to help Germany, Japan, Russia, and others put down the Boxer Rebellion. By using his authority as commander-in-chief, McKinley helped to strengthen the office of the presidency. The year before, in 1899, Vice President Hobart died in office. McKinley chose Teddy Roosevelt as his running mate for the 1900 election. In this election, McKinley again faced William Jennings Bryan as his presidential opponent. Bryan attacked McKinley on the issues of American imperialism (in regard to our overseas acquisitions), free silver, and the growth of big business and illegal monopolies, called trusts. But the major campaign issue became prosperity. McKinley asserted that, “We have prosperity at home and prestige abroad.” McKinley won the election with a relatively easy victory. In this same year, the Hay Pauncefote Treaty gave to the U.S. the right to build the Panama Canal. By 1901, McKinley no longer supported the growth of big business. Business trusts and monopolies had hurt competition and kept prices high for the consumers. Also by this time, he had modified his views on tariffs. He no longer supported protective tariffs to help businesses. Instead, he favored free commerce through reciprocal trade agreements. During McKinleys presidency there were also civil rights violations, murders, and torturing of blacks. McKinley was unhappy with these events but he was reluctant to return to the methods of control used during the Reconstruction. On September 5, 1901 McKinley gave a speech at the Pan American Exposition in Buffalo, New York. The Exposition was celebrating 100 years of progress in North and South America. One of the items on display was the X-ray machine, which had been recently invented by Thomas Edison. On the next day, September 6th, President McKinley was shaking hands with the public at a reception held at the Temple of Music. One man in the line was Leon Czolgosz, (pronounced Tchollgosh) an anarchist, whose right hand had been wrapped with a handkerchief. Inside the handkerchief was concealed a .32 caliber revolver. When Czolgosz got up to the president, he shot McKinley twice. A button deflected one bullet that struck the presidents chest. The other bullet pierced the presidents stomach, went through the colon and kidney, and lodged in the muscles of his back. As the president was awaiting medical aid, he said to his secretary, “My wife, be careful, Cortelyou, how you tell her-oh, be careful.” He also told the aide not to let the crowd hurt the assassin. McKinley was rushed to a nearby hospital for emergency surgery. It was decided that of the doctors at the hospital at that time, a Dr. Mann was best qualified to perform the surgery. The president was operated on but they could not find the bullet, so they closed him up and sent him to the home of the president of the Exposition to recover. He started to improve for a couple of days but then he took a turn for the worse and died on September 14th from infection. Ironically, doctors had decided not to use Edisons X-ray machine to find the bullet because they were not sure of what side effects it might have had on the president. The presidents body first went to the Buffalo City Hall to be viewed by the public for a couple of days, next to Washington D.C. for two days, and finally to Canton, Ohio on September 18th where he was buried at Westlawn Cemetery. He was the third president to be assassinated, the others were Lincoln and Garfield, and his death was mourned both at home and abroad. The assassin was tried, found guilty, and was electrocuted in Buffalo shortly after the shooting. McKinleys wife, Ida, returned to Canton where a sister cared for her until her death in 1907. I think William McKinleys tragic assassination left him not being able to do great and better things. William McKinley should not have been assassinated, just like any other president. He probably could of gone on and done better things for this country. This man was kind and gentle presidents according to, “http://gi.grolier.com/presidents/aae/bios/25pmcki.html”, so being president of the United States when he was must of not been good for some one of his nature.