William McKinley
Overview
 
William McKinley, Jr. (January 29, 1843 – September 14, 1901) was the 25th President of the United States
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

 (1897–1901). He is best known for winning fiercely fought elections, while supporting the gold standard and high tariffs; he succeeded in forging a Republican coalition that for the most part dominated national politics until the 1930s.
Quotations

The mission of the United States is one of benevolent assimilation.

Letter (December 21, 1898)

Our earnest prayer is that God will graciously vouchsafe prosperity, happiness, and peace to all our neighbors, and like blessings to all the peoples and powers of earth.

Speech delivered at the Pan-American Exposition, Buffalo, New York (September 5, 1901)

Expositions are the timekeepers of progress.

Speech delivered at the Pan-American Exposition, Buffalo, New York (September 5, 1901)

Let us ever remember that our interest is in concord, not in conflict; and that our real eminence rests in the victories of peace, not those of war.

Speech delivered at the Pan-American Exposition, Buffalo, New York (September 5, 1901)

Encyclopedia
William McKinley, Jr. (January 29, 1843 – September 14, 1901) was the 25th President of the United States
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

 (1897–1901). He is best known for winning fiercely fought elections, while supporting the gold standard and high tariffs; he succeeded in forging a Republican coalition that for the most part dominated national politics until the 1930s. He also led the nation to victory in 100 days in the Spanish–American War.

McKinley, a native of Ohio, was of Scots-Irish and English descent, born into a large family, and served with distinction in the Civil War. He became an able lawyer, joined the Ohio Republican party ranks, was married by age 28 and became a father briefly before early suffering the deaths of his two daughters. Wife Ida's health suddenly diminished in 1873 as a result of the proximate deaths of her own mother and a child, and McKinley thereafter assumed an earnest and acclaimed role of caregiving for her, which eventually enabled her to serve as First Lady; it was his need for a diversion from these duties which prompted him to launch his political career.

By the late 1870s, McKinley had become a national Republican leader. He served in Congress as Representative of Ohio, and also was elected Governor of Ohio. His signature issue was high tariffs on imports as a formula for prosperity, as typified by his McKinley Tariff
McKinley Tariff
The Tariff Act of 1890, commonly called the McKinley Tariff, was an act framed by Representative William McKinley that became law on October 1, 1890. The tariff raised the average duty on imports to almost fifty percent, an act designed to protect domestic industries from foreign competition...

 of 1890. As the Republican candidate in the 1896 presidential election
United States presidential election, 1896
The United States presidential election held on November 3, 1896, saw Republican William McKinley defeat Democrat William Jennings Bryan in a campaign considered by political scientists to be one of the most dramatic and complex in American history....

, opposing Democrat William Jennings Bryan
William Jennings Bryan
William Jennings Bryan was an American politician in the late-19th and early-20th centuries. He was a dominant force in the liberal wing of the Democratic Party, standing three times as its candidate for President of the United States...

, he promoted pluralism
Cultural pluralism
Cultural pluralism is a term used when smaller groups within a larger society maintain their unique cultural identities, and their values and practices are accepted by the wider culture. Cultural pluralism is often confused with Multiculturalism...

 among ethnic groups. His campaign, designed by Mark Hanna
Mark Hanna
Marcus Alonzo "Mark" Hanna was a United States Senator from Ohio and the friend and political manager of President William McKinley...

, introduced revolutionary advertising techniques, and defeated the crusade of archrival Bryan.

McKinley presided over a return to prosperity after the Panic of 1893
Panic of 1893
The Panic of 1893 was a serious economic depression in the United States that began in 1893. Similar to the Panic of 1873, this panic was marked by the collapse of railroad overbuilding and shaky railroad financing which set off a series of bank failures...

, with the gold standard as a keystone. He demanded that Spain end its atrocities in Cuba
Cuba
The Republic of Cuba is an island nation in the Caribbean. The nation of Cuba consists of the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos. Havana is the largest city in Cuba and the country's capital. Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city...

, which were angering Americans; Spain resisted the interference and the Spanish-American War
Spanish-American War
The Spanish–American War was a conflict in 1898 between Spain and the United States, effectively the result of American intervention in the ongoing Cuban War of Independence...

 began in 1898. The U.S. victory was quick and decisive, as the weak Spanish fleets were sunk and both Cuba and the Philippines were captured within a few months. As a result of the 1898 Treaty of Paris
Treaty of Paris
Treaty of Paris could refer to a number of treaties which have been negotiated and signed in Paris, France, including:*Treaty of Paris , ended the Albigensian Crusade*Treaty of Paris , between Henry III of England and Louis IX of France...

, the former Spanish colonies of Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico , officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico , is an unincorporated territory of the United States, located in the northeastern Caribbean, east of the Dominican Republic and west of both the United States Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands.Puerto Rico comprises an...

, Guam
Guam
Guam is an organized, unincorporated territory of the United States located in the western Pacific Ocean. It is one of five U.S. territories with an established civilian government. Guam is listed as one of 16 Non-Self-Governing Territories by the Special Committee on Decolonization of the United...

, and the Philippines were annexed by the United States as unincorporated territories, and U.S occupation of Cuba began; this occurred in the face of opposition from Democrats and anti-imperialists who feared a loss of republican values
Republicanism in the United States
Republicanism is the political value system that has been a major part of American civic thought since the American Revolution. It stresses liberty and inalienable rights as central values, makes the people as a whole sovereign, supports activist government to promote the common good, rejects...

. McKinley also annexed the independent Republic of Hawaii
Republic of Hawaii
The Republic of Hawaii was the formal name of the government that controlled Hawaii from 1894 to 1898 when it was run as a republic. The republic period occurred between the administration of the Provisional Government of Hawaii which ended on July 4, 1894 and the adoption of the Newlands...

 in 1898, with all its inhabitants becoming American citizens.

McKinley was reelected in the 1900 presidential election
United States presidential election, 1900
The United States presidential election of 1900 was a re-match of the 1896 race between Republican President William McKinley and his Democratic challenger, William Jennings Bryan. The return of economic prosperity and recent victory in the Spanish–American War helped McKinley to score a decisive...

 following another intense campaign against Bryan, which focused on foreign policy and the return of prosperity. President McKinley was assassinated
William McKinley assassination
The assassination of William McKinley occurred on September 6, 1901, inside the Temple of Music located on the grounds of the 1901 Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York...

 by anarchist
Anarchism in the United States
Anarchism in the United States spans a wide range of anarchist philosophy, from individualist anarchism to anarchist communism and other less known forms. America has two main traditions, native and immigrant, with the native tradition being strongly individualist and the immigrant tradition being...

 Leon Czolgosz
Leon Czolgosz
Leon Czolgosz was the assassin of U.S. President William McKinley.In the last few years of his life, he claimed to have been heavily influenced by anarchists such as Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman.- Early life :...

 in September of the following year in Buffalo, and was succeeded by his Vice President, Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt was the 26th President of the United States . He is noted for his exuberant personality, range of interests and achievements, and his leadership of the Progressive Movement, as well as his "cowboy" persona and robust masculinity...

. McKinley's presidency receives an aggregate rating of 20th among the presidents in the historical rankings of Presidents of the United States.

Early life and military service

The McKinley clan arrived in Pennsylvania in the 1740s as part of a large migration of Scotch Irish. McKinley's great-grandfather David McKinley, a veteran of the American Revolution, settled in Ohio in the 1790s. David's son James McKinley engaged in the mining and manufacturing of pig iron, as did his son William (the future President's father).
William McKinley, Jr., was born in Niles, Ohio
Niles, Ohio
Niles is a city in Trumbull County, Ohio, United States. The city's population was 20,932 at the 2000 census. It is part of the Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, OH-PA Metropolitan Statistical Area....

, on January 29, 1843, the seventh of nine children. His parents, William Sr.
William McKinley, Sr.
William McKinley, Sr. was an American manufacturer, notable for being a pioneer of the iron industry in eastern Ohio, and best known as the father of President William McKinley....

 (November 15, 1807 – November 24, 1892) and Nancy (Allison) McKinley (April 22, 1809 – December 12, 1897), were of Scots-Irish and English
English American
English Americans are citizens or residents of the United States whose ancestry originates wholly or partly in England....

 ancestry. William's siblings included David, James, Anna, Mary, Sarah Elizabeth, Helen, and Abner. One younger sibling died in infancy. When McKinley was ten years old, the family moved to Poland, Ohio
Poland, Ohio
Poland is a village in Mahoning County, Ohio, United States. The population was 26,866 at the 2000 census. It is part of the Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, OH-PA Metropolitan Statistical Area.-History:...

. Known as "Wobbly Willie", he graduated from Poland Academy and attended Allegheny College
Allegheny College
Allegheny College is a private liberal arts college located in northwestern Pennsylvania in the town of Meadville. Founded in 1815, the college has about 2,100 undergraduate students.-Early history:...

 in Pennsylvania for one term in 1860, when he was forced to return home because of illness and was then only able to continue his studies part time while working to pay tuition.

At the start of the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

, he enlisted in the Union Army
Union Army
The Union Army was the land force that fought for the Union during the American Civil War. It was also known as the Federal Army, the U.S. Army, the Northern Army and the National Army...

 in June 1861 as a private in the 23rd Ohio Infantry
23rd Ohio Infantry
The 23rd Regiment, Ohio Volunteer Infantry was an infantry regiment in the Union Army during much of the American Civil War. It served in the Eastern Theater in a variety of campaigns and battles, and is remembered with a stone memorial on the Antietam National Battlefield not far from Burnside's...

. His superior officer, another future U.S. president, Rutherford B. Hayes
Rutherford B. Hayes
Rutherford Birchard Hayes was the 19th President of the United States . As president, he oversaw the end of Reconstruction and the United States' entry into the Second Industrial Revolution...

, promoted McKinley to commissary
Commissary
A commissary is someone delegated by a superior to execute a duty or an office; in a formal, legal context, one who has received power from a legitimate superior authority to pass judgment in a certain cause or to take information concerning it.-Word history:...

 sergeant for his bravery in battle while serving the regiment in western Virginia; while not overly ambitious for promotion, McKinley possessed the self respect to request recognition when overdue. Later, for driving a mule team delivering rations under enemy fire at Antietam
Battle of Antietam
The Battle of Antietam , fought on September 17, 1862, near Sharpsburg, Maryland, and Antietam Creek, as part of the Maryland Campaign, was the first major battle in the American Civil War to take place on Northern soil. It was the bloodiest single-day battle in American history, with about 23,000...

, Hayes promoted him to first lieutenant. This pattern repeated several times during the war; McKinley eventually made captain, was commissioned a brevet
Brevet (military)
In many of the world's military establishments, brevet referred to a warrant authorizing a commissioned officer to hold a higher rank temporarily, but usually without receiving the pay of that higher rank except when actually serving in that role. An officer so promoted may be referred to as being...

 major by Lincoln, and mustered out in September 1865. Hayes is quoted as referring to McKinley as "a handsome, bright, gallant boy and one of the bravest and finest officers in the army." As a result of gallantry demonstrated in his army service in Winchester, Va. he was invited and joined the Masonic lodge there, and eventually rose to become a Knight Templar with the Masons.

Law practice, local politics and marriage

McKinley attended Albany Law School
Albany Law School
Albany Law School is an ABA accredited law school based in Albany, New York. It was founded in 1851 by Amos Dean , Amasa Parker, Ira Harris and others....

 in New York and was admitted to the bar
Bar (law)
Bar in a legal context has three possible meanings: the division of a courtroom between its working and public areas; the process of qualifying to practice law; and the legal profession.-Courtroom division:...

 in 1867. That year he decided, with the introduction of his older sister and schoolteacher Anna, to become a resident of Canton, Ohio, and there establish his law practice. He began his practice with a senior judge in Canton who soon thereafter died. That same year he stumped for Hayes as Governor of Ohio and became Chairman of the county Republican committee. McKinley became a local leader of the temperance movement and served as President of the Y.M.C.A. The following year he campaigned for Grant in his presidential bid and was himself elected Stark County
Stark County, Ohio
Stark County is a county located in the U.S. state of Ohio. As of the 2010 census, the population was 375,586. It is included in the Canton-Massillon, Ohio Metropolitan Statistical Area....

 prosecutor from 1869 to 1871. His most notable legal case was in June 1876, when 33 striking miners in the employ of the industrialist Mark Hanna were imprisoned for rioting when Hanna brought in strikebreakers to do the work. McKinley defended the miners in court, got all but one of them set free, but refused payment from the group when offered. As a businessman, McKinley has been described by biographer Leech as intelligent and ethical but not financially ambitious.

In 1869 McKinley met and began courting his future wife, Ida Saxton
Ida Saxton McKinley
Ida Saxton McKinley , wife of William McKinley, was First Lady of the United States from 1897 to 1901.-Early life and marriage:...

, who was working as a cashier at the bank of her father, James A. Saxton. Ida had graduated from Brooke Hall, predominantly a finishing school. They were married in the local Presbyterian church in January 1871 when she was 23 and he was 27.The following Christmas Day, Ida gave birth to their daughter Katherine. The first two years of their marriage were the happiest of McKinley's life, but proved to be short-lived. In the spring of 1873, Ida was near the delivery of their second child when her mother died, to which she reacted with severe depression. The ensuing delivery of their daughter came only after a very difficult labor, and the child, named Ida, died at five months. Mrs. McKinley began suffering crippling phlebitis and epileptic seizures among other disorders. She became compulsively protective of daughter Katie, who nevertheless also died three years later in 1876.

McKinley responded to his wife's maladies with unprecedented devotion and love. He is said to have practically assumed a second vocation as caretaker for her physical and psychiatric disorders. McKinley became adept at recognizing the onset of seizures and headaches and acting to preserve Ida's comfort and dignity, in all settings, private and public. Inquiring minds were met with tight but discreet lips as to her condition, with not the slightest sign of embarrassment on the part of her spouse. McKinley's constant scrutiny of Ida's condition and needs facilitated her ability to assume and embrace the grandeur required of a governor's wife and First Lady.

U. S. Congressman and Governor of Ohio

With the help of Rutherford Hayes, McKinley was elected as a Republican to the United States House of Representatives for Ohio, first serving from 1877 to 1882, and again from 1885 to 1891. McKinley quickly achieved a strong reputation in the Congress; after just three years he was placed on the powerful Committee on Ways and Means
United States House Committee on Ways and Means
The Committee of Ways and Means is the chief tax-writing committee of the United States House of Representatives. Members of the Ways and Means Committee are not allowed to serve on any other House Committees unless they apply for a waiver from their party's congressional leadership...

. In the last few days of the 48th Congress he was unseated by Jonathan H. Wallace
Jonathan H. Wallace
Jonathan Hasson Wallace was a United States Congressman from Ohio.Wallace was born in St. Clair Township, Columbiana County, Ohio. He graduated from Washington College , Washington, Pennsylvania in 1844...

, a Democrat who successfully contested his narrow election victory, and won on a party vote. McKinley was again elected to the House and served from March 4, 1885, to March 4, 1891. He made a strong impression on party leaders at the 1888 Republican national convention, and that year competed for, but lost, election as Speaker of the House to the more senior Thomas B. Reed. He was however voted Chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means. In 1890, he authored the McKinley Tariff
McKinley Tariff
The Tariff Act of 1890, commonly called the McKinley Tariff, was an act framed by Representative William McKinley that became law on October 1, 1890. The tariff raised the average duty on imports to almost fifty percent, an act designed to protect domestic industries from foreign competition...

, which raised rates to their highest in history. The political backlash devastated the GOP in the off-year Democratic landslide of 1890
United States House election, 1890
The U.S. House election, 1890 was an election for the United States House of Representatives in 1890 which occurred in the middle of President Benjamin Harrison's term....

. He lost his seat by the narrow margin of 300 votes, partly due to the unpopular tariff bill and partly due to gerrymandering
Gerrymandering
In the process of setting electoral districts, gerrymandering is a practice that attempts to establish a political advantage for a particular party or group by manipulating geographic boundaries to create partisan, incumbent-protected districts...

.

McKinley's aggressive promotion of the protective tariff was a by-product of his allegiance to his native rural Ohio, where the economy and livelihoods very much depended upon the production of iron, coal, farm machinery and wool. He became expert at the art of bill drafting, could navigate easily through buried loopholes in the tariff rate schedule, and learned the subtlety of writing a law that appeared to moderate tariff rates while in fact increasing them. But, while McKinley was one-sided on the tariff issue, he most often sought the most practical of solutions to the nation's, and his district's, problems. Rep. Robert La Follette of Wisconsin, who served with him on the Ways and Means Committee, said of him: "Of course McKinley was a high protectionist, but on the great new questions as they arose he was generally on the side of the public against private interests."

After leaving Congress, McKinley ran for and was elected Governor of Ohio in 1891, defeating Democrat James E. Campbell, with the help of Mark Hanna. His campaign emphasized the use of the gold standard, though he later was a proponent of bimetallism
Bimetallism
In economics, bimetallism is a monetary standard in which the value of the monetary unit is defined as equivalent both to a certain quantity of gold and to a certain quantity of silver; such a system establishes a fixed rate of exchange between the two metals...

, which led to shifts of emphasis and inconsistent statements, resulting in an image of expediency on currency issues. He was reelected in 1893 when opposed by Lawrence T. Neal. As governor, he took a keen interest in industrial arbitration legislation which provided a non mandatory process for the peaceful settlement of labor disputes, and aided in facilitating a few settlements with McKinley's support. In one strike against a railroad, however, he was required to call out the national guard, which quickly restored peace. At the Republican national convention in 1892, he received a few votes as nominee for president while campaigning for the reelection of President Benjamin Harrison
Benjamin Harrison
Benjamin Harrison was the 23rd President of the United States . Harrison, a grandson of President William Henry Harrison, was born in North Bend, Ohio, and moved to Indianapolis, Indiana at age 21, eventually becoming a prominent politician there...

, and established himself as a probable candidate for president in 1896.

In 1893, McKinley came close to declaring bankruptcy due to his liability on loans he had endorsed for Robert L. Walker. McKinley had made his endorsements on blank notes, which Walker increased as needed, eventually totaling over $130,000. Due to the fundraising efforts of Hanna on behalf of the victimized, though negligent, McKinley, the obligations were satisfied, bankruptcy (and resignation as Governor) was avoided, and McKinley was able to quickly regain his political poise.

The off-year elections of 1894 found McKinley in very high demand, and had him traversing sixteen states to make over 350 speeches on behalf of various Republicans. He succeeded in bolstering various factions, including farmers, industrialists and union members. Due in part to his efforts, the Democratic majority in the House of Representatives was reversed.

In 1895, a community of severely impoverished miners in Hocking Valley telegraphed Governor McKinley to report their plight, writing, "Immediate relief needed." Within five hours McKinley had paid out of his own pocket for a railroad car full of food and other supplies to be sent to the miners. He then proceeded to contact the Chambers of Commerce in every major city in the state, instructing them to investigate the number of citizens living below poverty level. When reports returned revealing large numbers of starving Ohioans, the governor headed a charity drive and raised enough money to feed, clothe, and supply more than 10,000 people.

1896 presidential election

Governor McKinley left office in early 1896 and, on the recommendation of his friend and campaign manager Mark Hanna, began actively campaigning for the Republican party's presidential nomination. After sweeping the 1894 congressional elections, Republican prospects appeared bright at the start of 1896. The Democratic Party was split on the issue of silver and many voters blamed the nation's economic woes on incumbent Grover Cleveland
Grover Cleveland
Stephen Grover Cleveland was the 22nd and 24th president of the United States. Cleveland is the only president to serve two non-consecutive terms and therefore is the only individual to be counted twice in the numbering of the presidents...

. McKinley's well-known expertise on the tariff issue, his successful record as governor, and genial personality appealed to many Republican voters. His major opponent for the nomination, House Speaker Thomas B. Reed of Maine, had acquired too many enemies within the party over his political career and his supporters could not compete with Hanna's organization on behalf of McKinley, who thereby won the nomination on the first ballot; Garret A. Hobart received the nomination as Vice-President. Biographer Leech observed that Hanna and McKinley complemented each other very well, the former being the practical businessman, unclouded by idealistic thinking, the clever organizer and fund raiser, while the latter was the zealous party protagonist, inspiring speaker and diplomat.

After winning the nomination he went home and conducted his campaign exclusively from his front porch
Front porch campaign
A front porch campaign is a low-key electoral campaign used in American politics in which the candidate remains close to or at home to make speeches to supporters who come to visit. The candidate largely does not travel around or otherwise actively campaign. The successful presidential campaigns...

, addressing hundreds of thousands of voters, including organizations ranging from traveling salesmen to bicycle clubs. Many of these voters campaigned for McKinley after returning home. McKinley left Canton only twice during the campaign, and his home town took on quite a carnival atmosphere. The Republican National Committee raised an unprecedented $3.5 million.

McKinley's opponent was William Jennings Bryan, who ran on a single issue of "free silver
Free Silver
Free Silver was an important United States political policy issue in the late 19th century and early 20th century. Its advocates were in favor of an inflationary monetary policy using the "free coinage of silver" as opposed to the less inflationary Gold Standard; its supporters were called...

" and money policy. In his letter formally accepting his nomination, McKinley issued a dissertation on the currency question of primary concern, saying "Good money never made times hard", and his remarks eminently satisfied the sound money men, from goldbugs to bimetallists, and also made clear his support of tariffs. McKinley promised that he would promote industry and banking, and guarantee prosperity for every group in a pluralistic nation. A Democratic cartoon ridiculed the promise, saying it would rock the boat. McKinley replied that the protective tariff would bring prosperity to all groups, city and country alike, while Bryan's free silver would create inflation but no new jobs, would bankrupt railroads, and would permanently damage the economy.

McKinley succeeded in getting votes from the urban areas and ethnic labor groups. Campaign manager Hanna adopted new advertising techniques to spread McKinley's message. Although Bryan was ahead in August, McKinley's counter-crusade put him on the defensive and gigantic parades for McKinley in every major city a few days before the election undercut Bryan's allegations that workers were coerced to vote for McKinley. He defeated Bryan by a large margin. His appeal to all classes is thought by many to have marked a realignment of American politics and initiated the progressive era. His success in industrial cities gave the Republican party a grip on the North comparable to that of the Democrats in the South.

Domestic policies

McKinley, then aged 54, became the nation's chief executive at a salary of $50,000. The family became regular attendees at the Metropolitan Methodist Church and Mrs. McKinley appeared quite ready and able, with some assistance, to assume her duties as the White House hostess. When he had initially filled all of his cabinet positions, all but two were over the age of 60, and only three would continue in office for more than two years. His inauguration marked the beginning of the greatest consolidation in American business that had ever been seen. The administration did not aggressively enforce the Sherman Antitrust Act
Sherman Antitrust Act
The Sherman Antitrust Act requires the United States federal government to investigate and pursue trusts, companies, and organizations suspected of violating the Act. It was the first Federal statute to limit cartels and monopolies, and today still forms the basis for most antitrust litigation by...

, as Theodore Roosevelt later would, and therefore business trusts were allowed to expand.

McKinley's claim as the "advance agent of prosperity" was confirmed when 1897 brought a revival of business, agriculture, and general prosperity, ending the Panic of 1893
Panic of 1893
The Panic of 1893 was a serious economic depression in the United States that began in 1893. Similar to the Panic of 1873, this panic was marked by the collapse of railroad overbuilding and shaky railroad financing which set off a series of bank failures...

 which dated back to the Civil War and was marked by persistent underconsumption. The end of the deflationary period resulted largely from a gradual adoption of gold, culminating in passage of the Gold Standard Act of 1900, which set the value of the dollar and alleviated monetary concerns that had plagued the United States since the 1870s. This wave of prosperity, bolstered by US victory in the Spanish-American War, continued into the 20th century until the Panic of 1907, and ensured McKinley's reelection in 1900.

In civil service administration, McKinley reformed the system to make it more flexible in critical areas. The Republican platform, adopted after President Cleveland's extension of the merit system, emphatically endorsed this, as did McKinley himself. Against extreme pressure, particularly in the Department of War
United States Department of War
The United States Department of War, also called the War Department , was the United States Cabinet department originally responsible for the operation and maintenance of the United States Army...

, the President resisted until May 29, 1899. His order of that date withdrew from the classified service 4,000 or more positions, removed 3,500 from the class theretofore filled through competitive examination or an orderly practice of promotion, and placed 6,416 more under a system drafted by the Secretary of War. The order declared as permanent a large number of temporary appointments made without examination, including thousands who had served during the Spanish War. In the way of patronage, McKinley adeptly employed appointments to cultivate the favor of members of the Senate, but also made appointments which flowed to his singular benefit. While many suspected otherwise, newly appointed Senator Mark Hanna was not allowed to assume an insider's role in McKinley's appointments. The President had earlier offered Hanna the patronage-dispensing position of Postmaster General
United States Postmaster General
The United States Postmaster General is the Chief Executive Officer of the United States Postal Service. The office, in one form or another, is older than both the United States Constitution and the United States Declaration of Independence...

, which Hanna refused.

Republicans pointed to the deficit under the Wilson Law
Wilson-Gorman Tariff Act
The Revenue Act or Wilson-Gorman Tariff of 1894 slightly reduced the United States tariff rates from the numbers set in the 1890 McKinley tariff and imposed a 2% income tax. It is named for William L. Wilson, Representative from West Virginia, chair of the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee, and...

 of 1894, which had reduced the McKinley tariff, with much the same concern manifested by President Grover Cleveland
Grover Cleveland
Stephen Grover Cleveland was the 22nd and 24th president of the United States. Cleveland is the only president to serve two non-consecutive terms and therefore is the only individual to be counted twice in the numbering of the presidents...

 in 1888 over the surplus. A new tariff law had to be passed, if possible before a new Congressional election. An extra session of Congress was therefore summoned for March 15, 1897. The Ways and Means Committee
United States House Committee on Ways and Means
The Committee of Ways and Means is the chief tax-writing committee of the United States House of Representatives. Members of the Ways and Means Committee are not allowed to serve on any other House Committees unless they apply for a waiver from their party's congressional leadership...

 reported through Chairman Nelson Dingley the bill which bore his name, the House passed the bill and it reached the Senate the last day of March. The Senate passed the bill after toning up its schedules with some 870 amendments, most of which pleased the Conference Committee
United States Congress Conference committee
A conference committee is a committee of the Congress appointed by the House of Representatives and Senate to resolve disagreements on a particular bill...

 and it became law. The President signed the act July 24, 1897. The Dingley Act
Dingley Act
The Dingley Act of 1897 , introduced by U.S. Representative Nelson Dingley, Jr. of Maine, raised tariffs in United States to counteract the Wilson–Gorman Tariff Act of 1894, which had lowered rates....

 was estimated by its author to advance the average rate from the 40 percent of the Wilson Bill to approximately 50 percent or a shade higher than the McKinley rate. As proportioned to consumption the tax imposed by, it was probably heavier than that under either of its predecessors.

Reciprocity
Reciprocity (international relations)
In international relations and treaties, the principle of reciprocity states that favours, benefits, or penalties that are granted by one state to the citizens or legal entities of another, should be returned in kind....

, a feature of the McKinley Tariff, had been suspended by the Wilson Act. The Republican platform of 1896 declared protection and reciprocity twin measures of Republican policy. Clauses graced the Dingley Act allowing reciprocity treaties to be made, "duly ratified" by the Senate and "approved" by Congress. Under the third section of the Act some concessions were given and received, but the treaties negotiated under the fourth section, which involved lowering of strictly protective duties, met summary defeat when submitted to the Senate.

George B. Cortelyou
George B. Cortelyou
George Bruce Cortelyou was an American Presidential Cabinet secretary of the early 20th century.-Early life:...

 served as the first presidential press secretary of sorts. He was the first individual in the president's office who regularly called for correspondents when an announcement was to be made, provided them with workspace in the White House, and also prepared and distributed statements to the press.

Civil rights

As part of a Methodist family, McKinley was raised an abolitionist by his mother in Poland, Ohio. He was sympathetic to African Americans who struggled under the "Jim Crow" system of second class citizenship in the South. McKinley did not try to reverse Jim Crow (which had won Supreme Court approval in 1896
Plessy v. Ferguson
Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537 , is a landmark United States Supreme Court decision in the jurisprudence of the United States, upholding the constitutionality of state laws requiring racial segregation in private businesses , under the doctrine of "separate but equal".The decision was handed...

), but he did name some blacks to federal office in the South, including George B. Jackson
George B. Jackson
George B. Jackson was a businessman, sheep rancher, and Republican politician from San Angelo who was believed to have been the wealthiest African American in Texas during the second half of the 19th century.-Background:...

, a former slave (to the post of customs collector in Presidio
Presidio, Texas
Presidio is a city in Presidio County, Texas, United States. It stands on the Rio Grande , on the opposite side of the U.S.-Mexico border from Ojinaga, Chihuahua. The population was 4,167 at the 2000 census....

) and Walter L. Cohen
Walter L. Cohen
Walter L. Cohen, Sr. was an African American Republican politician and businessman in the U.S. state of Louisiana.The New Orleans native was the son of Bernard Cohen and the former Amelia Bingaman...

 of New Orleans
New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans is a major United States port and the largest city and metropolitan area in the state of Louisiana. The New Orleans metropolitan area has a population of 1,235,650 as of 2009, the 46th largest in the USA. The New Orleans – Metairie – Bogalusa combined statistical area has a population...

, a leader of the Black and Tan Republican faction, as a customs inspector.

McKinley made several speeches on African American equality and justice:
Despite McKinley's laudatory rhetoric, the political realities prevented any real action on the part of his administration in regards to race relations. McKinley did little to alleviate the backwards situation of black Americans because he was "unwilling to alienate the white South." During the Spanish-American War, McKinley made certain that black soldiers served, and even countermanded army orders preventing recruitment of African-American soldiers. Such efforts, as Gerald Bahles points out, however, did little to "stem the deteriorating position of blacks in American society."

Foreign policies

McKinley strove to advance the interests of American producers in world markets, and so his administration promoted the opening of foreign markets, especially in China. While serving as a Congressman, McKinley supported annexation of Hawaii because he wanted to Americanize
Americanization
Americanization is the influence of the United States on the popular culture, technology, business practices, or political techniques of other countries. The term has been used since at least 1907. Inside the U.S...

 it and establish a naval base, but Senate resistance previously proved insurmountable as domestic sugar producers and committed anti-expansionists blocked any action. One notable observer of the time, Henry Adams, declared that the nation at this time was ruled by "McKinleyism", a "system of combinations, consolidations, and trusts realized at home and abroad." Although many of his diplomatic appointments went to political friends such as former Carnegie Steel president John George Alexander Leishman
John George Alexander Leishman
John George Alexander Leishman was an American businessman and diplomat. He worked in various executive positions at Carnegie Steel Company and later served as an ambassador for the United States.-Biography:...

 (minister to Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

 and Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

), professional diplomats such as Andrew Dickson White
Andrew Dickson White
Andrew Dickson White was a U.S. diplomat, historian, and educator, who was the co-founder of Cornell University.-Family and personal life:...

, John W. Foster
John W. Foster
John Watson Foster was an American military man, journalist and diplomat.Born in Petersburg, Indiana, and raised in Evansville, Indiana, he was first a lawyer and then served as general for the Union in the American Civil War. Following the war he worked as a journalist, editing the Evansville...

, and John Hay
John Hay
John Milton Hay was an American statesman, diplomat, author, journalist, and private secretary and assistant to Abraham Lincoln.-Early life:...

 also capably served. John Bassett Moore
John Bassett Moore
John Bassett Moore was an American authority on international law who was a member of the Hague Tribunal and the first US judge to serve on the Permanent Court of International Justice ....

, the nation's leading scholar of international law, frequently advised the administration on the technical legal issues in its foreign relations.

Discussions of the possible annexation of Hawaii by the United States began during the Harrison administration, but had been tabled by Grover Cleveland. McKinley immediately reopened negotiations and on June 16, 1897, an annex treaty was signed. The Government of Hawaii speedily ratified this, and the Japanese protested it, but it lacked the necessary two-thirds vote in the U.S. Senate. The solution was to annex Hawaii by joint resolution. The resolution provided for the assumption by the United States of the Hawaiian debt up to $4,000,000. The Chinese Exclusion Act
Chinese Exclusion Act (United States)
The Chinese Exclusion Act was a United States federal law signed by Chester A. Arthur on May 8, 1882, following revisions made in 1880 to the Burlingame Treaty of 1868. Those revisions allowed the U.S. to suspend immigration, and Congress subsequently acted quickly to implement the suspension of...

 (1882) was extended to the islands, and Chinese
Chinese people
The term Chinese people may refer to any of the following:*People with Han Chinese ethnicity ....

 immigration from Hawaii to the mainland was prohibited. The joint resolution passed on July 6, 1898, a majority of the Democrats with several Republicans, among these Speaker Reed
Thomas Brackett Reed
Thomas Brackett Reed, , occasionally ridiculed as Czar Reed, was a U.S. Representative from Maine, and Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1889–1891 and from 1895–1899...

, opposing. Shelby M. Cullom, John T. Morgan, Robert R. Hitt
Robert R. Hitt
Robert Roberts Hitt was an Assistant Secretary of State and later a member of the United States House of Representatives....

, Sanford B. Dole
Sanford B. Dole
Sanford Ballard Dole was a lawyer and jurist in the Hawaiian Islands as a kingdom, protectorate, republic and territory...

, and Walter F. Frear
Walter F. Frear
Walter Francis Frear was a lawyer and judge in the Kingdom of Hawaii and Republic of Hawaii, and the third Territorial Governor of Hawaii from 1907 to 1913.-Life:...

, made commissioners by its authority, drafted a territorial
United States territory
United States territory is any extent of region under the jurisdiction of the federal government of the United States, including all waters including all U.S. Naval carriers. The United States has traditionally proclaimed the sovereign rights for exploring, exploiting, conserving, and managing its...

 form of government, which became law April 30, 1900.

The President's selection of leadership in the State Department was a mélange. First, McKinley's appointment of aging Ohio Senator John Sherman
John Sherman (politician)
John Sherman, nicknamed "The Ohio Icicle" , was a U.S. Representative and U.S. Senator from Ohio during the Civil War and into the late nineteenth century. He served as both Secretary of the Treasury and Secretary of State and was the principal author of the Sherman Antitrust Act...

 to head the State Department was questioned from the outset. While McKinley genuinely hoped Sherman's reputation and experience would bolster the integrity of his Cabinet, it quickly became apparent that Sherman was too old to function in his role. (McKinley's first choice for the State Department, Senator William Allison
William B. Allison
William Boyd Allison was an early leader of the Iowa Republican Party, who represented northeastern Iowa for four consecutive terms in the U.S. House before representing his state for six consecutive terms in the U.S. Senate...

 of Iowa, declined the offer.) Sherman, who previously served as Secretary of the Treasury, initially appeared to be a strong selection. Although Sherman was indeed an experienced statesman, he was too advanced in years, but succeeded for a time in obscuring his increased senility. McKinley named longtime friend William Rufus Day as First Assistant to Sherman, to serve as the de-facto department head, even though Day lacked any experience as a diplomat, and demonstrated it. McKinley further relied on the deaf career diplomat, Alvey A. Adee
Alvey A. Adee
Alvey Augustus Adee was a long-time official with the United States Department of State who served as the acting Secretary of State in 1898 during the Spanish-American War. He was the second of three senior State Department officials--the first being William Hunter and the third Wilbur J...

, as Second Assistant to Sherman, to mentor Day in his role. This lineup was thus often maligned: "The Secretary knows nothing, the First Assistant says nothing, and the Second Assistant hears nothing."

Spanish-American War

The seminal endeavor of McKinley's presidency was the Spanish-American War
Spanish-American War
The Spanish–American War was a conflict in 1898 between Spain and the United States, effectively the result of American intervention in the ongoing Cuban War of Independence...

. The conflict between the two countries stemmed from Spanish atrocities in Cuba, spearheaded by Governor General Weyler in attempts to curb a rebellion by the people. The Spanish repeatedly promised, and then postponed new reforms. Some historians believe that Democrats and the sensationalist yellow journalism
Yellow journalism
Yellow journalism or the yellow press is a type of journalism that presents little or no legitimate well-researched news and instead uses eye-catching headlines to sell more newspapers. Techniques may include exaggerations of news events, scandal-mongering, or sensationalism...

 of William Randolph Hearst
William Randolph Hearst
William Randolph Hearst was an American business magnate and leading newspaper publisher. Hearst entered the publishing business in 1887, after taking control of The San Francisco Examiner from his father...

's newspapers were primarily responsible for the American public opinion against Spain, but according to biographer Leech, the newspapers did not create the frenzy, but solidified the public belief that intervention was required based on the situation in Cuba. McKinley and the business community, as well as House Speaker Reed
Thomas Brackett Reed
Thomas Brackett Reed, , occasionally ridiculed as Czar Reed, was a U.S. Representative from Maine, and Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1889–1891 and from 1895–1899...

, did not share the public's preference for war. While McKinley understood the public's anger toward Spanish atrocities, he was slow in engaging the Spanish, initially by delay in getting his minister to Spain, General Stewart L. Woodford, to assume the post. Spain's new Premier, Praxedas Mateo Sagasta, then replaced General Weyler with Gen. Ramon y Arenas in Cuba to allay the fear of continued atrocities, allowed the U.S. to send food and medicine to Cuba, and all U.S. citizens held in Cuba were released. In the wake of these actions, McKinley asked the country to exercise patience.

Nevertheless, to demonstrate continued American resolve for immediate reform, a warship, the U.S.S. Maine
USS Maine (ACR-1)
USS Maine was the United States Navy's second commissioned pre-dreadnought battleship, although she was originally classified as an armored cruiser. She is best known for her catastrophic loss in Havana harbor. Maine had been sent to Havana, Cuba to protect U.S. interests during the Cuban revolt...

, was dispatched to Havana
Havana
Havana is the capital city, province, major port, and leading commercial centre of Cuba. The city proper has a population of 2.1 million inhabitants, and it spans a total of — making it the largest city in the Caribbean region, and the most populous...

 harbor and placed on call for the U.S. consul general Fitzhugh Lee
Fitzhugh Lee
Fitzhugh Lee , nephew of Robert E. Lee, was a Confederate cavalry general in the American Civil War, the 40th Governor of Virginia, diplomat, and United States Army general in the Spanish-American War.-Early life:...

, to be later joined by the Montgomery
USS Montgomery (C-9)
The fourth USS Montgomery was a protected cruiser in the United States Navy during the Spanish-American War. She was named for Montgomery, Alabama....

. The Department of the Navy, led by Secretary John D, Long, was to be more directly envolved in the Cuban problems than any other department, except for State. Long, recently well recovered from a nervous breakdown, was an ambitious member of the cabinet, while also yearning for the peace and quiet of his farm at home. With the rank of admiral having lapsed, this civilian boss dealt directly with line officers in running the department. Notably at his right hand was a younger, irrepressible and energetic Assistant Secretary, Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt was the 26th President of the United States . He is noted for his exuberant personality, range of interests and achievements, and his leadership of the Progressive Movement, as well as his "cowboy" persona and robust masculinity...

, anxious to modernize and enlarge the fleet. Long initially succeeded in reining in his junior, at least as concerned increasing the fleet – one additional battleship and accompanying torpedo boats were approved in the Pacific.

On February 15, 1898, the Maine mysteriously exploded and sank in the Havanna harbor, causing the deaths of 250 men, along with a hew and cry from the public for war against Spain; at the same time the State Dept. began intense efforts at negotiations with Spain. The Navy named a board of inquiry to investigate, and McKinley asked the public to withhold judgment until the inquiry, as well as diplomatic negotiations, were complete. The President received a report of the investigation on a Friday, which concluded the explosion was caused by a submarine mine of unknown origin. McKinley immediately prepared a message for Congress, which included a key request for its "deliberate consideration" as well as forbearance while negotiations for peace continued. A copy of the report was leaked that weekend, and significant Congressional and public support for war was emboldened. The President's message was then delayed by another 5 days, to allow for military preparations and evacuation of American citizens from Cuba.

When the President finalized his message to Congress, he softened his stance of preference for negotiation, in favor of a policy of "neutral intervention". Congress initially passed a joint resolution, recognizing Cuban independence (but not a free standing republic), demanding Spanish withdrawal from Cuba, and directing the President to use armed forces for enforcement. The Maine tragedy also led to a sudden realization of naval ill-preparedness, and Congress quickly passed an appropriation bill for $50 million for defense. The onus of Navy purchases fell to Assistant Secretary Roosevelt, who burned to launch the Atlantic Squadron full tilt against Havanna, and who viewed the more sanguine McKinley as "having no more backbone than a chocolate éclair." Nevertheless, Mckinley had promptly issued an ultimatum to Spain to cease and desist, and also ordered a blockade of Cuba.
A few days later Congress voted to declare war against Spain, effective with the blockade.

A week after the President's ultimatum, the Navy Department pressed for authority to immediately begin offensives against the Spanish fleet in the Philippines, in light of Britain's declared neutrality and presence in the area. The President responded with authorization to Asiatic Squadron commander George Dewey
George Dewey
George Dewey was an admiral of the United States Navy. He is best known for his victory at the Battle of Manila Bay during the Spanish-American War...

. Dewey's victory in the Philippines was quick and decisive, and the President promoted him to Rear Admiral for his efforts. McKinley assigned Major General Wesley Merritt
Wesley Merritt
Wesley Merritt was a general in the United States Army during the American Civil War and the Spanish-American War. He is noted for distinguished service in the cavalry.-Early life:...

 the role of military governor in the Philippines, with orders to establish military rule, but to avoid severity upon civilians, and to disown any intent to make war or to ally with any faction. Merritt's mission temporarily stalled in California, for lack of personnel and transportation.

Expeditious victory despite missteps

At the outset of the war, in many respects the War Department was thus not well prepared, under the leadership of Secretary Russell A. Alger
Russell A. Alger
Russell Alexander Alger was the 20th Governor and U.S. Senator from the state of Michigan and also U.S. Secretary of War during the Presidential administration of William McKinley...

. McKinley was also forced to suspend his initial order for an attack on Havana, due to inadequate supplies and troops to proceed. Alger placed unsupported blame on the President for restricting expenditures to coastline defenses. The Navy Department as well was not without its own difficulties in its initial offensive operations in the Caribbean. While the Spanish naval commander Pascual Cervera idled in port at Santiago, U.S. commander Winfield Scott Schley
Winfield Scott Schley
Winfield Scott Schley was a rear admiral in the United States Navy and the hero of the Battle of Santiago Bay during the Spanish-American War.-Civil War:...

 refused to carry out orders to pursue the Spanish fleet, claiming a shortage of coal. Shley also refused to recognize rival William T. Sampson
William T. Sampson
William Thomas Sampson was a United States Navy rear admiral known for his victory in the Battle of Santiago de Cuba during the Spanish-American War.-Biography:...

 as the top commander in the Cuba operation.

It was only after multiple false starts and chaotic supply management and transportation problems that the Army succeeded in dispatching 17,000 troops (the largest force in U.S. history at the time) from Tampa en route to Santiago under the leadership of William R. Shafter. Once in transit, Shafter consistently directed the campaign of the ground war with minimal consultation or even communication with Sampson and the Navy, shunning use of the marines or the benefit of Naval bombardment. By his own admission, Shafter commented, "there was no strategy about it – just to do it quick." Once unloaded, the troops' orders were first and foremost to move rapidly on Las Gasimas; the offensive was a success, except for the fact that due to continued inefficiencies in the Quartermaster Corps., Shafter had outrun his supplies.

The President was very much aware of the inefficiencies of waging war, and worked mightily to reduce the problems; nevertheless, he had witnessed first hand much worse, in fresh memories of the Civil War. There was a fair amount of finger pointing inherent in the midst of military missteps; McKinley was reluctant to react precipitously, assuming that some of these problems would be experienced regardless of who was in place. Nevertheless, he was quick to point out shortcomings when frustrated, as when Shafter delayed in finishing the campaign in Santiago, when he said to Shafter, "What you went to Santiago for was the Spanish army. If you allow it to evacuate with its arms you must meet it somewhere else. This is not war." While the war was still in its infancy though, McKinley had already begun to focus on the terms of peace, saying, "We must be certain to keep what we have worked to acquire." The President did ultimately ask for Secretary Alger's resignation in the wake of the War Department's many inefficiencies; many thought the action came later than warranted.

Volunteer militia and national guard units indeed rushed to the colors, including Roosevelt and his "Rough Riders
Rough Riders
The Rough Riders is the name bestowed on the 1st United States Volunteer Cavalry, one of three such regiments raised in 1898 for the Spanish-American War and the only one of the three to see action. The United States Army was weakened and left with little manpower after the American Civil War...

". The famous Battle of Las Gisamas and Battle of San Juan Hill
Battle of San Juan Hill
The Battle of San Juan Hill , also known as the battle for the San Juan Heights, was a decisive battle of the Spanish-American War. The San Juan heights was a north-south running elevation about two kilometers east of Santiago de Cuba. The names San Juan Hill and Kettle Hill were names given by the...

 were pivotal successes in the war effort, though they came at an inordinate number of casualties equal to ten percent of Shafter's forces. The naval war in Cuba was ultimately also a success, the shortest war in U.S. history. Secretary of State
United States Secretary of State
The United States Secretary of State is the head of the United States Department of State, concerned with foreign affairs. The Secretary is a member of the Cabinet and the highest-ranking cabinet secretary both in line of succession and order of precedence...

 John Hay
John Hay
John Milton Hay was an American statesman, diplomat, author, journalist, and private secretary and assistant to Abraham Lincoln.-Early life:...

 called it a "splendid little war."

Peace, annexation and criticism of the War Department

McKinley's main conditions for peace in negotiating with the Spanish were 1) relinquishment of Spanish sovereignty over Cuba; 2) cession of Porto Rico and other islands in the West Indies; and 3) relinquishment of the Philippines including Manila and additional territory. At the Peace Conference, which grew out of an initial armistice agreement, Spain sold its rights to the Philippines to the U.S., which took control of the islands and suppressed local rebellions, over the objection of the Democrats and the newly formed Anti-Imperialist League.The President included three senators on the U.S negotiating team so as to facilitate ratification of the resulting treaty. He made the following statement on the negotiations: "We took up arms...in the fulfillment of high public and moral obligations. We had no...ambition of conquest. The United States in making peace should follow the same high rule of conduct...and not ulterior designs which might tempt us into excessive demands." Ratification was assured after conflict erupted on the island of Luzon so as to allow the administration to respond to the emergency there.

McKinley sent William Howard Taft
William Howard Taft
William Howard Taft was the 27th President of the United States and later the tenth Chief Justice of the United States...

 to the Philippines and then to Rome to settle the long-standing dispute over lands owned by the Catholic Church. By 1901 the Philippines were peaceful again after a decade of turmoil. The United States also gained possession of Guam
Guam
Guam is an organized, unincorporated territory of the United States located in the western Pacific Ocean. It is one of five U.S. territories with an established civilian government. Guam is listed as one of 16 Non-Self-Governing Territories by the Special Committee on Decolonization of the United...

 and Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico , officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico , is an unincorporated territory of the United States, located in the northeastern Caribbean, east of the Dominican Republic and west of both the United States Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands.Puerto Rico comprises an...

 from Spain, and political and economic control over Cuba through the Platt Amendment. According to many historians, the United States had thus begun to display attributes of strong imperialism. Hawaii, which for years had tried to join the U.S., was annexed.

In the wake of the combat in Cuba came a scandal over the evacuation of ill and injured troops on two private ships, the Seneca and the Concho, chartered by the Army. Allegations included severe overcrowding on board as well as profiteering in the chartering arrangements. Secretary Alger was said to have acted as an intermediary on behalf of the charter companies which resulted in the premature conclusion of the investigation ordered by the President. Indeed, the rapid victory could not overshadow many areas of mismanagement found in the War Department, including supply management problems by the Quartermaster, food poisoning found throughout the Commissary, and incompetence within the Medical Corps. By the time of the mid-term elections, the President was under pressure from the press, emboldened by public comments critical of the Army from General Nelson Miles; McKinley formed a commission, lead by Granville M. Dodge, to investigate the various issues within the War Department. Miles' testimony was discounted as politically motivated, and the final report of the commission, viewed with considerable skepticism, found deplorable lapses in war preparations but no corruption.

There is a disputed recollection by one person who said McKinley told him in 1899," ... one night it came to me this way...(1) That we could not give them [the Philippines] back to Spain – that would be cowardly and dishonorable; (2) that we could not turn them over to France or Germany – our commercial rivals in the Orient – that would be bad business and discreditable; (3) that we could not leave them to themselves – they were unfit for self-government – and they would soon have anarchy and misrule over there worse than Spain's was; and (4) that there was nothing left for us to do but to take them all, and to educate the Filipinos, and uplift and civilize and Christianize them." The above recollection is not corroborated, according to biographer Gould, who rejects the quotation as unlikely to have been made.

Historians Schweikart and Allen indicate that the "Christianize" point represented a minor factor in the President's policy, though Protestant American missionaries had a presence on the islands. Other historians have dismissed the missionary element as an excuse for sheer secular expansionism. Leech points out that the Fillipinos represented the largest group of Catholics in the Far East. McKinley's policy in favor of annexation was in large part based on the inability of the U.S. to defend the various islands from a limited position in Manila. Great Britain was in favor of the policy and Spain was financially unable to sustain the islands. Annexation was a difficult position for the President, as he had previously denounced "the greed of conquest" and "the criminal aggression of annexation".

Election of 1900 and second term

The President was nominated by his party with Theodore Roosevelt as his running mate. He was publicly silent on the V.P. choice, but privately preferred Sen. William B. Allison
William B. Allison
William Boyd Allison was an early leader of the Iowa Republican Party, who represented northeastern Iowa for four consecutive terms in the U.S. House before representing his state for six consecutive terms in the U.S. Senate...

, the "father of the Senate" as the V.P. nominee, who declined the offer; McKinley thought Roosevelt should head the War Department. He was re-elected in 1900
United States presidential election, 1900
The United States presidential election of 1900 was a re-match of the 1896 race between Republican President William McKinley and his Democratic challenger, William Jennings Bryan. The return of economic prosperity and recent victory in the Spanish–American War helped McKinley to score a decisive...

, this time with economic prosperity in hand and an ebullient national mood after the successful war. Foreign policy was the paramount issue, with the Democrats denouncing the colonialism of the Republicans and insisting the Constitution should follow the flag to annexed territories. William Jennings Bryan, again the Democratic candidate, also reprised the silver issue. McKinley easily won re-election, giving Republicans the largest electoral margin since 1872.

All of McKinley's cabinet at the time of the election continued in service with the exception of the Attorney General. In early 1901 the President pressed for settlement of the constitutional and governmental questions in Cuba so that the focus could be turned to the Philippines. He also lead negotiations with Congress on the Spooner bill authorizing establishment of a civil government in the Philippines. Taft was made provisional governor there to demonstrate the nation's resolve to emphasize civil versus military solutions.

The President and Mrs. McKinley took a trip west to California in May 1901. She became quite ill on the trip, and McKinley spent most of his time with his wife, but he was able to deliver a speech in San Jose, California on May 13 and to attend his parade in San Francisco on May 14. The president went to Oakland without his wife, to speak on May 17. The President visited the Union Iron Works
Union Iron Works
Union Iron Works, located in San Francisco, California, on the southeast waterfront, was a central business within the large industrial zone of Potrero Point, for four decades at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries.-History:...

 of San Francisco to observe the launching of the battleship, USS Ohio (BB-12)
USS Ohio (BB-12)
USS Ohio , a Maine-class battleship, was the third ship of the United States Navy named for the 17th state.Ohio was laid down on 22 April 1899 by Union Iron Works, San Francisco, California. She was launched on 18 May 1901 sponsored by Miss Helen Deschler, a relative of Governor George K. Nash of...

. Mrs. William McKinley attended the ceremony, but the First Lady became critically (though temporarily) ill in San Francisco and a planned tour of the Northwest was cancelled.

Assassination

The President and Mrs. McKinley spent the summer of 1901 at home in Canton, Ohio and then attended the Pan-American Exposition
Pan-American Exposition
The Pan-American Exposition was a World's Fair held in Buffalo, New York, United States, from May 1 through November 2, 1901. The fair occupied of land on the western edge of what is present day Delaware Park, extending from Delaware Ave. to Elmwood Ave and northward to Great Arrow...

 in Buffalo, New York
Buffalo, New York
Buffalo is the second most populous city in the state of New York, after New York City. Located in Western New York on the eastern shores of Lake Erie and at the head of the Niagara River across from Fort Erie, Ontario, Buffalo is the seat of Erie County and the principal city of the...

 beginning in late August. He delivered a speech about his positions on tariffs and foreign trade on September 5, 1901. The following morning, McKinley visited Niagara Falls before returning to the Exposition. That afternoon McKinley had an engagement to greet the public at the Temple of Music
Temple of Music
The Temple of Music was a concert hall and auditorium built for the Pan-American Exposition which was held in Buffalo, New York, in 1901. U.S. President William McKinley was assassinated inside the building on September 6, 1901...

. Standing in line, Leon Frank Czolgosz waited with a .32 caliber pistol in his right hand concealed by a handkerchief. At 4:07 pm Czolgosz fired twice at the president. The first bullet grazed his shoulder, but the second went through his stomach
Stomach
The stomach is a muscular, hollow, dilated part of the alimentary canal which functions as an important organ of the digestive tract in some animals, including vertebrates, echinoderms, insects , and molluscs. It is involved in the second phase of digestion, following mastication .The stomach is...

, pancreas
Pancreas
The pancreas is a gland organ in the digestive and endocrine system of vertebrates. It is both an endocrine gland producing several important hormones, including insulin, glucagon, and somatostatin, as well as a digestive organ, secreting pancreatic juice containing digestive enzymes that assist...

, and kidney
Kidney
The kidneys, organs with several functions, serve essential regulatory roles in most animals, including vertebrates and some invertebrates. They are essential in the urinary system and also serve homeostatic functions such as the regulation of electrolytes, maintenance of acid–base balance, and...

, and finally lodged in the muscles of his back. McKinley whispered to his secretary, George Cortelyou, “My wife, Cortelyou, be careful how you tell her, oh be careful.” Czolgosz would have fired again, but he was struck by a bystander and then subdued by an enraged crowd. The wounded McKinley reportedly called out, "Boys! Don't let them hurt him!" because the angry crowd beat Czolgosz so severely it looked as if they might kill him on the spot.

One bullet was easily found and extracted, but doctors were unable to locate the second bullet. It was feared that the search for the bullet might cause more harm than good. In addition, McKinley appeared to be recovering, so doctors decided to leave the bullet where it was.

The newly developed x-ray machine
X-ray machine
An X-ray generator is a device used to generate X-rays. These devices are commonly used by radiographers to acquire an x-ray image of the inside of an object but they are also used in sterilization or fluorescence....

 was displayed at the fair, but doctors were reluctant to use it on McKinley to search for the bullet because they did not know what side effects it might have on him. The operating room at the exposition's emergency hospital did not have any electric lighting
Incandescent light bulb
The incandescent light bulb, incandescent lamp or incandescent light globe makes light by heating a metal filament wire to a high temperature until it glows. The hot filament is protected from air by a glass bulb that is filled with inert gas or evacuated. In a halogen lamp, a chemical process...

, even though the exteriors of many of the buildings at the extravagant exposition were covered with thousands of light bulbs. The surgeons were unable to operate by candlelight because of the danger created by the flammable ether used to keep the president unconscious, so doctors were forced to use pans instead to reflect sunlight onto the operating table while they treated McKinley's wounds.

McKinley's doctors believed he would recover, and he convalesced for more than a week in Buffalo at the home of the exposition's director. On the morning of September 12, he felt strong enough to receive his first food orally since the shooting – toast and a small cup of coffee. However, by afternoon he began to experience discomfort and his condition rapidly worsened. McKinley began to go into shock. At 2:15 am on September 14, 1901, eight days after he was shot, he died at age 58 from gangrene
Gangrene
Gangrene is a serious and potentially life-threatening condition that arises when a considerable mass of body tissue dies . This may occur after an injury or infection, or in people suffering from any chronic health problem affecting blood circulation. The primary cause of gangrene is reduced blood...

 surrounding his wounds. His last words were, "It is God's way; His will be done, not ours." He was originally buried in the receiving vault of West Lawn Cemetery
West Lawn Cemetery
West Lawn Cemetery is in Canton, Ohio adjacent to the McKinley National Memorial. It was the original resting place of William McKinley until his memorial was built, and has graves of other notable Cantonians.-History:...

 in Canton, Ohio. His remains were later reinterred in the McKinley Memorial, also in Canton.

The scene of the assassination, the Temple of Music, was demolished in November 1901, along with the rest of the Exposition grounds. A stone marker in the middle of Fordham Drive, a residential street in Buffalo, marks the approximate spot where the shooting occurred. Czolgosz's revolver is on display in the Pan-American Exposition exhibit at the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society in Buffalo.

McKinley was the last veteran of the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

 in the White House; he was the last president of the 19th century and the first of the 20th.

Administration and appointments

Supreme Court

McKinley appointed the following Justice to the Supreme Court of the United States
Supreme Court of the United States
The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the United States. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all state and federal courts, and original jurisdiction over a small range of cases...

:
  • Joseph McKenna
    Joseph McKenna
    Joseph McKenna was an American politician who served in all three branches of the U.S. federal government, as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, as U.S. Attorney General and as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court...

     – 1898

Other judges

Along with his Supreme Court appointment, McKinley appointed six judges to the United States Courts of Appeals
United States courts of appeals
The United States courts of appeals are the intermediate appellate courts of the United States federal court system...

, and 28 judges to the United States district courts.

Monuments and memorials

A funeral was held at the Milburn Mansion in Buffalo, after which the body was removed to Buffalo City Hall where it lay in-state for a public viewing. It was taken later to the White House
White House
The White House is the official residence and principal workplace of the president of the United States. Located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Washington, D.C., the house was designed by Irish-born James Hoban, and built between 1792 and 1800 of white-painted Aquia sandstone in the Neoclassical...

, United States Capitol
United States Capitol
The United States Capitol is the meeting place of the United States Congress, the legislature of the federal government of the United States. Located in Washington, D.C., it sits atop Capitol Hill at the eastern end of the National Mall...

 and finally to the late President's home in Canton for a memorial. Memorials for the President were held in London, England at Westminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey
The Collegiate Church of St Peter at Westminster, popularly known as Westminster Abbey, is a large, mainly Gothic church, in the City of Westminster, London, United Kingdom, located just to the west of the Palace of Westminster. It is the traditional place of coronation and burial site for English,...

 and St Paul's Cathedral
St Paul's Cathedral
St Paul's Cathedral, London, is a Church of England cathedral and seat of the Bishop of London. Its dedication to Paul the Apostle dates back to the original church on this site, founded in AD 604. St Paul's sits at the top of Ludgate Hill, the highest point in the City of London, and is the mother...

.
  • William McKinley Presidential Library and Museum
    William McKinley Presidential Library and Museum
    The William McKinley Presidential Library and Museum is the presidential library of 25th U.S. President William McKinley. The library is owned and operated by the Stark County Historical Society, and located in Canton, Ohio, where McKinley built his career as lawyer, prosecuting attorney,...

    , Canton, Ohio.
  • McKinley Memorial Mausoleum
    McKinley Memorial Mausoleum
    The McKinley National Memorial in Canton, Ohio, United States, is the final resting place of William McKinley, who served as the 25th President of the United States from 1897 to his assassination in 1901...

    , Canton, Ohio
    Canton, Ohio
    Canton is the county seat of Stark County in northeastern Ohio, approximately south of Akron and south of Cleveland.The City of Caton is the largest incorporated area within the Canton-Massillon Metropolitan Statistical Area...

    , his final resting place.
  • National McKinley Birthplace Memorial
    National McKinley Birthplace Memorial
    The National McKinley Birthplace Memorial Library and Museum is the national memorial to President William McKinley located in Niles, Ohio. Also known as the McKinley Memorial Library, Museum & Birthplace Home, the Memorial is a 232 foot by 136 foot by 38 foot marble monument with two wings. One...

     Library and Museum, Niles, Ohio
    Niles, Ohio
    Niles is a city in Trumbull County, Ohio, United States. The city's population was 20,932 at the 2000 census. It is part of the Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, OH-PA Metropolitan Statistical Area....

    , designed by McKim, Mead and White, dedicated October 5, 1917.
  • McKinley Birthplace Home and Research Center
    McKinley Birthplace Home and Research Center
    The McKinley Birthplace Home and Research Center is a reconstruction of a home on the site of the birth of America's twenty-fifth President, William McKinley, in Niles, Ohio.-Original structure:...

    , Niles, Ohio
    Niles, Ohio
    Niles is a city in Trumbull County, Ohio, United States. The city's population was 20,932 at the 2000 census. It is part of the Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, OH-PA Metropolitan Statistical Area....

    , a reconstruction on the site where he was born.
  • The statue of McKinley in Muskegon, Michigan
    Muskegon, Michigan
    Muskegon is a city in the U.S. state of Michigan. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 38,401. The city is the county seat of Muskegon County...

     is believed to be the first raised in his honor in the country, put in place on May 23, 1902. It was sculpted by Charles Henry Niehaus
    Charles Henry Niehaus
    Charles Henry Niehaus , was an American sculptor, born in Cincinnati, Ohio.-Education:Niehaus began working as a marble and wood carver and then gained entrance to the McMicken School of Design in Cincinnati and later studied at the Royal Academy in Munich, Germany...

    .
  • At Bluff Point, near Plattsburgh, New York, a small monument topped with a memorial urn was erected following the assassination at the site of a large pine tree, known locally as the "McKinley Pine." Beneath this tree, the President would often relax while summering at the nearby Hotel Champlain. One year after the assassination, the tree was struck by lightning and destroyed. Little remains of the monument today.
  • McKinley Classical Junior Academy, middle school in St. Louis
    St. Louis, Missouri
    St. Louis is an independent city on the eastern border of Missouri, United States. With a population of 319,294, it was the 58th-largest U.S. city at the 2010 U.S. Census. The Greater St...

    , Missouri
    Missouri
    Missouri is a US state located in the Midwestern United States, bordered by Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. With a 2010 population of 5,988,927, Missouri is the 18th most populous state in the nation and the fifth most populous in the Midwest. It...

  • McKinley Monument
    McKinley Monument
    For the McKinley Monument in Canton, Ohio, see McKinley National Memorial.The McKinley Monument is a tall obelisk in Niagara Square, Buffalo, New York...

    , Buffalo, New York
    Buffalo, New York
    Buffalo is the second most populous city in the state of New York, after New York City. Located in Western New York on the eastern shores of Lake Erie and at the head of the Niagara River across from Fort Erie, Ontario, Buffalo is the seat of Erie County and the principal city of the...

  • McKinley Monument, Springfield
    Springfield, Massachusetts
    Springfield is the most populous city in Western New England, and the seat of Hampden County, Massachusetts, United States. Springfield sits on the eastern bank of the Connecticut River near its confluence with three rivers; the western Westfield River, the eastern Chicopee River, and the eastern...

    , Massachusetts
    Massachusetts
    The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, New York to the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2010...

  • McKinley Monument, Scranton
    Scranton, Pennsylvania
    Scranton is a city in the northeastern part of Pennsylvania, United States. It is the county seat of Lackawanna County and the largest principal city in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre metropolitan area. Scranton had a population of 76,089 in 2010, according to the U.S...

    , Pennsylvania
    Pennsylvania
    The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

  • McKinley Statue, Adams, Massachusetts
    Adams, Massachusetts
    Adams is a town in Berkshire County, Massachusetts, United States. It is part of the Pittsfield, Massachusetts Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 8,485 at the 2010 census.-History:...

  • William McKinley Monument, Panhandle park
    Panhandle (San Francisco)
    The Panhandle is a park in San Francisco, California that forms a panhandle with Golden Gate Park. It is long and narrow, being three-quarters of a mile long and one block wide. Fell Street borders it to the north, Oak Street to the south, and Baker Street to the east. The Haight-Ashbury District...

     and McKinley Square Park, Potrero Hill (dates to 1870, renamed for McKinley), San Francisco, California
    California
    California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

  • William McKinley Monument, Antietam National Battlefield
    Antietam National Battlefield
    Antietam National Battlefield is a National Park Service protected area along Antietam Creek in Sharpsburg, Maryland which commemorates the American Civil War Battle of Antietam that occurred on September 17, 1862...

    , Sharpsburg, Maryland (dedicated October 13, 1903)
  • Statue of McKinley [Arcata Plaza, Arcata, California]

Film of McKinley's inauguration

McKinley was the first President to appear on film extensively. His inauguration
Inauguration
An inauguration is a formal ceremony to mark the beginning of a leader's term of office. An example is the ceremony in which the President of the United States officially takes the oath of office....

 was also the first Presidential inauguration to be filmed. Most of the films were recorded by the Edison
Thomas Edison
Thomas Alva Edison was an American inventor and businessman. He developed many devices that greatly influenced life around the world, including the phonograph, the motion picture camera, and a long-lasting, practical electric light bulb. In addition, he created the world’s first industrial...

 Company.

See also


Works cited

  • Gould, Lewis L. "McKinley, William"; American National Biography Online (2000)
  • Gould, Lewis L. The Spanish–American War and President McKinley (1982)
  • Hamilton, Richard. President McKinley, War, and Empire (2006).
  • Jensen, Richard. The Winning of the Midwest: Social and Political Conflict, 1888-1896 (1971)
  • McKinley, William. Speeches and Addresses of William McKinley: from his election to Congress to the present time (1893)
  • Morgan, H. Wayne. William McKinley and His America. (1963). biography by scholar
  • Olcott, Charles S. The Life of William McKinley. (1916), online at Google

Domestic policy

  • Faulkner, Harold U. Politics, Reform, and Expansion, 1890-1900 (1959). standard scholarly survey online edition
  • Glad, Paul W. McKinley, Bryan, and the People (1964). short history of 1896 election
  • Jones, Stanley L. The Presidential Election of 1896. the standard history.
  • Josephson, Matthew. The Politicos: 1865-1896 (1938) a leftist perspective
  • Morgan, H. Wayne. From Hayes to McKinley: National Party Politics, 1877-1896 (1969), online edition
  • Rhodes, James Ford. The McKinley and Roosevelt Administrations, 1897-1909 (1922), early scholarly history full text online
  • Williams, R. Hal. Years of Decision: American Politics in the 1890s (1993) survey by scholar

Foreign policy

  • Dobson, John M. Reticient Expansionism: The Foreign Policy of William McKinley. (1988).
  • Fry Joseph A. "William McKinley and the Coming of the Spanish-American War: A Study of the Besmirching and Redemption of an Historical Image," Diplomatic History 3 (Winter 1979): 77-97
  • Harrington, Fred H. "The Anti-Imperialist Movement in the United States, 1898-1900," Mississippi Valley Historical Review, Vol. 22, No. 2 (Sept. 1935), pp. 211–230 in JSTOR
  • Holbo, Paul S. "Presidential Leadership in Foreign Affairs: William McKinley and the Turpie-Foraker Amendment," The American Historical Review 1967 72 (4): 1321-1335. in JSTOR
  • May, Ernest. Imperial Democracy: The Emergence of America as a Great Power (1961)
  • Offner, John L. "McKinley and the Spanish-American War," Presidential Studies Quarterly Vol. 34#1 (2004) pp 50+. online edition
    • Offner, John L. An Unwanted War: The Diplomacy of the United States and Spain over Cuba, 1895-1898 (1992) online edition
  • Paterson. Thomas G. "United States Intervention in Cuba, 1898: Interpretations of the Spanish-American-Cuban-Filipino War," The History Teacher, Vol. 29, No. 3 (May 1996), pp. 341–361 in JSTOR
  • Trask, David. The War with Spain in 1898. (1981).

Yearbooks

  • Appletons' annual cyclopaedia and register of important events...1900 (1901), elaborate compendium of data and some primary sources online edition

Speeches and manuscripts


External links

Retrieved on 2008-10-19

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