#25 William McKinley
1897-1901
President in Transition
Born: January 29,
1843 in Niles, Ohio.
Parents: William and
Nancy (Allison)
Wife: Ida (Saxton)
Children: Katherine
and Ida
Background and Early Life
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William McKinley was born to a semiprosperous family in small town Ohio.
McKinley’s family background is ScotchIrish.
His father was an iron manufacturer.
He attended local schools and then went to
Mt. Union College and Allegheny College,
but he did not earn a degree from either.
McKinley entered the Union Army as a
private. He was promoted many times and
eventually earned the brevet rank of Major
for his actions.
Marriage
McKinley was married to Ida Saxton
when he was 27 years old and she
was 23.
 Ida was thought to be a beautiful
young lady, and quite a catch.
 Unfortunately Ida was an epileptic and
suffered seizures.
 McKinley was thought to be very
caring and sensitive to his wife.
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Young Lawyer
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After the Civil War
McKinley studied
law and was
admitted to the bar
in 1867.
 He served as the
prosecutor in Stark
County, Ohio for
two years.
Politics
McKinley served in the U.S. House of
Representatives from 1883-1884 when
his election was contested. He came
back from 1885-1890 where he
sponsored the McKinley Tariff Act,
establishing a heavy tax on imported
goods.
 In 1890 he was not re-elected to the
House.
 From 1892-1896 he was the governor
of Ohio.
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Rise to the Presidency
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McKinley supported high tariffs to protect American
industry.
 Though some blamed this policy for the Panic of
1893, it was popular with small farmers in the East,
the rising urban Middle-Class, and Protestant
working men.
 McKinley also favored the maintenance of the gold
standard, and was opposed to William Jennings
Bryan’s call for the unlimited coinage of silver.
 McKinley convinced working people that silver
would lead to severe inflation and actually reduce
wages.
Election
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McKinley’s campaign
raised millions in what
was the first truly
modern campaign.
McKinley ran a “frontporch” campaign.
McKinley was elected
president in 1896 by a
landslide.
Bryan won no state
East of the Mississippi
or North of the MasonDixon line.
Presidential Actions
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McKinley reinforced the gold standard.
McKinley established another strong tariff.
The United States annexed Hawaii and
made all Hawaiians U.S. citizens (mostly to
give American sugar and plant distributors
and unfair advantage over foreign
competition).
 The U.S. also added Puerto Rico, the
Philippines, Guam, and Samoa and made
Cuba a protectorate, although promising
never to annex it.
Spanish American War
In the late 1890’s American
newspapers began describing
“atrocities” committed by Spain against
Cuban revolutionaries.
 Many Americans wanted to help the
Cubans, and the U.S.S. Maine was
docked in Havana Harbor.
 In February 1898, the Maine was
“mysteriously” blown up, and McKinley
was forced to declare war.
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U.S.S. Maine
War Continued
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The Spanish American War was a success,
though the Americans were ill prepared for
war.
 The U.S. eventually gained Puerto Rico, the
Philippines, Guam, and Samoa as a result
of their victories.
 Many in America were critical of McKinley
and accused him of being an imperialist.
 The charges did not hurt him that much,
because he won the election of 1900 easily.
Assassination
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William McKinley
attended the PanAmerican
Exposition in
Buffalo New York
and on September
5, 1901 he was
shot by Leon
Czolgosz, an
anarchist.
 McKinley died on
September 12.
Legacy
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McKinley is known for being a protectionist
president and proponent of tariffs. He
claimed these policies would help American
workers, but his enemies claimed it was to
help American business interests (he did
back off high tariffs when the U.S. gained
access to an empire).
 Along with Jefferson and Polk, McKinley is
known for helping to create American
imperialism. He was the first U.S. president
to gain large areas of territory outside the
Western Hemisphere.
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