William McKinley

William McKinley, Jr. (January 29, 1843 – September 14, 1901) was the 25th President of the United States, and the last veteran of the American Civil War to be elected to the office. He was the last president to serve in the 19th century and the first to serve in the 20th. By the 1880s McKinley was a national Republican leader; his signature issue was high tariffs on imports as a formula for prosperity, as typified by his McKinley Tariff of 1890. As the Republican candidate in the 1896 presidential election, he upheld the gold standard, and promoted pluralism among ethnic groups. His campaign, designed by Mark Hanna, introduced new advertisingstyle campaign techniques that revolutionized campaign practices and beat back the crusading of his arch-rival, William Jennings Bryan. The 1896 election is often considered a realigning election that marked the beginning of the Progressive Era. McKinley presided over a return to prosperity after the Panic of 1893, and made gold the base of the currency. He demanded that Spain end its atrocities in Cuba, which were outraging public opinion; Spain resisted the interference and the Spanish-American Warbecame inevitable in 1898. The war was fast and easy, as the weak Spanish fleets were sunk and both Cuba and the Philippines were captured in 90 days. At the peace conference, McKinley agreed to purchase the former Spanish colonies of the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and Guam, and set up a protectorate over Cuba. Although support for the war itself was widespread, the Democrats and anti-imperialists vehemently opposed the annexation of the Philippines, fearing a loss of republican values. McKinley agreed to the request from the independent Republic of Hawaii to join the U.S., with all its residents becoming full American citizens. McKinley was reelected in the 1900 presidential election after another intense campaign versus Bryan, this one focused on foreign policy and the return of prosperity After McKinley's assassination in 1901 by an anarchist, Leon Czolgosz, he was succeeded by Vice President Theodore Roosevelt. The McKinley clan arrived in Pennsylvania in the 1740s as part of a large migration of Scotch Irish.


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McKinley's grandfather David McKinley, after fighting in the American Revolution, moved to Ohio in the 1790s. William McKinley was born in Niles, Ohio, on January 29, 1843, the seventh of nine children. His parents, William Sr. (November 15, 1807 – November 24, 1892) and Nancy (Allison) McKinley (April 22, 1809 – December 12, 1897), were of Scots-Irish and English ancestry. When McKinley was ten years old, he moved to Poland, Ohio. He graduated from Poland Seminary and attended Mount Union College, where he was a member of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, then attendedAllegheny College for one term in 1860. He did not take a degree. In June 1861, at the start of the American Civil War, he enlisted in the Union Army, as a private in the 23rd Regiment, Ohio Volunteer Infantry. The regiment was sent to western Virginia, where it spent a year fighting small Confederate units. His superior officer, another future U.S. president, Rutherford B. Hayes, promoted McKinley to commissary sergeant for his bravery in battle. For driving a mule team delivering rations under enemy fire at Antietam, Hayes promoted him to Second Lieutenant. This pattern repeated several times during the war, and McKinley eventually mustered out as captain and brevet major of the same regiment in September 1865. In 1869, the year he entered politics, McKinley met and began courting his future wife, Ida Saxton, marrying her two years later when she was 23 and he was 28. Within the first three years of their marriage the McKinleys would have two daughters, Katherine and Ida, but neither child lived to see the age of five.

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