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William McKinley, a Beloved President

“The Life of William McKinley, a Man of the People,” thus read one of the introductory pages of a book I have that chronicles the life of the 25th president of the United States of America. The book was published in 1901, not long after his death at the hands of an assassin. The book, which consists of over 500 pages, is rather flowery in the mode of the day and is, as one would expect, very complimentary toward the fallen president.
The book is a memorial edition titled “The Authentic Life of President McKinley.” The book traces his life from his birth January 29, 1843 to his untimely death September 14, 1901. His death came eight days after he was shot at a public reception in Buffalo, New York. Leon F. Czolgosz, the assassin, was quickly brought to trial, convicted, sentenced and was executed on October 29. McKinley, who was born into a family of seven children, was buried in Canton, Ohio.
It was during the time of McKinley’s presidency that the United States was getting somewhat restless. The country had grown internally and it was feeling somewhat cramped. Consequently, the country began to participate more actively in world affairs. Expansion was on the minds of many Americans. McKinley presided over a war he did not want. He had been elected in 1896 and events and circumstances were thrust upon him that precipitated in a war with Spain. Cuba, a relatively short distance off the coast of Florida, was under Spanish control and Cuban rebels chafing under Spanish rule, were beginning to call for independence. Pro-Spanish factions rose up in Cuba and because it was thought that Americans living in Cuba were in peril, McKinley ordered the battleship Maine to Havana Harbor. On February 5, 1898, the Maine was blown up and on April 25, the U. S. declared war on Spain.
The war was short. It lasted less than four months with only 113 days of fighting on land and sea. On December 10, 1898 Spain signed the “Treaty of Paris,” ending the conflict. America had won a decisive victory. The United States gained Guam, Puerto Rico and the Philippines as a result of the victory. McKinley was reelected handily in 1901for a second term. Following McKinley’s death, Vice-President Theodore Roosevelt was sworn as the 26th president. Garret A. Hobart had served as vice-president in McKinley’s first term.
I think history shows that William McKinley was well liked by the American people. He tried to avoid war, but when war seemed inevitable, he was a leader in the cause. Many historians regard him as a kind and sympathetic man. He was born in Niles, Ohio on January 29, 1843. He was the seventh child of William and Nancy Allison McKinley. He left college before graduating and taught in a rural school. When the Civil War broke out, he enlisted as a private in the 23rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiment. He left the Army, studied law and opened a law office in Canton, Ohio. He went into politics and was elected to the U. S. House of Representatives. He served a number of years in that office until being elected president. He was the first president to use the telephone while campaigning.