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President William McKinley

President William McKinley
William McKinley
by Unknown
William McKinley was the 25th President of the United States.

Served as President: 1897-1901
Vice President: Garret Hobart, Theodore Roosevelt
Party: Republican
Age at inauguration: 54

Born: January 29, 1843 in Niles, Ohio
Died: September 14, 1901 after being shot in Buffalo, New York

Married: Ida Saxton McKinley
Children: two daughters who died young
Nickname: Idol of Ohio, Major


What is William McKinley most known for?

William McKinley is most known for being president during the Spanish-American War. As a result of the Spanish-American War, the U.S. gained significant territory and earned the reputation as a world power. McKinley is also known as the president whose death allowed Teddy Roosevelt to become president.

William McKinley is shot
The shooting of McKinley
by T. Dart Walker

Growing Up

William was born and raised in Ohio. He loved outside activities such as fishing, riding horses, and swimming. He did well in school attending the local public schools and then Allegheny College. He had to drop out of college, however, when his family lost everything in the Panic of 1857. He then went to work as a teacher for a short time at the local school.

The Civil War

When the Civil War broke out McKinley decided to join the Union army. He was only 18 years old when he joined the Ohio regiment. At the start of the war he was under the command of another future president, Rutherford B. Hayes. He worked his way from private to major as the war progressed. His friends continued to call him "Major" for many years after the war. During the Civil War he fought at the Battle of South Mountain and the Battle of Antietam.

After the war, William decided to study law. In 1867 he passed the bar exam and became a lawyer. After practicing law for a few years he turned his career toward politics and public office.

Before He Became President

In 1877, McKinley became a member of the U.S. House of Representatives where he served for 14 years. One major piece of legislation he proposed was the McKinley Tariff. Unfortunately, it backfired causing prices to rise on consumer goods. After leaving the House, McKinley became governor of Ohio where he served for two terms before running for president.

William McKinley's Presidency

When McKinley became president he focused his efforts on making the United States a world power. Perhaps the most significant event while he was president was the Spanish-American war. After the U.S. battleship Maine was destroyed off the coast of Cuba, the U.S. and Spain went to war. The Spanish-American war was a short war of only a few months as the U.S. quickly destroyed Spain's navy. As a result of the war, the U.S. took control of Cuba, the Philippine Islands, and Puerto Rico.

Other events during the McKinley presidency include annexing the Hawaiian Islands as well as starting the effort to build the Panama Canal.

McKinley was very popular at this point. The economy had picked up and the United States was growing strong. When his vice president died, he replaced him with the popular Teddy Roosevelt. McKinley easily was elected to a second term.

How did he die?

Just six months into his second term, McKinley was shot and killed by an assassin. He was attending the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York when he went to shake a man's hand. That man was an anarchist who was angry with the government. He was hiding a gun and shot McKinley twice instead of shaking his hand. President McKinley died eight days later and Theodore Roosevelt became president.
Portrait of William McKinley - 25th US President
William McKinley
by Harriet Anderson Stubbs Murphy

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