After leaving office in 1896, he started running for the presidency at the urging of his friend and political adviser, Mark Hanna.
When he was elected President in 1892, he was swept into power by the largest margin of popular votes since 1872. A renown tariff expert, one of McKinley's first acts was to call Congress into special session to combat the waning Panic of 1893. He rammed through Congress, the highest tariff in history.
McKinley also led the nation into war, despite his desire to avoid war, he made a declaration of "neutral intervention" in 1898 before Congress who authorized war against Spain. The nation was largely pushed toward war through the efforts of newspaper publishers William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer's "yellow journalism." McKinley pursued the war with great vigor, establishing a protectorate over Cuba and annexing the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and Guam after obliterating the Spanish around the globe. War became inevitable after the mysterious explosion of the USS Maine in Havana Harbor. The Spanish-American War featured the Assistant Secretary of the Navy, who went off to Cuba to lead his newly formed "Rough Riders" into battle. Of course, that man, Theodore Roosevelt will be featured here next week.
Foreign policy was where McKinley made his mark for, in addition to the Spanish-American War, he also engineered the annexation of Hawaii.
Shortly after his reelection in 1900, McKinley was in a receiving line at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York, when he was approached by Leon Czolgosz, who shot McKinley twice at point blank range. The first bullet was discovered and removed, the second could not be located and doctors decided to leave it in. McKinley lingered for several days, even rallying at one point. But he succumbed to gangrene in the area of the second bullet. His last words are reported as "It is God's way, His will be done, not ours."
- born January 29, 1843 in Niles, Ohio
- died September 14, 1901 after being shot in Buffalo, New York, eight days earlier.
- party: Republican
(the election of 1896 is considered by historians to be a "realigning election" and it is the election that marked the rise of the Progressives as a political force.)
- William McKinley / Garret Hobart (R) - 7,112,138 (51%) / 271 EVs
- William Jennings Bryan / Arthur Sewall (D) - 6,510,807 (47%) / 176 EVs
- William McKinley / Theodore Roosevelt (R) - 7,228,864 (51.64%) / 292 EVs
- William Jennings Bryan / Adlai Stevenson (D) - 6,370,932 (45.52%) / 155 EVs
- McKinley was the last President to be a veteran of the Civil War.
- McKinley, a native Ohioan, attended law school after the Civil War at Albany Law School.
- McKinley was the first president to run a "front-porch" campaign, which featured little travel.
- Upon seeing his assassin being beaten by his bodyguards, McKinley reportedly cried out, "Don't let them hurt him."
- White House biography
- Congressional Biographical Dictionary entry
- Miller Center biography
- Internet Public Library biography
- McKinley biography (prepared by staff at McKinley Memorial Library in Ohio)
- Biography from a Spanish-American War history site.
- Guide to McKinley papers
- The William McKinley Presidential Library and Museum (in Canton, Ohio - one could do the Football Hall of Fame and McKinley in one trip!). McKinley's final resting place is also here.