William McKinley led America into the 20th century.  As the last in the line of Chief Executives who had fought in the Civil War, he finally put that conflict behind the nation.  His presidency marked the beginning of a new era.  The United States was emerging on the world stage as a major power.

A native Ohioan, McKinley was born in the small town of Niles on January 29, 1843.  Before the Civil WAr, he had been a schoolteacher.  But afterward, he turned to law as a stepping stone to a political career.  In 1869, he was elected to his first public office, prosecuting attorney of Stark County, Ohio.

McKinley began his long career in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1876.  After finally losing his seat in 1890, he quickly rebounded by winning the Ohio governorship the following year.  He was serving his second term in the state house when he was nominated for President in 1896.  In the November election, he scored an easy triumph over William Jennings Bryan.

McKinley’s domestic program, which included high protective tariffs and gold monetary standard, was soon overshadowed by events of the Cuban revolt against Spain.  When the U.S. battleship Maine was blown up in Havana Harbor in 1898, America intervened militarily.  The 113-day war brought the United States into the arena of world politics.  Under the terms of the peace treaty, America acquired Guam, the Philippines, and Puerto Rico.  At the same time, Congress acted to annex the Hawaiian islands.

In  1900, McKinley was renominated by the Republicans without opposition.  Capitalizing on the nationwide prosperity with the slogan, ” a full dinner pail for four more years,” he was swept back into office by a large majority.

The President arrived in Buffalo, New York on September 1901 to open the Pan-American Exposition.  During a reception the following day, he was shot by an anarchist, Leon Czolgosz.  McKinley died eight days later, on September 14.  He is buried in Canton, Ohio.


About the Author: Nicetas Juanillo

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