The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/McKinley, William

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The Encyclopedia Americana
McKinley, William
Edition of 1920. See also William McKinley on Wikipedia, and the disclaimer.

McKINLEY, mạ-kĭn'lĭ, William, American statesman, 25th President of the United States: b. Niles, Trumbull County, Ohio, 29 Jan. 1843; d. Buffalo, N. Y., 14 Sept. 1901. He was educated at Union Seminary, Poland, Mahoning County, Ohio, and Alleghany College, Meadville, Pa. (1860-61). Forced by illness to discontinue his college course, he taught in the public schools, was a clerk in the Poland post-office and on 11 June 1861 enlisted for the Civil War as a private in Company E of the 23d Ohio Volunteer Infantry. His first battle was that of Carnifex Ferry (10 Sept. 1861), and on 15 April 1862, while in camp at Fayetteville, western Virginia, he was promoted commissary sergeant. For conspicuous service at Antietam (17 Sept. 1862) he was made second lieutenant of Company D. His subsequent appointments were, first lieutenant, Company E (7 Feb. 1863); captain Company G (25 July 1864); and brevet major (14 March 1865). When mustered out on 26 July 1865 he was acting assistant adjutant-general on the staff of Gen. S. C. Carroll, commanding the veteran reserve corps stationed at Washington. Among other actions in which he participated were those of South Mountain (14 Sept. 1862), Lexington (10 June 1864), Kernstown (24 July 1864), Opequan Creek (Winchester, 19 Sept. 1864), Fisher's Hill (22 Sept. 1864) and Cedar Creek (19 Oct. 1864). During his subsequent political career he was generally known, especially in Ohio, as Major McKinley. At the close of the war he began the study of law at Youngstown, Ohio (1865-66), continued it at the Albany (N. Y.) Law School (1866-67), in March 1867 was admitted to the bar at Warren, Trumbull County, Ohio, and at once entered practice at Canton. In 1870-71 he was prosecuting attorney of Stark County, and during the campaign between R. B. Hayes and William Allen for the governorship of the State, spoke effectively against the “greenback” craze. He was elected to Congress as Republican representative from the 17th Ohio district in 1877, and served continually in the 45th, 46th and 47th Congresses (1877-83). It was asserted by the Republicans that he was elected in 1882 to the 48th Congress by a majority of eight ballots; but, although he had received the certificate of election, his seat was successfully contested by J. H. Wallace, who was not, however, seated until June 1884. He represented the 20th district in the 49th Congress (1885-87), and the 18th in the 50th and 51st Congresses; but in 1890 was defeated in the 16th for the 52d Congress by 300 ballots by J. G. Warwick, Democrat, lieutenant-governor of the State a short time previously. His defeat was attributed to the gerrymandering of the district by a Democratic legislature. His service in Congress was notable. In 1877 he was appointed a member of the Judiciary (Committee, and in December 1880 of the Ways and Means Committee to succeed James A. Garfield; and in 1881 was chairman of the committee in charge of the Garfield memorial exercises in the House. In 1889-90 he was chairman of the Ways and Means Committee. He was a candidate for speaker of the 51st Congress, but was defeated by T. B. Reed on the third ballot in the Republican caucus. He was known among the foremost orators of the House; and his speeches on arbitration as a solution of labor troubles (2 April 1886) and in support of the civil service laws (24 April 1890) were most favorably received. But his principal efforts were made in connection with the tariff, which, from his first appearance in the House, was the chief object of his study. On 6 April 1882 he spoke in advocacy of protection; on 30 April 1884 in opposition to the Morrison tariff bill, making what was esteemed the ablest argument against that measure; and on 7 May 1890 in support of the general tariff hill, now known by his name, which, as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, he had introduced before the House on 16 April. The bill was passed by the House on 21 May, by the Senate on 11 September, and on 6 October became a law. His bill obtained for him an international reputation, and eventually the Presidency. In 1884 he was delegate-at-large from Ohio to the Republican National Convention at Chicago, where he supported Blaine's candidacy, and where, as chairman of the committee on resolutions, he helped to determine the platform of his party, which he read before the convention. In the Republican National Convention at Chicago in 1888, he was again a delegate and chairman of the committee on resolutions. He supported the candidacy of John Sherman, although, when it was finally learned that Blaine would decline the nomination, he was himself the choice of many delegates and was strongly urged to permit the use of his name. At the Minneapolis convention of 1892 he was once more a delegate and was elected permanent chairman of the assembly. He supported the renomination of President Harrison, and though refusing the use of his own name, received the ballots of 182 delegates. He then left the chair and moved to make Harrison's nomination unanimous, which was accordingly done. In the ensuing campaign he took a very active part, traveling, it was estimated, more than 16,000 miles and speaking to more than 2,000,000 voters. In 1892-96 he was governor of Ohio, having been elected in 1891 by 21,500 plurality, and in 1893 by the unusual plurality of 80,995. Labor riots occurred during his administration, necessitating the placing of 3,000 militia troops in active service, but the difficulties were successfully adjusted. McKinley also personally directed the relief work for the starving miners of the Hocking Valley district. He was nominated for the Presidency by the Republican National Convention which met at Saint Louis 16 June 1896, and was elected by a plurality of 601,854 over W. J. Bryan, receiving a popular vote of 7,104,779, and in the electoral college a vote of 271 to 176 for Bryan. Throughout the campaign he remained in Canton, where be made over 300 speeches to more than 750,000 visitors. Under his administration decided increase in business prosperity followed the passage of the Dingley tariff measure. The most important event of his term was the Spanish-American War (q.v.), which he had believed might be prevented and had done all in his power to avert. When hostilities broke out on the part of certain inhabitants of the Philippine Islands, the President appointed a commission to study the situation and report on the most suitable mode of government for the new territory. On 7 July 1898 he approved the joint resolution of Congress for the annexation of the Hawaiian Islands, and in 1898 he also selected a delegation to represent the United States in The Hague peace conference which convened in May 1899. The original Philippine commission having rendered a report (31 Jan. 1900), the President appointed a new commission, known from its head, Judge W. H. Taft, as the Taft commission, under whose direction civil government was instituted in the islands on 1 Sept. 1900. (See Philippines, History). In 1900 the President stood conspicuously for justice in the settlement of the difficulties in China which marked that summer. He was renominated for the Presidency by the Republican National Convention which met at Philadelphia on 25 June 1900, receiving the entire vote of the 930 delegates. He was elected by a popular vote of 7,206,677 to 6,374,397 for W. J. Bryan, receiving till then, the largest popular majority ever given a candidate for the Presidency. He obtained 292 electoral votes and carried 28 States. On 5 Sept. 1901 he delivered at the Pan-American Exposition, Buffalo, N. Y., an important address, summarizing at once the problems then before the nation and his policy for their solution. On 6 September, while holding a reception in the Music Hall of the Exposition, he was twice shot by Leon Czolgosz (q.v.), an anarchist. He died on 14 September; and 19 September was appointed by his successor, President Roosevelt, a day of mourning and prayer throughout the United States. Unprecedented honors were paid to McKinley's memory in foreign capitals, notably in London, where memorial services were held in Westminster Abbey and Saint Paul's Cathedral. A statue was erected in his honor at Columbus, Ohio, and unveiled in 1906. Consult Smith (editor), ‘Speeches and Addresses of William McKinley’ (1893); Porter, ‘The Life of Major McKinley’ (1896), and ‘Speeches and Addresses of William McKinley from 1897 to 1901’ (1900). See also United States, History.


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Copyright, 1902, by Rockwood 

WILLIAM McKINLEY

Twenty-fifth President of the United States