The New International Encyclopædia/McKinley, William

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
The New International Encyclopædia
McKinley, William
Edition of 1905. See also William McKinley on Wikipedia, and the disclaimer.

McKIN'LEY, William (1843-1901). The twenty-fifth President of the United States, born at Niles, Ohio, January 29, 1843, of Scotch-Irish ancestry. His great-grandfather, David McKinley, a soldier of the Revolution, was a resident of York County, Pa., and removed thence to Ohio, where, in 1829, his grandson William married Nancy Allison. From this marriage came nine children, the seventh of whom, the subject of this sketch, was early engaged, as had been his father and grandfather before him, in the iron industry. He secured, however, a partial education at the Poland Academy, and later entered Allegheny College, at Meadville, Pa., although he soon withdrew and engaged in teaching school. He was thus occupied at the outbreak of the Civil War, and early enlisted, being mustered into the Twenty-third Ohio Volunteers on June 11, 1801. The colonel of the regiment was William S. Rosecrans, and its lieutenant-colonel Stanley Matthews, while Rutherford B. Hayes later served as colonel, the regiment becoming especially conspicuous and being engaged in some nineteen battles during the war, first serving under General McClellan in western Virginia. At the close of his first winter's service McKinley was made commissary-sergeant and was soon attached to the staff of Colonel Hayes. After the spring of 1862 the regiment was transferred to Washington, and later took an active share in the battles of South Mountain and Antietam. McKinley especially distinguished himself at Antietam, when, at great personal risk, he carried a supply of food from the rear to the soldiers at the front. For this gallantry he was recommended for promotion by Colonel Hayes, and under date of September 23, 1862, was made second lieutenant, and on February 7, 1863, was commissioned first lieutenant. McKinley continued with his regiment throughout the war, serving as an aide both to General Hancock and to General Crook, repeatedly rendering effective services, and gaining particular prominence by his work at Opequan Creek, Fisher's Hill, and Cedar Creek, for which he was brevetted major on March 13, 1865. He had already, on July 25, 1804, been commissioned captain, but the brevet title was that by which he was commonly known in later life.

Major McKinley was mustered out of the volunteer service on July 25, 1865, and immediately took up the study of law in the office of Judge Glidden, completing his preparation by a course at the Albany Law School. Being admitted to the bar in 1867, he established himself at Canton, Ohio, his home for the remainder of his life, and although Stark County was Democratic, he, a Republican, was elected its prosecuting attorney in 1869. In 1875, when the Republican candidate for Governor was Colonel Hayes, McKinley took an active part in the campaign. He was himself elected to Congress in the year following, and served in the Lower House for seven consecutive terms. In his first term, in connection with the Wood Tariff Bill, he upheld the protectionist policy, although his early views on the subject have been considered as less positive than those which he expressed in his later years. Not only upon that subject did the development of his views seem to some to show inconsistencies, but also with reference to financial questions was there an even more marked change, inasmuch as he stood with the Western wing of his party in favor of the remonetization of silver, and voted for the Bland-Allison Bill, even against the veto of President Hayes. When Garfield was transferred to the Senate, McKinley succeeded him as a member of the Ways and Means Committee of the House. In the same term he spoke vigorously against the repeal of the Federal Election Law, and his speech on the subject was used as a campaign document in 1880. In that campaign he served as a member of the Republican National Committee, was chairman of the Ohio State Convention, and was himself reëlected to Congress. In the next national campaign also he took an active part, drafting the tariff plank in the Republican platform. In the succeeding administration he became a leader in opposition to the Mills Bill and to President Cleveland's plan of tariff reform. Again in the campaign of 1888 he prepared the tariff plank of the Republican platform, being chairman of the Committee on Resolutions. He was one of the managers of the campaign of John Sherman, although at one time it seemed that the convention would be turned to himself. He prevented that contingency, however, by a vigorous speech. By this time he was recognized as a distinctively national leader, and although Thomas B. Reed secured the Speakership of the House, McKinley was made chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means, and in that position framed and carried through Congress the highly protectionist tariff which bears his name. (See Tariff.) In the election of 1890 he was defeated. Ending his Congressional service in 1891, he was in the same year elected Governor of Ohio by a plurality of more than 21,000 over Campbell, who in 1890 had carried the State by 11,000, and the success was emphasized in 1893, when McKinley was reëlected by about 81,000 plurality. The four years of his service as Governor were marked by the establishment of a State Board of Arbitration, by improvement in the organization of the National Guard, and by other evidences of effective administration. His first term, however, was disturbed by serious embarrassment in his personal finances, from which he was relieved by the assistance of a number of friends, chiefly friends whose political relations with the Governor seemed at times to make the relief more prolific of criticism than insolvency would have been. His second term was marked by the activity of the corporate interests, particularly of the promoters and backers of street railways, and the Governor's connection with legislation on these matters was such as to provoke much hostile comment. His policy with reference to the charitable institutions of the State also was such as to give his opponents opportunity for severe criticism, although in general his administrations were such as to enhance his reputation outside of his State and to mark him still more plainly as a national leader. He was thus the natural and the leading candidate before the Saint Louis Convention in 1890, where on the first ballot he received 661½ votes. Coming out now strongly for the gold standard, in accordance with his party's platform, he quieted the fears aroused by his earlier course and even by his support of the Sherman Bill so late as 1890, and took a vigorous lead in the work against the free-silver campaign of Bryan. His personal campaign was unusual in that he remained at Canton throughout, making, however, some 300 speeches from his own porch and there addressing in the aggregate probably a million persons. Although he received in the popular vote a plurality of only about 600,000 votes in a total of more than 14,000,000 votes, he nevertheless received 271 electoral votes as against 176 cast for Bryan. Garret A. Hobart was elected Vice-President. McKinley's first administration was characterized particularly by the events and policies incident to the acquisition of extensive colonial possessions. The war with Spain, precipitated by the conditions in Cuba, resulted through the treaty of December 10, 1898, in the annexation of Porto Rico, of the Philippine Islands, and of Guam, upon the payment to Spain of $20,000,000, and resulted also in the termination of Spanish sovereignty in Cuba. For the remainder of McKinley's service as President, the efforts of the Administration were directed to the organization and maintenance of proper local administration throughout Cuba, to the general improvement of the material and social condition of the people, and to the preparation of the inhabitants for the conduct of a general republican form of government, which was to be instituted under the direction of the President's successor. Equally without precedent in our history were the exigencies presented in the problem of administering colonial dependencies, a problem which in the early years was made still more difficult by the protracted warfare carried on by portions of the Philippine population. Through the efficiency of the administrators selected by the President, and especially through the effective work of the commission headed by Judge William H. Taft, the close of McKinley's first administration saw the greater portion of the newly acquired islands in a condition of peace and with an orderly administration of government, in which the natives shared, and with most of the attendant circumstances such as to justify the claim that the assumption of the duties of colonial administration had been successfully effected. By this development, however, many new problems, both of politics and of jurisprudence, were presented, and in such a manner as to make impressive the fact that under McKinley the nation had entered upon what in various respects seemed to be a new course of development. Furthermore, during his administration, in August, 1898, Hawaii finally became a part of the United States, and two years later received a Territorial Government, with the right to a delegate in Congress. At the close of 1809 negotiations were concluded by which the tripartite control of Samoa (q.v.) was terminated, and the United States secured control of Tutuila with the harbor of Pago-Pago. A number of reciprocity treaties were concluded, so that from many points of view the Administration seemed engaged in an expansion of influence and of territory through the methods of peace as well as through those of war. As the representative of these lines of policy, and as the one through whom especially these policies had been carried to a successful issue, McKinley gained a position of unusual prestige and was looked upon as embodying the successes which under his lead the people had achieved. In 1900 he was again nominated, and received 292 electoral votes, while Bryan, again his competitor, received only 155. Theodore Roosevelt was elected Vice-President. The mass of people came to regard McKinley with an esteem and a confidence rarely shown for so long a period to any public leader. He had in a high degree the ability to foresee the trend of public thought and so to shape his course as to render certain the public approval. Being able to ignore petty controversies, having a fine sense of relative proprieties, and being a man of devotion to high principles, he was regarded as preëminently a good man, while the events of his administration made it natural that he should be regarded by many as one of the few great Presidents. His untiring devotion to his invalid wife, Ida Saxton, whom he had married in 1871, and who survived him, aroused the admiration of the whole nation. In the full swing of triumph following his second inauguration and incident to a general recognition of the success of his work in the new possessions, the President was stricken by an assassin, Czolgosz (q.v.), while holding a public reception at the Pan-American Exposition at Buffalo, on September 6, 1901. On the day preceding the President had delivered an address on reciprocity, and just as he was proposing a policy which might have made his second administration fully as momentous as had been his first, his service was ended in an instant. The surgeons who were summoned operated almost immediately upon the wounded man, and thus made possible the fight for life which was then carried on, and at times with every prospect of success, until finally, on September 14th, the President passed away. With hope already restored, the actual end came so suddenly as to make a most profound impression both in this country and abroad, and the day of the burial was observed throughout the nation with unusual indications of grief and of deep sorrow. The interment was at Canton, where an appropriate monument is to be erected through general subscriptions. No adequate biography has been published. For a review of the public affairs during McKinley's Presidency, see the article on United States.