The New Student's Reference Work/McKinley, William

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
NSRW William McKinley.png

McKin′ley, William, twenty-fourth president of the United States, was born at Niles, O., Jan. 29, 1843. He was educated at public schools, Poland Academy and Allegheny College. For a short time he taught school, but in the first summer of the Civil War, when but 18 he enlisted as a private. Next year he was made second lieutenant; the following year first lieutenant; and captain in 1864. He was brevetted major by President Lincoln for gallantry in the field on March 13, 1865. He served on the staffs of Generals Rutherford B. Hayes, George Crook and Winfield Scott Hancock. When mustered out, July 26, 1865, he was assistant adjutant-general, 1st division, 1st army-corps. He began the study of law; took a course at Albany (N. Y.) Law School; was admitted to the bar in 1867; and settled at Canton, O. Being elected to Congress in 1876, he served continuously in the house until March, 1891. As chairman of the committee on ways and means, he reported to Congress the tariff bill of 1890, known since as the McKinley bill, taking advanced ground in favor of a high tariff. He was elected governor of the state in 1891, and re-elected in 1893. In 1896 he was nominated for president by the Republicans and was elected, receiving in the electoral college 271 votes against 176 for William J. Bryan. The issue that year was free coinage of silver, Mr. McKinley opposing and Mr. Bryan favoring. The first year of his administration was marked by the stirring events and diplomatic steps which led to the intervention of the United States on behalf of the oppressed Cubans. Early in the second year war with Spain was declared (April 20, 1898). An army of 200,000 men was called out, and speedily organized and equipped, and the battles of the war were fought, beginning with the naval victory in Manila Bay, May 1st, and closing with the surrender of the Spanish army at Santiago, July 14th. By subsequent treaty Spain ceded to the United States Porto Rico and the Philippine Islands. A revolt of the Filipinos under Aguinaldo led to a protracted struggle which was not ended when the campaign for the succeeding presidential election occurred in 1900, and naturally this election turned largely upon the causes, conduct and results of the war. Mr. McKinley was again elected, a second time defeating Mr. Bryan, who again was the nominee of the Democratic party. Meantime the United States had taken a prominent part in the capture of Tien-tsin and Peking, China, relieving the legations without a declaration of war. The struggle in the Philippines was brought to a close early the next year and military rule was superseded by the establishment of civil government on July 4, 1901. In meeting the grave questions which arose during a period fraught with events of far-reaching importance to the nation Mr. McKinley displayed high qualities as a statesman and political leader, and gained the esteem of men of all parties as a pure, able and patriotic executive. While attending the Pan-American Exposition at Buffalo, President McKinley was mortally wounded by an anarchist, Leon P. Czolgosz, during a public reception in the Temple of Music, Sept. 6, 1901. Czolgosz took his place in the line of those who were shaking hands with the president, and, as he presented his left hand, fired two shots from a pistol concealed in his right hand by a handkerchief. One shot was not serious, but the other proved fatal. Prompt and skillful surgical attention averted the dreaded result for a few days, but the end came on Sept. 14. The death of the beloved president and revered chief of the state, in such cruel circumstances, fell with instant and crushing effect upon the nation, and hushed to an awed silence its activities. Foreign sympathy for the country's loss was profound and widespread, for Mr. McKinley was held in high regard abroad, as he was widely, sincerely and deservedly loved at home. His painstaking and tireless devotion to the duties of the executive office, his patriotism which was above all personal ambition, his wise guidance of the nation through grave perils to a height of prosperity before unknown, the purity of his personal character, the warmth of his friendship and the courage and Christian resignation displayed in the closing hours of his life combine to give to William McKinley an honored place in the records of the nation. His body was taken to Washington, where an impressive funeral service was held in the rotunda of the capitol, and thence it was carried to Canton, Ohio, where burial occurred Sept. 19, 1901. A magnificent monument erected by popular subscription, now marks his resting place.