McKinley, William

McKinley, William

biographical name


William McKinley—Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

(born Jan. 29, 1843, Niles, Ohio, U.S.—died Sept. 14, 1901, Buffalo, N.Y.) 25th president of the U.S. (1897–1901). He served in the American Civil War as an aide to Col. Rutherford B. Hayes, who later encouraged his political career. He served in the U.S. House of Representatives (1877–91), where he favoured protective tariffs; he was the principal sponsor of the McKinley Tariff of 1890. With the support of Mark Hanna, he won two terms as governor of Ohio (1892–96). As the Republican presidential candidate in 1896 he decisively defeated Democrat William Jennings Bryan. In 1897 he signed the Dingley Tariff, the highest protective tariff in American history to that time. In 1898 the USS Maine exploded and sank in the harbour of Havana, Cuba, then a colony of Spain; believing the Spanish responsible, McKinley demanded independence for the island, which Spain refused. The U.S. easily won the brief Spanish-American War. McKinley supported ratification of the peace treaty that ceded the Spanish possessions of Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines to the U.S., claiming that the U.S. had an obligation to assume responsibility for “the welfare of an alien people.” Following his inauguration in 1901 he began a speaking tour of the western states, during which he urged control of the trusts and commercial reciprocity to boost foreign trade. On Sept. 6, 1901, he was fatally shot by an anarchist, Leon Czolgosz. He was succeeded by Theodore Roosevelt.

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