William McKinley was the twenty-fifth President of the United States ( 1897-1901) and the third Chief Executive to be assassinated. McKinley was a gentle, kind, and considerate man who was loved by the American people. When he was shot by his assassin he cried out "Don't let anyone hurt him."
Born on January 29, l843 in Niles, Ohio, he attended Allegheny College in Meadsville, Pennsylvania. William McKinley served in the Civil War under Rutherford Hayes. He entered the Civil War as an enlisted man and left with the rank of major. He risked his life in the Battle of Antietam, going through heavy enemy fire to bring supplies to his troops. That heroism got him promoted to major. Even after the war was over, McKinley was called "Major." He studied law, was admitted to the bar, and also functioned as prosecuting attorney of Stark County, Ohio. McKinley served in the US House of Representatives. As a congressman from Ohio from 1877-1891, he was a strong advocate of a protective tariff. He sponsored the McKinley Tariff Act, which placed high taxes on imported goods.
With the help of political boss, Marcus Hanna, McKinley was elected Governor of Ohio in 1891 and again in 1893. While Governor, he blocked attempts to regulate public utilities, in which Hanna had an interest. The Republican Party nominated him for President in 1896. He defeated William Jennings Bryan in the election of 1896 on a platform advocating a protective tariff and endorsing the gold standard.
Although he was outgoing by nature, as President, McKinley rarely entertained because of the lasting emotional toll the loss of the McKinley's two young daughters had on his wife. He enjoyed quiet evenings at home reading poetry to his wife while she crocheted. He didn't have any hobbies and was not ever involved in sports. An easy-going companion, he always wore a fresh red carnation and a white vest. He empathized with the farmers and laborers who were being mistreated by big business, but he didn't interfere because he felt it was not government's place to do so.
McKinley's presidency was noted for the Dingley Tariff Act, which raised duties on imported goods even higher than the tariff of 1890 had. The McKinley years also saw the passage of the Gold Standard Act of 1900. The nation had come out of its severe depression and started to prosper once again. Confidence in business was high. Since the Republicans were credited with the nation's return to prosperity, they remained the dominant party until the 1930's.
Confidence was restored in the business world, and the nation once again became prosperous. In 1898 the American battleship Maine exploded in the harbor at Havana, Cuba initiating the Spanish-American War. Mckinley led the United States during the Spanish-American War. McKinley was accused of Imperialism, the newspapers owned by William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer alleged that he created demands for United States intervention. As part of the peace treaty, the United States acquired control of Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines.
McKinley used this return of prosperity as his platform in the presidential election of 1900. He was so loved by the public that he received more popular votes than any candidate since the Civil War and more electoral votes than had any other President to that date.
On September 6, 1901, while McKinley was greeting visitors at the Pan-American exposition in Buffalo he was shot by an anarchist name Leon Czolgosz. He died eight days later and once again the country was in national mourning for a fallen President. Theodore Roosevelt, his Vice President, ascended to the presidency.