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William McKinley: 25th President: Assassinated While in Office

Angela loves history and feels it is essential to our future to know the past—or else we're destined to repeat it.

Family and Early Political Career

William McKinley, the 25th President of the United States, was considered an unlikely target for an assassin's bullet due to his well-liked demeanor. Nonetheless, he was shot on September 14, 1901, and died eight days later.

In 1843, William was born in Niles, Ohio. He taught in a country school after attending Allegheny College. Once the Civil War began, McKinley enlisted as a private in the Union Army. By the end of the war, he became brevet major of volunteers. Once the war was over, he studied law, then opened up an office in his hometown Canton, Ohio, where he married Ida Saxton.

At 34, he won a seat in Congress. Due to his intelligence and excellent character, he quickly became a leader within the House. He served 14 years and became known for his expertise in tariffs. In 1891, he was elected as the Ohio governor and served two terms.

With His Vice President Theodore Roosevelt

Engraved portraits of President William McKinley and Vice President Theodore Roosevelt from a souvenir booklet published for their inauguration in 1901

Engraved portraits of President William McKinley and Vice President Theodore Roosevelt from a souvenir booklet published for their inauguration in 1901

A Depression and Conflict in Cuba

McKinley valued family and adored his wife. During the 1896 election, he chose to only campaign near his home, where he could stay with his ailing wife. He met delegates on his front porch in Canton, Ohio.

The country was going through a depression, and they wanted somebody who would boost the economy. A wealthy Cleveland businessman named Marcus Alonzo Hanna felt William was that man. He advocated for him, saying his friend was "the advance agent of prosperity." Despite his opponent William Jennings Bryan touring all across the country, while McKinley stayed close to him, McKinley won by the most substantial majority of popular votes since 1872, partly due to Bryan's views on silver.

Once in office, there soon was trouble. A conflict in Cuba brewed, which was caused by Spanish forces. Newspapers claimed that a quarter of the Cuban population had died as a result, which caused many Americans to look to the President to start a war. Although he wanted to remain neutral, Congress pushed to declare war to help Cuba gain its independence, which caused the Spanish American War to begin.

It lasted less than four months, ending when the U.S. destroyed a Spanish fleet near the Santiago harbor in Cuba. They also managed to occupy Puerto Rico and capture Manila in the Philippines. The United States gained Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines when the war ended due to a peace settlement.

He also took an interest in expanding the American industry by raising protective tariffs, enacting one of the highest in history.

Campaign Poster

Campaign poster showing William McKinley holding U.S. flag and standing on gold coin "sound money", held up by group of men, in front of ships "commerce" and factories "civilization".

Campaign poster showing William McKinley holding U.S. flag and standing on gold coin "sound money", held up by group of men, in front of ships "commerce" and factories "civilization".

How Was He Assassinated?

William Jennings Bryan again ran against him. McKinley eventually won the 1900 election and began his second term. A year later, while greeting people at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York, on September 14, 1901, he was shot by Leon Czolgosz. Czolgosz had concealed his right hand with a handkerchief, so no one would see the gun he held until it was time to shoot. President William McKinley died eight days later.

Fun Facts

  • One of four presidents who was assassinated while in office, and one of eight who died while in office.
  • In November 1899, he was the first president to take a ride in a vehicle, but Theodore Roosevelt was the first to do so for official White House business. McKinley rode in a Stanley Steamer driven by its co-founder Freelan O. Stanley.
  • After being shot, he shouted, "Don't let them hurt him!" He was referring to his assassin.
  • He was the first president to use a telephone during his campaign.
  • His wife hated the color yellow. She had all yellow things removed from the white house, including the flowers.
  • Although it has not been printed since 1934, his face appears on the $500 bill.
  • His was the first inauguration to be filmed.

Basic Facts

Question Answer

Born

January 29, 1843 - Ohio

President Number

25th

Party

Republican

Military Service

United States Army (Union Army) - Brevet Major

Wars Served

American Civil War

Age at Beginning of Presidency

54 years old

Term of Office

March 4, 1897 - September 14, 1901

How Long President

4 years

Vice-President

Garret Hobart (1897–1899) None (1899–1901) Theodore Roosevelt (1901)

Age and Year of Death

September 14, 1901 (aged 58)

Cause of Death

gangrene - caused by assassination attempt (gun shot)

Sources

  • Freidel, F., & Sidey, H. (2009). William McKinley. Retrieved April 22, 2016, from https://www.whitehouse.gov/1600/presidents/williammckinley
  • RPOTUS, Author. "10 Interesting Facts About William McKinley." Republican Presidents of the United States. November 07, 2010. Accessed October 18, 2017. http://www.republicanpresidents.net/10-interesting-facts-about-william-mckinley/.
  • Sullivan, George. Mr. President: A Book of U.S. Presidents. New York: Scholastic, 2001. Print.
  • What are some interesting facts about presidents and first ladies? (n.d.). Retrieved April 22, 2016, from https://www.whitehousehistory.org/questions/what-are-some-interesting-facts-about-presidents-first-ladies

© 2017 Angela Michelle Schultz

Comments

Angela Michelle Schultz (author) from United States on October 22, 2017:

I don't know, but it shows a high character of not wanting to retaliate. I think that takes a special person.

Kari Poulsen from Ohio on October 19, 2017:

I guess I did not know that Theodore Roosevelt began his presidency this way. Interesting article about McKinley. I wonder why he shouted not to hurt his assassin.