William McKinley: 25th President

Updated on October 18, 2017
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Angela loves history and feels it is essential to our future to know the past. Without it, we are destined to repeat the past.

Portrait of President William McKinley


His Early Career

William McKinley, the 25th President of the United States, was considered to be an unlikely target for an assassin's bullet due to his well-liked demeanor. Nonetheless, he was shot on September 14, 1901 and died 8 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, he enlisted himself 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.

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His Presidency

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 actually 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 by the name of Marcus Alonzo Hanna felt William was that man. He advocated for him, saying that 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 largest majority of popular votes since 1872. This was in part 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 made claims 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 in order to help Cuba gain its independence. This 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. When the war ended, the United States gained Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines due to a peace settlement.

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

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.

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 | Source

Fun Facts

  • One of four presidents who were assassinated while in office, and one of eight who died while in office.
  • In November 1899, 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.
  • The first president to use the telephone during his campaign.
  • His wife hated the color yellow. She actually 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.

Excerpt from the History Channel

Basic Facts

January 29, 1843 - Ohio
President Number
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
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)

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". | Source

List of the United States Presidents

1. George Washington
16. Abraham Lincoln
31. Herbert Hoover
2. John Adams
17. Andrew Johnson
32. Franklin D. Roosevelt
3. Thomas Jefferson
18. Ulysses S. Grant
33. Harry S. Truman
4. James Madison
19. Rutherford B. Hayes
34. Dwight D. Eisenhower
5. James Monroe
20. James Garfield
35. John F. Kennedy
6. John Quincy Adams
21. Chester A. Arthur
36. Lyndon B. Johnson
7. Andrew Jackson
22. Grover Cleveland
37. Richard M. Nixon
8. Martin Van Buren
23. Benjamin Harrison
38. Gerald R. Ford
9. William Henry Harrison
24. Grover Cleveland
39. James Carter
10. John Tyler
25. William McKinley
40. Ronald Reagan
11. James K. Polk
26. Theodore Roosevelt
41. George H. W. Bush
12. Zachary Taylor
27. William Howard Taft
42. William J. Clinton
13. Millard Fillmore
28. Woodrow Wilson
43. George W. Bush
14. Franklin Pierce
29. Warren G. Harding
44. Barack Obama
15. James Buchanan
30. Calvin Coolidge
45. Donald Trump


  • 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


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    • angela_michelle profile image

      Angela Michelle Schultz 2 months ago from United States

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

    • k@ri profile image

      Kari Poulsen 3 months ago from Ohio

      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.

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