44 Days of Presidents: William McKinley
Posted On: 10/19/2016 - 11:46am, Posted By: David Conzett, Curator of History Objects & Fine Art
In our series, 44 Days of Presidents, we present artifacts, documents, and connections to our local and national history from our collections that represent each of the 44 Presidents of the United States as we gear up for the 2016 Presidential election.
William McKinley, the son of a successful foundry owner, was born in Niles, Ohio in 1843. With the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861, McKinley enlisted as a private in the Union Army and was assigned to the 23rd Ohio Infantry Regiment. He saw action at Carnifex Ferry, the Battle of South Mountain, and Antietam. For his gallantry in action at Antietam he was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant by Ohio Governor David Tod. McKinley would be the last U.S. President to have served in the Civil War.
Following the war, McKinley returned to Canton, Ohio, practiced law and entered politics. He was elected to congress in 1876 and was a champion of labor and the protective tariff. After two terms as Governor of Ohio, he was nominated for president on the Republican ticket in 1896. With the country in the depths of an economic depression, McKinley campaigned on a platform of sound money (the gold standard) and high tariffs. He handily defeated his opponent, William Jennings Bryant, to become the 25th President of the United States. McKinley’s presidency was one of economic growth and paved the way for the Progressive Era. With the end of the post-Civil War political stalemate, the Republican Party would hold the White House until 1932.
McKinley won a second term in 1900, but was assassinated in September 1901 and succeeded by his Vice President Theodore Roosevelt.