25th U.S. President: William McKinley

About the twenty-fifth President of the United States William McKinley, his birth, death and assassination, biography, description, facts and quotes.


Born: January 29, 1843, Niles, Ohio.

Died: September 14, 1901, in Buffalo, N.Y., 8 days after he was shot by a young anarchist, Leon Czolgosz.

Career: Postal clerk, schoolteacher, volunteer in the Civil War, rose from private to major, returned to Ohio and studied law, elected prosecuting attorney of Stark County, U.S. House of Representatives (6 terms), governor of Ohio.

Personal Life: After 4 years of marriage, McKinley's wife Ida suffered a breakdown following the death of their 2 infant daughters. She never recovered, and spent the rest of her life as a tormented epileptic at the borders of sanity. Even McKinley's opponents were amazed at his devotion to her. Protocol was often violated at formal dinners to permit McKinley to sit next to his wife in case of one of her frequent seizures. Even at the moment of his own assassination, his wife's health was foremost in his mind. "My wife," he gasped, "be careful how you tell her--oh, be careful!"

His Person: Only 5'6" tall, stout, dignified bearing, beak nose, known for his spotless white vest which he changed several times a day. Wore a red carnation in his buttonhole at all times.

Elections: As 1st-ballot nominee of the Republican party, McKinley faced the radical "Boy Orator" William Jennings Bryan in the election of 1896. Despite a strong campaign by Bryan, business interests united behind McKinley, and helped him win a popular margin of 51.7%. In the Electoral College, McKinley beat Bryan 271-176. Four years later, the same 2 candidates faced each other, with Bryan sharply critical of McKinley's "imperialist" policy following the Spanish American War. The majority of Americans stood by their expansionist President--7,219,525 to Bryan's 6,358,737. The count in the Electoral College was a decisive 292-155.

Term of Office: March 4, 1897-September 14, 1901 (4 years, 194 days).

Little-Known Facts: McKinley smoked so heavily that his doctors ordered him to stop. Whenever photographers were present he self-consciously put cigars aside. "The children of America must not see their President smoking," he said.

Quote from McKinley:

"I am a tariff man, standing on a tariff platform."

Quotes about Him:

"That kind, gentle, fatherly way of Mr. McKinley's made all comers feel that he was their friend, but left doubt in their minds as to the substantial result they had come to accomplish."--lke Hoover, White House usher

"I love McKinley! He is the best man I ever knew."--Mark Hanna, his campaign manager

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