In the republican convention of 1896, a wealthy businessman from
Cleveland, Marcus Alonzo Hanna made sure that one of his good friends, William
McKinley was nominated for the coming presidential elections. McKinley was
projected as the “advance agent of prosperity” during the time of
The Democrats on the other hand were advocating “free and unlimited
coinage of both silver and gold” and William Jennings Bryan was nominated
as their candidate. The propaganda would have inflated the currency mildly and
was not a strong one.
On one side Hanna used huge amounts of money coming from the eastern Republicans
who were scared by Bryan’s ideas on silver. And on the other side,
McKinley used the front porch approach and met delegation at his front porch in
Ohio. The result, McKinley won by a margin, largest since 1872.
McKinley was born in 1843, in Niles, Ohio. He attended Allegheny College for a
short period of time and when the Civil War started, was teaching in a country
school. In the war, he enlisted himself as a private in the Union Army. He read
law and opened a private office place in Canton, Ohio. It was during this time
that he married Ida Saxton who was the daughter of a local banker.
McKinley won a seat in the Congress at the age of thirty four. His personal
traits like quick intelligence, exemplary character, together with his
attractive personality helped him to rise quickly in his position. He was
appointed as a member of the powerful Ways and Means Committee.
McKinley became an important Republican expert of tariff during the 14 years he
spent in the House. He also gave his name to the measure that was endorsed in
1890. A year later, in 1891, he was elected as the Governor of Ohio and
served the office for 2 terms.
McKinley was elected president in 1893 and depression had almost done its damage
by then. He called a special session of Congress and enacted a tariff plan that
was the highest in the history. In the congenial atmosphere that McKinley
created, industries grew at a pace never been touched before.
The idea of foreign policies dominated the administration style of McKinley.
When the newspaper reported a stalemate amid the revolutionary forces in Cuba
and the Spanish forces, and around one fourth of the population were dead and
others suffering greatly, the American people demanded war indignantly. The
public pressure and the inability to restrain the Congress on this matter forced
McKinley to intervene the matters in April 1898. The Congress voted on a
declaration of war for independence and liberation of Cuba.
The war went on for 100 days and the United States Army and Fleet destroyed the
complete Spanish fleer at the Santiago harbor, seized Manila and occupied Puerto
In the 1900 elections, McKinley campaigned against Bryan once again. He was
elected for the second term, although it ended in a tragic incident in September
1901 when he was standing at the Buffalo Pan-American Exposition in a receiving
line and an anarchist shot him. He died in the hospital after eight days.