William McKinley

by Kevin Phillips

Born in Ohio (like Grant, Garfield, Hayes, Benjamin Harrison,Taft, and Harding) 1843.

Iron was biggest manufacturing industry in Ohio in mid-19th century. McKinley’s father and grandfather  were iron makers.

Dropped out of Allegheny College due to depression. Recovered, but his father’s business failed.

Volunteered for Civil War. Served three years.

Became a lawyer, in the usual way for that time.

Rutherford Hayes, whom he had met in the war, became his mentor.

Was a Republican. Won election to the House of Representatives. Lost a reelection bid.

Wife developed convulsions after a difficult childbirth.   For the rest of his life he spent two or three hours a day taking care of her. Both children died young.

McKinley was a champion of working class. Refused payment for speeches. Not a material-minded person. Scottish background. Favored women’s suffrage. Wouldn’t stay in hotels that didn’t serve blacks.

Ohio was historically very union friendly. Many miners strikes occurred during the depression of 1890’s. McKinley reluctantly sent in troops when governor.

Supported high tariffs, protectionism. Most Republicans were big on protectionism at the time.

Late 1800’s people could only leave $500,000 to heirs. Rest went to state.

Mugwumps. Upper middle class Republicans who favored Democratic Grover Cleveland.

McKinley has a strong distaste for “effete Easterners”.

Lost all his money, plus his wife’s inheritance from her father, as a result of helping a friend fund his business. Supporters help pay it black.

Ran against William Jennings Bryan for president.

Big on the gold standard.

Was not opposed to imperialism. Lots of activity surrounding Hawaii, Samoa, Cuba, others.

Ok’ed the war with Spain.

Supported black voting, woman suffrage, direct election of senators.

Hated this book. Hard to follow,  jumped all around.  Author was too much a McKinley cheerleader. Didn’t even discuss his assassination.