William McKinley was born in 1843 and raised in Ohio. He briefly attended Allegheny College and subsequently became a country school teacher. McKinley was originally planning on becoming a Methodist minister but enlisted to be a Union soldier in the Civil War instead. He was a successful soldier and was soon promoted from private to brevet major under Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes. After the war, he returned to Ohio to open his own law practice and married Ida Saxton. She spent her life suffering from debilitating illness after the consecutive deaths of her mother and two young daughters towards the beginning of their marriage. McKinley made great effort to take care of her in the midst of his political career, but she never fully recovered from the shock of these tragedies.
With the helpful connections he made with Hayes during the Civil War, he became a prominent figure in Ohio politics. McKinley served in Congress from 1877 to 1891 prior to his tenure as Governor of Ohio. He became known as a big proponent of high tariff rates on imported goods in order to protect American manufacturing. The McKinley Tariff, passed in 1890, did just that and consequently lost him some support as consumer prices rose. Republicans gained back the advantage over the Democrats after the economic depression of 1893 however, and in 1986 was elected POTUS over Democrat William Jennings Bryan which turned out to be the largest victory in 25 years.
-Though he tried to avoid it, McKinley led the U.S. into the Spanish-American War (first international war with European power since War of 1812) after responding to cries of help from oppressed Cuba and the explosion of the U.S. battleship Maine. Congress declared war on April 25th, 1898 in the conquest of helping Cuba gain their freedom. They were successful in this as well as in obtaining the ceded lands from Spain such as the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and Guam as part of the peace treaty ending the war. American victory helped establish American colonial power.
"War should never be entered upon until every agency of peace has failed."
-Adopted an "Open Door" policy for American commercial interests in China and to obtain a strong world standing in economic markets. This policy was backed up when McKinley sent U.S. troops to help crush the nationalist uprising of the Boxer Rebellion in China fighting against external intervention.
-Reelected in 1900 for a second term as President as a result of economic stability and public pleasure with the results of the Spanish-American War.
-Went on tour of West states after second inauguration, ending in Buffalo NY. The next day after the completion of this tour, he was shot twice in the chest by Leon Czolgosz, a deranged anarchist upset with class inequality. He died eight days later and became the third president (out of the total eventual four) to be assassinated. McKinley was succeeded by Theodore Roosevelt.
"That's all a man can hope for during his lifetime - to set an example - and when he is dead, to be an inspiration for history."
McKinley's time as president was beneficial in expanding American imperial power and effective in enacting Republican domestic and foreign policy. He was also a turning point in POTUS history as he was a pioneer of the press and used propaganda in the media to enhance his presidency.