“I have never been in doubt since I was old enough to think intelligently that I would someday be made President.”
William McKinley, 25th President of the United States, was an intelligent youth with a pleasing personality and strong leadership abilities. A Civil War soldier, he later became an attorney before joining the House of Representatives. He served two terms as governor of Ohio before his Presidential nomination.
McKinley ran his Presidency like a business executive. He looked to the future, always considering what would bring progress. His policies expanded the country’s role in the world. Hugely popular, McKinley earned a second term as President, but was shot and killed by an unemployed laborer. He was the third President to be assassinated.
- William McKinley was born January 29, 1843 in Niles, Ohio.
- He grew up in a small town with a population of less than 300.
- McKinley fell in love with Ida Saxton, the daughter of the town’s banker. They were married in 1871. The couple had two daughters, both of whom died while they were still children.
- Ida suffered from epilepsy and was frail. McKinley was very devoted to her. He would not travel during his Presidential campaign, but insisted that people visit him at home so he could stay close to his wife.
- During McKinley’s Presidency, Cuba was fighting for independence from Spain. The U.S. wanted Cuba’s independence too. Spain also ruled the Philippine Islands in the Pacific. When a U.S. battleship was destroyed off the coast of Cuba (probably by the Spanish navy), McKinley declared war on Spain.
- The Spanish-American war lasted 100 days. The United States paid Spain $20 million in exchange for control of Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippine Islands.
- McKinley also annexed Hawaii and began plans to build the Panama Canal.
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: What else was McKinley known for?
Answer: McKinley understood the power of the media. He built the first White House press room and talked regularly with newspaper editors. He had telegraph lines installed to the White House so telegraphs could be sent to reporters. Unfortunately, he often twisted stories to his advantage; the information he gave media was often skewed or even untrue.
Visit WhiteHouse.gov to learn more about William McKinley.