William F. McKinley

William F. McKinley
Served 1897-1901, 1901 (assassinated in office)

William F. McKinley was born January 29, 1843, at the family home in Niles, Ohio.

McKinley got his start in politics from Rutherford Hayes, who was his commander during the Civil War. McKinley was only 19 when he joined the Union Army, and he and Hayes became and remained friends for many years.

Next PageFor 14 years, McKinley was a Congressman, then twice Governor of Ohio. He and his advisers invented the campaign button. He married Ida Saxton on Janunary 25, 1871, and they had two children, but both died young. Ida was sick much of her life, and McKinley took care of her.

Elected in 1896, McKinley took office after almost 50 years when America had no international conflict. In 1898, the U.S. Battleship Maine was blown up in Havana, Cuba. While McKinley tried to keep the peace, he could not do so, and the U.S. declared war on Spain. Spain lost the war, and as a result, pulled out of Cuba and gave Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippines to the U.S.

Like Hayes, McKinley was a Republican. His first Vice President was Garrett Hobart and his second was Theodore Roosevelt, a hero of the Spanish-American War.

On September 6, 1901, McKinley was shot twice at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York, by Leon Czolgosz, an anarchist who said he wanted to “kill a ruler.” McKinley died eight days later, September 14, 1901. The assassin was tried and electrocuted. After a long train ride from Buffalo, to Washington D.C. for a state funeral, millions lined the tracks for McKinley’s final train ride to Canton, Ohio, where he was buried.

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