William McKinley


William McKinley Famous memorial

Niles, Trumbull County, Ohio, USA
Death 14 Sep 1901 (aged 58)
Buffalo, Erie County, New York, USA
Burial Canton, Stark County, Ohio, USA
Memorial ID 699 View Source

US Congressman, 25th US President. A member of the Republican Party, he served as US President from March 4, 1897, until his death on September 14, 1901, and is best remembered during his administration for leading America to victory during the Spanish-American War. Born William McKinley, Jr., he was the seventh of eight children whose father owned a small iron foundry. After graduating from high school in 1859, he enrolled at Allegheny College in Meadville, Pennsylvania but returned home in 1860 after becoming ill. He regained his health, but family finances prevented him from returning to college. He then obtained employment as a postal clerk and later a schoolteacher. When the American Civil War broke out in 1861, he enlisted as a private in the Union Army, serving under future US President Rutherford B. Hayes. He saw action at the Battles of Carnifex Ferry, South Mountain, and Antietam. For his actions at Antietam, he was promoted to the rank of 2nd lieutenant and his unit saw little action until May 1864 when they engaged Confederate forces at Cloyd's Mountain and later in the Shenandoah Valley campaign. Following his promotion to the rank of captain, he was transferred to Major General Philip Sheridan's staff and Sheridan's forces pursued the Confederates and won engagements at Berryville, Fisher's Hill, and Cedar Creek. Prior to the the war's end, he was breveted to the rank of major, and was discharged in July 1865. Upon his return to Ohio, he decided to become a lawyer and began studying in the office of an attorney in Poland, Ohio and the following year he attended Albany Law School in Albany, New York for a year, and in March 1867 he was admitted to the bar in Warren, Ohio. In 1869 he ran for the office of prosecuting attorney of Stark County and was elected, but lost when he ran for re-election. In January of 1871 he married Ida Saxon and they two daughters were born over the next two years but they both died by 1875. His wife never recovered from their deaths and they would have no more children. In 1876 he was nominated as a Republican for Ohio's 17th congressional district and won. He was a strong advocate of maintaining America on the gold standard and protective tariffs and introduced and supported bills that raised protective tariffs, and opposed those that lowered them or imposed tariffs simply to raise revenue. In 1878 he won a second term in Congress from Ohio's 16th district and served on the House Ways and Means Committee. In 1880 he was returned to Congress from Ohio's 17th district, serving until 1883. In 1884 he won back his congressional seat and remained there until the election of 1890, when he was narrowly defeated. In 1891 he was elected governor of Ohio and was considered as a Republican candidate for the 1892 presidential election and finished third, behind the re-nominated Benjamin Harrison and James Blaine. In 1896 he won the Republican nomination for President and defeated the Democratic nominee William Jennings Bryan in the November general election. During his first term, Cuban rebels were waging a war against Spain for independence and the Spanish military were engaged in harsh brutality against them. As many Americans called for war to liberate Cuba, he favored a peaceful approach, hoping that through negotiation, Spain might be convinced to grant Cuba independence, or at least to allow the Cubans some measure of autonomy. In January 1898 Spain promised some concessions, but when American consul Fitzhugh Lee reported riots in Havana, McKinley agreed to send the battleship USS Maine there to protect American lives and property. On February 15, 1898 the Maine exploded and sank with 266 men killed. While the American public called for war, McKinley insisted that a court of inquiry first determine whether the explosion was accidental. On March 20, 1898 the court ruled that the Maine was blown up by an underwater mine. He continued to negotiate for Cuban independence but Spain refused his proposals, and he turned the matter over to Congress. He did not ask for war, but Congress declared war on April 20, with the addition of the Teller Amendment which disavowed any intention of annexing Cuba. The war, known as the Spanish American War, would last for only for 100 days. After an overwhelming naval victory at the Battle of Manila Bay in the Philippines and the defeat of Spanish forces at the Battle of San Juan Hill in Cuba along with the defeat of Spanish naval forces at Santiago, Cuba, Spain agreed to a ceasefire and on December 18, 1898 at the Treaty of Paris, they conceded the islands of Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines to the US and granted Cuba their sovereignty and the US agreed to pay Spain $20 million dollars. In 1900, when the Boxer Rebellion broke out in China, and Americans and other westerners in Peking were besieged, he sent 5,000 US troops to the city in June of that year to provide protection and liberation. That same year, he ran as the Republican nominee for a second presidential term with Theodore Roosevelt as his running mate, and easily defeated the Democratic nominee, William Jennings Bryan. In March 1901 he undertook a six-week rail tour of the US, which was to conclude that the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York in June. When his wife became ill in California, he decided to postpone the visit to the Exposition six months and on September 6, 1901 he attended a public reception at the Temple of Music in Buffalo, New York. While standing in the reception line to greet guests, an anarchist named Leon Czolgosz concealed a revolver in a handkerchief and shot him twice in the abdomen after approaching him. His gunshot wounds were at first not considered life-threatening, with one grazing him and the other penetrating his abdomen. However, the doctor chosen at the scene to attend to him had little experience in abdominal surgery or treating gunshot wounds and the Exposition's hospital was not designed for major medical issues. His wound was cleaned and closed and he was transported to the Milburn House. His condition appeared to improve in the days after the shooting and his doctors allowed him to eat toast and coffee on September 12, but he was unable to digest the food. Unbeknownst to the doctors, gangrene was spreading in the walls of his stomach, slowing poisoning his blood. The following day, his condition took a turn for the worse and in the early morning of September 14, he died. Theodore Roosevelt was sworn in as President that afternoon and Czolgosz was tried for murder nine days later, found guilty on September 26, and executed by electric chair the following month. McKinley's body first lay in state in the Buffalo City Hall, then transferred to Washington DC for a state funeral and finally returned to Canton, Ohio and temporarily interred at Westlawn Cemetery. In the following years, a massive mausoleum was constructed and dedicated by President Theodore Roosevelt on September 30, 1907, four months after his wife's death. He was the last US President to have served in the American Civil War.

Bio by: William Bjornstad

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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Added: 31 Dec 2000
  • Find a Grave Memorial 699
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for William McKinley (29 Jan 1843–14 Sep 1901), Find a Grave Memorial ID 699, citing McKinley Memorial Park, Canton, Stark County, Ohio, USA ; Maintained by Find a Grave .