William McKinley was the 25th president of the United States of America, and he led the country through a number of significant changes that would change the country forever. For example, he served as the nation's top leader through a war, made gold the basis of the nation's currency, annexed Hawaii as the 50th state, and began a republican reign that lasted into the 1930s.
Civil War Veteran
When the Civil War broke out, Mr. McKinley was working as a school teacher in a country school. Once the war started however, he signed up to be a private in the Union army in the 23rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry, where he served for four years, starting in 1861. He served at South Mountain in West Virginia, and at Antietam. At the end of the war, he was accepted as a brevet major, meaning he was promoted to a higher rank even though he didn't receive the corresponding pay being that he was a volunteer.
Previous Political Career
McKinley built up an impressive political resume before running for president in 1896. After serving in the Civil War, he studied law at Albany Law School in New York. After that, he worked as a lawyer and then won a seat in congress as an Ohio house representative at the age of 34. He worked in the House of Representatives for 14 years and then was elected as the governor of Ohio, for which he served two terms before finally running for president.
William McKinley, Jr., won the presidential election against the democratic candidate William Jennings Bryan in 1896. He was re-elected in 1900, and he served until his assassination in 1901, after which he was succeeded by his vice president, Theodore Roosevelt. He was shot by Leon Frank Czolgosz on September 5, 1901, and he died a little over a week later on September 14 from gangrene surrounding his wounds.
During McKinley's presidency, a war against Spain seemed to become inevitable due to the way the Spanish were handling Cuba's rebellion for independence and the way sensationalist reporters wrote about the events in American newspapers, causing a public outrage. McKinley led the United States to a quick victory in a war that lasted only 114 days, according to Georgetown University, and along with the victory, he annexed the former Spanish colonies of Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines as territories of the United States. In addition, he subjected Cuba to occupation by U.S. forces.
- Biographical Directory of the United States Congress; McKinley, William Jr.
- The Library of Congress; William McKinley: A Resource Guide; Kenneth Drexler
- USA Presidents: William McKinley
- National Museum of Health & Medicine; Exhibits: Spanish-American War
- Georgetown University; Highschool Bioethics Currciculum Project: Case 5 Roots of Informed Consent
- Photos.com/Photos.com/Getty Images