|“||The mission of the United States is one of benevolent assimilation.||„|
|~ William McKinley|
William McKinley (29th January 1843 - 14th September 1901) was the 25th president of the United States from 1897 - 1901, when he was assassinated by Leon Czolgosz. He was the successor of Grover Cleveland.
A Republican, McKinley was the last president to have served in the American Civil War; he was the only one to begin his service as an enlisted man, and end as a brevet major. After the war, he settled in Canton, Ohio, where he practiced law and married Ida Saxton.
In 1876, he was elected to Congress, where he became the Republican Party's expert on the protective tariff, which he promised would bring prosperity. His 1890 McKinley Tariff was highly controversial and, together with a Democratic redistricting aimed at gerrymandering him out of office, led to his defeat in the Democratic landslide of 1890.
He was elected governor of Ohio in 1891 and 1893, steering a moderate course between capital and labor interests. With the aid of his close adviser Mark Hanna, he secured the Republican nomination for president in 1896 amid a deep economic depression. He defeated his Democratic rival William Jennings Bryan after a front porch campaign in which he advocated "sound money" (the gold standard unless altered by international agreement) and promised that high tariffs would restore prosperity.
Rapid economic growth marked McKinley's presidency. He promoted the 1897 Dingley Tariff to protect manufacturers and factory workers from foreign competition and in 1900 secured the passage of the Gold Standard Act. McKinley hoped to persuade Spain to grant independence to rebellious Cuba without conflict, but when negotiation failed, requested and signed Congress's declaration of war to begin the Spanish-American War of 1898. The United States victory was quick and decisive. As part of the peace settlement, Spain turned over to the United States its main overseas colonies of Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippines while Cuba was promised independence, but at that time remained under the control of the United States Army. The United States annexed the independent Republic of Hawaii in 1898 and it became a United States territory.
Historians regard McKinley's 1896 victory as a realigning election in which the political stalemate of the post-Civil War era gave way to the Republican-dominated Fourth Party System, beginning with the Progressive Era. McKinley defeated Bryan again in the 1900 presidential election in a campaign focused on imperialism, protectionism, and free silver.
His achievements were cut short when he was fatally shot on September 6, 1901 by Leon Czolgosz, a second-generation Polish-American anarchist. McKinley died eight days later and was succeeded by Vice President Theodore Roosevelt. As an innovator of American interventionism and pro-business sentiment, McKinley is generally ranked above average. His popularity was soon overshadowed by Roosevelt's.
- When Spain was in control of Cuba, McKinley claimed he wanted it to be independent, and so he provided support to Cuban rebels. While this was arguably morally justifiable, in 1898 McKinley sent a battleship, the USS Maine, to Cuba, where it mysteriously exploded, allowing McKinley to declare war on Spain and invade Cuba. In modern times, investigations into the disaster have concluded that McKinley's government was probably responsible for the Maine's destruction in order to give them an excuse to invade Cuba.
- To make matters worse, although claiming to want independence for the Cuban people, after McKinley defeated the Spanish in Cuba, he essentially annexed it, leaving it under the control of the army instead of granting the independence he promised.
- After the successful takeover of Cuba, McKinley sent troops to Hawaii in order to assist in the overthrow of the Hawaiian government, allowing him to unlawfully annex Hawaii which, unlike Cuba, became a U.S. state
- McKinley's most infamous act is the invasion of the Philippines which, like Cuba, were under Spanish rule. Due to McKinley's obsession with making America a leading player on the world stage, he ordered troops to attack the Philippines and take it away from Spain in order to make it a US territory. In the initial takeover, 200,000 Filipino civilians were killed by US troops under the direction of Jacob H. Smith, and McKinley subsequently ordered the establishment of Concentration Camps and the destruction of crops when the Filipinos resisted.
- He also displayed cultural bigotry towards the Filipinos, as he imposed the assimilation of the Philippines into US culture, meaning that local culture was repressed in favour of the US.
- After assisting in the defeat of the Boxer Rebellion in China, McKinley and the other leaders responsible for the Boxer's defeat imposed legislation allowing suspected rebels to be executed without trial.