Portraits: William McKinley   3 comments

1900 reelection poster celebrates McKinley standing tall on the gold standard with support from soldiers, sailors, businessmen, factory workers and professionals.

1900 reelection poster celebrates McKinley standing tall on the gold standard with support from soldiers, sailors, businessmen, factory workers and professionals.

William McKinley (1843 – 1901)

The 25th President of the United States, 1897 – 1901

AKA: the Napoleon of Protection

From: Ohio

College: Allegheny College, Albany Law School

Married to: Ida Saxton

Children: Katherine, Ida

Party: Republican

Previous Jobs: postal clerk, teacher, militiaman, Major in the Union Army, lawyer, prosecuting attorney, US Congressman, Governor,

In His Words:  “Our earnest prayer is that God will graciously vouchsafe prosperity, happiness, and peace to all our neighbors, and like blessings to all the peoples and powers of earth.”

“War should never be entered upon until every agency of peace has failed.”

“Illiteracy must be banished from the land if we shall attain that high destiny as the foremost of the enlightened nations of the world which, under Providence, we ought to achieve.”

“We need Hawaii just as much and a good deal more than we did California. It is manifest destiny.”

“Without competition we would be clinging to the clumsy antiquated processes of farming and manufacture and the methods of business of long ago, and the twentieth would be no further advanced than the eighteenth century.”

Not true: Some would have you believe that McKinley lied in order for us to attack Cuba, launching the Spanish American War.  However, there simply is no persuasive proof that this is true.

It’s certainly true that McKinley inherited a volatile situation with Spain.  The repressive rule of Spain had led Cuba into open revolt.  Some Americans were fighting alongside the Cubans after Spain put 300,000 Cubans into internment camps.  Americans with Cuban investments pushed the government for action, and eventually McKinley sent the battleship Maine into Havana’s harbor.  And then, on February 15, 1898, the ship blew up, killing 266 US sailors. Americans rallied around the flag, and the US Congress approved McKinley’s request for $50,000,000 in defense spending.  War became inevitable.

But why did the ship blow up?  We’ll never really know.  Certainly in 1898, there were no scientific facts, there was only the actual event of American deaths while trying to quell an armed revolt just 90 miles from our shore.

The initial US Navy investigation blamed a mine that exploded, igniting the ship’s powder magazines.  In 1974, Admiral Rickover had his staff look at the historical records, and they decided there was an internal explosion.  National Geographic conducted another study in 1999 using computer modeling, and they concluded no definitive cause could be proved.  So what happened?  We don’t know.  Did McKinley lie to start a war?  No, but he did react to the ship’s sinking, and took the country into the 100-day Spanish American War

True: Guam, Hawaii and Puerto Rico all became part of the United States during the McKinley administrations. Cuba and the Philippines were also won in the Spanish American War, but granted independence soon after.

McKinley’s picture is on the $500 bill.

He was the last President to have served in the Union Army during the Civil War.  He enlisted as a private, but ended as a brevet major.

His term as President was a prosperous one for the country.

The Official Portrait: August Benziger painted the official White House Portrait of McKinley.  The President sat for the painting for several mornings at 8am, eventually taking to dictating his correspondence while Benziger sketched away.  Over the course of several sittings, the painter experienced the personality of the President, which came through in the final work. William McKinley, Presidential Portrait

William McKinley

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The Spanish American War

3 responses to “Portraits: William McKinley

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  1. Interesting. Though I will say, he needed to trim his nails before they painted his portrait.

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