William McKinley

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William McKinley, Jr. (January 29, 1843 – September 14, 1901) was the 25th President of the United States, and the last veteran of the American Civil War to be elected to that office.

By the 1880s, McKinley was a national Republican leader; his signature issue was high tariffs on imports as a formula for prosperity, as typified by his McKinley Tariff of 1890. As the Republican candidate in the 1896 presidential election, against Democrat William Jennings Bryan, he upheld the gold standard, and promoted pluralism among ethnic groups. His campaign, designed by Mark Hanna, introduced new advertising-style campaign techniques that revolutionized campaign practices and beat back the crusading of his arch-rival, William Jennings Bryan. The 1896 election is often considered a realigning election that marked the beginning of the Progressive Era.

McKinley presided over a return to prosperity after the Panic of 1893, and made gold the base of the currency. He demanded that Spain end its atrocities in Cuba, which were outraging public opinion; Spain resisted the interference and the Spanish-American War became inevitable in 1898. The war was fast and easy, as the weak Spanish fleets were sunk and both Cuba and the Philippines were captured in 90 days. At the peace conference, McKinley agreed to purchase the former Spanish colonies of Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines, and set up a protectorate over Cuba. Although support for the war itself was widespread, the Democrats and anti-imperialists vehemently opposed the annexation of the Philippines, fearing a loss of republican values. McKinley also annexed the independent Republic of Hawaii in 1898, with all its residents becoming full American citizens. McKinley was reelected in the 1900 presidential election another intense campaign against Bryan, which focused on foreign policy and the return of prosperity. McKinley was assassinated by an anarchist, in 1901, and succeeded by his Vice President Theodore Roosevelt.


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