William McKinley
Since Apr 11, 2000

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If anyone has any clue as to what maestro's point is/was on this thread, kindly let me know because I haven't the foggiest. Thanks!

What is TDIDS?

There has been so much positive economic news lately, that it is getting tiresome pointing out, with each new story, how it has affected the former Senate Majority Leader.

It is good form to just get the "Tom Daschle is deeply saddened" out of the way early, but it takes too long to type. TDIDS is much shorter, like Tom.

The best use of TDIDS is to start a reply with it, and then move on to make a more substantive point about the story. Use it as an aside.

If someone asks what TDIDS means, the proper response is to simply respond with that picture. If the person still doesn't get it, then as a last resort this explanation can be given.

"The reason first why we do admire those things which are greatest, and second those things which are ancientest, is because the one are the least distant from from the infinite substance, the other from the infinite continuance, of God." - Hooker

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Vanity collection of statements I am somewhat proud of for no apparent reason:

Currently reading: The Rise and Fall of the American Whig Party: Jacksonian Politics and the Onset of the Civil War by Michael F. Holt

Recent reads:

Something to ponder...

If an anarchist had not killed William McKinley, would Woodrow Wilson ever have been President? Would he have been in a position to reject the early peace offerings from the Austrian monarchy, thereby prolonging WWI? Would the die still have been cast after WWI for the rise of the Third Reich, had McKinley not been shot?

Would there have been a great depression? Would there have been the New Deal?

How much damage was done by the actions of an anarchist? How much to promote the growth of the state did this fanatic cause?

Just some food for thought.

So Who Was William McKinley? Time To Learn Some History

(From Americanpresident.org)


Fast Facts

Born: January 29, 1843, in Niles, Ohio

Died: September 14, 1901, in Buffalo, New York

Nicknames: "Wobbly Willie," "Front Porch Campaigner"

Married: Ida Saxton (1847-1907), on January 25, 1871

Religion: Methodist

Education: Attended Allegheny College and Albany Law School

Political Party: Republican

Career: Teacher; Lawyer; Soldier, Union Army, 1861-65; Prosecuting Attorney, Stark County, Ohio, 1869-71; Member of U.S. House of Representatives, 1877-85, 1887-91; Governor of Ohio, 1892-96; President of the United States 1897-1901

Domestic Policy Highlights: Bimetallism, Gold Standard Act of 1900, Dingley Tariff Act of 1897, Civil Service Reform

Foreign Policy Highlights: Spanish-American War, Open Door Policy, Filipino Revolt, U.S. as Colonial Power

A Life in Brief

One of the most self-confident men ever to rise to the presidency, William McKinley once told a reporter, "I cannot subscribe to the idea that luck had very much to do with making me President of the United States. I have never been in doubt since I was old enough to think intelligently that I would sometime be made President." It was a self-confidence that would prove immensely valuable in what would turn out to be a watershed presidency.

Political Opportunities

Born in 1843 and raised in Ohio, William McKinley planned as a young man to become a Methodist minister. When the Civil War started, McKinley proved a valiant soldier, rising in the ranks from a private to a brevet major on the staff of Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes, who became a lifelong friend and mentor. When he returned to Ohio to practice law, he used his connections with Hayes to rise rapidly in Ohio politics. He served in Congress from 1877 to 1891 before becoming governor of Ohio. Congressman McKinley was the Republican Party's leading spokesman for protectionism in foreign trade. His McKinley Tariff of 1890 established substantially higher tariff rates on imported goods in order to protect U.S. business and manufacturing.

The nation's devastating economic collapse in 1893 turned voters against the Democratic Party’s hold on the presidency, giving McKinley a good shot at the White House in 1896. McKinley argued that his commitment to protective tariffs on imported goods would cure unemployment and stimulate industrial growth. He also was aided by the political management of Mark Hanna, who wielded considerable control in the Republican Party machine. McKinley beat Democrat William Jennings Bryan in the greatest electoral sweep in twenty-five years. In the 1900 election, Bryan again lost to McKinley, this time largely due to the efforts of McKinley's popular vice presidential candidate, Theodore Roosevelt, who stumped the nation from coast to coast.

Strong International Presence

McKinley led the U.S. into its first international war with a European power since the War of 1812. The decision to come to the aid of the Cubans struggling to throw off Spanish rule was hastened by reports that Spain was responsible for the explosion of the U.S. battleship "Maine." On April 25, 1898, Congress declared war, promising to secure independence for Cuba once the war ended. To secure America's position in the Pacific, McKinley immediately pushed a joint resolution through Congress to annex the Hawaiian Islands. After three short months of fighting, the U.S. was victorious. Practically overnight, the nation became a colonial power as it acquired the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Guam, and Cuba from Spain. But the atrocities that the U.S. committed to put down a nationalist rebellion in the Philippines after the war's end equaled those committed by Spain in Cuba during the conflict.

In further asserting American power on the global scene, McKinley sent 2,000 troops to China to help the Europeans put down the Boxer rebellion. He also intervened twice in Nicaragua to protect U.S. property interests. Both of these actions were examples of the U.S. as a rising hemispheric and world power.

To obtain a hold on world markets, McKinley authorized his secretary of state, John Hay, to issue the "Open Door" notes on China. These notes declared U.S. support for an independent China and placed all nations with commercial interests in China on an equal footing. The war with Spain and the Open Door strategy lay the groundwork for a new American empire.

Personal Challenges and Assassination

First Lady Ida Saxton McKinley never recovered from the devastating loss of both her infant children as well as her mother within three years of her marriage to McKinley. She developed epilepsy, a disease for which there was no treatment in the late 19th century. McKinley gave the first lady his full attention, breaking White House protocol by seating her by his side at State dinners. When he was shot by an assassin in 1901 and suspected that he would die, McKinley said to his personal secretary, George B. Cortelyou, "My wife, be careful, Cortelyou, how you tell her—oh, be careful."

Theodore Roosevelt once quipped that McKinley had no more backbone than a chocolate eclair. Despite such criticism, McKinley was a president who acted decisively in going to war with Spain, asserted great presidential authority over his cabinet and generals, and understood the link between foreign markets and national prosperity. During his administration, the U.S. acquired the protectorates that allowed it to become a major world power while promoting democracy.

Life Before the Presidency

William McKinley was born on January 9, 1843 in the small town of Niles, Ohio. He lived there until aged ten, when he moved with his family to nearby Poland, Ohio. His loving family provided William, Jr., the seventh of eight children, with a fun filled childhood that was also carefully guided by his parents. Like most young boys, he spent his boyhood fishing, hunting, ice skating, horseback riding, and swimming. His father owned a small iron foundry and instilled in young William a strong work ethic and a respectful attitude. Nancy Allison McKinley, his devoutly religious mother, taught him the value of prayer, courtesy, and honesty in all dealings. Consequently, William grew up to

Education and Military Service

Education was important to William and he studied hard in public school. In 1852, he entered the Poland Methodist Seminary to study to become a minister. Upon graduation, he entered Allegheny College in Meadville, Pennsylvania, as a junior. While studying at Allegheny College, he became physically exhausted by his studies and had to drop out at the end of the term, intent on returning after recuperating at home. However the economic turmoil known as the Panic of 1857 depleted the family finances, and William was forced to work as a teacher and then as a clerk in the local post office.

When the Civil War started, William joined the Twenty-third Ohio Volunteer Infantry. During the war, the young private proved himself a valiant soldier on the battlefield, especially at the bloody battle of Antietam. As a commissioned officer, second Lieutenant McKinley served on the staff of Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes, future president of the United States. His relationship with Hayes—whom he considered his mentor—remained constant throughout his life. He ended his four-year stint in the army as a brevet major.

Law and Political Career

When the Civil War was over, McKinley returned to Ohio to begin his career in law and politics. He studied law, passing the bar exam in 1867, and beginning his legal practice in Canton, Ohio. At a Canton picnic in 1869—the year he entered politics—McKinley met and began courting his future wife, Ida Saxton marrying her two years later. He was twenty-seven and she was twenty-three at the time.

Although practicing law was his profession, being involved with the Republican organization secured his future. His first election in 1869 was for county prosecutor. He ran successfully for Congress in 1876 and served until 1891, except for one brief period when he lost the election of 1882. As a congressman, McKinley became chair of the House Ways and Means Committee in 1889. In that powerful position, he drafted and steered to passage the McKinley Tariff of 1890. Because this severely protectionist measure considerably increased consumer prices, angry voters rejected McKinley and many other Republicans in the 1890 election. Stunned by his defeat, McKinley returned home to Ohio and ran for governor in 1892, a race which he won, but only by a narrow margin.

The governor's duties suited McKinley's temperament for political compromise. For example, while he mobilized the National Guard to quell labor riots in Akron and Cleveland, he opposed the more blatant union-busting activities of employers. He imposed an excise tax on corporations and pushed through safety legislation for transportation workers. Winning favor with the voters, he was returned to the governor's office in 1894. In the face of the economic woes of the early 1890s, McKinley showed himself as a skilled and able politician. With congressional and gubernatorial experience under his belt, McKinley was in position to make a run for the White House in 1896.

Campaigns and Elections

The Campaign and Election of 1896

The Panic of 1893, one of America's most devastating economic collapses, placed the Democrats on the defensive and restored Governor McKinley's stature in national politics. McKinley dominated the political arena at the opening of the Republican presidential nominating convention held in St. Louis in 1895. His commitment to protectionism as a solution to unemployment, along with the behind-the-scenes political management of his chief political supporter, affluent businessman Mark Hanna of Ohio, gave McKinley the nomination on the first ballot. He accumulated 661 votes compared to the 84 votes won by his nearest rival, House Speaker Thomas B. Reed of Maine.

The Republican platform endorsed the gold standard, while leaving open the door to an international agreement on bimetallism, and protective tariffs. It also supported the acquisition of Hawaii, construction of a canal across Central America, expansion of the navy, restrictions on the acceptance of illiterate immigrants into the country, equal pay for equal work for women, and a national board of arbitration to settle labor disputes.

The Democrats, meeting in Chicago, rallied behind William Jennings Bryan, a former congressman from Nebraska, who had leaped to prominence after delivering perhaps the most powerful speech ever made before a political convention. A staunch advocate of bimetallism and free silver, Bryan overwhelmed the delegates with his stinging attack on the gold standard: "Having behind us the producing masses of this nation and the world, supported by the commercial interests, the laboring interests and the toilers everywhere, we will answer their demand for a gold standard by saying to them: You shall not press down upon the brow of labor this crown of thorns, you shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold." (For discussion of the free silver issue, see the Domestic Affairs biography sections for Presidents Harrison and Cleveland.)

In the balloting that followed, Bryan won on the fifth ballot. The Democrats pegged their hopes for victory on their opposition to (1) the protective tariff, (2) the immigration of foreign "pauper labor," and (3) the use of injunctions to end strikes. They also supported a federal income tax, a stronger Interstate Commerce Commission, statehood for the western states (Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Arizona), and the anti-Spanish revolutionaries in Cuba (who were also supported by the Republicans).

Realizing that the Democrats had stolen their thunder on free silver, the insurgent Populist Party that sought to organize and support farmers' interests, fused with the Democrats to nominate Bryan for president. Faced with the loss of the Solid South and the Far West to the silver issue, the Republicans raised a staggering $4 million for the campaign. A majority of the contributions came from business, particularly protectionist manufacturers who supported high tariffs and bankers who wanted to maintain sound money policies. Most of these funds went into the printing and distribution of 200 million pamphlets. McKinley, refusing to break with tradition, gave 350 carefully crafted speeches from his front porch in Canton to 750,000 visiting delegates. Some 1,400 party speakers stumped the nation, painting Bryan as a radical, a demagogue, and a socialist. He was also described as an extreme moralist who was unsympathetic to immigrant Americans and hopelessly confused about the impact of bimetallism on the prosperity of the nation. Republican speakers de-emphasized their party's stand on bimetallism and instead championed a protective tariff that promised full employment and industrial growth.

Bryan, in response, stumped the nation in a strenuous campaign, covering 18,000 miles in just three months. He spoke to wildly enthusiastic crowds, condemning McKinley as the puppet of big business and political managers. However, midway through his campaign, Bryan's pace faltered. His strategy for dual party support failed. Gold Democrats, not surprisingly, and some urban-based progressives—who worried about Bryan's evangelistic style and moralistic fervor—bolted the party. Moreover, as a Populist Party candidate, he never managed to break away from the agrarian base of his support once McKinley effectively linked protectionism to full employment.

(45 States in the Union)*



Popular Vote
(% of total)

Electoral Votes

William McKinley


7,104,779 (52.2%)


William J. Bryan

Democrat, Populist

6,502,925 (47.8%)


* Because candidates receiving less than 1 percent of the popular vote are omitted from this table, the sum of the listed percentages of popular votes earned may not total 100.

Bryan lost to McKinley by a margin of approximately 600,000 votes, the greatest electoral sweep in twenty-five years. McKinley received over a third more electoral college votes than Bryan. The Republican victory reflected a winning coalition of urban residents in the North, prosperous midwestern farmers, industrial workers, ethnic voters (except the Irish), and reform-minded professionals. It launched a long period of Republican power lasting until 1932, broken only by Woodrow Wilson's victory in 1912 (which occurred principally because of a split in the Republican Party).

The Campaign and Election of 1900

After four years in office, McKinley's popularity had risen, primarily because of his image as the victorious commander-in-chief of the Spanish-American War (see Foreign Affairs section). Hence, he was easily renominated in 1900 as the Republican candidate. The most momentous event at the Philadelphia convention centered on the vice presidential nomination of Governor Theodore Roosevelt of New York. Vice President Garret A. Hobart of New Jersey had died in office, and Roosevelt's candidacy added a popular war hero and reform governor to the ticket.

Setting up the stage for a rematch of the 1896 election, the Democrats again nominated Bryan at their convention in Kansas City. Grover Cleveland's former vice president, Adlai E. Stevenson, took the second spot on the Democratic slate.

The rematch played to old and new issues. Bryan refused to back off his call for free silver, even though the recent discoveries of gold in Alaska and South Africa had inflated the world's money supply and increased world prices. As a result, the U.S. farming industry saw its profits grow as crops such as corn commanded more money on the market. Farmer dissatisfaction was less than it was in 1896, and gold was the reason behind it. Hence, Bryan's silver plank was a non-issue to the farming community—one of his main constituent groups. Responding to these voter sentiments, Democratic Party managers included the silver plank in their platform but placed greater emphasis on expansionism and protectionism as the key issues in the election. Furthermore, they opposed McKinley's war against Philippine insurgents and the emergence of an American empire, viewing this as contrary to the basic character of the nation. The Republicans countered with a spirited defense of America's interests in foreign markets. They advocated for expanding ties with China, a protectorate status for the Philippines, and an anti-trust policy that condemned monopolies while approving the "honest cooperation of capital to meet new business conditions" in foreign markets.

Duplicating the campaign tactics of 1896, the Republicans spent several million dollars on 125 million campaign documents, including 21 million postcards and 2 million written inserts that were distributed to over 5000 newspapers weekly. They also employed 600 speakers and poll watchers. As in 1896, McKinley, the &quotFront Porch Campaigner," stayed at home dispensing carefully written speeches. His running mate, Theodore Roosevelt, campaigned across the nation, condemning Bryan as a dangerous threat to America's prosperity and status.

(45 States in the Union)*



Popular Vote
(% of total)

Electoral Votes

William McKinley


7,218,491 (51.7%)


William J. Bryan

Democrat, Populist

6,356,734 (45.5%)


John C. Wooley


208,914 (1.5%)


* Because candidates receiving less than 1 percent of the popular vote are omitted from this table, the sum of the listed percentages of popular votes earned may not total 100.

Although not a landslide shift comparable to election swings in the 20th century, McKinley's victory ended the pattern of close popular margins that had characterized elections since the Civil War. McKinley received 7,218,491 votes (51.7 percent) to Bryan's 6,356,734 votes (45.5 percent)—a gain for the Republicans of 114,000 votes over their total in 1896. McKinley received nearly twice the number electoral votes than Bryan. In congressional elections that year, Republicans held fifty-five Senate seats to thirty-one for the Democrats; and the McKinley's party captured 197 House seats compared to 151 for the Democrats. Indeed, the Republican Party had become the majority political party in the nation.

The McKinley Presidency: Domestic Affairs

Among the most important domestic issues that President William McKinley had to deal with during his presidency, bimetallism and tariff legislation loomed large. McKinley, in hoping to satisfy western voters, sent delegates to a special European conference to explore the possibility of an international agreement to include silver along with gold as an acceptable backing for the major European currencies. McKinley indicated his support for bimetallism if England, France, Russia, and Italy would go along. When the European nations refused to support bimetallism, McKinley withdrew his delegates and ended all efforts to push for a silver-based currency. In 1900, during his second administration, he signed the Gold Standard Act, which formally placed U.S. money on the gold standard. All currency was fully backed by gold, with a fixed price at $20.67 an ounce.

Tariff Legislation

True to his campaign promises, McKinley called a special session of Congress to revise the tariff upward. In 1896, customs duties earned $160 million in revenue for the United States—the largest component of government income. Various internal revenue duties brought in approximately $145 million—alcohol taxes earned $114.5 million, tobacco taxes brought in another $30.7 million, and stamp taxes garnered $260,000. McKinley had campaigned to increase the tariff income both as a means of reducing internal taxes and as a means of encouraging the expansion of domestic industry and employment for American workers. The resulting Dingley Tariff Act, sponsored by Republican Congressman Nelson R. Dingley of Maine, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, raised rates to an average rate of 49 percent. Most importantly, the bill included a grant of authority to the president empowering him to negotiate reductions of up to 20 percent, move products to a so-called free list, or drop items from the list based upon mutual negotiations.

Race Relations

Among the other domestic issues that occupied McKinley's attention were race relations, trust regulation, labor relations, and the civil service. Unwilling to alienate the white South, the president did little to address the growing disfranchisement and exclusion of black Americans from political power. Although he appointed thirty African Americans to "positions of consequence"—principally in diplomatic and records offices—the number fell far short of what black Republicans had wanted from the leader of Abraham Lincoln's party. Most importantly, McKinley issued no formal protest to the lynchings and anti-black violence in the South that had reached near epidemic proportions in the last four years of the century. His one consolation to African-Americans occurred during the Spanish-American War when he countermanded orders preventing the recruitment and service of black soldiers.

Trust Regulation

In the matter of monopolies, McKinley differentiated in his mind between good and bad trusts. He thought that great consolidations of industry were necessary in the face of international competition, but he wanted some way to insure that the public interest would be protected. His administration endorsed the opinion of the Supreme Court, which had limited, in United States v. E. C. Knight (1895), anti-trust suits to those cases in which a corporation possessed a monopoly of interstate commerce. McKinley's 1899 annual message talked of strengthening the Sherman Anti-Trust Act of 1890, but he proposed no new legislation. It would remain for his successor in office, Theodore Roosevelt to move decisively to discipline "bad" trusts.

Labor Relations

McKinley increased his favorable standing with organized labor by his support for the Dingley Tariff and his appointment of various labor leaders to government positions. For example, Terence V. Powderly, one-time head of the Knights of Labor, became commissioner general of immigration. Additionally, the endorsement of the Erdman Act of 1898 (which created a mechanism for mediating wage disputes on interstate railroads), as well as support for the exclusion of Chinese workers, further encouraged labor leaders. McKinley further indicated his support of labor by holding cordial meetings with Samuel Gompers, president of the American Federation of Labor. The one presidential action that upset labor involved the president's use of federal troops to keep order during a strike of mine workers in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. But it was not enough, in view of the general patriotism of most workers during the Spanish-American War, to sour organized labor on President McKinley.

Civil Service

With regard to civil service, the great reform issue of the 1870s and 1880s, McKinley sought a middle ground. Republicans were upset with President Grover Cleveland's expansion of the merit list of office holders (jobs open to appointment and removal only for cause or merit) because it had entrenched numerous Democrats in key secretarial and customs positions. McKinley bowed to the pressure and issued an executive order that removed approximately 4,000 positions from the list. Civil service reformers painted McKinley as a party hack controlled by his managers, especially his friend Mark Hanna—a recently elected U.S. Senator from Ohio and a long-time political supporter.

The McKinley Presidency: Foreign Affairs

As the new century loomed just over the horizon, the time seemed ripe for many Americans to look beyond their continental borders to a place of destiny in the world. Historian Frederick Jackson Turner had warned Americans, in his much-reproduced speech delivered at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair, that the new century would be the first in American history in which no frontier existed for Americans to conquer. Many Americans interpreted this to mean that new frontiers were vital to American greatness. For example, Rear Admiral Alfred Thayer Mahan preached the doctrine of American expansionism in twenty books and numerous widely-quoted essays. He asserted that no modern nation could be a great nation without a powerful navy, a superior merchant fleet, and overseas colonies. Turner's lectures and Mahan's writings greatly influenced political leaders like Theodore Roosevelt and Henry Cabot Lodge. These individuals looked beyond American shores for new frontiers, world markets, and overseas colonies.

American Empire

The idea of empire was not a universally accepted notion, however. Americans feared United States expansion abroad for several reasons. First, the huge resources required for defense would drain the country's coffers. Furthermore, people did not welcome the resulting introduction of non-white populations into the American scene. Some Americans were also uncomfortable about deviating from the traditional isolationist stance of the nations foreign policy. Sugar producers in the lower South viewed the potential absorption of Puerto Rico, Cuba, and the Philippines as an economic threat. Regardless of these sentiments, McKinley led the United States into its first international war with a European power since the War of 1812. His position on the war was strongly promoted by a sensationalist press (yellow journalism) that was eager to sell war stories, and the Spanish themselves who committed woefully foolish blunders.

Spanish-American War

Spain's repressive rule over Cuba had caused the Cubans to revolt in 1895. This bloody rebellion against Spain infuriated many Americans, who began to actively raise money and even fight on the side of the Cuban nationalists. McKinley used diplomatic pressure to win some concessions from Spain, such as the temporary termination of its "reconcentration" camps; these camps herded 300,000 Cubans into policed villages to separate them from the insurgents. It soon became clear, however, that Spain would never give up Cuba without a fight. Neither would Spain relinquish any of its other Pacific Ocean holdings, which to the dismay of many Americans, had attracted the attention of Japan and Germany. After much public debate, McKinley made the decision to declare war on Spain.

Two events precipitated his decision. The first was a captured letter written by Erique Dupuy de Lome, Spanish Minister to the United States, which depicted McKinley as "weak and a bidder for the admirations of the crowd . . ." William Randolph Hearst, editor and publisher of the New York Journal, created public outrage when he published the letter in his newspaper. One week later, on February 15, 1898, the U.S. battleship "Maine" exploded and sank in Havana harbor, killing 266 crew members. The report of a special commission suggested that Spanish mines had destroyed the ship, leading to the public war cry: "Remember the Maine! To Hell with Spain."

On April 11, 1898, McKinley asked Congress for a declaration of war, which Congress delivered on April 25. The House vote showed overwhelming support, 310 to 6; while the Senate's margin of support was more evenly divided, forty-two to thirty-five. To reassure dovish opponents of the war, such as Andrew Carnegie, Mark Twain, and House Speaker Thomas Reed, Congress added the Teller Amendment to the congressional declaration of war. This amendment committed the U.S. to securing independence for Cuba once the war had ended, disclaiming "any disposition or intention to exercise sovereignty, jurisdiction or control over said island, except for the pacification thereof."

Events then happened fast. On May 1, Commodore George Dewey destroyed Spain's ten-ship Pacific fleet in Manila Bay without losing a single man. U.S. troops quickly overran Manila and captured the Philippines. McKinley pushed through a joint resolution of Congress annexing the Hawaiian Islands. In Cuba, U.S. forces, including the Rough Riders led by Colonel Theodore Roosevelt, captured Santiago. Admiral of the U.S. Fleet in the Pacific, William T. Sampson, destroyed Spain's Atlantic fleet in the waters between Cuba and Jamaica, and U.S. troops captured Puerto Rico. Spain sued for peace and a cease-fire was declared on August 12. The war had lasted just over three months, and the Americans killed in action numbered less than 400, although many more had died from malaria, yellow fever, poisoning from canned food supplied by the army, and other diseases.

The Paris Peace Treaty was signed on December 10, 1898. The nearly two-month long process for getting the treaty ratified by Congress was an arduous one, reflected in the fact that the treaty was ratified by only a margin of one vote on February 6, 1899. Despite the heated debates and protests of congressional lawmakers, McKinley was able to (1) gain consent from a majority of the Senate and (2) convince the House to appropriate funds for implementing and building the American empire. In demonstrating his political influence on the outcome of these matters, McKinley became the undisputed leader of the Republican Party. Furthermore, his actions represented a real expansion of presidential power at the turn of the century.

Within the global political arena, the treaty placed the United States in the ranks of the world's colonial powers. Under this treaty, the U.S. obtained Puerto Rico, Guam, and—for $20 million—the Philippine Islands. Spain also renounced its claim to Cuba, which remained under U.S. military occupation until 1902. Thereafter, Cuba remained a U.S. protectorate until 1934.

Filipino Revolt

Almost as soon as the war with Spain had ended, a grass-roots insurgency broke out in the Philippines led by Filipino nationalist Emilio Aguinaldo. McKinley responded by using his war powers to send thousands of American marines and sailors to the Islands. This action engaged the nationalists in a bloody war that left the United States open to atrocity charges similar to those lodged against Spain in its dealings with Cuba (i.e., the "reconcentration" camps). The war lasted until 1902, and before it was over, more than 5,000 Americans and some 200,000 Filipinos lay dead.

Open Door Trade Policy in China

Although historians debate the motivations behind the emergence of the new imperial status of the United States at the end of the century, few doubt but that the move reflected U.S. concerns for gaining a hold on world markets. China, the last great part of the Eastern world not colonized by Western powers, looked especially tempting. Fearful that Japanese aggression combined with new moves by Germany and England might close Chinese ports to U.S. commerce, McKinley authorized secretary of state John Hay to issue an informal set of so-called Open Door notes on China. This circular strongly expressed U.S. desire to have all commercial nations on an equal footing in China, unencumbered by discriminatory tariffs or other restrictions. It declared U.S. support for a non-colonized and independent China. This new Open Door policy called for free trade in China, and it became one of the most important foreign policy statements issued by the U.S. State Department.

Indeed, some historians credit these notes with establishing a new foreign policy agenda that shaped (in theory if not always in practice) the direction and thrust of U.S. foreign policy in the 20th century: free trade and open markets not only in Asia but everywhere else in the world. This notion of open access to world markets reflected the prevailing sense that U.S. industrial superiority would dominate world markets if no artificial barriers blocked access. Although U.S. policy on Latin America and the high protective tariffs imposed in the 1920s and early 1930s flew in the face of this free trade agenda, McKinley's Open Door strategy lay the groundwork for a new American empire. This new foreign policy of free trade and open markets partly explains U.S. entry into World Wars One and Two, the Cold War with the Soviet Union, hot wars in Korea (1950–54) and Viet Nam (1963–74), and the current emphasis on free trade in U.S. foreign policy.

Chinese Rebellion

In June 1900, a group of Chinese nationalists, members of the I-ho Tuan (Righteous and Harmonious Society), massacred numerous Western missionaries and Chinese converts to Christianity. Popularly known as the Boxers for their pugilistic-like ritual of battle preparation, this group also laid siege to the foreign community of diplomats in Peking. McKinley dispatched 2,500 U.S. troops—without seeking congressional approval—and several gunboats to assist a combined expeditionary force of Western powers in the liberation of the foreign delegation. The Open Door policy, issued in the midst of the Boxer Rebellion, were especially aimed at the other Western powers—letting them know in clear terms that the U.S. would not support further action by the liberation forces aimed at the division of China.

Death of the President

As the most traveled American president to that time, William McKinley was on the road again on the morning of September 6, 1901. Impeccably dressed in a boiled white shirt with starched collar and cuffs, pin-striped trousers, a black frock coat, and a black satin necktie, he had traveled to Buffalo, New York, where he gave a speech at the Pan-American Exposition. That afternoon, he attended a public reception at the exposition's Temple of Music. Standing at the head of a moving line of greeters, McKinley shook hands and smiled, enjoying the adulation and the public contact.

At seven minutes past four o'clock, as the McKinley reached for another hand to shake, two sharp cracks broke the hum of human voices. Leon F. Czolgosz, aged twenty-eight, a Detroit resident of Polish heritage and an unemployed mill worker of anarchist sentiments, had fired a concealed .32 Iver Johnson revolver point blank into the President's chest. McKinley doubled over and fell backward into the arms of his Secret Service escorts. As he lay bleeding from his wounds, he managed to tell his guards not to hurt his assailant. Then he turned to his private secretary and said: "My wife, be careful, Cortelyou, how you tell her—oh, be careful." Rushed to a nearby hospital by ambulance, McKinley lingered near death for the next week. Gangrene had set in around the bullet wounds, and the he died on September 14, 1901, just six months after his second inauguration.

His assassin admitted the shooting. He had shot the president because he believed him to have been the "enemy of the people, the good working people." Czolgosz expressed no sorrow for his actions. He died in the electric chair on October 29, 1901.


Some say it is the wagging of the finger, or the Mark Rich pardons, or the stained blue dress. Or quibbling over what the meaning of the word is, is.

But this is the real Clinton legacy:

  1. The bloody 1993 fiasco in Mogadishu, Somalia which left 18 dead servicement (and 84 wounded).
  2. The Feb. 26, 1993, bombing of the World Trade Center.
  3. The 1995 bombing in Saudi Arabia, which killed five U.S. military personnel.
  4. The April 19, 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City killing 168 Americans.
  5. The 1996 Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia, which killed 19 and injured 200 U.S. military personnel.
  6. The 1998 bombing of U.S. embassies in Africa, which killed 224 and injured 5,000.
  7. The 2000 bombing of the USS Cole, which killed 17 and injured 39 U.S. sailors

The Clinton/Gore administration responded to this by demagoguing domestic terrorism to turn people against the political right and by bombing a pharmeceutical factory. And pardoning some terrorists to get one of their wives get votes in a Senate race that helped Tiny Tom Daschle come to power as the Majority leader.

This is the Clinton/Gore legacy.