William McKinley Bobblehead

William McKinley, Jr., the 25th President of the United States, was born on January 29, 1843 in Niles, Ohio.  McKinley’s parents instilled in him the importance of education, hard work, honesty, and respect.  After graduating from Poland Seminary School, McKinley attended Allegheny College for one term before illness and financial difficulties led to his return home.  

After recovering from illness, McKinley worked as a postal clerk and school teacher until joining the Twenty-third Ohio Volunteer Infantry at the onset of the Civil War.  McKinley’s valiant service in the Battle of Antietam led to a promotion as a second lieutenant, where he served on the staff of the future 19th president, Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes.  After four years of service in the Civil War, and attaining the rank of brevet major, McKinley left the military to study law at Albany Law School.  He passed the bar exam in 1867 and established a law practice in Canton, Ohio, where he gained a positive reputation with blue collar laborers.

McKinley was elected to Congress in 1876, where he strongly advocated for protective tariffs in order to promote American manufacturing and labor.  After only two terms in Congress, McKinley became Chair of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee where he helped guide the “McKinley Tariff” into law.

McKinley’s popularity and recognition as a Congressman led Ohio voters to elect him as their Governor in 1891.  As Governor of Ohio, McKinley worked to bridge the divide between labor and management.  He was instrumental in establishing an arbitration program to settle labor disputes.  His experience in Congress and state government, as well as popularity with workers & management alike, led to strong support for his entry, and eventual victories, in both the 1896 and 1900 presidential elections.  

Foreign policy played a significant role in McKinley’s presidency.  Despite initially supporting neutrality, McKinley’s leadership during the Spanish-American War led to Cuban independence and American control of Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines.  His administration implemented an “Open Door” policy regarding equal access to trade in China,  and pushed Congress to pass a joint resolution annexing the Hawaiian islands.  Domestically, McKinley placed the United States money on the gold standard, and raised tariffs in order to increase government revenue while expanding American industry & employment.

McKinley married Ida Saxton, to whom he was deeply devoted, in 1871.  Together, they were parents to two daughters:  Katherine and Ida.

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