Major McKinley: William McKinley & the Civil War
(William H. Armstrong
Major McKinley is the first complete account of the Civil War service of President William McKinley, the last of the Civil War veterans to reach the White House and the only one who served in the ranks. McKinley enlisted as a private in the 23rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry (later commanded by another future president, Rutherford B. Hayes) and was the regiment’s commissary sergeant when his bravery
McKinley regarded the end of slavery as the significant outcome of the war and valued the contributions of the black soldiers in the Union army. After the war, as a young lawyer and congressman, he defended the rights of freedmen and did so long after others had tired of the cause. He also reached out to former Confederate soldiers in an effort to help restore unity to a divided country. This initiative eventually overshadowed and diminished his advocacy of civil rights.
Drawing on a wide variety of sources, including McKinley’s own papers and the diaries and letters of men who served with him, this book presents a new picture of McKinley as a soldier and provides a fresh appreciation of his later life as a veteran in politics.
McKinley, Bryan, and the People
(Paul W. Glad)
A study of the crucial election of 1896 that became a conflict between two great national myths--the yeoman farmer and the self-made man of success.
Murdering McKinley : The Making of Theodore Roosevelt's America
How an assassin, a dead President, and Theodore Roosevelt defined the Progressive Era.
When President McKinley was murdered at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York on September 6, 1901, Americans were bereaved and frightened. Rumor ran rampant: A wild-eyed foreign anarchist with an unpronounceable name had killed the Commander-in-Chief. Eric Rauchway's brilliant Murdering McKinley re-creates Leon Czolgosz's hastily conducted trial and then traverses America as Dr. Vernon Briggs, a Boston alienist, sets out to discover why Czolgosz rose up to kill his President. While uncovering the answer that eluded Briggs and setting the historical record straight about Czolgosz, Rauchway also provides the finest portrait yet of Theodore Roosevelt at the moment of his sudden ascension to the White House.
For Czolgosz was neither a foreigner nor much of an anarchist. Born in Detroit, he was an American-made assassin of such inchoate political beliefs that Emma Goldman dismissed him as a police informant. Indeed, Brigg's search for answers---in the records of the Auburn New York State penitentiary where Czolgosz was electrocuted, in Cleveland where Leon's remaining family lived---only increased the mystery. Roosevelt, however, cared most for the meanings he could fix to this "crime against free government all over the world." For Roosevelt was every inch the calculating politician, his supposed boyish impulsiveness more feint than fact. At one moment encouraging the belief that Czolgosz's was a political crime, at the next that it was a deranged one, Roosevelt used the specter of McKinley's death to usher in Progressive Era America.
So why did Czolgosz do it? Only Rauchway's careful sifting of long-ignored evidence provides an answer: heart-broken, recently radicalized, and thinking he had only months to live, Leon decided to take the most powerful man in America with him.
The Presidency of William McKinley
(Lewis L. Gould
In this interpretation of the McKinley presidency Lewis L. Gould contends that William McKinley was the first modern president. Making use of extensive original research in manuscript collections in the United States, Great Britain, and France, Gould argues that during McKinley's four and a half years in the White House the executive office began to resemble the institution as the twentieth century would know it. He rejects the erroneous stereotypes that have long obscured McKinley's historical significance: McKinley as the compliant agent of Mark Hanna or as an irresolute executive in the Cuban crisis that led to war with Spain. He contends that McKinley is an important figure in the history of the United States because of the large contributions he made to the strengthening and broadening of the power of the chief executive.
While this volume touches on many aspects of McKinley's leadership, the core of it relates to the coming of the Spanish-American War, the president's conduct of the war itself, and the emergence of an American empire from 1898 to 1900. According to Gould, the Spanish-American War was not the result presidential weakness or of cowardice before public hysteria. McKinley sought to persuade Spain to relinquish Cuba peacefully, turning to war only when it became apparent that Madrid would never acquiesce.
During the war, McKinley effectively directed the American military effort and the diplomacy that brought territorial acquisitions and peace. The process of making peace with Spain--involving, as it did, American annexation of the Philippines--and of securing the ratification of the resulting treaty in the Senate underscored McKinley's expansive view of presidential power. He functioned as chief diplomat, from the sending of senators on the peace commission to the personal supervision of the terms of the negotiation. At home he made tours of the West and South in 1898 to lead popular opinion to his position as no president had done before him. For the Senate he evidenced a readiness to dispense patronage, woo votes with personal persuasion, and marshal the resources of the political system behind his treaty.
Later episodes in McKinley's administration support Gould's thesis. In administering Puerto Rico and Cuba and in suppressing an insurrection in the Philippines, McKinley relied further on the war power and continued to shape affairs from the White House. He sent troops to china during the Boxer Rebellion in 1900 without congressional authorization, governed the new possessions through presidential commissions, and allowed Capitol Hill only a subsidiary role in the process. By 1901 the nation had an empire and a president whose manner and bearing anticipated the imperial executives of six decades later.
Gould does not argue that McKinley was a great president. He maintains, instead, that what McKinley contributed to the office, the examples he offered and the precedents he set make him an important figure in the emergence of the modern presidency in this century.
This book is part of the American Presidency Series.
(Kevin Phillips, Arthur M. Schlesinger)
By any serious measurement, bestselling historian Kevin Phillips argues, William McKinley was a major American president. It was during his administration that the United States made its diplomatic and military debut as a world power. McKinley was one of eight presidents who, either in the White House or on the battlefield, stood as principals in successful wars, and he was among the six or seven to take office in what became recognized as a major realignment of the U.S. party system.
Phillips, author of Wealth and Democracy and The Cousins' War, has long been fascinated with McKinley in the context of how the GOP began each of its cycles of power. He argues that McKinley's lackluster ratings have been sustained not by unjust biographers but by years of criticism about his personality, indirect methodologies, middle-class demeanor, and tactical inability to inspire the American public. In this powerful and persuasive biography, Phillips musters convincing evidence that McKinley's desire to heal, renew prosperity, and reunite the country qualify him for promotion into the ranks of the best chief executives.
William McKinley and His America
(H. Wayne Morgan)
When George W. Bush won the White House, he was the first incumbent Republican governor elected president since William McKinley in 1896. William McKinley was the last of the Civil War veterans to reach the White House. Known widely as the Major, in honor of his military rank, he rose through Congress to head the crucial Ways and Means Committee where, in the early 1890s, he passed a strong and popular tariff bill. That success caught the eye of Marcus Hanna, a Cleveland industrialist with a passion for politics and an ambition to help make and elect a president. Democrats complained that McKinley was a mere puppet of the wealthy Hanna, but historians generally believe they were a well-matched team of two strong-willed men. With Hanna's help, McKinley was elected governor of Ohio in 1892. In 1896 McKinley swept away all rivals to win the presidential nomination on the first ballot. Faced in the general election by the well-respected and highly toured orator William Jennings Bryan, Republicans adopted their "Front Porch Campaign." Thousands of citizens from across the country were brought to McKinley's home in Canton for a handshake and a few words.