William McKinley and His America

William McKinley and His America

William McKinley and His America

William McKinley and His America

Synopsis

"When George W. Bush won the White House, he was the first encumbent Republican governor elected president since William McKinley in 1896. McKinley was the last of the Civil War veterans to win the presidency. 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 who had 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 that 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 touted 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. Hanna arranged for this $3.5 million campaign to be paid for by big business, with oil baron John D. Rockefeller writing the largest check. McKinley's military service and his support among veterans were significant factors in his campaign. He became the first presidential candidate in a generation to win a majority of the popular vote. This extensively revised and expanded edition of H. Wayne Morgan's William McKinley and His America will be an important resource for historians and scholars." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

Books are much like children. In both cases the authors imagine that they control the progress and development of their creations. In due course they realize that each has a life of its own, with changing meanings and perspectives. So it has been with the first edition of this book, published in 1963. I have been gratified to see its contribution to historical studies of the period involved but have become increasingly sure that it needed updating. Hence this revised and expanded edition.

A good deal of important secondary literature dealing with William McKinley and his times has appeared since 1963. I have reviewed it for this second edition and have added sources in the footnotes where I thought interested readers might like to pursue a subject. I have also included a bibliographical essay, which the first edition lacked, in which I discuss some of the most important works published since 1963 that treat both the man and his times. I have not changed many of my views but have enlarged some analyses and interpretations. I have also improved the style and have corrected some errors.

This revision reinforces my view that William McKinley merits enhanced recognition. His personal life is interesting in itself. He is interesting and important as a type of politician who was effective in harmonizing differences and achieving results in a tumultuous generation. As president he dealt with some of the most significant problems in the country's history. His views of them and decisions about them take on added significance because of their impact on subsequent events and policies. He is clearly one of our most important presidents and deserves attention both as a personality and as a leader. I should emphasize that this is a biography not a history of the period. I focus on the man and his actions while trying to set both against suitable background. This is not, for instance, a history of the war of 1898 but of McKinley's role in it. I have also tried to make him seem personal and to capture some sense of the times. The reader will judge my success.

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