TWENTY-FOUR

William B. McKinley
1897-1901

William B. McKinley ( 1843 -1901) was the polar opposite of Benjamin Harrison. Harrison could do a man a favor, it was said, and make an enemy; McKinley could refuse a favor and make a friend. "He had an innate dignity," said Senator Robert La Follette, "and at the same time a warm sympathetic nature."1 When Senator George F. Hoar of Massachusetts came to the White House to protest the decision to annex the Philippines, McKinley asked him how strongly he felt about the matter. "Pretty pugnacious, I confess, Mr. President," exclaimed Hoar. McKinley took his hand and assured him, "I shall always love you, whatever you do."2 On another occasion an angry Congressman stormed into McKinley's office to complain about something, but when he came out afterwards he told his friends, somewhat resignedly, "I don't know a blamed word he said, but it's all right, boys." Once, when McKinley asked Senator Shelby M. Cullom whether he would be angry if he overruled him on the appointment of an Illinois man whom the Senator was pushing, Cullom confessed: "Mr. President, I could not get mad at you if I tried."3Speaker Tom Reed was frankly envious: "My opponents in Congress go at me tooth and nail, but they always apologize to William when they are going to call him names. . . ."4

McKinley's handshake was famous. To save wear and tear on his right hand at receptions, the President developed what came to be called the "McKinley grip." In receiving lines, he would smile

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