Politics, Reform, and Expansion, 1890-1900

By Harold U. Faulkner | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 12
End of a Decade

Americans remembered the administration of William McKinley as a singularly propitious time. The Spanish-American War dazzled the country and flattered the national vanity. The return of prosperity dulled the sharp edge of class conflict. The President himself seemed to embody the genial mood. Handsome, engaging, modest, courteous, and sincere, McKinley was the ideal man to preside over a nation seeking to forget its troubles. McKinley was everybody's friend at a time when everybody needed a friend. He seemed to have no enemies, and the country was tired of Presidents who made too many enemies.

Of Scotch-Irish descent, McKinley was born at Niles, Ohio, in 1843, the son of a small steel and iron producer. Local schools and a short period at Allegheny College in Pennsylvania completed his early formal education. In 1861 he enlisted as a private in the 23rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry, later commanded by Rutherford B. Hayes; fought in many battles; and was mustered out of the Army in 1865 as a brevet major. After two years of preparation in a law office and at the Albany Law School, he was admitted to the bar and began a successful practice which continued until his election to Congress in 1876. Except for a short time near the end of the Forty-eighth Congress, when his election (which he won by eight votes) was contested and he was unseated, he served continuously until 1890. A gerrymander of his district in that year, together with the unpopularity of the tariff which bore his name, defeated him. In 1891, however, he was elected governor of Ohio and served two terms until his election to the Presidency.1

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1
Charles S. Olcott, The Life of William McKinley ( Boston, 1916), I, 82-85, gives maps showing the gerrymandering of McKinley's district.

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Politics, Reform, and Expansion, 1890-1900
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Editors' Introduction ix
  • Preface xiii
  • Chapter 1 - The Restless Decade 1
  • Chapter 2 - The Revolt of the Cities 23
  • Chapter 3 - The Decline of Agriculture 48
  • Chapter 4 - Progress and Poverty 72
  • Chapter 5 - Billion-Dollar Politics 94
  • Chapter 6 - The Election of 1892 119
  • Chapter 7 - Depression, Bonds, and Tariffs 141
  • Chapter 8 - 1894 163
  • Chapter 9 - The Bryan Campaign 187
  • Chapter 10 - The Drums of War 212
  • Chapter II - The War with Spain 235
  • Chapter 12 - End of a Decade 260
  • Bibliography 281
  • Index 305
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