William McKinley

He was our 25th president, serving from 1897-1901 when he became the 3rd President to die as the result of an assassin’s  bullet. I have just finished reading a lengthy biography of Mr McKinley written by Pulitzer Prize winning author Margaret Leech and a laborious effort it was.

Ms Leech’s book was written in 1959 and from all appearances has rarely left its comfy home on the library shelves. From a glance at the old checkout card in the back of the book, it went from 1979-1992 without being checked out. Since then, who knows? I read it in my slow but methodical effort to read at least one book about each president. This, alas, was only #12. Our library as one would expect has no books at all about some presidents and as with McKinley some that they have are tough reads.

Having said that, I obviously learned a great deal about Mckinley and how his presidency impacts us even now. I knew little about him beforehand other than his assassination, his association with the Spanish-American War and the fact that he chose Theodore Roosevelt as his running mate, because his first and loyal vice-president died due to illness. Trivia buffs will want to know that his name was Garett Hobart.

I came to admire his devotion to his wife who was an epileptic and the manifest concern he always showed for her. I learned that he was a  great man of faith, was very loyal to his appointee as well as a man of great tact. .He came to be a president who while not a great leader was greatly loved by the American people. Surveys I observed rank him just below the top third of presidents.

One thing that stuck with me as much as any came at the onset of the book.As his 2nd term as Ohio governor ended, he returned to Canton,Oh and learned that the house he had owned 2o years earlier was for rent. So in January,1896 they returned to the snug little cottage . He would as President buy the home again with the expressed intention of retiring there with his beloved Ida. History tells  us of course  it was not to be.

From a modern perspective, one can see much that began with McKinley and took many twists and turns to arrive where we now are. Our acquisition of  the Philipines that began our time as a Pacific power, our takeover of Cuba, growing friendship with Great Britain and even the very beginnings of our diplomatic relations with Russia.

Too bad, I cant really recomend the book per se unless one is an ardent history buff of great McKinley fan.


January 18, 2009 - Posted by | History | , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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