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Published April iqib 



DURING the whole of the McKinley Adminis- 
trations, Mr. George B. Cortelyou, who, as 
Secretary to the President, was associated with him 
more intimately than any other man, kept a close 
lookout for biographical material. With a thorough- 
ness and care seldom if ever equaled, he treasured all 
the official and private correspondence, documents 
of every description, memoranda in the President's 
handwriting, drafts of speeches and messages, re- 
ports of telephone conversations, photographs, pam- 
phlets, and countless other items of interest. In 
addition he preserved his own shorthand notes of 
occasional remarks made by the President, and kept 
a diary in which were recorded, from a peculiarly 
intimate point of view, all the daily happenings of 
importance, in the White House, at Canton, or in the 
trains which carried the President to various parts 
of the country. 

Without reservation this entire collection was 
generously placed at my disposal. Its very bulk 
would have been appalling but for the pains with 
which it had been arranged, classified, and indexed. 
It was made vastly more valuable by the enthusiasm 


with which Mr. Cortelyou, again and again, drew my 
attention to various items of interest, supplement- 
ing them from his own knowledge, and illuminating 
the subject with apt descriptions of scenes and inci- 
dents that had come within his personal observa- 

Mr. William R. Day, now an Associate Justice 
of the Supreme Court of the United States, who, 
with Mr. Cortelyou, was administrator of the estate 
of President McKinley, and who, as neighbor and 
friend in Canton, Ohio, as Secretary of State during 
the Spanish War, and as chairman of the Peace Com- 
mission, was closely identified with many of the most 
important events of McKinley's life, has also mani- 
fested the keenest interest in the production of this 
biography and to him I am indebted for many letters, 
papers, and books of interest, for personal reminis- 
cences of great variety, and for his wise suggestions. 

Mr. Charles G. Dawes, of Chicago, was Comptrol- 
ler of the Currency during a part of President Mc- 
Kinley's first Administration, and, with Mrs. Dawes, 
was a frequent caller at the White House, where they 
enjoyed the most delightful social relations with Mr. 
and Mrs. McKinley. Mr. Dawes was one of a few 
younger men with whom the President liked to chat 
informally, and to whom he gave his confidence and 
sincere friendship. To his kindness I am indebted 


for many intimate glimpses of life in the White House 
and for the use of his personal diary. 

For several years following the death of President 
McKinley these three gentlemen were by common 
consent regarded as the arbiters of all questions re- 
lating to the contemplated publication of an author- 
itative biography. I gladly acknowledge my debt 
of gratitude to them for committing to my hands 
what has proved to be a delightful task. I am also 
gratified to say that each of them has taken the pains 
to examine my manuscript and proofs, giving these 
volumes the benefit of their first-hand knowledge of 
affairs, besides much valued advice. 

There are many others whose kindness I am proud 
to acknowledge. Indeed, it has been a source of 
genuine satisfaction to find that the name of William 
McKinley was a kind of " open sesame" to the hearts 
of those who were most closely associated with him. 
My requests for assistance from these gentlemen 
have been met with such unreserved cordiality as to 
suggest that the quick response was made, not to 
me, but to the memory of the beloved Chieftain, 
speaking for the moment through my lips. Former 
Vice-President Charles W. Fairbanks, who, as 
United States Senator, was one of McKinley's 
stanchest supporters, besides giving me many per- 
sonal recollections, kindly permitted the use of the 


unpublished manuscript of his Reminiscences. Colo- 
nel Myron T. Herrick, late Ambassador to France, 
another very close friend, placed at my disposal a 
large collection of personal letters, together with in- 
formation regarding certain important episodes that 
had never before been given to the public. Especial 
mention should be made also of Mr. Daniel J. Ryan, 
of Columbus, Ohio, one of the authors of an ex- 
haustive work on the History of Ohio, who sent me 
the manuscript of an extensive series of memoranda 
regarding the earlier political history of McKinley, 
up to the time of his governorship. Mr. Elihu Root, 
Mr. John W. Griggs, Mr. Joseph McKenna, Mr. 
Philander C. Knox, and the late Governor John D. 
Long, all former members of President McKinley's 
Cabinet, gladly contributed their aid. 

Among many others to whom I am indebted for 
their personal recollections are ex- President William 
H. Taft, Professor John Bassett Moore, Mr. John 
G. Milburn, Major Charles R. Miller, Mr. George 
B. Frease, Dr. Josiah Hartzell, Judge George F. 
Arrel, Mr. Joseph G. Butler, Jr., Mr. Allan Carnes, 
and Mr. James Boyle. To these must be added the 
names of Miss Helen McKinley and Mrs. Sarah 
Duncan, the two surviving sisters of Mr. McKinley; 
Mrs. Mary C. Barber, the sister of Mrs. McKinley; 
Mrs. Grace McKinley Heidt, a niece, and Mr. Wil- 


Ham McKinley Duncan, a nephew of the late 

William McKinley was not a prolific letter-writer, 
nor did he ever, so far as I know, even attempt to 
keep a diary. His letters, as a rule, were either busi- 
nesslike communications, straight to the point, or, 
if purely personal, were written in simple, unassum- 
ing style, friendly in tone, and with occasional pleas- 
antries. They were not ornamented with literary 
embellishments, although, in his speeches, carefully 
chosen phrases and epigrammatic sentences were 
a distinguishing characteristic. Indeed, his unusual 
facility of expression and clear, forceful style, are 
seen to best advantage in the public addresses, and 
through them it would be possible to trace, quite 
accurately, the development of his political ideas. 
I have not hesitated to use extracts from them for 
this purpose whenever it seemed desirable. The let- 
ters, on the contrary, are inadequate to give proper 
expression to the real charm of McKinley's personal 
character. Too often the correspondence on some 
promising subject came suddenly to an end — dis- 
appointingly to the biographer — with a cordial 
"Won't you come and see me?" I have found a few 
letters that seemed to reveal the true depth of his 
nature; but as a rule McKinley did not commit to 
paper his plans and purposes, nor his inmost thoughts 


and aspirations. He much preferred a meeting, face 

to face, and a confidential talk. 

If it has not been possible, for this reason, to tell 
the whole story of McKinley's life in his own words, 
as I should have liked to do, there has been some 
compensation in the fact that much of what he said 
in these private conversations has been remembered, 
and. sometimes recorded, by those who heard it. 
I have therefore allowed these favored friends to 
speak for him, wherever I could, at the same time 
drawing freely upon his speeches and letters so far 
as they have seemed available. 

McKinley's life, from his election to Congress in 
1876, until the close of his career, was so interwoven 
with the vast political and economic changes which 
marked the last quarter of the nineteenth century, 
that any complete account of it must be historical 
as well as biographical. I have thought best, there- 
fore, to endeavor to draw the backgrounds somewhat 
full and deep, in order that the real achievements of 
William McKinley may be seen in their true rela- 
tion to the great movements of his time. 

Charles S. Olcott. 

January 22, iqi6. 









ix. the Mckinley bill i 5 8 















William McKinley Frontispiece 

From a photograph by Courtney, Canton, Ohio. This portrait 
was considered by Mrs. McKinley to be the best likeness of her 

The Birthplace of William McKinley, Niles, Ohio 8 

From a photograph by Courtney,- Canton, Ohio. 

William McKinley, Sr., the Father of President Mc- 
Kinley 16 
From a photograph by Courtney, Canton, Ohio. 

Nancy Allison McKinley, the Mother of the President 16 
From a photograph by Courtney, Canton, Ohio. 

The Old Sparrow Tavern, Poland, Ohio 24 

The speech of Lawyer Glidden calling for volunteers for the 
Civil War was made from the porch of this house. From a pho- 
tograph by the author. 

The Old Post Office, Poland, Ohio 24 

Here McKinley was working as a clerk at the outbreak of the 
war. From a photograph by the author. 

William McKinley as a Boy of 15 48 

From a daguerreotype. 

William McKinley as a Private Soldier at 18 48 

From a daguerreotype. 

William McKinley as a Law Student at 23 48 

From a photograph. 

William McKinley as a Young Lawyer in Canton, Ohio 60 
From a photograph. 

Ida Saxton McKinley about the Time of her Marriage 60 
From a photograph. 


Katie, the Little Daughter of Mr. and Mrs. McKinley 70 
From an oil painting in the possession of Mrs. McKinley's sis- 
ter, Mrs. Mary C. Barber, Canton, Ohio. 

The Gerrymandering of McKinley's District 82 

William McKinley at his Desk in the House of Repre- 
sentatives 116 
From a photograph. 

Mr. and Mrs. McKinley in 1881 136 

From a photograph taken in San Francisco, Cal. 

William McKinley on the Porch of his Canton House 244 
From a photograph by Courtney, Canton, Ohio. 

Ida Saxton McKinley 290 

From an oil painting in the possession of Mrs. Mary C. Barber, 
Canton, Ohio. 

The McKinley Home on Market Street, Canton, Ohio 320 
From the front porch of this house speeches were made almost 
daily by Mr. McKinley in the campaign of 1896. The picture 
represents the house as remodeled by him in anticipation of his 
retirement at the close of his presidential term. From a photo- 
graph by the author. 

William McKinley in the Cabinet Room of the White 

House 394 

From a photograph by Miss Frances B. Johnston. 

the life of 
william Mckinley 




THE early ancestors of William McKinley were 
Scottish Highlanders, a race of men distin- 
guished for the strength with which they fought and 
overcame the hardships of their surroundings. Bred 
in the fastnesses of the Caledonian Mountains, 
where Nature offered little chance to earn a living 
and few of the comforts of life, these men struggled 
bravely to maintain their homes. The frequent en- 
croachments upon their patrimony by greedy barons 
of the Lowlands were met with a fierce resistance, 
until the Highlanders became famous, not only as 
fighting men of the stanchest quality, but as patriots 
of the truest type, ready to lay down their lives at a 
moment's notice in defense of their homes, their 
families, and their native land. 

When the descendants of these men emigrated to 
America, as many of them did, they did not escape 
the hardships of life. Conditions were different, but 

2 william Mckinley 

the battle for existence still continued. And when 
the War of Independence began, a new force for the 
development of patriotism was put into motion, no 
less potent than that which for centuries had called 
to arms the loyal Scotsmen. 

At the battle of Pinkie, in 1547, a certain stalwart 
Highlander, bearing the Royal Standard of Scotland, 
gave up his life in defense of his native country. He 
was known as ' ' Findla Mohr, ' ' or the ' ' Great Findla. ' ' 
The name in Gaelic was "Fionn-Laidh," the pronun- 
ciation of which is " I -on-lay." He left four sons, who 
took the name of Maclanla, "mac" meaning son. 
So the sons of Fionn-laidh became Maclanla, and 
William, the eldest, wrote it "MacKinlay." 

Genealogists have placed the great Findla as the 
twenty-first in direct line of descent from the valiant 
MacDuff, Thane of Fife, who according to Shake- 
speare, paraded upon the stage with Macbeth's head 
on a pole, and who, by the best historical authority, 
really did meet that monarch (though he did not kill 
him) before the Castle of Dunsinane in 1054. The 
same authorities, who base their statements upon 
the somewhat unreliable Scottish chronicles and his- 
tories of the Highland clans, also mention a certain 
Shaw Mor Macintosh, as fourteenth in the same line. 
He was the leader of the victorious thirty in the fight 
between the Clan Chattan and the Clan Quhele on 


the North Inch at Perth in 1396, celebrated by Sir 
Walter Scott in "The Fair Maid of Perth." The old 
motto of the clan was, "We force nae friend, we fear 
nae foe." 

The sons of William MacKinlay settled near Cal- 
lender, in Perthshire, and his great-great-grandson, 
James MacKinlay, known as "James the Trooper," 
went to Ireland as a guide to the army of King Wil- 
liam III and engaged in the battle of the Boyne, 
July 1, 1690. He remained in Ireland and became 
the ancestor of the Irish MacKinlays. 

The earliest immigrant to America was David 
McKinley, a son of James, known as "David the 
Weaver." That he was a thrifty man is shown by a 
record of the purchase in 1743 of three hundred and 
sixteen acres of land overlooking the Susquehanna 
River in York County, Pennsylvania. John, the 
eldest son of "David the Weaver," was born about 
1728. Inheriting a small estate from his father, he 
became a large landholder and engaged in important 
business transactions. When the Revolution broke 
out he served in the York County Militia and was 
also made wagonmaster for his township. 

David McKinley, the son of John, and great-grand- 
father of the President, was born May 16, 1755, in 
York County, Pennsylvania. At the outbreak of the 
Revolution, he enlisted as a private in the militia, 

4 william Mckinley 

serving continuously for twenty-one months and 
taking part in three engagements. After the war he 
moved to Mercer County, Pennsylvania, and in 1814 
settled in Columbiana County, Ohio. He had ten 
children, the second of whom was James Stevenson 
McKinley, the grandfather of the President. He was 
born September 19, 1783. His wife was Mary Rose, 
an English woman, who came to America from Hol- 
land, whither her ancestors had been driven from 
England because of religious intolerance. Her grand- 
father, Andrew Rose, had previously emigrated to 
America with William Penn. 

James and Mary settled on a farm in Mercer 
County, Pennsylvania, but in the thirties James be- 
came interested in the iron business and was made 
manager of a charcoal furnace at New Lisbon (now 
Lisbon), Ohio. Their son, William McKinley, the 
father of the President, was born November 15, 1807. 
Like his father, he was a "founder," or manager of 
blast furnaces, a trade which in the pioneer days re- 
quired a strong physique and skill of many and 
varied kinds. Pig iron was made in charcoal fur- 
naces, and the duties of the manager included the 
chopping of wood, the burning of the charcoal, the 
mining of the ore, and all the details of the manufac- 
ture of the resultant product, pig iron. He had be- 
gun work at sixteen, with no education except what 


could be gained from the meager facilities of the 
common schools in an undeveloped country. Yet it 
is said that there were three books which he kept 
constantly at hand, and read for a few minutes at a 
time whenever he had an opportunity. These were 
the Bible, Shakespeare, and Dante. His first busi- 
ness venture on his own account was made in 1830, 
when as a partner in the firm of Campbell, McKin- 
ley & Dempsey, he rented a furnace at Niles, owned 
by James Heaton. Later he formed a partnership 
with his brother-in-law, Jacob Reep, buying or rent- 
ing furnaces, first at Fairfield, then New Lisbon, and 
finally at Niles, Ohio. In 1829 he married Nancy 

The ancestors of Nancy Allison McKinley came 
from Scotland and settled in Westmoreland County, 
Pennsylvania. She was a woman of strong, rugged, 
positive character. Her old neighbors often referred 
to her as a peacemaker. She was continually doing 
kindnesses, caring for the sick, helping the poor, and 
extending the hospitality of her home to the school- 
masters who "boarded round," or the travelers who 
occasionally passed that way. Her sturdy Scotch dis- 
position made her a thrifty housewife and a stern 
disciplinarian, though her children obeyed her wishes 
more from love than through fear. She expected 
obedience and received it. The family were neither 


rich nor poor. They lived simply, dressed as became 
their station, and commanded the respect of the com- 
munity wherever they resided. In company with 
her sister, Mrs. Jacob Reep, Mrs. McKinley took 
entire charge of the Methodist church at Niles, 
sweeping the floors, dusting the pews, lighting the 
candles, obtaining the fuel, and providing food and 
lodging for the itinerant preachers who came for the 
services. It was commonly said that these two sis- 
ters "ran the church, all but the preaching." When 
she wanted to visit her relatives at New Lisbon, 
thirty miles away, Nancy Allison McKinley thought 
nothing of riding the entire distance on horseback, 
carrying one of her children with her. She was a 
woman of unusual common sense, who kept her emo- 
tions well in reserve. In later years, when her son 
was the Governor of Ohio, she was accosted by a 
strange woman on a railroad train, who asked her 
where she was going. " To Columbus," was the reply. 
" Do you know any one there? " inquired the chance 
acquaintance. "Yes," she answered quietly, "I 
have a son there." 

Though not having the benefit of an education, 
Nancy Allison McKinley was a born gentlewoman. 
Her husband was an industrious worker, and a good 
business man, who, though never prosperous in a 
large way, was always able to provide for the neces- 


sides of his family. Though not a well-educated man, 
he realized his own deficiency, and early in life deter- 
mined that his children should be sent to school, a 
purpose in which he was earnestly supported by his 
good wife, if, indeed, she was not the real instigator 
of it. To support their family in a fair degree of 
comfort and provide for the education of their chil- 
dren proved to be no small undertaking, for nine 
little ones came to bless the household of this worthy 
couple. 1 

William McKinley, Jr., the seventh child of Wil- 
liam and Nancy Allison McKinley, was born in Niles, 
Ohio, January 29, 1843. A famous American phi- 
lanthropist, upon revisiting the tiny cottage in Scot- 
land where he was born, left this inscription upon 
the visitors' register: "First visit to my birthplace — 
the humble home of honest poverty — best heritage 

1 The children of William and Nancy Allison McKinley in the 
order of their birth were : — 

1. David, who became Consul to Honolulu and later Minister to 
Hawaii, and died in 1892. 

2. Anna, who taught school for thirty years in Canton, Ohio. 

3. James, who settled in California, and died in 1889. 

4. Mary, who married Daniel May, and lived in Poland, Ohio. 

5. Helen, now living in Cleveland, Ohio. 

6. Sarah Elizabeth, who married Andrew J. Duncan, and is now 
living in Cleveland, Ohio. 

7. William. 

8. Abbie Celia, who died in infancy. 

9. Abner, who practiced law in Canton as a partner of William, 
and died in 1904. 

8 william Mckinley / 

of all when one has a heroine for a mother." Such 
was the heritage of William McKinley, Jr., except 
that the family did not live in poverty. The house 
where he was born was a small frame cottage, stand- 
ing on a corner of the main street in the village of 
Niles. The lower floor on the left side was used as 
a store. It was a humble home, presided over by a 
heroic mother, who managed by hard work and good 
sense to make the slender income of her husband 
meet the necessities of a large family. In this, both 
boys and girls were taught to help, and it may be 
surmised that the household tasks, though rigor- 
ously insisted upon, were never thought too irk- 
some, for the children, without exception, loved 
their mother devotedly. 

The McKinley children attended school at Niles 
under a teacher whose name was Alva Sanford, 
locally nicknamed "Santa Anna," from some sup- 
posed resemblance to the famous Mexican general. 
Sanford was accused of partiality toward William 
McKinley in spite of the fact that the latter had dif- 
ficulty in learning his A B C's. The martial spirit 
aroused by the Mexican War resulted in the forma- 
tion of a company of small boys who drilled on Satur- 
day afternoons and William was one of those who 
marched about proudly with paper cap and wooden 
sword. Another incident of this period was his nar- 


row escape from drowning. In company with Joseph 
G. Butler, Jr., who was three years older, he went 
"swimming" in Mosquito Creek, though he could 
not swim. Getting beyond his depth he was sinking 
for the third time, when young Butler attempted a 
rescue, but he, too, was nearly drowned. The two 
boys were finally saved by a young man named 
Jacob Shealer. 

Niles at this time (1843) was a mere hamlet. The 
first house in the vicinity had been built only a little 
more than ten years previously, and the village itself 
was laid out in 1834. A beginning had been made, 
however, in the industry that led eventually to the 
present activity of Niles as the center of a thriving 
business in the manufacture of iron. As early as 
1809, James Heaton had built a small refining forge 
on Mosquito Creek for the manufacture of bar iron, 
from pig iron made at the Yellow Creek Furnace, in 
the adjoining county of Mahoning. Here were pro- 
duced the first hammered bars made in the State 
of Ohio. In 1812, he built another furnace with a 
stack thirty-six feet high — something of a marvel 
in those days — and began to produce castings for 
stoves, andirons, and various household utensils. 
This was the plant which was leased and operated 
by Campbell, McKinley & Dempsey. 

Although the owner accumulated a considerable 

io william Mckinley 

property, there was no great wealth in the operation 
of this primitive establishment, whose output was 
at first only one ton of iron a day, and never exceeded 
five tons in the most prosperous period of its exist- 
ence. It was not until the establishment of a rolling- 
mill in 1842 that the village began to attract settlers, 
and prior to 1850 the population did not reach one 
thousand. In a volume published in 1847 * it is 
described as containing "3 churches, 3 stores, I 
blast furnace, rolling mill and nail factory, 1 forge 
and grist mill and about 300 inhabitants." 

In this quiet spot the people had few social advan- 
tages. There were no railroads and few wagon-roads. 
The stages to and from Pittsburg were the only means 
of communication with the world. Cleveland and 
Columbus were then towns of about six thousand 
people, and even Cincinnati, the "metropolis" of 
the State, had at that time a population of only 
46,338, according to the Census of 1840. The first 
railroad in Ohio, known as the Mad River and Lake 
Erie, and intended to run from Dayton to Sandusky, 
had been chartered in 1832, but was not completed 
until 1848. The town was, therefore, like hundreds 
of other frontier towns of the Middle West, an iso- 
lated community, where the opportunities for mental 
and spiritual development were so meager that to 
1 Henry Howe, Historical Collections of Ohio. 


many it seemed as though the doors had been tightly- 

There was one outlet, however, which the McKin- 
ley family, guided by the keen sensibilities of the 
mother, were quick to utilize. This was the Metho- 
dist Episcopal Church, where the children went reg- 
ularly to the "preaching" and the Sunday School. 
The ministers were " circuit riders," who came with 
Bible and hymn-book in their saddle-bags. They 
were the product of their times and sprang up mys- 
teriously in answer to the call for men to meet an 
opportunity and a necessity then arising. The New 
West required something more than toilers in the 
fields and mines and workshops — needed men to 
guide the moral and spiritual growth of the new 
nation. Under the sway of an impulse that seemed 
irresistible, these men of obscurity, without education 
or other qualification except a tremendous zeal for 
their cause and an infinite capacity for hard toil, 
left their homes, their fields, and their shops, and 
went forth to preach the Gospel, literally carrying 
"no gold nor silver nor brass" in their purses. If 
not profound theologians nor broad-minded inter- 
preters of the Scriptures, they were men of strong 
emotions and rugged eloquence, who knew how to 
read the hearts of the people, and their influence 
in the Middle West was as potent as that of the 


Pilgrim ministers who guided the colonists of New 
England. They helped develop a race of God-fear- 
ing men and women, who were profoundly needed a 
generation later, when men and women with a 
stern sense of duty, lofty patriotism, consciences 
that could distinguish right from wrong, and a spirit 
of willing self-sacrifice in their souls were necessary 
for the preservation of the Union. William McKin- 
ley was only one of thousands of boys whom these 
crude but powerful influences of the pioneer life 
moulded, slowly and surely, for future service. 



NILES was sadly lacking in school facilities, and 
indeed the first schoolhouse was not built 
until 1 87 1. For this reason, in 1852, when William 
McKinley was nine years old, the family decided to 
move to Poland, a small village in Mahoning County, 
where a very good academy offered desirable educa- 
tional advantages. Two members of the family had 
already left home when this change was made. It 
meant a sacrifice to the father, whose business re- 
quired him to remain in Niles, or go to some other 
place' where there were furnaces in operation, but 
he accepted the situation cheerfully, and for many 
years saw his family only at week-ends, when he 
would ride long distances on horseback to visit them. 
' According to the authority previously quoted, 1 
Poland (in 1847) was "one of the neatest villages in 
the State. The dwellings are usually painted white 
and have an air of comfort. Considerable business 
centers here from the surrounding country, which is 
fertile. In the vicinity is coal and iron of excellent 
quality. . . . Poland contains 5 stores, 1 Presbyte- 

1 Henry Howe, Historical Collections of Ohio. 


rian and I Methodist Church, an academy, an iron 
foundry, I grist, I saw, I oil, and I clothing mill 
and about ioo dwellings." 

On arrival at Poland, William McKinley was sent 
to school in a little low building, which still remains 
standing on the main street of the village. A former 
schoolmate recalls that he was a stout, pleasant- 
faced boy, who enjoyed playing with the other lads, 
and took a lively interest in all their sports. He 
played "three old cat" and "old sow," the latter 
played with a stick and a block of wood, the game 
being to put the block into a hole — probably the 
nearest approach to golf the future President ever 
made. In the spring and autumn he went fishing 
in Little Beaver Creek, sometimes camping'out for 
a week at a time. In the hot days of summer he went 
swimming with the other boys, and in the winter was 
fond of skating. 

William, according to the same schoolmate, al- 
ways looked a trifle cleaner and neater than the 
other boys — no doubt his mother could explain 
why — and he always acted like a gentleman. Yet 
he was never a prig and did not think of himself as 
better than others. On the contrary, he was well 
liked by his playmates. He excelled in all the sports. 
It was commonly remarked that "Will is good at 
anything he goes at." He never had any quarrels, 


and although constantly associated with the boys of 
the village, who were no better than other lads, and 
no doubt occasionally used "bad words," it was 
noticed by them that "Will" never indulged in 
such language. They learned, too, that even when 
quite young he preferred to study his lessons before 
playing rather than after, declaring that he could 
have more fun when the work was out of the way. 
Gradually he came to be recognized as a natural 
commander. The boys looked up to him and ac- 
cepted his word as law. 

After a year in the little schoolhouse, William 
McKinley entered the Poland Seminary. This mod- 
est institution is highly creditable to those far- 
sighted pioneers who founded a school in the wilder- 
ness almost before there were roads to travel over. 
A beginning was made in 1830, when the Reverend 
Mr. Bradley, a Presbyterian minister, opened a 
"select school" in which the classics and English 
literature were taught. Five years later John Lynch, 
a pupil of Bradley, continued the effort by opening 
an academy, which, after a hard struggle for ten 
years, was abandoned. For three years educational 
advancement came to a standstill, but in 1848 Mr. 
B. F. Lee, a student of Allegheny College, returned 
to Poland and opened a new academy in the autumn 
of 1849. Another school was started, a little later, 

16 william Mckinley 

under Presbyterian auspices, but after an exist- 
ence of six years, the building was burned and the 
school discontinued. Mr. Lee, however, was more 
fortunate and his academy proved to be founded upon 
a permanent basis. His staff of instructors was com- 
posed of Professor M. R. Atkins, principal; Miss 
E. M. Blakelee, preceptress; Miss Elmina Smith, as- 
sistant preceptress; and Miss Mary Cook, teacher of 
music. A vigorous effort was made to secure an en- 
dowment through the Pittsburg and Erie Annual 
Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, but 
it proved impossible to collect sufficient funds. Un- 
daunted by this failure, Mr. Lee rallied the Metho- 
dists and other citizens of Poland to the support of 
the "college," as it now came to be known, and by 
his zeal and unremitting toil was at last able to erect 
a substantial three-story brick building, eighty feet 
long and sixty feet wide. This edifice remained stand- 
ing until 1895, when it collapsed, and a new one was 
erected on the same foundation. Miss E. M. Blakelee, 
the first preceptress, held her position, with the ex- 
ception of six years, from 1849 until 1880. William 
McKinley entered the seminary soon after the open- 
ing of the new building. In after life he gave Miss 
Blakelee credit for much good influence upon his 
youthful development. She was a woman of rare force 
of character and intellectual ability, firm and resolute 


in a quiet way, and able to make a strong impression 
upon the young men and boys of the school. She 
was a close friend of McKinley's oldest sister, Anna, 
who was also a teacher. It is said that there was 
rivalry between the two to see who could teach school 
the longer. Anna was a teacher for thirty years, and 
won the highest esteem and admiration for her un- 
usual qualities. She was a woman of fine intellect 
and great moral force, joined with serene tranquil- 
lity and kindliness. In this she resembled her 
mother. There was an air of refinement and cultiva- 
tion about her which exerted an uplifting influence 
upon all who knew her. 

There were five women who had a large share in 
moulding the character of William McKinley. The 
first was his mother, to whom in childhood he sub- 
mitted his own will so perfectly that no sculptor ever 
had more freedom in modeling his clay than this 
good woman in shaping the moral quality of her 
child. The second was the sister Anna, whose influ- 
ence was of a maternal kind largely because of her 
natural disposition and partly because of her superior 
age. The third was his sister Helen, who as a child 
was not too old to play with him, yet old enough to 
command his respect. She never praised him, but 
continually urged him to do his best. The fourth was 
the teacher Miss Blakelee. The fifth and greatest 

18 william Mckinley 

influence of all, though not exerted in the formative 
period of early youth, was that of the devoted and 
well-beloved wife, whose life became so closely inter- 
twined with his that the two souls grew as one plant, 
each sustaining and uplifting the other. 

It was not long after entering the seminary that 
the young McKinley took a step that proved at 
once the independence of his character and the 
remarkable seriousness of his youthful mind. The 
Methodist Church at Poland was then in the charge 
of the Reverend W. F. Day, an earnest man and an 
excellent preacher. In accordance with the custom 
of the times there were frequent camp-meetings and 
stirring revivals. 

The revival was, indeed, the very essence of 
Methodism, since the leaders of that denomination 
claimed that it was itself a revival of the primitive 
teachings of the early church. Its triumphs were the 
result of a matchless enthusiasm. Its orators spoke 
in torrents of eloquence that drew great multitudes 
from the surrounding country. No house of worship 
was large enough to hold the crowds, and so the 
camp-meeting became a physical necessity. The re- 
vivals that were held in them made a profound im- 
pression upon all the people, from which it would 
have been difficult to escape. The McKinley family 
were deeply religious and all were members of the 


church except the three youngest, Sarah, William, 
and Abner. At one of these camp-meetings, follow- 
ing the usual invitation from the minister for those 
who wished to "profess conversion " to come forward 
to the "mourner's bench," William McKinley, Jr., 
ten years old, marched up the aisle with manly dig- 
nity and united with the church "on probation." On 
the same day his sister Sarah, two years older, took 
the same step. Each acted independently of the other 
and without urging from their mother. No doubt the 
good lady shed tears of joy abundantly at this an- 
swer to her prayers. She came to think of William as 
a candidate for the ministry and indulged the hope 
that one day he might become a bishop. His own 
ecclesiastical ambition was confined to the desire that 
he might sometime be a trustee of the church — a 
wish that was granted in due season. A higher am- 
bition was to live the life of a true, earnest, and con- 
sistent Christian, and this William McKinley did to 
the day of his death. 

It had been noticed by his mates in the little one- 
story schoolhouse that when the time came for 
"speaking pieces," William McKinley stood up 
"straight as a stick" and spoke without apparent 
effort — much to the chagrin of the other boys 
and girls to whom this part of their schooling was a 
dreaded ordeal. 

20 william Mckinley 

After entering the seminary McKinley found him- 
self associated with boys and girls who enjoyed 
public speaking and it was proposed to organize a 
debating society. The result was the organization 
of "The Everett Literary and Debating Society," 
named in honor of Edward Everett, whose oratorical 
powers were greatly admired. A room in the acad- 
emy was secured and a collection was "taken up" to 
furnish it. A beautiful new Brussels carpet was 
bought and laid. A picture of Edward Everett hung 
behind the presiding officer's chair. A bookcase, 'whose 
chief contents consisted of the Bohn Library of 
classics, was the only article of furniture other than 
the chairs and the president's desk. The members 
thought it the most luxurious apartment in the 
world. At the first meeting a serious question arose. 
The boys started to come in with mud on their boots 
and the girls at once raised the cry that the beauti- 
ful new carpet would be ruined. A happy thought 
occurred to some one and the boys took off their boots. 
There was no time at this first meeting "to procure 
slippers, as was done subsequently, so the debate 
solemnly proceeded, with the orators in their stock- 
ing-feet. The lad who so early in life had found 
speech-making easy, had been elected president and 
managed to maintain the dignity of his office in spite 
of shoeless feet. 


McKinley remained at the academy until he was 
seventeen, when he entered the Allegheny College 
at Meadville, Pennsylvania. Of his experiences here 
there is little to record. He remained only a short 
time and returned to Poland on account of illness. 
His intention was to go back to college after a brief 
rest. But it was a period of "hard times" and his 
father's finances were in bad condition. Anna was 
teaching school and others of the family were at 
work, so William decided that in justice to the 
others he must at least earn the money for his future 
education. Teaching made the first appeal to him, 
and hearing of a vacancy in the Kerr District School 
he applied for the position. The salary was twenty- 
five dollars a month and the teacher was expected 
to "board around." The school was two miles and 
a half from Poland. McKinley preferred to live at 
home, and therefore walked the distance, morning 
and evening, frequently leaping fences and crossing 
fields to save time. When school closed he took a posi- 
tion as clerk in the post-office at Poland, and here we 
find him in the early summer of 1861, about to take 
the next momentous step in his career. 



WHEN the news came that Fort Sumter had 
been fired upon, there was great excitement 
in the village of Poland. On a day in June, 1861, the 
sidewalks were filled with people, the horses, wagons, 
and buggies of hundreds of farmers lined the streets, 
and a little squad of soldiers, led by a veteran of the 
Mexican War, was marching up and down, to the 
shrill but inspiring notes of the fife and the noisy 
beating of drums. The balconies of the old Sparrow 
House (it had a double veranda then) were crowded 
with women, some singing, others crying. A tense 
nervous strain was felt by every one. The leading 
lawyer of the vicinity, Charles E. Glidden, was making 
a speech from the front of the tavern. As the result 
of his eloquence, man after man stepped up to vol- 
unteer, and as they did so, the crowd cheered and 
women pinned red, white, and blue badges upon the 
new soldiers. Young men talked glibly of the glory 
of war and the fun of camp-life. Older men were 
more serious, but there was a contagion of enthusi- 
asm so strong that Poland furnished its full comple- 


ment of men as volunteers, and not a man was ever 
drafted from the village. 

In the midst of all this excitement, William Mc- 
Kinley kept his head. He was only eighteen, but was 
already noted for a seriousness beyond his years. He 
had read more than other boys, and war to him 
meant a terrible responsibility. He could see no fun 
in prospect, but only hard toil and possible disaster. 
He knew how much suffering it would mean to his 
mother if he were to volunteer. And yet he had a 
clear vision of his duty. 

In this state of mind he drove to Youngstown 
with his cousin, William Osborne, 1 and there saw the 
Poland company leave for Columbus. On the way 
home the two boys discussed the matter and decided 
that it was their duty to enlist. They felt, as did 
many others, that to stay at home in such an emer- 
gency might bring discredit upon them. They would 
despise themselves and be despised by the commu- 
nity. McKinley told his mother what he had deter- 
mined to do. She hesitated at first because of his 
youth and poor physical condition. She remembered 
that only the year before he had had to come home 
from college because of illness. But she saw that the 
boy's determination was so strong and his sense of 
responsibility so clearly developed that there was no 
1 William McKinley Osborne, afterwards Consul-General at London. 


alternative. Moreover, Nancy Allison was herself 
a strong character and could clearly discern the call 
of duty. Therefore, she gave her consent, reluctantly, 
it must be confessed, saying simply that she would 
" put him into the hands of the good Lord," and Wil- 
liam set out with his mother's blessing. He enlisted, 
not at Poland, but at Camp Chase, near Columbus, 
Ohio, and his act was the result of the same calm 
deliberation that had impelled him, a few years 
earlier, to march up manfully and join the church. 

What his motives were may be surmised from his 
own words, in an address on "The American Volun- 
teer Soldier," delivered before the Grand Army of 
the Republic in the Metropolitan Opera House, New 
York City, May 30, 1889. Referring to the volun- 
teer soldiers he said : "They enlisted in the army with 
no expectation of promotion; not for the paltry pit- 
tance of pay; not for fame or popular applause, for 
their services, however efficient, were not to be her- 
alded abroad. They entered the army moved by the 
highest and purest motives of patriotism, that no 
harm might befall the Republic." 

Later in the same speech Major McKinley said: 
"We counted no cost when the war commenced. We 
knew little of the great sacrifices which were to come 
or the scope and extent of that great war; we only 
knew that the Union was threatened with over- 





throw; we only knew that the nation of our fathers 
was in danger by the hand of treason. And that alone 
made the liberty-loving people indifferent to cost 
and consequences, caring nothing but to smite the 
hand which would seize our priceless inheritance, 
and scorning all other considerations that they 
might preserve to mankind the best Government in 
the world. It was then that the genius of self-gov- 
ernment asserted itself, and the whole North was 
turned into a camp for muster and military instruc- 
tion. The citizens voluntarily came together to join 
an army bound together in a common cause for 
common purpose — the preservation of the Union. 
It was an awful experience for the American boy, 
who knew nothing of war, in many instances, save 
as he had read of it in the glamour of history, and 
who in many cases had never so much as seen a com- 
pany of armed men. Unused to hardships, unaccus- 
tomed to toil, undrilled in the tactics of war, with a 
mother's blessing and a father's affectionate farewell, 
he went forth with firm resolve to give up all, even the 
last drop of his life's blood, that this nation should 
be saved." 

The boys from Poland were mustered in as Com- 
pany E of the Twenty-third Ohio Volunteers. They 
had volunteered for three months, but when they 
reached Columbus they found the quota of "three 


months men" was full. They must sign for three 
years or go home. A vote was called for and all who 
were willing to go for three years were asked to step 
forward. Every man in the company stepped out 
except one. He was studying for the ministry and 
felt that three years would be too long to postpone 
his chosen occupation. But even he came back, 
after thinking it over, and enlisted for three years. 

The entire Twenty-third Ohio was mustered into 
the service of the United States for three years on the 
nth day of June, 1861. The first colonel was Wil- 
liam S. Rosecrans, who was made a brigadier-general 
in the regular army before the regiment left Camp 
Chase, and became one of the most distinguished 
leaders of the Federal forces. He was succeeded by 
Colonel E. Parker Scammon, who also left the regi- 
ment to become a brigadier-general, but not until 
the autumn of the following year. 

The first lieutenant-colonel was Stanley Matthews, 
who was promoted to be colonel of the Fifty-first 
Regiment, and later became a Senator from Ohio, 
and finally Associate Justice of the Supreme Court 
of the United States. 

The first major was Rutherford B. Hayes, who 
succeeded Matthews as lieutenant-colonel and be- 
came colonel of the regiment upon the promotion 
of Colonel Scammon, October 15, 1862. Two years 


later he was made a brigadier-general in recognition 
of his bravery on the field of battle. It may well be 
doubted whether any other regiment set off for the 
war with an equipment of line officers destined to 
greater achievements in the war and in the peace to 

How Major Hayes won the respect of the regiment 
at the outset was described by McKinley in his 
Memorial Address on Rutherford B. Hayes before 
the Ohio Wesleyan University, June 20, 1893: — 

"The first headquarters of the regiment were at 
Camp Chase. I had never seen Hayes until he re- 
ported to the regiment, and I recall our first meeting 
the better because of a little incident which happened 
when, with all the pride of new recruits, we came to 
receive our muskets. The State could furnish only 
the most inferior guns. These we positively and 
proudly refused to accept. We would accept nothing 
but the best. The officers spent most of the day in 
trying to persuade us to receive the guns for a few 
weeks, if only for the purpose of drill. None of us 
knew how to use any kind of a musket at that time, 
but we thought we knew our rights and we were all 
conscious of our importance. They assured us that 
more modern guns would soon be supplied. Major 
Hayes did the talking to our company, and I shall 
never forget the impression of his speech. He said 


that many of the most decisive battles of history had 
been won with the rudest weapons. At Lexington 
and Bunker Hill and many other engagements of the 
Revolution our forefathers had triumphed over the 
well-equipped English armies with the very poorest 
firearms — and that even pikes and scythes had done 
good work in that glorious conflict. Should we be 
less patriotic than our brave ancestors? Should we 
hesitate at the very start of another struggle for 
liberty and union, for the best and freest Govern- 
ment on the face of the earth, because we were not 
pleased with the pattern of our muskets, or with the 
caliber of our rifles? I cannot, at this late day, recall 
his exact words, but I shall never forget his warmth 
of patriotic feeling and the sound sense with which he 
appealed to us. That was our first and last mutiny. 
We accepted the old-fashioned guns, took what was 
offered us cheerfully, and Hayes held us captive from 
that hour. From that very moment he had our 
respect and admiration, which never weakened, but 
increased during the four eventful years that fol- 

On July 25, 1 86 1, the regiment was ordered to 
Clarksburg, Virginia, in what is now the State of 
West Virginia. They arrived two days later and on 
the 28th proceeded to Weston, a few miles to the 
south. At first the boys found army life a novel kind 


of outing. The humor of it, as it appeared to a sol- 
dier boy, of eighteen, is reflected in the following 
letter: — 

Camp at Weston, August n, 1861. 

W. K. Miller, Esq., 

Dear Cousin: — Your letter dated the 6th inst. 
was received this morning and its contents perused 
with pleasure. Although it did not come to hand as 
early as expected, yet "better late than never." We 
are encamped at Weston, a small town in Western 
Virginia of about eight hundred inhabitants, and 
looks as if it might have once been a village of some 
stir and vitality, but since the war broke out it has 
buried all its vital parts in oblivion. Our regiment 
is scattered all over the State of Virginia. Five hun- 
dred of them are with the Seventh Regiment under 
Colonel Tyler now marching to Galley Bridge, one 
hundred on their way to Sutton, and others scat- 
tered here and there, all over the hills and valleys, 
of the "Old Dominion State." Three hundred of us 
remain here as a guard and I can tell you we are doing 
the thing up "bravely," yea "heroicly." We have 
entire possession of the town. The other night, some 
of the Twenty- third Regiment, while out on ' ' picket " 
some two or three miles from camp guarding a bridge 
en route for Sutton, and lying in ambush around it, 


returned in the morning possessed of quite a "scary" 
story, which they related. The substance was as 
follows, that while out in the darkness of night, when 
all was calm and quiet as the sea on a still summer's 
day, a strange noise was heard about the above- 
named bridge and on its roof was the pattering of 
stones, distinctly heard ; this was a terrific, appalling 
report, and preparations were made to catch the 
rebels. On the following night, four of us volunteered 
to go out and catch the "seceshers" if possible. Ac- 
cordingly we started out about dusk led by a certain 
lieutenant of our regiment. It would have done you 
good to have seen the above lieutenant prodding the 
thick bushes with his gilded sword, fancying to him- 
self that he saw the hideous monster in the shape of 
a rebel. Ah, — the ambitious officer was disappointed ; 
instead of sticking a secesh, he without doubt stuck 
a skunk. We came to this conclusion from the fact 
that a strong smell, a venomous smell, instantly is- 
sued from the bushes. We imagined a great many 
strange things to appear before us, but all proved to 
be shadows instead of realities. We at last arrived 
at the hitherto "scary" spot, stationed ourselves, 
and it was my lot to be placed in a cornfield by the 
roadside. I stayed there until morning, cocked my 
old musket, and was almost in the act of shooting a 
number of times, when the strange vision would dis- 


appear and on examination would discover a piece of 
fox-fire, an itinerant "hog," or a lost calf, which had 
undoubtedly wandered from its mother in its infan- 
tile days. We returned in the morning, sleepy, tired, 
and not as full of romance as the night before. Enough 
of this. We have a very nice place for encampment, 
on one of Virginia's delightful hills and surrounded 
by the Western Branch of the Monongahela River. 
We have some fine times bathing in the above river. 
We are under the strictest military discipline and 
nothing is allowed but what is guaranteed by the 
army regulations. Your kindness, Cousin William, is 
highly appreciated by me in offering me anything 
that I need ; this tells me that I have a place in your 
affections and in answer would say that I would like 
papers as often as you can conveniently send them. 
We cannot get papers here but seldomly. As to post- 
age stamps they are very hard to get, but think I will 
receive some in a few days, and as to money I have 
none, but can get along without it until Uncle Sam 
pays us off. When that will be I do not know. We 
may have to leave here very soon, but I think it 
hardly probable. I received a letter from Annie a 
few days since, and was glad to hear from her. I 
presume she will soon be with you from what she 
I must bring* this letter to a close, as the hour for 


duty is fast approaching. I want you to write me 
often and direct as follows: — 

Weston, Lewis Co., Va. 

Co. E, 23rd Regiment, O.V. Inf., U.S.A. 

Care Capt. Zimmerman. 

With this direction all letters will reach me. Give 
my love to Sarah and family. Write soon. 

Yours truly, 

Wm. McKinley, Jr. 

The " fine times," unfortunately, were of short 
duration. Indeed, the Twenty-third seems to have 
plunged very early into the difficulties and toil of 
war. Weston is situated in the midst of a wild, 
mountainous region, which was then infested with 
guerrillas and disaffected inhabitants who were cap- 
able of great mischief. Almost at the very beginning 
of their service, therefore, the citizen soldiery of the 
Twenty-third found themselves face to face with 
hardships of which seasoned veterans might well 
have complained. Day after day, and night after 
night, they marched and countermarched over the 
rugged mountains, drenched by almost continuous 
rains, and fighting constantly the adroit and scat- 
tered bands of the enemy. 

The first taste of real battle came on the evening 
of September 10, when the Twenty-third, as a part 


of General Rosecrans's Army, faced the enemy in 
line of battle at Carnifex Ferry. General Floyd, the 
Confederate commander, was forced to give way, and 
retreated, a heavy rain aiding him by making pursuit 
almost impossible. It was attempted, nevertheless, 
and many prisoners were taken. 

"This was our first real fight," said McKinley, 
" and the effect of the victory was of far more conse- 
quence to us than the battle itself. It gave us con- 
fidence in ourselves and faith in our commander. 
We learned that we could fight and whip the rebels 
on their own ground." * 

The regiment now fell back to Camp Ewing,. 
which proved to be a particularly unhealthful one,, 
resulting in many fatal cases of illness. McKinley 
fortunately escaped. In spite of his previous ill- 
health, he gained strength with the war's hardships,, 
and passed through the entire four years without 
illness of any kind and without a wound, taking only 
one furlough in the whole period. 

From September to April the regiment experienced 
nothing more exciting than the routine of winter- 
quarters, with its drills and recruiting. It is said of 
McKinley, by his comrades, that he spent nearly all 
of his leisure in reading, and that he kept well posted 
on the progress of the war. 

1 From the Memorial Address on Rutherford B. Hayes, June 20, 


On the 226. of April, the Twenty-third, under 
command of Lieutenant-Colonel Hayes, led the ad- 
vance to Princeton, West Virginia, the enemy burn- 
ing the town and retreating on their approach. On 
May 8, nine companies of the Twenty- third, sup- 
ported by only three small companies of cavalry, 
were attacked by a superior force and driven back 
to East River, finally reaching Flat Top Mountain 
after enduring severe hardships and almost starv- 
ation. On the 15th of August, the regiment was or- 
dered to march with the greatest possible speed to 
Camp Piatt on the Great Kanawha River. They ar- 
rived on the morning of the 1 8th, marching one hun- 
dred and four miles in a little more than three days, 
— one of the fastest marches on record for so large 
a body of troops. They embarked on transports to 
Parkersburg and thence traveled by train to Wash- 
ington, where they joined the army of General Mc- 

The first move after leaving Washington was 
against the city of Frederick, Maryland, from which 
they drove out the Confederates. On September 13, 
they reached Middletown and here on the next day 
was fought the battle of South Mountain, — a mo- 
mentous event in the history of the Twenty-third 
Ohio, — culminating in the great battle of Antietam 
on September 17, 1862. This proved to be one of the 


bloodiest conflicts of the entire war. In no other bat- 
tle were so many men killed or wounded in a single 
day. McKinley's own description will best tell the 
story of that terrible struggle, when "the colors* of 
the regiment were riddled and the blue field almost 
completely carried away by shells and bullets": * 

"It was a lovely September day — an ideal Sun- 
day morning. McClellan's army, with Burnside's 
Corps in front, was passing up the mountain by the 
National Road. General Cox's Ohio Division led 
Burnside's Corps, and the Twenty-third Ohio was 
in the lead of that division. Hayes was ordered to 
take one of the mountain paths and move to the 
right of the rebels. At nine o'clock the rebel picket 
was driven back, and on our pushing forward the 
rebels advanced upon us in strong force. Our regi- 
ment was quickly formed in the woods and charged 
over rocks and broken ground, through deep under- 
brush, under the heavy fire of the enemy at short 
range, and, after one of the hottest fights of the war, 
we drove them out of the woods and into an open 
field near the hilltop. Another charge was ordered by 
Hayes. No sooner had he given the word of com- 
mand than a minie ball from the enemy shattered his 
left arm above the elbow, crushing the bone to frag- 
ments. He called to a soldier to tie his handkerchief 
1 Whitelaw Reid, Ohio in the War. 


about the wound, but turning faint he fell, his men 
passing over and beyond him into the fight, where 
he had ordered them. When he regained conscious- 
ness, Hayes found himself under a heavy fire, with 
the bullets pelting the ground all about him. He 
feared that his men were retreating, but he was soon 
reassured when, on calling out, he was carried in 
safety to friendly cover. Wounded and bleeding as 
he was, he was not wholly unconscious of what was 
going on about him, and ordered his men to hold their 
position, which they did under Major Comly, who, 
through the rest of the day, commanded the regi- 
ment with rare judgment and courage. The regiment 
made three successful charges in that fight, and lost 
nearly two hundred men — half of the effective 
force — in action." 1 

McKinley's part in the battle was unique. He had 
early attracted the attention of Major Hayes, who 
afterward referred to him in these words : — 
. "Young as he was, we soon found that in the busi- 
ness of a soldier, requiring much executive ability, 
young McKinley showed unusual and unsurpassed 
capacity, especially for a boy of his age. When 
battles were fought or service was to be performed in 
warlike things, he always filled his place. The night 
was never too dark ; the weather was never too cold ; 
1 From the Memorial Address on Rutherford B. Hayes. 


there was no sleet, or storm, or hail, or snow, or rain 
that was in the way of his prompt and efficient per- 
formance of every duty." 1 

McKinley had been made commissary sergeant, 
and at the battle of Antietam was in charge of the 
supplies of his brigade. The fight began at an early 
hour and the men had only a scanty breakfast. As 
the day wore on, it became evident to the young com- 
missary, who was with the wagons two miles in the 
rear, that the men must be faint with hunger, and 
that if his own duties were such as to prevent his 
actually fighting, he could at least help those who 
were doing it. Noticing some stragglers, — there 
were plenty of them while the fight was raging, — he 
set them to work and was soon galloping over the 
intervening fields with two mule teams, drawing- 
wagons loaded with rations and barrels of hot coffee. 
McKinley drove one team himself. The other was 
disabled, but he picked up a stray pair of mules and 
went on. The effort was unprecedented, and time 
and again he was warned to turn back. Heedless of 
shot and shell, he worked his way over rough ground 
and through mud-holes that all but stopped his prog- 
ress, until at last, late in the afternoon, he reached 
the rear of his brigade and was greeted with a cheer, 

1 Address of Rutherford B. Hayes at Lakeside, Ohio, July 30, 

38 william Mckinley 

which so astonished the division commander at the 
front that he sent an aide to inquire the cause. 

General Hayes, in his Lakeside, Ohio, address, 
referring to the incident, said: "From his hands 
every man in the regiment was served with hot 
coffee and warm meats, a thing that had never oc- 
curred under similar circumstances in any other 
army in the world. He passed under fire and de- 
livered, with his own hands, these things, so essen- 
tial for the men for whom he was laboring." 

Major Hayes, severely wounded, was taken to 
Ohio for medical treatment, and while there told Gov- 
ernor Tod of this incident. The governor promptly 
and emphatically ordered McKinley's promotion 
and he was made second lieutenant of Company D 
on November 3, 1862, the commission dating from 
September 24. He went home on furlough, happy 
over his appointment, and in the words of his sister 
Sarah, "bubbling over with enthusiasm." He talked 
of war experiences and related the story of the coffee 
with evident pleasure, describing in graphic style the 
difficulties, and seeming quite proud of the achieve- 
ment. He was not yet twenty years old. 

Hayes, whose gallantry in the action had won him 
promotion to the colonelcy of the Twenty- third, 
made this note in his diary under date of December 
13, 1862: "Our new second lieutenant, McKinley, 


returned to-day — an exceedingly bright, intelligent, 
and gentlemanly young officer. He promises to be 
one of the best." 

At this time the regiment was in winter quarters 
at the Falls of the Great Kanawha, and was not 
called upon for active service until the following 
July. John Morgan was then puzzling the Union 
officers and frightening the people out of their wits 
by his dashing raids, with a handful of cavalrymen, 
through the southern counties of Ohio and Indiana. 
Colonel Hayes, with two regiments and a section of 
artillery, was sent, at his own request, in pursuit, and 
rendered good service, heading off the vigorous cav- 
alrymen and preventing the raiders from recrossing 
the Ohio, compelling Morgan eventually to surren- 

There was no more fighting for the Twenty-third 
until the spring of the following year. On April 29, 
1864, after a long period of inaction, resulting in 
softened muscles and sinews, the men were sud- 
denly plunged into an expedition that severely 
tested their mettle. They were ordered to join the 
command of General Crook for a raid on the Vir- 
ginia and Tennessee Railroad. McKinley was now 
first lieutenant of Company E, the old Poland Com- 
pany, and for some months had been detailed as an 
aide on the staff of Colonel Hayes. The hardships 


of that experience are best told in his own words: 
"It was a rough and trying march, over mountains 
and through deep ravines and dense woods, with 
snows and rains that would have checked the ad- 
vance of any but the most determined. Daily we 
were brought in contact with the enemy. We pene- 
trated a country where guerrillas were abundant and 
where it was not an unusual thing for our own men 
to be shot from the underbrush — murdered in cold 

The long, hard march culminated in the battle of 
Cloyd Mountain, May 9, 1864, in which the Twenty- 
third was conspicuous for its bravery. About noon 
they were ordered to charge. The enemy were in- 
trenched behind earthworks on the first crest of the 
mountain, with a force of infantry and artillery. "The 
hill itself was thickly wooded, steep and difficult of 
access, and was skirted by a stream of water two or 
three feet deep. The approach was through a beau- 
tiful meadow five or six hundred yards in width. At 
the word of command the regiment advanced at 
double-quick across the meadow, under a very 
heavy fire of musketry and artillery, to the foot of 
the mountain, across the stream. The regiment ad- 
vanced steadily to this point, without returning the 
fire of the enemy; and, after a short pause, a furious 
assault was made upon the enemy's works, carrying 


them and capturing two pieces of artillery. . . . The 
enemy fell back to the second crest or ridge of the 
mountain, where a determined attempt was made to 
form a line, but, after a short struggle, he was driven 
from there in full retreat. Reinforcements arriving 
on the field, a third attempt was made to make a 
stand, but unsuccessfully. The struggle at the guns 
was of the fiercest description. The rebel artillery- 
men attempted to reload their pieces when our line 
was not more than ten paces distant." l 

During the next few weeks the regiment did some 
hard marching, skirmishing nearly every day, ford- 
ing swollen streams, traveling over wretched roads 
through mud and rain, and nearly starved for lack 
of adequate supplies. They reached Stanton, Vir- 
ginia, on June 8, joining General Hunter's command. 
Daily harassed by the enemy, the army passed on 
to Brownsburg and Lexington, and on the 14th were 
within two miles of Lynchburg, where another fight 
occurred in which the Confederates lost four pieces 
of artillery. 

On the 1 8th, General Crook set out to attack 
Lynchburg, but was obliged to retreat before heavy 
reinforcements from Richmond, after a sharp battle 
in a thicket so dense that the light of the sun could 
not be seen. For the next two days and nights the 
1 Whitelaw Reid, Ohio in the War. 

42 william Mckinley 

soldiers had no sleep and little to eat. Many of them 
fell asleep in the road and could be kept on their feet 
with the greatest difficulty. Closely pursued by the 
enemy, they painfully fought their way back, until 
on the 27th, after a march of one hundred and eighty 
miles in nine days, fighting nearly all the time, and 
with very little sleep and scarcely any food, at last 
they met a supply-train on Big Sewall Mountain. 
"After we reached our supply- train," wrote Colonel 
Hayes, "we stopped and ate, marched and ate, 
camped about dark and ate all night. We had 
marched almost continuously for about two months, 
fighting often, with little food and sleep, crossing 
three ranges of the Alleghanies four times, the ranges 
of the Blue Ridge twice, and marching several times 
all day and all night without sleeping." 

The command reached Charleston, West Virginia, 
on July 1, and after a rest of ten days, General 
Crook's army was ordered to the Shenandoah Valley, 
to help stop, if possible, the raids of General Early, 
who was then invading Maryland and Pennsylvania. 
Traveling by way of Parkersburg, they reached Mar- 
tinsburg on the 14th, remaining in camp until the 
1 8th, when they marched to Cabletown, ten miles 
from Harper's Ferry. 

From this point, Hayes's Brigade, including the 
Twenty-third Ohio, was sent, without adequate 


equipment, to attack an army of twenty thousand 
men under General Early. They were entirely sur- 
rounded by the enemy's cavalry, but Hayes, with 
great skill and coolness, cut his way out and rejoined 
General Crook, at Winchester, on July 22. 

News now reached the Union army that Early had 
received orders from General Lee to move, with the 
main body of his army, to Richmond. Crook's sol- 
diers, therefore, settled down for a good rest after 
nearly three months of fatiguing work. The boys 
of the Twenty- third, in particular, who had had 
rather more than their share of hardship, found the 
shade of some large oak trees quite inviting, and 
stretched themselves luxuriously on the grass all 
day and all night. At roll-call on Sunday morning, 
July 24, the expected rest was suddenly interrupted. 
The sound of cannonading was heard and scouts 
came riding in with the news that a large body of 
Confederates was driving back the cavalry outposts 
on the road ten miles south of Winchester. It was 
quickly realized that General Early, instead of con- 
tinuing his march to Richmond, had suddenly turned 
back. General Grant, when he heard of Early's move- 
ment toward Richmond, had detached the Sixth and 
Nineteenth Corps to strengthen his forces before 
Richmond. This left in the Valley of the Shenan- 
doah only the Eighth Infantry Corps of about six 


thousand men, under General Crook, with two 
thousand cavalry and a mixed brigade of infantry 
and dismounted cavalrymen, instead of the army of 
twenty thousand men that had been massed there a 
few days before. Early, seeing his opportunity, had 
turned back, hoping to crush the remnant of the 
Union army with a force three times as great. 

General Crook formed his army in line of battle 
at Kernstown, four miles south of Winchester. On 
the extreme left was the first brigade of the Second 
Division, commanded by Colonel Hayes, Lieutenant 
McKinley acting as one of his staff. The line ex- 
tended out into some fields where the open country 
could be seen for a mile or more to the left. The 
Thirteenth West Virginia, a regiment of infantry 
in Hayes's brigade under command of Colonel Wil- 
liam Brown, was posted in an orchard five hundred 
yards in the rear as a reserve. 

The battle began with sharp firing all along the 
line, batteries of artillery on rising ground at the 
rear firing over the heads of the soldiers, while the 
shells of the Confederate cannon in reply were falling 
thickly among them. They could see that their own 
little army was confronted by an overpowering force. 
In the distance could be seen troops of cavalry 
rapidly advancing and driving the Federal cavalry 
before them. The center of the line, composed of frag- 


ments of several regiments including the dismounted 
cavalrymen, broke in confusion. Hayes succeeded 
in holding his brigade together and began an orderly 
retreat. It was then discovered that Colonel Brown's 
regiment had not been ordered to retire and was still 
in the orchard, from which it had apparently no in- 
tention of moving, and was in great danger of being 
annihilated by the superior forces now rapidly ad- 
vancing. Colonel Hayes looked for a staff officer and 
his eye fell on McKinley. Pointing to the regiment 
in danger he asked the lieutenant if he would be will- 
ing to carry an order to the colonel to retreat. With 
scarcely a word of reply the young lieutenant spurred 
his wiry little bob-tailed horse and was off across 
the field. It was a dangerous ride. Bullets were flying, 
shells were exploding, and the course lay across an 
open field through the thickest of the leaden shower. 
Once the horse and rider were enveloped in a thick 
cloud of dust and smoke as a shell struck the ground 
directly in front, and for a moment the anxious 
watchers thought their brave young comrade was 
lost. But the little brown horse soon emerged, with 
its rider as firmly in the saddle as a cowboy, and on 
they dashed until they reached the shelter of some 
trees. The order was delivered, and the colonel, 
pausing only for a final volley, followed the lead of 
the boy who had rescued him and safely rejoined 

46 william Mckinley 

his brigade. Tears stood in the eyes of Colonel 
Hayes as he grasped the hand of his young aide, and 
said, " I never expected to see you in life again." The 
boy volunteer, mature beyond his years, had early 
attracted the attention of Colonel Hayes and the 
latter had come to love him as though he were his 
own son. 

Harassed by cavalry on right and left, and pur- 
sued by the enemy's infantry, the brigade continued 
an orderly retreat all the afternoon. About dark they 
came to a battery of artillery, consisting of four guns 
with their caissons, which the army had abandoned 
in their flight. McKinley asked permission to save 
the guns — a feat which in the exhausted condition 
of the men did not seem possible. But McKinley 
told his commander that he thought the boys of 
the Twenty-third would help him, to which Hayes 
smilingly replied, "Very well, McKinley, ask them." 
McKinley went to his old company (E) and called 
for volunteers. Every man stepped out, and the en- 
thusiasm becoming general, with a cheer the whole 
regiment took hold of the guns and carried them 
along in triumph. 
• In this battle, which lasted from early morning 
until nine o'clock at night, the Twenty-third lost 
one hundred and fifty-three men, ten of whom were 
commissioned officers, and the entire command 


lost in killed, wounded, and prisoners, nearly one 
fourth of their number. On the next day, Mc- 
Kinley was appointed captain of Company G, and 
a little later General Crook decided that he must 
have him as a member of his own staff — a request 
to which Hayes very reluctantly consented. 

From the 20th of July until the 3d of September 
there was constant marching and countermarching 
with frequent skirmishes. On the night of the 3d, 
at Berryville, there was a general engagement of a 
spectacular kind in which the Twenty-third took 
part, Hayes leading his old regiment. McKinley 
also participated, and said afterwards: "The night 
battle of Berryville will not soon be forgotten. It was 
a brilliant scene; the heavens were fairly illuminated 
by the flashes of our own and the enemies' guns." * 

The battle of Opequan, near Winchester, was an- 
other important event in the history of the Twenty- 
third Ohio, and here Colonel Hayes was again con- 
spicuous for his bravery. General Philip H. Sheridan 
was now in command in the Shenandoah Valley, and 
determined to make quick work of General Early. 
The battle began on the morning of September 19, 
1 864. General Crook's army had been held in reserve, 
but early in the afternoon was sent to the right of the 
line to make a flank attack and took position under 

1 Memorial Address on Rutherford B. Hayes. 

4 8 william Mckinley 

cover of a dense growth of cedar. After the forma- 
tion was completed, the First Brigade of the Second 
Division led by Colonel Hayes dashed across some 
open fields under a brisk artillery fire from the enemy. 
" Moving forward double-quick under this fire, the 
brigade reached a thick fringe of underbrush, dash- 
ing through which it came upon a deep slough, forty 
or fifty yards wide and nearly waist deep, with soft 
mud at the bottom, overgrown with a thick bed of 
moss, nearly strong enough to bear the weight of a 
man. It seemed impossible to go through it, and the 
whole line was staggered for a moment. Just then 
Colonel Hayes plunged in with his horse, and under 
a shower of bullets and shells, with his horse some- 
times down, he rode, waded, and dragged his way 
through — the first man over. The Twenty-third 
was immediately ordered by the right flank and over 
the slough at the same place. In floundering through 
this morass men were suffocated and drowned ; still 
the regiment plunged through, and, after a pause 
long enough partially to re-form the line, charged 
forward again, yelling and driving the enemy. Sher- 
idan's old cavalry kept close up on the right, having 
passed around the slough, and every time the enemy 
was driven from cover charged and captured a large 
number of prisoners. This plan was followed through- 
out the battle." l 

1 Whitelaw Reid, Ohio in the War. 


Captain McKinley was now serving on the staff 
of General Crook. He was sent with a verbal mes- 
sage to Colonel Duval, commanding the Second 
Division, ordering him to take up his position on the 
right of the Sixth Corps, the First Division having 
also received a similar order. McKinley rode quickly 
to the hillside where Duval was posted and delivered 
his message. The colonel asked, "By what route ?" 
Though the general had not mentioned any route, 
McKinley had already thought of the question as 
he rode along, and promptly replied, "I would go 
up the creek." Colonel Duval looked doubtful. It 
might be a false move and cause the loss of many 
men. He replied, therefore, that he would not move 
without more definite orders. McKinley knew that 
General Crook expected this division to join the army 
as quickly as possible. There was no time to lose 
in riding back for explicit instructions. Somebody 
must trust his judgment. If Colonel Duval would 
not take the responsibility, he must do so himself. 
Without hesitation, therefore, he boldly drew him- 
self up, saluted, and ordered Colonel Duval, by com- 
mand of General Crook, to move his division up the 
ravine to the right of the Sixth Corps. 

Fortunately, Duval made the move safely and 
arrived promptly. The First Division, whose com- 
mander took a different route, did not arrive until 


half an hour later, thus confirming McKinley's good 
judgment. It was a bold step for a young officer to 
take, and perhaps, in his anxiety to accomplish re- 
sults, he did not consider what the consequences 
might have been to himself had the order proved 
disastrous. That, however, is a question which the 
world seldom considers when a bold action proves 

The battle of Opequan ended in a decisive victory 
for the Federal army. The enemy fled in disorder 
and only the darkness of night saved Early from 
capture. On the next day a furious charge was made 
by General Crook's men at North Mountain, against 
which the enemy made scarcely any stand, but fled 
in terror, abandoning their guns to the triumphant 

Early now took up his position at Fisher's Hill, 
where he was well protected by the Shenandoah 
River on one side and the Massanutten Mountain 
on the other, but on the 22d, Crook and Hayes, rid- 
ing side by side, led their men over the mountain and 
attacked his left and rear so savagely, as well as sud- 
denly, that the army broke into confusion and fled. 
The rout was complete, Sheridan's cavalry taking 
part in the pursuit. 

The Confederate leader was now temporarily out 
of the way, and for a month the Union soldiers en- 


joyed a much-needed rest. Then came the terrible 
surprise of Cedar Creek. On the 19th of October, 
General Sheridan's army had taken its position on 
the north side of Cedar Creek, twenty miles south 
of Winchester. Sheridan had been called to Wash- 
ington, and in his absence Major-General Horatio 
G. Wright, of the Sixth Corps, was left in command. 
The Nineteenth and Sixth Corps with some cavalry 
occupied a position almost parallel with the enemy's 
lines. General Crook's First Division, under Colonel 
Thoburn, was at the left of the main line, and his 
Second Division, under Colonel Hayes, was encamped 
about a mile and a quarter to the rear of the First. 
The night before the battle was a very dark, foggy 
one. Taking advantage of this fact, General Early 
began his operations at nightfall by sending his left 
wing to a point opposite the Union right, while with 
his right he silently crossed the North Fork of the 
Shenandoah, recrossing at Buxton Ford to a position 
well in the rear of General Crook's army. The fog 
continued into the early hours of morning, thus 
further aiding the stealthy movement of the Confed- 
erate leader. 

At half-past four in the morning General Early's 
men swooped down out of the darkness upon the 
Union camp with a wild "rebel yell," and although 
the troops were quickly assembled, they were driven 


back in confusion and almost overwhelmed. General 
Crook had only about four thousand men with 
which to oppose a powerful force which now nearly 
surrounded him. Many brave men fell in the fight, 
including Colonel Thoburn and other important 
officers. Colonel Hayes had a horse shot under him 
and in the fall sprained his ankle, but in spite of the 
severe pain, continued his efforts to rally the de- 
moralized forces. 

The battle which opened so badly had a glorious 
ending. General Sheridan had arrived the night be- 
fore at Winchester and learning that all was well, 
retired for the night. Early in the morning he heard 
the noise of cannonading and promptly set out for 
Cedar Creek. Riding leisurely at first, he soon began 
to notice a rapid increase in the number of stragglers, 
and realizing that a disaster had taken place, spurred 
his famous black horse for the race to the front. In 
describing this celebrated ride, Sheridan, in his 
"Memoirs," says: "At Newtown I was obliged to 
make a circuit to the left, to go around the village. 
I could not pass through it, the streets were so 
crowded, but meeting on this detour Major McKin- 
ley, 1 of Crook's staff, he spread the news of my re- 
turn through the motley throng there." The story 
of Sheridan's arrival at the scene of battle, of the 
1 He was then a captain. 


magic effect of his presence, the rally of his soldiers, 
and the resulting victory, is one of the best-known 
chapters of the Civil War. 

For his "gallant and meritorious services," at the 
battle of Opequan, Fisher's Hill, and Cedar Creek, 
McKinley, on the recommendation of General Crook, 
approved by General Sheridan, was made a brevet 
major of volunteers by President Lincoln, on March 
13, 1865. Prior to this he had served on the staff 
of General Hancock, after that officer succeeded 
General Crook, and had been detailed as acting as- 
sistant adjutant-general of the First Division, First 
Army Corps, on the staff of General Samuel S. 
Carroll, commanding the Veteran Reserve Corps in 

When the war came to an end, McKinley found 
himself at twenty-two a major with four years of 
valuable experience and an enviable record. There 
was strong temptation to take a permanent position 
in the regular army. He had entered the service a 
frail youth of eighteen. He came out a mature man, 
of vigorous health and bodily strength. He would 
have made an excellent army officer. But other 
considerations, including, no doubt, the wishes of his 
mother, prevailed, and on July 26, 1865, he was 
mustered out. 

At the present writing only two of the old Poland 

54 william Mckinley 

Company are still living. In talking with one of 
these veterans I asked what he thought of McKin- 
ley as a soldier. "Why," he replied simply, "he did 
just what the rest of us did. Never shirked his 
duty. He was a good square fellow." No better 
compliment could have been paid. 



IN his address on "The American Volunteer 
Soldier," McKinley said: "My friends, we had 
a million soldiers in the field when the war termi- 
nated, and the highest testimony to their character 
is found in the fact that when the muster-out came, 
and that vast army, which for years had been accus- 
tomed to war and carnage, returned to their homes, 
they dropped into the quiet walks of citizenship, and 
no trace of them was ever discernible except in their 
integrity of character, their intense patriotism, and 
their participation in the growth and development 
and maintenance of the Government which they 
had contributed so much to save." 

McKinley, in these words, voiced what must have 
been his own feeling of responsibility when he re- 
turned to Poland after the war. It was not solely a 
question of finding a way to earn a livelihood. The 
sense of duty to his country, born of the Civil War 
and nurtured by four years of hard campaigning, 
was a plant too hardy to wither and die. That "in- 
tense patriotism" to which he refers had already 
taken a firm root and was to grow into the most 

5 6 william Mckinley 

notable characteristic of his public life. To a marked 
degree he felt that the consummation of his patriot- 
ism in war was to be found in the services of peace. 
He was already beginning to look forward to a time 
when he might prove to be a useful citizen as he had 
been a loyal soldier. 

It was perhaps natural that a young man in this 
state of mind should choose the law as a profession. 
Moreover, it suited his temperament perfectly, for 
he had already proved his natural ability as a speaker 
by pleading in various moot cases before judges com- 
posed of the boys and girls of "The Everett Literary 
and Debating Society." 

McKinley, accordingly, in 1865, entered the of- 
fice of Charles E. Glidden, a lawyer of Mahoning 
County, Ohio, who was elected judge the same year, 
at the early age of thirty — only eight years the 
senior of his pupil. It was a peculiarly fortunate 
choice as preceptor. Judge Glidden was a man of 
rare quality, singularly sweet in disposition, who 
seems to have inspired those who knew him with a 
feeling of strong affection. He was a man of high 
moral principle, eminently sound in his perception 
of truth and justice, an eloquent speaker and an able 
lawyer. Under such favorable influences, McKinley 
began the study of the law, and in accordance with 
the habits he had developed as a schoolboy and later 


while a soldier, he read and studied persistently. 
After little more than a year of this work, it was 
arranged by the family, largely through the influ- 
ence of his sister Anna, that he should have the ad- 
vantage of a term at the Albany Law School, and 
thither McKinley went in September, 1866. 

His roommate at Albany was George F. Arrel, now 
a prominent lawyer of Youngstown, Ohio. The two 
boys roomed at No. 36 Jay Street. The writer will 
never forget how Judge Arrel's eyes fairly glistened 
as they seemed to look back over the half-century, 
and his face beamed with a sweet smile of happy 
recollection tinged with sadness, as he remarked, 
" Those days are a lovely memory. McKinley," he 
said, "was a delightful companion. He was jolly, 
always good-natured, and looked at the bright side 
of everything. He was a sociable fellow, liked the 
theater, and was fond of good company. He did not 
indulge in sport of any kind, but in those days a 
man could go through college without doing so. He 
was thoroughly genuine, chaste in every way, and 
despised vulgarity. He never quarreled, but he had 
a mind of his own and was very determined. Even 
at that time he had made up his mind to enter public 
life, and clearly showed an ambition to go to Con- 
gress. He worked very hard, often reading until one 
or two o'clock in the morning. It was his very great 

58 william Mckinley 

industry, rather than genius, that paved the way for 
his success." 

McKinley did not finish the course, which then 
consisted of only a single year, but left in the spring 
of 1867. He was admitted to the bar in Warren, 
Ohio, on motion of Francis E. Hutchins, who later 
became an assistant in the office of the Attorney- 
General at Washington. 

Anna McKinley was then teaching school in Can- 
ton, Ohio, whither she had come from Kentucky 
soon after the outbreak of the war. She had al- 
ready won an enviable reputation as a teacher and 
had made many friends. Her beckoning hand was 
now extended to her brother, and to Canton, there- 
fore, the young lawyer went. There were good rea- 
sons for this choice, other than the pleasure of being 
near his sister. Canton, the county seat of Stark 
County, was then a town of about five thousand 
population, — a thriving city compared with Poland, 
— situated in the midst of a fertile agricultural 
region, and with plenty of coal mines within easy 
reach. The elements essential to growth were well 
provided, and Canton seemed likely to prosper — 
as, indeed, it did, for mills and factories soon began 
to multiply and the thrifty population of Pennsyl- 
vania Dutch extraction became one of the impor- 
tant industrial centers of the State. 


McKinley rented an office in a building which is 
still standing, with an entrance a few yards from 
Market Street. In the same building was the office 
of Judge George W. Belden, a Breckinridge Demo- 
crat and one of the most prominent lawyers in 
Canton, who as United States District Attorney had 
prosecuted some eighty professors and students of 
Oberlin College and put them in jail for assisting the 
escape to Canada of a fugitive slave. There was not 
much in this to commend him to a man of McKinley 's 
ideas, but Judge Belden's attention was attracted 
by the busy young lawyer, whose industry was due 
to the zealous reading of law books rather than the 
preparation of cases. One evening Belden walked 
into McKinley' s office and handed him some papers, 
saying that he was not feeling well, and that he had 
a case that must be tried the next morning and 
wished McKinley to take it. The latter protested 
that he had never tried a case and could not prepare 
to do so on such short notice. Belden insisted that 
he should take it, however, and finally remarked 
bluntly, as he laid down the papers and left the room, 
"If you don't try this case, it won't be tried." 
McKinley sat up all night preparing his argument 
and the next day appeared in court and won the 

"I can see him now," said William A. Lynch, a 

60 william Mckinley 

third of a century later, "as he stood before the court 
for the first time, young, eager, ambitious, well 
prepared, self-poised but not overconfident; how he 
impressed me as he arose and told the court, ' What 
we contend for in this lawsuit ' — I recall the very 
words of his opening." 

While he was speaking, McKinley was astonished 
to discover Judge Belden sitting under the balcony 
in the rear of the room. Several days afterward the 
judge again walked into McKinley 's office and this 
time smilingly extended his hand with twenty-five 
dollars in bills. The inexperienced attorney hesi- 
tated. "I can't take so much," said he; "what I 
did was n't worth it, and, besides, I only took the 
case because you insisted." After some further 
parley, during which the judge, with the money in 
his hand, was following the young lawyer around 
the room, Belden remarked, with a quiet chuckle, 
"It's all right, Mac, I got a hundred. Now, the 
fact of the matter is," he continued, "Frease 1 has 
just been elected to the bench and I'm looking for 
another partner." The flattering offer was promptly 
accepted, and from that moment McKinley made 
steady progress at the bar. 

The Belden partnership proved fortunate for 
McKinley because the judge was then anxious to 

1 Judge Joseph Frease, of Canton. 


retire from active practice. Many of the most im- 
portant cases of the county came to him, and his 
career as a lawyer was one of continuous activity. 
He was an advocate rather than a counselor, and 
took advantage of every opportunity to appear in 
court. He won the confidence of his clients to whom 
he was ever absolutely true. He prepared his cases 
diligently and conscientiously. Had he continued 
in the practice of his profession, we have the word 
of those who were most closely associated with him 
for the statement that he would have won recog- 
nition as one of the ablest lawyers and advocates in 
the country. 

Of the quality of his work as a lawyer, Justice 
William R. Day, who had better opportunities for 
observing it, perhaps, than any other person, says: 
"In the trial of a case Major McKinley gained the 
confidence of the jury by the fairness and courtesy 
of his conduct, and into all his arguments was thrown 
the silent but potent influence of a character beyond 
reproach. To the court, he was thorough and logi- 
cal, and always fair; to a jury, he had the same 
power of epigrammatic expression which has enabled 
him to state party policies and political views in 
phrases which compass a great truth in a few plain 
words. He had the faculty of putting things so that 
the jury could readily comprehend and follow his 


arguments. He spoke to them as he has since spoken 
to the people, appealed to their judgment and un- 
derstanding, rather than to passion or prejudice." 

The Stark County Bar Association, in a Memorial 
adopted after his death, summarized McKinley's 
conduct as a lawyer in these words: — 

"His career at the bar gave ample evidence of 
that greatness of mind, purity of character, and 
kindness of heart, now known of all men, and of 
which his future career gave so many and striking 
illustrations. To every cause he gave a full measure 
of preparation. He was particularly distinguished as 
an advocate, presenting his cause to juries in such 
fair and just manner as to command their confidence 
and respect. To the court, upon questions of law, he 
was lucid, strong, and convincing, never pressing an 
argument which he did not believe in himself. To 
his adversaries, at the trial table, he was ever cour- 
teous and considerate, realizing that the objects of 
legal investigation are to arrive at the truth and sub- 
serve the ends of justice. He always aimed to keep 
forensic discussion upon the high plane of honest 
difference as to law or fact, and never indulged in 
personalities with opposite counsel or witnesses. To 
his colleagues he was ever kind and considerate, 
always doing his share of the labor in a case, and 
never shirking responsibility or withholding from his 


associate the share of honor and praise which was 
his due." * 

Major McKinley was from the first a marked man 
in Canton. There was something about his man- 
ner, his dress, his carriage, that arrested attention. 
People who passed him in the street would turn 
around, and at the first opportunity ask some friend 
who he was. Ex- Vice-President Fairbanks, who as 
Senator from Indiana was one of President McKin- 
ley's closest friends, told the writer that he saw him 
for the first time in Canton as a stranger and was 
attracted by the sight of him in the street; so much 
so that he felt impelled to ask a friend the name 
of this man, whose very appearance was that of a 

1 This Memorial was signed by William R. Day, William A. 
Lynch, Joseph Frease, Ralph S. Ambler, James J. Clark, Frank L. 
Baldwin, and David Fording. 



THE domestic life of William McKinley was 
a beautiful romance. Sorrow came to temper 
its happiness, but only served to rivet more tightly 
the bands of love. No more devoted husband ever 
appeared in the limelight of American publicity. 
No statesman ever received the applause of the wives 
and sweethearts of America with greater unanimity, 
when the full measure of his devotion to the invalid 
wife came to be known. Mark Hanna once remarked, 
"President McKinley has made it pretty hard for 
the rest of us husbands here in Washington," and it 
would have been difficult, indeed, for any man to 
treat his wife with a more tender solicitude. Whether 
he was sitting at the head of the table in the cabinet 
room or presiding'over some state dinner, or traveling 
through the country on a speech-making tour, there 
was always present in his mind a consciousness of 
her possible need, and the slightest call would bring 
him to her side. Not infrequently important busi- 
ness would have to wait, while the President absented 
himself to render some little service to his wife. And 


his associates honored him for it, while they pa- 
tiently awaited his return. 

The beginning of this idyllic story occurred in 
1870. Miss Ida Saxton, the daughter of James A. 
Saxton, one of the prominent bankers and business 
men of Canton, had recently returned from a tour 
of Europe, where she spent seven months in trav- 
eling with her sister Mary, now Mrs. Marshall 
Barber, and several other young women. She was 
then not quite twenty-four. She had attended the 
public schools of Canton, and later studied at Delhi, 
New York, in a private school, under the direction of 
Miss Betty Cowles, a broad-minded woman of su- 
perior endowments, who became well known as an 
educator. Later she went to school in Cleveland, and 
finally to Brook Hall Seminary, in Media, Pennsyl- 

Upon her return from Europe, Miss Saxton took 
her place at once as a natural leader of the young 
people in the unostentatious society of Canton. She 
was a beautiful girl, bright, witty, vivacious, re- 
joicing in perfect physical health, high-minded, and 
an excellent type of independent young womanhood. 

Most of these characteristics were inherited. 
James A. Saxton, her father, was born in 1820. His 
father, John Saxton, was one of the pioneers of Ohio. 
He settled in Canton and founded the Canton, Ohio, 

66 william Mckinley 

Repository in 1815, continuing as its editor until 
1 87 1 and becoming known as the Nestor of Ohio 
editors. He brought a new printing-press to Canton, 
by ox- team, in 1815, and on the 15th of March is- 
sued his paper — one of the first in Ohio. Three 
months later occurred the Battle of Waterloo, and 
three months after that, on September 15, he printed 
the news of it which had just reached him, coming 
by sailing-ship and stage-coach. He lived to print 
the news of the fall of Napoleon III at Sedan, Sep- 
tember 2, 1870, but this time on the evening of the 
same day. He composed the editorials for the Re- 
pository, in a double sense, by setting up the type, 
without taking the trouble to put pen to paper. He 
was a man of strong convictions, who won the uni- 
versal respect of his fellow townsmen. His wife was 
a woman of sterling qualities, admirably fitted for 
companionship with this worthy man. Their eldest 
son, James A. Saxton, inherited his father's strength 
of character, becoming a wealthy and influential 
citizen. He married, in 1846, Miss Kate Dewalt, 
whose parents were also among the oldest settlers 
in Canton. Nature had endowed her with the graces 
of a sweet and lovely womanhood, as more than one 
of the older residents have testified. The home of 
the Saxtons was one of the most attractive social 
centers in the community, and never more so than in 


1870, when the two girls returned from their trip 

McKinley had been in Canton three years and 
was well established in the practice of the law. 
Though only twenty-seven, he was known by every- 
body as "the Major," and every one knew, too, that 
he had earned the title by four hard years of warfare 
in which he had shown conspicuous bravery. He 
was the prosecuting attorney of Stark County and 
already known beyond the limits of the county as a 
political orator. He was associated constantly with 
men much older than himself. His skill and ability 
in handling a certain legal case once attracted the 
notice of James A. Saxton, who complimented him 
warmly. McKinley afterward referred to the time 
he received this unexpected praise as the proudest 
day in his life. 

Yet all these things did not make the Major seem 
too mature. Earnest as he was in his ambition to 
succeed in law and politics, these subjects did not 
occupy the whole of his thought. There was a lighter 
side to his nature. There was a great deal of the boy 
in him after all. He enjoyed the association of young 
people, and they found him an agreeable companion, 
quite unspoiled by his successes. He was an unusu- 
ally handsome young man, and in spite of his dignity 
carried an open face and a certain slenderness of 


figure that accorded well with his twenty-seven years. 
He was fond of joking, and sometimes manifested a 
whimsical humor that was quite delightful. He was 
jolly, light-hearted, and as gay, at times, as any of 
his associates. 

In the natural course of events, the young major 
found his way to the popular social center that had 
been established in the Saxton homestead. Other 
young men came also, but the Major had one ad- 
vantage in that he had already won the admiration 
of his prospective father-in-law, who was considered 
"rather particular." Mr. Saxton believed that every 
girl should win the right kind of husband, and to 
make sure of it, that she should be able to take care 
of herself in case the right kind of man failed to ap- 
pear. Accordingly Ida was given a position in the 
bank, and so well did she learn to fill it that at times 
she performed her father's duties when he was away, 
virtually "running the bank" herself. Of course, it 
was a small country bank, but nevertheless this was 
an accomplishment of which she might well be proud. 

The courtship that followed was only the beginning 
of a love-story that lasted more than thirty years. 

The circumstances of the proposal were revealed, 
so far as they need be in such a matter, by Major 
McKinley himself. He was returning by carriage, to 
Canton from Massillon, in 1895, under escort of some 


of his fellow townsmen, during the closing days of an 
arduous political campaign. As they reached a cer- 
tain hill in the outskirts of the town, the governor re- 
marked, reminiscently, "This, gentlemen, is where 
my fate was settled." He then told the story of how 
he once drove up that hill with " Ida," behind a team 
of bay horses, how diffident he felt about broaching 
the subject that was uppermost in his mind, how he 
formed a resolution to know his fate, then and there, 
and how happy he felt, when, upon reaching a certain 
red brick house at the top of the hill, he received the 
answer for which his heart had yearned. 

The wedding took place on January 25, 1871, in 
the First Presbyterian Church of Canton. The church 
building had just been completed, and on this occa- 
sion it was used for the first time. The usual secret 
flight was made, the couple going to New York City 
for their honeymoon. After their return they lived 
at the St. Cloud Hotel for a short time, and then 
began housekeeping in the home on North Market 
Street, where the famous "front-porch" speeches 
were made in 1896. The house was presented to them 
by Mr. Saxton. They sold it after going to Washing- 
ton, and from 1877 to 1891, whenever Congress was 
not in session, they made their home in the Saxton 
house on the corner of South Market and Fourth 
Streets. This house also has enjoyed a political ex- 


perience, especially in the Blaine campaign of 1884, 
and many well-known men have spoken from its 
porch, among them Hannibal Hamlin, Hayes, Blaine, 
John Sherman, Garfield, and others. 

At the expiration of McKinley's second term as 
governor, he leased the North Market Street house, 
and the couple celebrated their silver wedding there. 
After he became President, he bought the house, 
intending to pass the remainder of his days in the old 
home, after his retirement from public life. 

On Christmas Day, 1871, a little daughter came 
to brighten the household on North Market Street. 
She was given the name Katharine in honor of Mrs. 
McKinley's mother, but was always called Katie. 
On the 1st of April, 1873, a little sister arrived, and 
she was named Ida for her mother. This event, which 
under ordinary circumstances would have marked a 
new era of happiness for the young couple, was, on 
the contrary, the beginning of the great sorrow that 
was to hover like a cloud over the remainder of their 
lives. Mrs. McKinley, who had hitherto enjoyed the 
best of health, never again knew what it meant to be 
well. A few months after her marriage, Grandfather 
Saxton had passed away, following her grandmother 
by only a year or two. Mrs. McKinley had been 
closely associated with these old people, and felt 
their loss keenly. In the same month that her second 



baby was born, her own mother died. Mrs. McKinley 
was the oldest daughter, and had lived in such inti- 
mate companionship with her mother that she seemed 
to be a younger sister rather than a daughter. In her 
weakened condition the shock was too great for her 
to bear. Her nervous system was nearly wrecked. 
Perhaps, in time, she might have recovered, but in 
August of the same year, the little child, Ida, not 
yet five months old, was taken from her. Less than 
three years later, in June, 1876, little Katie, too, was 
laid to rest. This final blow, falling upon a mind and 
body already staggering beneath a burden of sorrow 
too heavy to carry, came near ending the mother's 
life. But strong arms were ready to catch her as she 
fell. Infinite patience was there to nurse her back 
to life. The devoted husband rallied to meet the 
emergency, and, though himself oppressed by grief 
and a sense of bitter disappointment, he was able, 
in time, to see his wife attending to her ordinary 
household and social duties, although never fully 
restored to health. She tried to be cheerful and did 
not like to be thought an invalid. Often she would 
express an opinion on public affairs so sound and 
sensible as to bring forth the reply, "Ida, I think 
you are right." She manifested a wife's interest 
in all her husband's achievements and was wide 
awake to the issues of the day. Nevertheless there 

72 william Mckinley 

was never a moment in McKinley's subsequent 
career when his mind was free from anxiety on her 
account, nor when she was not the object of his ten- 
derest solicitude. 



A YOUNG man who at twenty-four could carry 
with dignity the title of Major was very 
likely to attract attention. With his predilection 
for politics and for oratory, McKinley very soon 
found himself invited to "take the stump." His 
maiden political speech was made at New Berlin, 
Ohio, where he addressed, from the steps of a tavern, 
an audience that was decidedly antagonistic. Yet he 
persisted in his effort and made a speech so strong 
and logical that if it did not convince his listeners, 
it nevertheless impressed the political leaders of the 
day to such an extent that McKinley received nu- 
merous requests for political speeches. 

The campaign of 1867 in Ohio made a strong ap- 
peal to McKinley's sympathies for a double reason. 
First, his old commander and personal friend, Ruth- 
erford B. Hayes, was the Republican candidate for 
governor; and second, the struggle centered largely 
upon the question of negro suffrage, in which Major 
McKinley was profoundly interested. The Demo- 
cratic State Convention had declared their party 
to be "opposed to negro suffrage, believing it would 


be productive of evil to both whites and blacks, and 
tend to produce a disastrous conflict of races." The 
temporary chairman, with less elegance of diction, 
probably expressed more frankly what was in the 
minds of those present when he said, "We have 
come here . . . determined to release the State from 
the thralldom of niggerism, and place it under the 
control of the Democratic Party." 

The Republican Convention, espousing what was 
then the less popular side, declared courageously in 
favor of "impartial manhood suffrage as embodied 
in the proposed amendment to the state constitu- 
tion." McKinley spoke strongly in favor of the 
amendment, not only to the hostile audience at New 
Berlin, but elsewhere. But prejudice was too strong, 
and the amendment was defeated by a large major- 
ity, though the personal popularity of Hayes carried 
him into the governor's chair by a small plurality. 

McKinley always made careful preparation for his 
speeches, and when he arose to speak the audience 
knew that he had "something to say." There was 
one amusing exception, however, when the reverse 
was true. 

Charles F. Manderson, afterward a Senator from 
Nebraska and President pro tempore of the Senate, 
was in early life a resident of Canton. He was a fluent 
speaker and prominent in politics. On one occasion 


he and Major McKinley were advertised to speak 
from the same platform. It was Manderson's custom 
to go quite unprepared, depending upon the inspira- 
tion of the occasion to start him off on some of his 
stored-up eloquence. He had an excellent memory 
and experienced no difficulties in extemporaneous 
speaking. On the way to the meeting, Manderson re- 
marked, casually, "By the way, Major, I 'm not pre- 
pared for this affair. In fact, I scarcely know what 
are the issues. Would you mind telling me what you 
are going to talk about?" The Major obligingly 
took out his carefully prepared address, and read it, 
commenting upon the various points. He had also 
prepared some statistics and other documentary 
proofs of his position. After going over the subject 
pretty thoroughly Manderson said, "Major, you've 
got this in pretty good shape, and I 'm only going to 
speak offhand. Don't you think you'd better let 
me be the 'curtain-raiser' and lead off? " McKinley, 
of course, consented. 

Manderson was introduced first, and after a few 
preliminary remarks started off on a speech which 
McKinley, to his astonishment, recognized as his 
own. As point after point was made and applauded 
by the audience, he fairly gasped as he began to 
realize that there would be nothing left for him except 
his statistics. The climax was reached when General 

76 william Mckinley 

Manderson, having captivated his listeners, con- 
cluded by saying: "And now, gentlemen, in proof 
of all I have told you, we have taken pains to collect 
some interesting figures and other documentary evi- 
dence, and [turning to McKinley] if my distinguished 
colleague will kindly hand me the papers which he 
has in his pocket, I will read them to you." 

McKinley ever after kept his speeches to himself 
until they were delivered. 

In 1869, two years after beginning the practice of 
law in Canton, Major McKinley received the nomi- 
nation of the Republicans for prosecuting attorney. 
Stark County was considered hopelessly Democratic, 
and no doubt the leaders thought they were merely 
bestowing a compliment upon a bright young man 
who had done some good campaigning. Their candi- 
date took it more seriously. Throwing himself ac- 
tively into the canvass, he surprised both his friends 
and his opponents by winning the election. In 1871, 
he was renominated without opposition, but this 
time the Democratic candidate was more alert and 
McKinley lost by an adverse majority of 143. His 
opponent in both elections was William A. Lynch, 
who later became the law partner of William R. Day. 
Lynch was a brilliant lawyer, and although a Demo- 
crat and a Catholic, these differences of political 
and religious faith did not prevent him from becom- 


ing a warm friend of McKinley, whom he had wel- 
comed cordially to the Canton Bar when the Major 
first came to Stark County. The two young lawyers 
took long walks and rides together, and discussed 
their early cases, to them so important and inter- 
esting. In the campaign of 1896, McKinley had no 
more loyal supporter than his former opponent, and 
when a telegram came announcing a successful 
meeting addressed by Lynch, no one could have been 
more enthusiastic in expressions of delight than 

Some prosecuting attorneys seem to think that 
the measure of success by which they are to be judged 
depends upon the number of convictions recorded. 
It was not so with McKinley. If he believed a man 
guilty he prosecuted with a vigor that nearly always 
won conviction. But he never recommended an 
indictment unless he felt sure that it was warranted 
by the facts of the case. 

In 1875, McKinley again took an active part in the 
state campaign. On the 14th of January of that year, 
President Grant had approved the law providing for 
the resumption of specie payments on January I, 
1879. It was specified that "coin," not "gold," was 
to be the money used for redemption, and the Sec- 
retary of the Treasury was authorized to use for the 
purpose any available surplus funds in the Treasury 

7 8 william Mckinley 

and to sell bonds of a certain specified description 
practically without limit. The Democrats of Ohio, 
under the leadership of General Thomas Ewing and 
Governor William Allen, attacked this proposition 
vehemently. They declared it would be a failure/that 
it had already brought disaster, that it threatened 
to bankrupt the country, that it would paralyze in- 
dustry and prove generally suicidal and destructive. 
They claimed that paper money was less fluctuating 
in value than coin and that there should be enough 
to meet "the demands of business." Governor 
Hayes was a candidate for the third time and vigor- 
ously opposed the heresies of Allen and Ewing. Mc- 
Kinley spoke throughout the State in opposition to 
the greenback craze, and in favor of sound money 
and the resumption of specie payments. After a 
campaign of unprecedented bitterness and a record- 
breaking total vote, Hayes was elected by a small 
plurality. , 

An event in McKinley's legal career occurred in 
the spring of the following year, which, though of 
minor importance in itself, served to bring him still 
more prominently into public notice and is interest- 
ing because of the future relations of the persons in- 
volved. In March, 1876, a strike of coal-miners was 
declared in the Tuscarawas Valley. The operators 
undertook to break the strike by collecting miners 


in Cleveland and vicinity and transporting them 
to a mine in Stark County, a few miles south of 
Massillon. The property was managed by Rhodes & 
Company, of Cleveland, of which firm Marcus A. 
Hanna was the leading member. It was operated 
by George H. Warmington, a partner of Mr. Hanna. 
In April a second gang of strike-breakers was sent 
to the mine, and arrived just while the strikers were 
holding a meeting. The cry of "scab" was instantly 
raised, and with a rush the strikers attacked the car, 
precipitating a general melee in which Mr. Warming- 
ton was assaulted and nearly killed. The whole dis- 
trict was thrown into a turmoil and the sheriff was 
obliged to call upon Governor Hayes for assistance. 
A company of militia was sent to the scene and suc- 
ceeded in quelling the disorder, but not until after 
the strikers had set fire to the mines belonging to 
Hanna's firm. Many miners were arrested and taken 
to Canton for trial. 

With the public mind inflamed against the rioters, 
it was not easy for them to secure counsel. At length 
an appeal was made to McKinley. Upon investiga- 
tion he found that many of the miners had been 
unjustly accused. He undertook their defense and 
pleaded so successfully that nearly all of them were 
acquitted. Realizing that the strike had made them 
nearly destitute, he refused to accept payment for 


his services. The operators were represented by- 
Lynch and Day, the senior partner being McKinley's 
former opponent as a candidate for prosecuting at- 
torney and the junior partner his lifelong friend and 
future cabinet officer, William R. Day. It was Ma- 
jor McKinley's first experience with Mark Hanna, 
though the two were strangers at the time. It is 
curious that the man whose interests he was then 
so strongly antagonizing should later become his 
staunchest political supporter and an intimate per- 
sonal friend. 

With an experience of nearly ten years of active 
practice of the law, two political campaigns in which 
he was himself a candidate, and several seasons of 
successful "stumping" on state and national issues, 
McKinley now felt that the opportunity had at last 
arrived of which he had dreamed when a boy at the 
Albany Law School. With the same calm delibera- 
tion that had marked his enlistment in the army, he 
now decided to become a candidate for the congres- 
sional nomination. He made no pretense of respond- 
ing to the "urgent wishes of his friends." It had long 
been his ambition to go to Congress and he simply 
announced this candidacy when he felt that the time 
had come. There were three other candidates for 
the Republican nomination, namely: L. D. Wood- 
worth, who was then representing the district in 


Congress; Joseph Frease, a prominent judge of Can- 
ton; and Dr. Josiah Hartzell, editor of the Canton 
Repository. Against these three well-known men, 
Major McKinley carried every township in the 
county, except one, in the balloting for delegates to 
the Congressional Convention, and was nominated 
on the first ballot. Here it may be said, incidentally, 
that throughout his career, from prosecuting attor- 
ney to President, McKinley received all his nomina- 
tions on the first ballot. 

McKinley's nomination may have been a little 
startling to some of the older politicians, who were 
now confronted with the spectacle of a young man of 
thirty-three aspiring to the highest honors. In this 
first campaign for Congress, McKinley showed those 
traits which were to become potent factors in his 
future success. He had that innate respect for him- 
self that commanded respect from others. His per- 
sonal appearance was attractive, and he spoke with 
a musical voice, not in rhetorical style, but with 
a simple persuasiveness that carried conviction. 
Whether on the public platform or in private con- 
versation, he had a way of winning men to his 
own views. They came to believe in him, to trust 
him, and then to seek his advancement. If the older 
leaders had felt a trifle jealous, he changed their 
feeling to warm friendship and rallied them to his 


support. His Democratic opponent, Leslie L. San- 
born, was powerless against such a candidate, and 
Major McKinley went to Congress for the first time 
with a handsome majority of thirty-three hundred. 
The story of how his opponents struggled for 
fourteen years to deprive him of his seat, and how 
at last they succeeded, affords a glimpse of one of 
the most iniquitous as well as absurd vagaries of 
American politics — the disreputable expedient 
known as the "gerrymander." 1 

1 The device now universally known as the "gerrymander" is 
older than the American Congress itself, having first been employed 
in Virginia against Madison, to prevent the election of that gentle- 
man to the First Congress. Fortunately, it did not succeed, but as 
the committee which engineered the scheme was friendly to Patrick 
Henry, that statesman had to bear the blame. 

The famous, or infamous, trick received its name in Massa- 
chusetts. In 1812, when Elbridge Gerry, afterward Vice-Presi- 
dent of the United States, was governor of the Commonwealth, the 
legislature redistricted the State, the party in power making an 
unfair rearrangement for their own political interests. Some of the 
towns in Essex County were arranged in a peculiarly irregular and 
illogical fashion. According to one account, Major Benjamin Rus- 
sell, an editor, marked the outlines of the district in colors on a map 
which he hung in his office. One day, Gilbert Stuart, the celebrated 
painter, noticed the outline, and said the picture looked like some 
monstrous animal. He took a pencil, and added wings, claws, and 
a head, remarking, "There, that will do for a salamander." Rus- 
sell, who was busy writing, looked up at the hideous figure and mut- 
tered, "Better call it a Gerry-mander." The word became a term 
of reproach. The figure was engraved and widely circulated by the 
Federalists to annoy their opponents. Other accounts mention 
Nathan Hale as the editor, Elkanah Tisdale as the artist, and a Mr. 
Alsop as the man who named the monster. Gerry was not the au- 
thor of the proposition, but he signed the measure and thus made 
it a law. Unfortunately, not only the name, but the vicious prin- 
ciple it describes, has survived a hundred years. 


The Normal District as 
in 1876, 1880, 1882, 1886 and 1SSS 

Youngstown ? 

Poland Q 

S T A K K 



Now Lisbon 

McKinley's Majorities 
187G - 3300 
1880 - 3571 

1882 - 8 
1880 - 2559 
1888 - 4100 




The District as Gerrymandered 
in 1878 




"W A Y N E 




Estimated Adverse Majority - 2500 
McKinley's Majority - - - 1231 


The District as Gerrymandered 
in 1 SS4 

31 E D I N A 





Estimated Adverse Majority - 000 
MeKinley's Majority - - - 2000 




The District as Gerrymandered 
in 1890 

W A Y N E 


II O L 31 E S 



fan ton 


Estimated Adverse Majority 3000 
McKinley's Minority - - - 303 


The division of a State into congressional districts 
is properly made every ten years, after the results of 
the census are announced. The districts in Ohio 
were arranged in 1872 by a Republican legislature 
on the basis of the Census of 1870. A Democratic 
assembly of the following year found no fault with 
them, but in 1877, the Democratic Party being again 
in control, a redistricting of the State was ordered, 
for no apparent reason except to help insure Demo- 
cratic control of the next national House of Repre- 
sentatives. The Republicans carried the State in 
1876 by 6636 majority, electing twelve Congress- 
men, while the Democrats elected eight. The change 
of districts in 1877 would give the Democrats twelve 
Congressmen, the Republicans eight, reversing the 
figures, without changing a single vote. In fairness to 
many estimable citizens it must be said that the bet- 
ter class of Democrats strongly opposed the measure. 

At the time of McKinley's election in 1876, the 
Eighteenth Congressional District of Ohio was com- 
posed of the counties of Stark, Columbiana, Mahon- 
ing, and Carroll, forming a compact group on the 
eastern edge of the State. The gerrymander of 1877 
was made by detaching Stark County from its con- 
tiguous neighbors on the east, and adding Wayne 
and Ashland on the west and Portage on the north. 
No county touched another on more than one side, 


so that geographically the arrangement was absurd. 
It was calculated to yield a Democratic majority of 
about twenty-five hundred. McKinley was renomi- 
nated without opposition. His opponent was General 
Aquila Wiley, a competent and worthy man, who had 
served in the Union army and lost a leg in battle. 
He was therefore a formidable candidate. McKinley, 
however, conducted the canvass in his usual con- 
vincing manner and won by a majority of 1234 votes. 
Before the next election, in 1880, the old district 
was restored. McKinley won by 3571 majority 
against Leroy D. Thoman, who subsequently be- 
came a member of the United States Civil Service 
Commission. In 1882, Ohio went Democratic by 
19,000 and elected thirteen of the twenty-one Con- 
gressmen. The district remained normal as in 1876 
and 1880, but McKinley had a hard fight for the 
nomination because of a claim by Columbiana 
County, that in accordance with previous practice, 
no man should be allowed to represent the district 
for more than two terms, and Stark County, having 
held the honor for more than that length of time, 
it was now Columbiana's "turn." McKinley was 
elected by a majority of eight votes over Jonathan 
H. Wallace. His seat was contested, and finally given 
to his opponent by a party vote, though not until 
near the end of the next session of Congress. 


In 1884, the gerrymander was again worked : Stark 
County was attached to Wayne on the west and 
Summit and Medina lying to the northwest. The ad- 
verse majority was expected to be about 900, but Mc- 
Kinley again triumphed over the attempted handicap, 
defeating D. R. Paige by a plurality of about 2000. 

The old district was restored by the General As- 
sembly of 1885, and in 1886 McKinley had an easier 
time, defeating Wallace H. Phelps by 2559 votes. 
In 1888 the district remaining normal, he was elected 
by 4100 plurality over George P. Ikert. 

In 1890, the gerrymander was employed more 
skillfully, and this time, aided by the temporary 
unpopularity of the McKinley Tariff and the popu- 
larity of the Democratic candidate, Lieutenant- 
Governor John G. Warwick, it was successful. Stark 
County was again divorced from its natural neigh- 
bors on the east and attached to Wayne on the 
west. To make the combination surely effective, 
the strong Democratic county of Holmes, south of 
Wayne and scarcely touching Stark, was added, mak- 
ing a prospective Democratic majority estimated at 
3000. McKinley made a memorable campaign, the 
fight suggesting the famous Lincoln-Douglas de- 
bates, but lost, although he succeeded in cutting 
down the expected Democratic plurality of 3000 to 
303 — barely one tenth of the hopes of the opposition. 



TO understand the work of William McKinley 
as a member of Congress, it is necessary to 
review, briefly, the history of the Tariff, for this is 
the subject to which he gave the greatest share of 
his attention during the fourteen years of his con- 
gressional career. 

Following the Revolution, the Americans, having 
won their political freedom, generally longed for 
free trade, as the ideal condition for their devel- 
opment. They found, however, that Great Britain, 
while cutting them off from the privilege of sending 
their produce to England and the West Indies, was 
still enjoying a trade with the States as lucrative as 
though they were yet colonies. There was no power 
to regulate such a condition. Without organization 
the American States could not pay their own debts, 
much less make effective agreements with Europe. 
Meanwhile each State was keenly anxious to develop 
its own interests and to raise money for its own 
expenses. New York levied an impost upon all im- 
portations, and Connecticut responded with a tax 
upon shipments from New York as well as from 


abroad. New Jersey, finding herself obliged to pay 
duty on foreign goods imported by way of New York, 
sought relief by offering free trade to the world, but 
to little purpose. Massachusetts regarded Rhode 
Island as a "foreign" country, and Pennsylvania 
thought it necessary to protect herself against New 
England. In all this legislation the States had clearly 
in mind the development of their own resources, in- 
cluding both agriculture and manufacturing. The 
law of Pennsylvania, passed in 1785, was entitled 
"An act to encourage and protect the manufactures 
of this State by laying duties on certain manufac- 
tures that interfere with them." Massachusetts, 
in the same year, declared it to be necessary "to 
encourage agriculture, the improvement of raw 
materials, and manufactures." New Hampshire 
declared, in 1786, "the laying of duties on articles 
the product or manufactures of foreign countries will 
not only produce a considerable revenue to the State, 
but will tend to encourage the manufacture of many 
articles within the same." The early intention of 
encouraging manufactures is clearly foreshadowed 
in this legislation. Rhode Island was a little broader, 
expressing her desire to encourage manufactures 
" within this State and the United States of America." 
Connecticut in 1788 used similar phraseology, pass- 
ing certain laws with the express purpose "that all 


due encouragement should be given to manufactures 
in this State." 

On April 8, 1789, two days after the opening of the 
First Congress of the United States, James Madison 
offered a resolution intended to remedy the principal 
weakness of the Confederation. The trade restric- 
tions between themselves were intolerable and had 
proved one of the chief reasons for calling the Con- 
stitutional Convention. With free trade established 
among the States, Madison now sought to estab- 
lish uniform rules for the regulation of trade. Revenue 
was to be provided by specific duties on spirituous 
liquors, wines, teas, sugars, pepper, cocoa, and spices, 
and ad-valorem duties on all other articles. There 
was to be a tonnage duty on American vessels bring- 
ing merchandise to our ports, and a higher duty 
on foreign vessels. Madison's idea of an ad-valorem 
duty was a tax of five per cent on all importations. 

On the second day of the debate, Madison, though 
at heart a Free-Trader, expressed his sympathy with 
those who desired to adjust the duties with respect 
to protecting "infant industries," thus coining a 
phrase which in time was to become a term of ridi- 
cule, though the industries then referred to had not 
even reached the stage of infancy. They were for 
the most part merely in embryo. He recognized that 
some of the States, notably Massachusetts and Penn- 


sylvania, had established manufactures, based upon 
protective duties, and that this aid to their indus- 
tries ought to be maintained. 

After a debate lasting six weeks the bill was passed, 
with thirty-six articles upon which specific duties 
were laid, including such items as steel, nails and 
spikes, cordage and yarn, hemp, cotton, tallow 
candles, salt, and coal. The highest ad-valorem duty 
was on carriages, which as articles of luxury were 
taxed fifteen per cent. Various manufactured arti- 
cles, such as glass, earthenware, iron castings, and 
clothing, were taxed from seven and a half to ten 
per cent, and there was a small free list. All other 
importations were to pay five per cent. Although 
the duties were low, the intent to protect and encour- 
age manufactures was clearly evident, and would 
have been even if the bill had not contained a pre- 
amble declaring its purpose to be "For the support 
of the Government, for the discharge of the debts 
of the United States, and for the encouragement and 
protection of manufactures." 

The law was passed by a Congress in which many 
of the framers of the Constitution sat as members. It 
received a majority of about five to one in the House 
of Representatives, and the unanimous vote of the 
Senate. James Madison, who has been called "the 
Father of the Constitution," approved it. George 


Washington, who presided over the Federal Con- 
stitutional Convention, made it a law by his signa- 
ture. No one in Congress doubted their right to pass 
such a bill. It was never attacked on the ground 
of unconstitutionality. It is, therefore, difficult to 
understand the claims of those who now deny the 
constitutionality of laws designed for the protection 
of industries. It is equally hard to understand the 
point of view of those who claim that the Act of 1789 
was not intended to be protective, and that the 
wording of the preamble had a special significance 
quite different from the present-day meaning. 

If, then, we accept the Act of 1789 as the first step 
in the development of the Protective Tariff, the second 
came with Hamilton's famous " Report on Manufac- 
tures," vsent to the House of Representatives, De- 
cembers, 1 79 1. This far-seeing statesman was vigor- 
ously striving to build up the national life. By his 
great influence and skill in explaining the practical 
workings of the Constitution, he, more than any 
other man, had secured its ratification. He now de- 
voted himself to an extension of its benefits, through 
the doctrine of "implied powers." A strongly cen- 
tralized government, a sound financial policy, the 
reestablishment of the national credit, adequate 
banking facilities, and an independent place among 
the nations were all subjects to which he devoted the 


power of his master-mind. As an important part of 
this strengthening policy, Hamilton foresaw the ne- 
cessity of developing the country's manufactures and 
particularly of finding " the means of promoting such 
as will tend to render the United States independent 
of foreign nations for military and other essential 
supplies." This was in harmony with Washington's 
first annual address to Congress, in which he said: 
"A free people ought not only to be armed but dis- 
ciplined; to which end a uniform and well-digested 
plan is requisite; and their safety and interest re- 
quire that they should promote such manufactories 
as tend to render them independent of others for 
essential, particularly military, supplies." 

Hamilton began his report by answering the argu- 
ments of those who questioned "the expediency of 
encouraging manufactures in the United States." 
It seems strange that a nation destined to hear the 
hum of industry from ocean to ocean should ever 
have entertained such doubts. In Hamilton's time 
there was little manufacturing except that done 
by housewives in their own homes. In Philadelphia 
a furnace capable of turning out two hundred and 
thirty tons of steel a year was considered a great 
achievement. Even Hamilton could not imagine a 
time when the country would be manufacturing 
annually an industrial product of over twenty billions 


of dollars, from more than a quarter of a million es- 
tablishments, employing twice as many people as the 
entire population of the nation in his time. 1 There 
were those, however, among them Daniel Webster, 
who thought that the United States, with " their im- 
mense tracts of fertile territory," should remain 
forever devoted to the cultivation of the soil. 

Hamilton, in this early essay, after showing the 
desirability of building up the home market and 
its greater reliability as compared with foreign mar- 
kets, defined the essence of the "American" or pro- 
tective system. Admitting that a free exchange of 
commodities between nations might be highly de- 
sirable "if the system of perfect liberty to industry 
and commerce were the prevailing system of na- 
tions," he pointed out the fatal objection to such 
Utopian dreams: — 

"But the system which has been mentioned is far 
from characterizing the general policy of nations. 
The prevalent one has been regulated by an oppo- 
site spirit. The consequence of it is that the United 
States are, to a certain extent, in the situation of a 
country precluded from foreign commerce. They 

1 According to the Thirteenth United States Census of Manufac- 
turies, the value of the products in 1909 was $20,672,052,000; the 
number of establishments was 268,491; the persons engaged in man- 
ufacturing, including proprietors and employees, were 7,678,578. 
The population of the United States in 1790 was 3,829,214. 


can, indeed, without difficulty, obtain from abroad 
the manufactured supplies of which they are in want; 
but they experience numerous and very injurious 
impediments to the emission and vent of their own 
commodities. Nor is this the case in reference to a 
single foreign nation only. The regulations of several 
countries, with which we have the most extensive 
intercourse, throw serious obstructions in the way 
of the principal staples of the United States. 

"In such a position of things, the United States 
cannot exchange with Europe on equal terms: and 
the want of reciprocity would render them the vic- 
tim of a system which would induce them to confine 
their views to agriculture and refrain from manu- 
factures. A constant and increasing necessity, on 
their part, for the commodities of Europe, and only 
a partial and occasional demand for their own in re- 
turn, could not but expose them to a state of impover- 
ishment, compared with the opulence to which their 
political and natural advantages authorize them to 

"It is for the United States to consider by what 
means they can render themselves least dependent 
on the combination, right or wrong, of foreign policy." 

Hamilton was far ahead of his time, and his great 
"Report" had no immediate effect upon legislation. 
It had the strong endorsement of Washington, who 


in his last as well as his first address to Congress, 
urged the importance of encouraging manufactures. 
Senator Lodge regards the "Report on Manufac- 
tures" as "one of the very greatest events of Washing- 
ton's Administraton." 1 Yet in spite of Washington's 
powerful support and of the vast influence of Hamil- 
ton himself, the effect of this contribution to the 
statesmanship of the country was not realized until 
long after both were in their graves. It laid the 
foundation for the Protective Tariff on broad prin- 
ciples that have never been successfully controverted. 
It furnished the chief arguments by which the sys- 
tem was subsequently put into operation and main- 
tained. It was the forerunner of the "American 
System" of Henry Clay, of which William McKinley 
was to become the ardent champion. 

The "moderate protective policy," established 
in 1789, continued for a time without substantial 
modification, although numerous acts were passed, 
chiefly with a view of increasing the revenues. About 
1808 there came a sudden change in the economic 
conditions of the country. The Napoleonic wars 
were engaging the attention of all Europe. In 1806, 
Great Britain had declared a blockade of the whole 
continent of Europe. Napoleon in turn undertook 
to blockade the British Isles. A year later Great 

1 Life of George Washington. 


Britain issued the famous Orders in Council, which 
cost her a war with America. These forbade trade 
by American ships with any country from which 
British trade was excluded, and allowed American 
trade with European countries (Sweden alone ex- 
cepted) only on condition that vessels should touch 
at English ports and pay duties to English cus- 
tom-houses. America retaliated with the Embargo, 
forbidding foreign commerce altogether. Exports, 
which had reached $49,000,000 in 1807, dropped to 
$9,000,000 in 1808. With the declaration of war 
against England in 1812, all tariff duties were dou- 
bled. These measures, whatever may have been their 
other consequences, almost completely shut off for- 
eign competition in manufactured goods. Gross im- 
ports, which had averaged $130,000,000 a year in 
1805-07, decreased to one tenth that sum in 18 14. 
Products that hitherto had been imported were, by 
force of circumstances, now made in America. The 
result was a sudden expansion of the industries of 
the country, which led to a strong demand for con- 
tinued protection against foreign competition. This 
movement was greatly stimulated by the sudden 
flood of importations which followed the close of 
the war. The Treaty of Ghent was signed on De- 
cember 24, 1 8 14. Foreign manufactures, which had 
been held back for lack of a market, poured into 


America like a torrent of impounded waters break- 
ing through a dam. In the fiscal year ending Sep- 
tember 30, 1814, the imports were only $12,965,000. 
In the following year they increased suddenly to 
$113,000,000, and in 1816 were $147,000,000. Every- 
body saw the necessity of protection under such 
circumstances, and Congress was, for a time, fairly 
bombarded with memorials, principally from the 
manufacturers of wool and cotton, praying for help. 
It was argued with considerable reason that the man- 
ufacturers had invested their capital in the expec- 
tation that Congress would continue the protection 
that had been accorded them, and therefore were 
justified in demanding relief from the flood of foreign 
goods that now threatened to engulf them. 

Such was the general feeling of the country when 
Congress assembled in December, 1815, and a large 
majority were ready to vote for protection, in some 
form, to various industries. Unfortunately, the cause 
of protection lacked a leader. There was no one like 
Hamilton, who, out of pure love for the country and 
its interests as a whole, possessed the ability to or- 
ganize a broad system that might be expected to 
accomplish the purpose which the majority desired. 
The revenues from the existing law were sufficient to 
pay all the necessary expenses of the Government, 
including interest on the national debt, which had 


increased during the war to $120,000,000, and the 
great increase in revenue incident to the large im- 
portations brought in a handsome surplus, even after 
making large payments on the debt. It was, there- 
fore, unquestionably desirable to reduce the rev- 
enues. This could have been done by increasing the 
tariff rates on goods that competed with American 
manufactures to such a point as to decrease or shut 
out such importations, thus extending the aid for 
which the manufacturers were pleading, while non- 
competing goods could have been taxed at a lower 
rate or added to the free list to any desired extent. 
Such a policy was not adopted, but, on the con- 
trary, duties were reduced on the very articles most 
in need of protection. For lack of a leader, the Pro- 
tection sentiment in Congress failed to crystallize. 
Those who wanted low duties, except on articles in 
which their own States were interested, concentrated 
their fire on each new proposition. The cotton manu- 
facturers, praying for relief from the overwhelming 
importations, were given a lower rate than they had 
had before. The iron interests were disappointed 
and so were the sugar-growers. The Act of 181 6 was 
the first general tariff measure passed since the origi- 
nal tariff of 1789, though there had been numerous 
separate acts to regulate the duties on certain speci- 
fied articles. It must be considered a failure. It did 

98 william Mckinley 

not give protection in adequate measure. It has been 
called a protective tariff, because it raised the aver- 
age rate slightly above what it had been prior to 1 812, 
but as compared with the average during the war, 
under which manufacturing had greatly prospered, 
the rates were much reduced. 

Henry Clay, who was Speaker of the House of 
Representatives, did not favor the bill. He had al- 
ready declared in favor of Protection. In a speech 
made in January, 18 16, he said: "I would effectu- 
ally protect our manufactures. I would afford them 
protection not so much for the sake of the manufac- 
turers themselves as for the general interest. We 
should thus have our wants supplied, when foreign 
resources are cut off: and we should also lay the 
basis of a system of taxation to be resorted to when 
the revenue from imports is stopped by war." But 
Clay was not yet the great Protectionist which 
he subsequently became, though he had advanced 
somewhat since 1808, when his first attempt to sug- 
gest a protective policy took the form of a resolution 
that members of Congress should wear only such 
clothes as were made in America! Clay opposed the 
bill of 18 16 because he did not favor so large a re- 
duction of the revenue. Calhoun favored it not only 
as a means of national defense, but because he 
thought it would help the cotton interests. The New 


England Federalists, under the leadership of Web- 
ster, forgetting the advice of their former leader, 
Hamilton, were generally against the protective 
features of the bill because of their shipping interests.//, j 
The South followed Calhoun in support of it. Such 
was the strange alignment of forces in 1816. The act 
of that year was an attempt to meet conditions 
which nobody understood and to face a future which 
none could foresee. 

For lack of a directing hand the Fourteenth Con- 
gress missed its opportunity. If the " Protective Sys- 
tem" could have been established then upon broad 
lines of economic policy, as suggested by Hamilton, 
and free from partisan or sectional bias, the prin- 
ciple of favoring the growth of American industries 
might have been so firmly planted in our own soil as 
to remove it from the fierce political contentions of 
future years, in which case subsequent discussions 
of the Tariff would have concerned merely the re- 
arrangement of non-partisan schedules. 

The passage of the Act of 18 16 was followed by 
cries of distress from all parts of the country. Par- 
ticularly was this true in the sections given over to 
the iron and cotton industries, and to a less degree 
in those of the woolen manufactures. Bills for the 
relief of all were passed in 1818. In 1820, Henry 
Clay, as Speaker of the House of Representatives, 


appointed a Committee of Manufactures composed 
of men friendly to Protection, and this committee 
reported a general tariff measure, in which protec- 
tion by means of an increase in rates on manufac- 
tures was frankly avowed as one of its objects. Clay, 
in Committee of the Whole, took an active part in the 
debate, and made a strong effort to pass the bill. He 
succeeded so far as the House was concerned, but 
the measure was defeated in the Senate by a single 
vote. The debate was significant for the change in 
the attitude of the Southern representatives. It was 
the year when slavery first came to the front as a 
dangerous factor in American politics — the year 
of the Missouri Compromise. The South seemed to 
realize that, with slavery, manufactures would not 
flourish, and feared that they would be obliged to 
buy all their manufactured articles from the North 
or from Europe at greatly increased prices. They 
also feared that if high duties were levied upon im- 
portations, England might lay a tax upon their cot- 
ton. Therefore they opposed the bill of 1820, though 
they had favored the protective principle in 181 6. 

In 1824, Clay rose to his opportunity with splen- 
did vigor and ability. He announced his policy as 
the "American System," and urged it with all his 
matchless eloquence. The Committee on Manufac- 
tures brought in a bill taxing, for revenue only, 


articles the importation of which would not compete 
with home manufactures, such as silks, linens, cut- 
lery, spices, and so forth, and imposing high protec- 
tive duties on importations of iron, hemp, glass, 
lead, wool, woolen goods, cotton goods, etc., all of 
which articles could be made in America. This prop- 
osition represented the essence of the protective 
policy advocated by Hamilton and retained by Pro- 
tectionists to the present time. 

Webster sought to ridicule the new name, the 
"American System," which Clay gave to the Pro- 
tective Tariff. He claimed that it was the policy of 
foreign states that Clay would adopt. Therefore, 
why call it American, since America had never prac- 
ticed it? On the other hand, the policy already estab- 
lished, which other nations did not pursue, he said, 
was the real American system, and this Clay pro- 
posed to abolish. 

But Webster's argument did not ring true. His 
mind was on the past, Clay's was on the future. 
Clay's "American System" was a comprehensive 
plan intended to build up American institutions. 
Webster's would build up foreign industry by com- 
pelling Americans to buy goods abroad which under 
Clay's system they would be able to buy at home. 

The policy which kept America to the fore was 
the patriotic policy — the true Americanism. It 

102 william Mckinley 

would not prove a lasting benefit to America to 
encourage importations. It would not build up the 
home market which Hamilton desired. It would 
not make the country industrially independent. 
Those who sought, first of all, to buy goods as 
cheaply as possible, were not conserving the best in- 
terests of America. Clay felt the same patriotic de- 
sire to establish the future greatness of the United 
States that Hamilton and Washington and Madison 
had felt. His mind was upon America, — not upon 
individuals who wished to buy cheaply, — and that 
is why his policy has been justly termed the "Amer- 
ican System." And he advocated it all the more 
vigorously, because of the belief that competition 
among home manufacturers would keep down prices, 
and that he could therefore accomplish his policy of 
building up without adding to the cost of the pro- 
tected articles — a theory that has been amply vin- 
dicated. Clay wished prosperity for America and his 
system laid the foundation for it. 

Following the Act of 1824 the country enjoyed a 
prosperity never before felt. There was a general 
revival of business and all classes felt the change. 
Not only were the factories busily and profitably 
occupied, but the farmers, the shippers, the mer- 
chants, and the mining interests were all enjoying 
the buoyancy of trade. 


For the woolen trade, however, the prosperity 
was short-lived. The Tariff had increased the duty 
on wool fifteen per cent, but the duty on woolen 
manufactures was raised only eight per cent. The 
market had been flooded with English goods, and 
these were being sold at auction, greatly to the detri- 
ment of the American factories. An effort to secure 
relief from Congress resulted ultimately in a new 
Tariff in 1828. Duties were raised to a higher level 
than ever before, reaching an average in 1830 on 
total importations of forty-five per cent — an ex- 
treme never since equaled, except in the period of 
the Civil War, when the highest average was forty- 
seven per cent. It has been called the "Tariff of 
Abominations" 1 and marks the point when the 
Tariff ceased to be solely a question of economics, 
and became "the football of politics." It was dis- 
cussed and passed in utter insincerity. Politicians 
who were opposed to Protection openly favored un- 
necessarily high rates in the hope of making the 
whole system obnoxious. The changes which the 
sincere Protectionists really desired were cleverly 
side-tracked. High duties which they did not want 
were forced into the bill. There was no honest de- 
sire to fix schedules in such manner as would best 
conserve the interests of the whole country, with 
1 By Congressman Smith, of Maryland. 

104 william Mckinley 

fairness to all and undue partiality to none. The 
dominant desire was rather to conserve the political 
interests of certain leaders. John Randolph, who 
always spoke bluntly, in opposing a proposition to 
state the object of the bill as "for the encourage- 
ment of manufactures," said, with apparent truth, 
"The bill refers to manufactures of no sort or kind 
except the manufacture of a President of the United 

The Tariff of 1828, in practical operation, sur- 
prised both its friends, if it had any, and its enemies. 
It did not bring the disaster which some of its in- 
sincere supporters had counted upon. Manufactur- 
ers, shipowners, and merchants prospered under it. 
Instead of prostrating commerce, the tonnage en- 
gaged in foreign and coastwise trade materially 
increased. Instead of bringing an era of ruinously 
high prices, it brought lower prices, as the Protec- 
tionists had foretold. Until 1831, when Jackson had 
come to the Presidency and Clay took his seat in 
the United States Senate, the country was in a 
highly prosperous condition. 

Jackson sent in a message strongly urging Con- 
gress to cut down the revenues, which were then 
largely in excess of the expenditures. He expected 
soon to extinguish the national debt, and after that, 
with the current revenues, a large surplus would 


be accumulated. Jackson, having become President, 
was not so much of a Protectionist as he was in 1824. 
His plan for reducing the surplus alarmed Clay, and 
almost the first act of that statesman upon entering 
the Senate was to introduce a resolution providing 
for the abolition of the duties on importations not 
competing with American products, except upon 
wines and silks. These, he thought, ought to be re- 
duced. He secured the passage of the Act of 1832, 
which left the Protective System practically un- 
changed, imposed low duties on silks and the like, 
and placed tea and coffee on the free list. This was 
ideal from the Protectionists' point of view. 

The Tariffs of 1828 and 1832 led to great com- 
plaint in the South, culminating in South Carolina 
in the Ordinance of Nullification, declaring that the 
Tariff was null and void, and could not be col- 
lected in that State. At a time when the Protec- 
tive System was proving a boon to the country, 
when those who denied that it had brought pros- 
perity were forced to admit that the prosperity 
was here in spite of their contrary predictions, its 
chief apostle was compelled almost to abandon it. 
Clay was forced to compromise with Calhoun. The 
desire to placate South Carolina and at the same 
time reduce the revenues, which the Act of 1832 
failed to do, gathered great strength and com- 

106 william Mckinley 

pelled the adherents of Clay to fight for the ex- 
istence of their policy. Clay confessed that "the 
Tariff stands in imminent danger." He practically 
surrendered before the guns of the enemy. The result 
was the Compromise Tariff of 1833. All duties were 
to be reduced to a twenty per cent level within nine 
years. Taking the rates of 1832 as a basis, all duties 
over twenty per cent were to be reduced one tenth 
on January I, 1834, one tenth January 1, 1836, one 
tenth January 1, 1838, and one tenth January I, 
1840. This would cut down the excess four tenths 
and the reduction would be gradual, extending over 
a period of seven years.' 

This was the small advantage accorded to the 
Protectionists. It was like cutting off the dog's tail 
by inches so that it would n't hurt so much. The re- 
mainder of the excess over twenty per cent was 
to be cut out with two sharp blows in 1842 — one 
half on January 1 and the rest on July 1. This 
was the concession to the Nullifiers, who, it will be 
seen, clearly had the best of it. The manufactur- 
ers, if not dealt a mortal blow, were at least sen- 
tenced to a slow death. The act was passed on the 
same day as the so-called "Force Bill." The latter 
was a whip to lash the Nullifiers into submission. 
The former was the salve with which to heal their 


Clay was accused of timidity, and by extremists, 
of treachery. These charges were manifestly unjust. 
He had not abandoned his plans. He had sought to 
preserve them against odds that seemed overwhelm- 
ing. The next Congress, already elected, was known 
to be hostile to the Protective System. Clay, of 
course, could not bind the incoming Congress, but 
he thought the moral effect of a compromise would 
be strong enough to prevent the total overthrow of 
Protection. Moreover, he feared that the example 
of South Carolina might prove contagious, and 
that other Southern States might join in the move- 
ment, to the very great peril of the nation. Possibly 
he feared such a catastrophe the more because of the 
power that would inevitably be placed in the hands 
of Jackson, whose strong and passionate nature he 
profoundly distrusted. Whatever his motives, Clay 
doubtless did all he could to stem the tide of defeat, 
so far as his own judgment was concerned. 

The result of the simultaneous passage of the two 
bills was the prompt repeal of the Nullification Ordi- 
nance. Beyond this it may well be doubted whether 
Clay gained much by his compromise. It is certain 
that the onward sweep of the slavery question could 
not be checked by any concessions even in so impor- 
tant a subject as the Tariff. Yet Clay's attempt to do 
so gave such impetus to the Free-Trade movement 


that it continued to gain strength until automati- 
cally checked by the exigencies of the Civil War. 
', The Tariff changes between this time and the close 
of the Civil War need not be discussed in detail. 
The trend of sentiment was generally toward lower 
duties, culminating in the famous Walker Tariff of 
1846. Protection as a subject of controversy com- 
pletely disappeared with the Civil War, as the neces- 
sity of huge sums for the expenses of the war brought 
"incidental Protection" in overflowing measure. 
Again and again the dutiable list was extended, and 
the revenues thus provided were augmented by enor- 
mous internal revenue taxes. In spite of the tremen- 
dous revenues collected during the war, the national 
debt increased from $90,867,828 on July I, 1 86 1, to 
$2,682,593,026, on July 1, 1865. Following the war, 
Congress faced the problem of reducing the war 
taxes and decreasing the public debt at the same 
time. The general principle in the minds of the 
Republican leaders remained the same as that ex- 
pressed in the platform of the party in i860: "While 
providing revenues for the support of the General 
Government by duties upon imports, sound policy 
requires such an adjustment of these imports as to 
encourage the development of the industrial inter- 
ests of the whole country; and we commend that 
policy of national exchanges which secures to the 


workingman liberal wages, to agriculture remuner- 
ating prices, to mechanics and manufacturers an 
adequate reward for their skill, labor and enterprise, 
and to the nation commercial prosperity and inde- 
pendence." y. 
y The panic of 1873, an inevitable consequence of 
the period of speculation that followed the war, and 
of the extension of credit, due to inflation of the cur- 
rency, brought widespread financial depression upon 
the country. As is usually true, the party in power 
was held responsible, and in 1874 a Democratic House 
of Representatives was chosen. The Republicans, 
who had been in power for fourteen years, signalized 
their last year of control by passing a tariff bill which 
operated to increase the average duties on total im- 
ports from about twenty-seven to thirty per cent, 
and the law went into effect, by the signature of 
President Grant, on the last day of the session, March 
3, 1875. In 1876 both parties made an issue of the 
Tariff in their platforms. The Republicans said: 
"The revenue necessary for current expenditures 
and the obligations of the public debt must be 
largely derived from duties upon importations, 
which, so far as possible, should be adjusted to pro- 
mote the interests of American labor and advance 
the prosperity of the whole country." 

The Democratic plank was quite vehement in its 


opposition: "We denounce the present Tariff, levied 
upon nearly four thousand 1 articles, as masterpieces 
of injustice, inequality, and false pretense. ... It 
has impoverished many industries to subsidize a 
few. ... It promotes fraud, fosters smuggling, en- 
riches dishonest officials, and bankrupts honest mer- 
chants. We demand that all custom-house taxation 
shall be only for revenue." 

Such intemperate fulminations were, of course, 
intended for effect in the campaign, but their force 
was wasted. Little reference was made to the sub- 
ject on the stump and the Tariff had little or no effect 
upon the election of a President. 

In the same year the Democrats again secured a 
majority of the House of Representatives, having 
elected 153 members out of a total of 293. The Sen- 
ate was Republican by a narrow margin of two votes. 
A strong coterie of Protectionists in the House, of 
whom William D. Kelley, of Pennsylvania, was the 
leader, earnestly sought the maintenance of the 
policy which had so advanced the industrial devel- 
opment of the United [States as to make it the mar- 
vel of the world. In this they had the support of 
the Democratic Speaker, Samuel J. Randall. The 
Free-Traders, headed by Roger Q. Mills, of Texas, 
William R. Morrison, of Illinois, and Samuel S. Cox, 

1 The actual number was a trifle over twelve hundred. 


of New York, met the issue in angry mood. At the 
opening of the session, Mr. Mills introduced a res- 
olution " That the Committee of Ways and Means 
be instructed to so revise the Tariff as to make it 
purely and solely a Tariff for revenue and not for pro- 
tecting one class of citizens by plundering another." 
This was the atmosphere into which William Mc- 
Kinley stepped when he entered the Forty-fifth 
Congress. The Tariff was no longer an economic 
question. There was no Hamilton to urge a far- 
reaching scheme for the development of the country 
and the strengthening of its independent position. 
There was no Henry Clay to plead eloquently for a 
policy that would place the interests of Americans 
above those of foreign capitalists. It was a battle 
of selfish greed, in which politicians fought only for 
their constituents and incidentally made bargains 
with each other for their own political advantages. 
The economic side of the subject was inextricably en- 
tangled with political considerations. It was easier, 
and apparently more profitable, for a Congressman 
to appeal to the selfish interests of his own district 
rather than attempt a broad grasp of the subject 
with reference to its national bearing. Politicians 
dabbled in the discussion in an amateurish way, 
only to obscure the real issue. In this they followed 
the prejudices of the times. The bitterness caused 

ii2 william Mckinley 

by the war had not yet subsided. The South which, 
under slavery, could not enjoy the advantages of 
Protection, was not able to view with equanimity 
the prosperity which that system had brought to the 
North, for Southern manufacturing was slow to 
develop. The Democrats of the North, though many 
of them were Protectionists, felt the necessity of 
fostering the prejudices of ante helium times, in order 
to satisfy the South. The Republicans, inheriting 
the protective doctrine of the Whigs, had applied 
it successfully to the upbuilding of the country after 
the war and saw no reason for departing from the 
policy. Their opponents thought the "war duties" 
had been kept upon the statute books too long and 
loudly denounced the Tariff as a fraud. Free-Traders 
pushed their theories, showing little regard for the 
probable effect upon well-established industries of 
a sudden flood of foreign importations. Extreme 
Protectionists, on the other hand, were often found 
advocating high schedules for the benefit of partic- 
ular industries, rather than a broad and fair appli- 
cation of the protective principle. 

There was need of a new champion to enter the 
lists for Protection and the "American System" of 
Clay; to study the subject with statesmanlike grasp; 
to master the details of schedules according to the 
facts in each industry, and to plan a comprehensive 


system, based upon facts, that would make for the 
permanent prosperity of the whole country. Wil- 
liam McKinley saw the need and realized his oppor- 
tunity. It was a chance to serve his country again, 
and it made the same appeal to his sense of patriot- 
ism as had the call to arms in 186 1. He accordingly 
resolved at the outset of his congressional career to 
make a special study of the Tariff. His old military 
friend and adviser, General Hayes, who entered upon 
the Presidency at the same time Major McKinley 
took his seat in Congress, was responsible for the 
suggestion.'^ proved to be a wise one, for McKinley 
soon rose to a position of leadership and placed his 
name permanently in history, with those of Hamil- 
ton and Clay, as a strong, able, honest, consistent, 
and patriotic advocate of Protection. 



FROM the time of his first speech in Congress 
until the end of his life, McKinley sought to 
elaborate, clarify, and systematize the true "Ameri- 
can" policy of Protection. He laid down the prin- 
ciple, as its basis, that "self-preservation is the first 
law of nature, as it is and should be of nations." He 
insisted upon the paramount importance of the 
"general welfare," and that the country must be 
made independent in a "broad and comprehensive 
sense," strong, self-supporting, and self-sustaining. 
This was the teaching of Hamilton and Washington. 
He further laid down the cardinal principle of the 
Protectionist school in the words: "It is our duty 
and we ought to protect as sacredly and assuredly 
the labor and industry of the United States as we 
would protect her honor from taint or her territory 
from invasion." 

So long as conditions are widely varied in different 
parts of the world, he maintained, it is clear that 
some compensation for the inequalities must be 
devised. If the cheapness of foreign labor gives an 
undue advantage to the foreigner against our own 


manufacturers, to the hindrance of our own develop- 
ment, the law of self-preservation calls for protec- 
tion against the inequality. Free Trade throughout 
the world might be ideal if conditions were equal 
and we had any guaranty that they would remain 
so. But all the nations of the world, except Great 
Britain and two of her dependencies, New South 
Wales and New Zealand, believe in the Tariff as a 
means of protecting their own interests. Great 
Britain also believed in it during the early years 
of her history, until having built up vast industries, 
a great accumulation of capital, and a well-estab- 
lished trade, she dared defy competition and under- 
took to supply the markets of the world. Many 
Englishmen doubt the wisdom of this policy. Cer- 
tainly her workingmen have gained no benefit from 
it. The United States is in no position to make so 
hazardous an experiment. 

There is a vast difference between free trade as it 
exists among the States of our own country and free 
trade among nations. McKinley referred to this 
more than once. "Here we are one country, one 
language, one allegiance, one standard of citizen- 
ship, one flag, one Constitution, one nation, one 
destiny. It is otherwise with foreign nations, each 
a separate organism, a distinct and independent 
political society organized for its own, to protect its 


own, to work out its own destiny." * He denied the 
right of foreign nations to claim the privilege of trad- 
ing on equal terms with our own producers, on the 
ground that the foreigner pays no taxes, contributes 
nothing to the general welfare of the country, and is 
not amenable to its laws. It is a correct principle of 
government, he argued, to discriminate against the 
foreign producer as a means of protecting, defending, 
and preserving the rights of our own citizens. 

He pointed out that a vast sum is needed annu- 
ally to pay the necessary expenses of the Govern- 
ment, and that American sentiment was practically 
unanimous in favor of raising at least a large share 
of the necessary revenues by levying duties on for- 
eign importations. On what system shall such duties 
be determined? Here is the parting of the ways. 
Those who favor a tariff for revenue only would raise 
the needed funds for the support of the Government 
without "a wise discrimination in favor of American 
manufactures." They would tax articles not pro- 
duced, or not capable of being produced, in the 
UnitedjStates, such as tea, coffee, spices, drugs, etc., 
aiming to raise the largest possible revenue from the 
smallest possible number of articles. They would 
admit free of duty all articles manufactured abroad, 
the like of which are or can be made in America, thus 
1 Speech on the Mills Tariff Bill, May 18, 1888. 



admitting the foreigner to equal privileges with our 
own citizens. This plan leaves American industries 
to compete as best they can with foreign importa- 
tions, in spite of increased cost of production, 
whether due to higher cost of labor or other causes, 
and, ignoring the value of that general prosperity 
which comes from busy mills, seeks an advantage in 
cheapness of products which the system is expected 
to secure. 

Those who favor a tariff for both revenue and 
protection would proceed on exactly the opposite 
principle. Articles which we could not produce would 
come in free. The duty would be placed on articles 
which we can produce. This would serve a double 
purpose: first, it would raise the needed revenue, 
just as the other system would, and second, it would 
add a sufficient price to the imported and competing 
article to offset the extra cost of making the article 
in this country. This is what McKinley meant by a 
wise discrimination. 

To the objection that this policy would increase 
the price, not only of the imported article, but also 
of the domestic product, McKinley brought forward 
a vast array of well-digested statistics to show that 
such had not been the experience of the country. 
American competition, he claimed, and proved it by 
an array of facts that made his argument unanswer- 


able, would under all ordinary circumstances keep 
the prices at a lower level, while if the foreign pro- 
ducer were enabled to drive his American rival out 
of the American market, we should be obliged to pay 
whatever price the foreigner chose to demand. 

The skill with which McKinley drove home his 
arguments may be illustrated by an extract from the 
debate on the Mills Tariff Bill. His speech in oppo- 
sition to the bill was delivered on the 18th of May, 
1888. Referring to the price of clothing, he said: — 

"Mr. Chairman, I represent a district comprising 
some two hundred thousand people, a large majority 
of the voters in the district being workingmen. I 
have represented them for a good many years, and I 
have never had a complaint from one of them that 
their clothes were too high. Have you? Has any 
gentleman on this floor met with such complaint in 
his district? 

"Mr. Morse. 1 They did not buy them of me. 

"No! Let us see; if they had bought of the gentle- 
man from Massachusetts it would have made no 
difference, and there could have been no complaint. 
Let us examine the matter. 

[Mr. McKinley here produced a bundle containing 
a suit of clothes, which he opened and displayed amid 
great laughter and applause.] 

1 Leopold Morse, a well-known clothier, who was then a Repre- 
sentative from Massachusetts. 


"Come, now, will the gentleman from Massa- 
chusetts know his own goods? [Renewed laughter.] 
We recall, Mr. Chairman, that the chairman of the 
Committee on Ways and Means talked about the 
laboring-man who worked for ten days at a dollar a 
day, and then went with his ten dollars wages to 
buy a suit of clothes. It is the old story. It is found 
in the works of Adam Smith. [Laughter and applause 
on the Republican side.] I have heard it in this House 
for ten years past. It has served many a Free-Trader. 
It is the old story, I repeat, of the man who gets a 
dollar a day for his wages, and having worked for the 
ten days goes to buy his suit of clothes. He believes he 
can buy it for just ten dollars; but the ' robber manu- 
facturers' have been to Congress, and have got one 
hundred per cent put upon the goods in the shape of 
a tariff, and the suit of clothes he finds cannot be 
bought for ten dollars, but he is asked twenty dollars 
for it, and so he has to go back to ten days more of 
sweat, ten days more of toil, ten days more of wear 
and tear of muscle and brain, to earn the ten dollars 
to purchase the suit of clothes. Then the chairman 
gravely asks, Is not ten days entirely annihilated? 

11 Now, a gentleman who read that speech or heard 
it was so touched by the pathetic story that he 
looked into it and sent me a suit of clothes identical 
with that described by the gentleman from Texas, 

120 william Mckinley 

and he sent me also the bill for it, and here is the 
entire suit; 'robber tariffs and taxes and all* have 
been added, and the retail cost is what? Just ten 
dollars. [Laughter and applause on the Republican 
side.] So the poor fellow does not have to go back 
to work ten days more to get that suit of clothes. 
He takes the suit with him and pays for it just ten 
dollars. [Applause.] But in order that there might 
be no mistake about it, knowing the honor and hon- 
esty of the gentleman from Massachusetts [Mr. 
Morse], he went to his store and bought the suit. 
[Laughter and cheers on the Republican side.] I hold 
in my hand the bill. 

Boston, May 4, 1888. 

J. D. Williams, bought of Leopold Morse & Co., men's, 
youths', and boys' clothing, 131 to 137 Washington Street, 
corner of Brattle — 

To one suit of woolen clothes, $10. Paid. 

[Renewed laughter and applause.] 

"And now, Mr. Chairman, I never knew of a 
gentleman engaged in this business who sold his 
clothes without a profit. [Laughter.] And there is 
the same ten dollar suit described by the gentleman 
from Texas that can be bought in the city of Bos- 
ton, can be bought in Philadelphia, in New York, in 
Chicago, in Pittsburg, anywhere throughout the 
country, at ten dollars retail, the whole suit, — 


coat, trousers, and vest, — and forty per cent less 
than it could have been bought in i860 under your 
low tariff and low wages of that period. [Great ap- 
plause.] It is a pity to destroy the sad picture of the 
gentleman from Texas which was to be used in the 
campaign, but the truth must be told. But do you 
know that if it were not for Protection you would 
pay a great deal more for these clothes? I do not 
intend to go into that branch of the question, but 
I want to give one brief illustration of how the ab- 
sence of American competition immediately sends 
up the foreign prices, and it is an illustration that 
every man will remember. My friend from Missouri 
[Mr. Clardy], who sits in front of me, will remem- 
ber it. The Missouri Glass Company was organized 
several years ago for the manufacture of coarse 
fluted glass and cathedral glass. Last November 
the factory was destroyed by fire. Cathedral glass 
was their specialty. Within ten days from the time 
that splendid property was reduced to ashes the 
foreign price of cathedral glass advanced twenty- 
eight per cent to the American consumer. [Applause 
on the Republican side.] Showing that whether you 
destroy the American production by free trade or by 
fire, it is the same thing: the price goes up to the 
American consumer, and all you can do is to pay the 
price the foreigner chooses to ask." 

122 william Mckinley 

The argument that low tariffs were needed to 
make cheap prices, he met with expressions of wither- 
ing scorn. The Tariff must be sufficient to help Ameri- 
can workingmen earn a decent livelihood, live in 
a reasonable degree of comfort, and not be forced 
into a condition of poverty. To the statement of 
Fernando Wood, that a celebrated shipbuilder had 
testified that "he readily obtained workmen at from 
fifty to sixty cents a day," McKinley replied vigor- 
ously, "We do not want fifty-cent labor." In a later 
address he demanded, "Is American manhood to 
be degraded that merchandise may be cheap? Are 
cheap goods at such a cost worthy of our purpose 
and destiny?" 

In answer to the charge that Protection is an ob- 
struction to foreign trade, and that it threatens the 
destruction of American commerce, McKinley simply 
presented the latest figures from the Treasury De- 
partment. In his speech on the Wood Bill he pointed 
out that, even under the distresses of the panic 
years, commerce was increasing. The exports in 1878 
were, in round numbers, $637,000,000, as against 
$603,000,000 in 1877, while imports had increased 
from $420,000,000 to $475,000,000. He also showed 
that in the ten years ending in 1875, exports from the 
United States had increased seventy-two per cent, 
while in Great Britain, under free trade, they had 


increased only twenty-five per cent. In his speech of 
April 6, 1882, he presented similar figures. By that 
time the export trade, instead of being ruined by the 
protective policy which had continued in the interval, 
had risen to $902,377,346, an increase in the four 
years of $264,619,454, or over forty-one per cent. 

On August 2, 1892, in an address at Beatrice, 
Nebraska, two years after the passage of the McKin- 
ley Bill, he again brought forward a statement from 
the Treasury Department, and summarized his argu- 
ment in these words: " From 1847 to 1861 under a 
Free-Trade revenue tariff the balance of trade against 
us was more than $431,000,000; and there were but 
two years of the fifteen when the balance of trade 
was in our favor; while from 1876 to 1891, a period 
of fifteen years, there were just two years when 
the balance of trade was against us. There were 
then, under Protection, thirteen years when the bal- 
ance of trade was in our favor, and the balance 
aggregated $1,649,445,246." 

McKinley never denied the charge that he was a 
"high" Protectionist. Yet he was not a man of 
schedules. There were no "pet industries" which 
he wished to foster, except for the general good of 
the country. Possessing a marvelous fund of in- 
formation about all the leading industries, and hav- 
ing at his instant command an array of figures which 


would have been a hopeless tangle to most men, he 
consistently used his material to plead for a broad 
and persistent application of a principle in which he 
firmly believed, and never for individual or sectional 
interests. He was as ready to reduce rates as to 
increase them, but he insisted that the protective 
principle should be maintained in all tariff legisla- 

In his speech of 1882 on the bill proposing the 
appointment of a Tariff Commission , he admitted that 
there are "excrescences in the present tariff which 
should be removed," and in opening his address on 
the Tariff Bill of 1883 he said that all parties agree 
that the present laws require "revision, amendment, 
and simplification," but he insisted that this should 
be done on the principle of recognizing "a fair and 
just protection to American interests and American 

This, then, is the "American System" of Protec- 
tion as consistently advocated by McKinley ; namely, 
(1) duties on competing importations, high enough to 
foster American industries, whether of the farm or the 
shop; (2) low duties, or none at all, on necessaries, not 
competing with home products; (3) the lowering of 
duties, whenever in excess of actual requirements, but 
always with careful regard to existing industries; 
(4) the adjustment of all duties, not by indiscrimi- 


nate or "horizontal" reductions whenever the rev- 
enues are excessive, and not by measures prepared 
with a view to political advantages in one section 
or another, but by a thorough, broad-minded, and 
impartial investigation of the conditions of industry 
throughout the country, and with the constant aim 
to place America and the interests of American citi- 
zens above those of foreign competitors. It meant, 
briefly, favoritism for Americans against the rest of 
the world, but no favoritism within our own bound- 
aries except for the purpose of promoting the gen- 
eral prosperity of the whole country. 

The Tariff was always, in McKinley's mind, a 
means to an end and not the end itself. He wished to 
build up American interests and to insure the pros- 
perity of the people of all classes. When duties were 
no longer necessary, he was willing to cut them off. 
He saw the changingconditions, as industries grew by 
leaps and bounds, and was ready and anxious to ad- 
just the revenue laws to meet them. A conversation 
that took place in Canton, only a week before the 
fatal visit to Buffalo, in September, 1901, clearly 
reveals the state of his mind and his ultimate purpose 
regarding the Tariff. 

A small party, including the President, George B. 
Cortelyou, Myron T. Herrick, and others, had just 
returned from a visit to the McKinley farm. During 

126 william Mckinley 

the entire day his mind seemed to be upon the forth- 
coming Buffalo speech. It was to be an epoch-mak- 
ing oration, a statement of plans for the future of 
far-reaching importance, and he frequently spoke 
of it. After dinner he escorted Mrs. McKinley to 
the sitting-room as usual, and then, excusing himself, 
walked into the library with Mr. Cortelyou. Light- 
ing a cigar, he sat by the open window in silence for 
several minutes. At length, turning to his secretary 
without preliminary remarks, he uttered the sen- 
tence, " Expositions are the timekeepers of progress." 
Mr. Cortelyou, as was his habit, immediately made 
note of the expression, recognizing the significance 
of what was to come, and while he was doing so the 
President smilingly remarked, "We'll build the 
speech around that." Later, when they had rejoined 
the party in the sitting-room, his mind again reverted 
to the subject and the Tariff came in for its share 
of consideration. Mr. Herrick ventured the remark 
that the Tariff is a question of expediency. "We be- 
lieve," he said, "it is expedient at times for nations 
to have tariffs; we believe it is expedient for our na- 
tion to have a tariff now. But are n't we likely to 
get into trouble with tariffs that are too high? A 
tariff that is too high is likely to defeat efficiency by 
making it no longer necessary to competition, and, 
moreover, there is the constant danger of the temp- 


tation to capitalize our earnings." To this view Mc- 
Kinley assented, saying that, while he believed in 
protective tariffs, they must not be made so high as 
to bring about unhealthful business conditions. Mr. 
Herrick, who is largely interested in various manu- 
factures of iron, carbon, and so forth, then asked, 
referring to certain schedules in the Act of 1890, 
"Why did you ever consent to such high rates upon 
these articles? " "For the best reason in the world," 
promptly replied the President; "to get my bill 
passed. My idea was to get the act through Con- 
gress, and to make necessary reductions later. I real- 
ized that some things were too high, but I could n't 
get my bill through without it." 

In the course of this conversation McKinley indi- 
cated the broadening of his horizon since coming 
into the Presidency. Another sentence, upon which 
he had been meditating, came into the talk — "the 
period of exclusiveness is past" — words which be- 
came the keynote of the Buffalo speech. He realized 
that, while theprotective policy had held and broad- 
ened the home market for American producers, it 
had brought a still greater question, namely, the 
absolute necessity for a larger market to absorb our 
overflowing products. He was about to enter upon 
a "broad and enlightened policy" of commercial 
expansion, and he clearly indicated that neither 


neglect on the one hand nor sordid selfishness on the 
other should be allowed to impede the execution of 
his far-reaching purpose. There is no doubt that, 
had McKinley lived, he would have taken the lead 
in a movement for the "downward revision of the 
tariff," without compromising the principle of Pro- 
tection, and in the direction of reciprocal trade ar- 
rangements with the leading nations of the world. 

The Forty- fifth Congress, pursuant to the call of 
President Hayes, met in special session, on the 15th 
of October, 1877. Among the new members who were 
sworn in was William McKinley, Jr. William W. 
Crapo, a member of the House of Representatives, 
from Massachusetts, who met him for the first time 
on that day, recalls that " he had a somewhat youth- 
ful appearance, was short in stature, and with a clear 
complexion indicating health and vigor. He was 
modest and unpretentious, but thoughtful, observ- 
ant, and studious." 

The personal attractiveness of McKinley has often 
been made the subject of comment. Before he be- 
came a conspicuous figure in politics, his mere pres- 
ence in a state or national convention was frequently 
noticed, and men would turn to their neighbors and 
ask, "Who is that young man?" Senator Cullom 
noted in his "Reminiscences" that at a political 


meeting in Massillon, Ohio, which he attended as 
one of the speakers with James G. Blaine, "the 
people would scarcely listen to anybody but Mr. 
McKinley." Justice Harlan, who was a warm per- 
sonal friend of President Hayes, once called at the 
White House, when, as he entered the President's 
room, the youthful-looking Congressman was com- 
ing out. " Mr. President, who is that?" inquired the 
Justice. "That's McKinley, of Ohio, one of our 
new Congressmen," was the reply. "Well," said 
Harlan, "keep your eye on that young man. He 
may be President some day." President Hayes, who 
had "kept his eye on the young man" since i86i r 
heartily sympathized with his friend's judgment. 

On the 10th of December, 1877, immediately after 
the opening of the regular session of Congress, Mc- 
Kinley presented memorials from the manufacturers 
of steel at Canton and of iron at Massillon, Struth- 
ers, and Youngstown, Ohio, praying "that Con- 
gress will take no action concerning a revision of 
tariff duties until after it shall have ascertained, by 
an official inquiry, the condition of the industries 
of the country, and the nature of such tariff legisla- 
tion as in the opinion of practical business men would 
best promote the restoration of general prosperity." 
This memorial, although only one of hundreds of 
similar requests, presented by Congressmen from 


all parts of the country, appropriately opened the 
congressional career of William McKinley, who was 
to become the guardian angel, in the halls of Con- 
gress, of the industries of the country — if angels 
may be supposed to have any influence in that body. 
McKinley's resolution to specialize upon the 
Tariff, while keeping well informed on all other pub- 
lic business, was a natural one for him to make. His 
father and his grandfather were both manufactur- 
ers of iron, an industry which depended heavily 
upon the protective tariff. The counties of Stark, 
Mahoning, and Columbiana were rich in coal mines 
and well filled with furnaces, mills, and factories for 
the manufacture of a variety of objects. In East 
Liverpool there were potteries employing a thou- 
sand men, a new but thriving industry. All of these 
had been started under the fostering care of protec- 
tive duties. Capital had been invested with the ex- 
pectation that the Government would continue to 
guard them against foreign competition. For six- 
teen years McKinley had witnessed, within the 
limits of his own district, a striking demonstration 
of the possibilities of industrial development under 
wise protective legislation. If protection had proved 
a benefit to his own district, and to the State of 
Ohio, why should not the same principle be appli- 
cable to the whole country? 


McKinley's opportunity came quickly. In exactly 
six months, to a day, after taking his seat, he made 
his first speech in Congress as a champion of Pro- 
tection. It was in opposition to a tariff bill, in- 
troduced from the Committee on Ways and Means, 
by the chairman, Fernando Wood, of New York, 
on March 26, 1878, which came up for considera- 
tion in Committee of the Whole on April 9. The 
chairman announced that the general object of the 
bill was to resuscitate the commerce of America, 
which, he claimed, was languishing under the exist- 
ing Tariff. He stated that from 1861 to 1876, one 
hundred and eight tariff laws had been passed, and 
that "nearly every one of these acts was the creation 
of some special domestic interest or to subserve 
some partisan purpose." He objected to the existing 
law, "that it made too many articles subject to 
duty." There were 2272 dutiable articles, he said, 
and this number he proposed to reduce to 575. There 
were too many compound rates, that is, both spe- 
cific and ad-valorem duties on the same article. He 
proposed to abolish all compound rates and make 
duties specific so far as possible. He would have no 
free list as such, but all articles not specified in the 
bill as dutiable were to be free. He complained that 
high rates led to smuggling, that there were too 
many employees in the custom-houses who had 

i 3 2 william Mckinley 

nothing to do, and that the expense of collecting the 
revenue was too great. 

All of these considerations had little or nothing to 
do with the principle of protection, except that, in 
the general reduction of the number of dutiable 
articles and the rates proposed on those that re- 
mained, the purpose of Protection was ignored. 
Wood vigorously denounced the existing law as 
"unspeakably outrageous," and declared that if 
he had his own way he would reduce the duties fifty 
per cent. He had provided, however, for a reduc- 
tion of only fifteen per cent, and he recognized "an 
implied moral right to a little longer continuation 
of the favor which they [the duties] afford to the 
manufacturing interests." 

McKinley attacked the bill squarely, in a speech 
delivered April 15, 1878. Without oratorical flour- 
ish or rhetorical display, he presented his argument 
in clear, concise, and convincing terms, displaying 
at once not only a broad grasp of the principle for 
which he contended, but a masterly knowledge of 
the details, statistics, and historical facts necessary 
to sustain his position. He gave evidence in this 
first speech of that remarkable skill which was so 
noticeable in his later addresses — the art of present- 
ing a dry subject in such a way as to compel atten- 
tion. Congress at once recognized that in the new 


member from Ohio the forces of Protection had re- 
cruited a formidable champion. 

McKinley fully realized that the country had not 
yet recovered from the panic of 1873, brought on by 
an era of speculation and disordered currency follow- 
ing the war. Manufactures which would otherwise 
have been ruined had been kept barely alive by the 
protection afforded by the Tariff. To withdraw this 
support at a time when "daylight is gleaming and im- 
provement seems at hand," appeared to him "noth- 
ing short of a public calamity." He began by point- 
ing out the fact, based upon a carefully prepared 
statement from the Bureau of Statistics, that the bill 
would scale down the much-needed revenues of the 
Government at least $9,000,000, and added that the 
bill "not only impairs the revenues of the Govern- 
ment, but it is a blow well directed at the mining, 
the manufacturing, and the industrial classes of the 

In this speech McKinley clearly suggested the 
stand from which he never deviated throughout his 
Congressional career. First, he would set the wheels 
of American industry in motion; second, he would 
keep them in motion by making all necessary read- 
justments "with great care and circumspection," 
and with a " thorough knowledge of the business and 
commerce of the country"; and third, he would do 


this "unincumbered by individual or sectional inter- 
ests" and "free from any attempt or desire to pro- 
mote the interests of one class at the expense of the 

Although the House of Representatives was Dem- 
ocratic, the majority was opposed to the Wood Bill, 
and on June 5, it was defeated by "striking out the 
enacting clause." There was no popular demand 
for it, and it proposed a reduction of revenues 
which would have embarrassed the Treasury. A 
week after the defeat, Wood asked authority for the 
Ways and Means Committee to sit during the recess, 
complaining that "the committee have been here 
six months without an opportunity to report any- 
thing." McKinley raised a laugh by remarking, 
"They reported a bill on the Tariff"; whereupon 
Wood turned upon him savagely with the angry- 
retort, "I know they did, and you were one of the 
men who were very industrious in slaughtering it." 
Thus, in less than eight months after McKinley's 
entrance into Congress, his services to the cause of 
Protection were publicly acknowledged by one of his 
bitterest opponents. 

They were recognized in a more substantial way 
at the session which began in December, 1880. In 
January of that year, James A. Garfield was elected 
United States Senator from Ohio, but before he 


could take his seat in the Senate, in December fol- 
lowing, he had been nominated and elected President 
of the United States. His resignation as a member of 
the House of Representatives made a vacancy in 
the Committee on Ways and Means, the most im- 
portant of all the House committees, membership 
upon which is coveted by nearly all Congressmen. 
There were many Republicans of ability and promi- 
nence, who, because of long service, felt warranted 
in asserting their claims for the appointment. Sam- 
uel J. Randall, the Speaker, frankly said to them 
that he should be governed by the advice of General 
Garfield. Randall and Garfield, though leaders of 
opposing political parties, had served together for 
many years in the House, had been members of the 
same committees, were warm personal friends, and 
held each other in the highest esteem. Garfield 
named McKinley for the vacancy and Randall ap- 
pointed him. There was some criticism that a man 
who had been in Congress only three years should 
receive an appointment so important, but there was 
no question of his ability. The thoroughness with 
which he had handled the subject of the Tariff in the 
debate on the Wood Bill had been convincing proof 
of that. Randall and Garfield both saw the desirabil- 
ity of placing such a man on the committee, where 
his unusual knowledge of the Tariff and his decided 

136 william Mckinley 

interest in the protective principle would be of the 
greatest service. The result showed that Garfield 
advised well and Randall acted wisely. 
i In the campaign of 1880, the political parties 
made slight reference to the Tariff in their platforms, 
the Republicans declaring that "duties should so 
discriminate as to favor American labor," while the 
Democrats demanded, without qualification of any 
kind, a "tariff for revenue only." Late in the cam- 
paign the Republicans attacked this phrase as an on- 
slaught upon American interests and especially upon 
American labor. General Hancock, the Democratic 
candidate, treated the whole tariff question as one 
of minor and only local importance, thus bringing 
upon himself the suspicion of entertaining free-trade 
ideas and the charge of general incompetence. Un- 
fortunately for his reputation as a distinguished 
soldier and an excellent gentleman, the candidate 
thus became, for a brief period, the laughing-stock 
of the country. 

The election placed the Republicans once more in 
control of the House by a slender majority. The 
Senate was a tie, with two members, David Davis, 
of Illinois, and William Mahone, of Virginia, act- 
ing independently. J. Warren Keifer, of Ohio, was 
elected Speaker of the House, and William D. Kel- 
ley, of Pennsylvania, was appointed chairman of 



the Committee on Ways and Means. McKinley was 
one of the Republican appointees. On the Demo- 
cratic side were several powerful men, notably Ran- 
dall, a strong Protectionist, and Carlisle, Morrison, 
and Tucker, all ardent "tariff reformers" and men 
of marked force of character. 

The chairman, William D. Kelley, had served in 
the House since 1861. To him, perhaps more than 
to any other member of Congress, McKinley was 
indebted for the inspiration that led to his position 
of leadership in the House. " Pig-Iron" 1 Kelley, as 
he was known, was his warm personal friend, a 
man of sterling honesty and a remarkable capacity 
for hard work. In an address in the House 2 im- 
mediately after the death of Judge Kelley, McKinley 
said of him : — 

"His intellectual resources were almost without 

limit. His knowledge of economic, financial, and 

scientific questions was vast and comprehensive. 

He was not only a reader of books and of current 

literature, but a keen and intelligent observer of 

forces, of causes, and events. Scarcely a subject 

could be discussed with which he was not familiar 

and which was not illuminated from his storehouse 

of knowledge. . . . 

1 A tribute to his untiring devotion to the iron and steel inter- 
ests of his State. 
3 March 15, 1890. 

138 william Mckinley 

"As a student and master of political economy he 
was probably without a superior in the present gen- 
eration ; and as the advocate of the doctrine of Pro- 
tection he was for twenty years the unquestioned 
leader, always in the very front rank, always on the 
extreme outpost. He was devoted to the principle, 
because it was a conviction with him, and because 
he believed it would best subserve the interests of 
his fellow citizens and secure the highest prosperity 
of his country. His name in that field of public duty 
will pass into history linked with the name of that 
other great Protectionist, Henry Clay." 

In this eulogy of his friend, McKinley uncon- 
sciously portrayed his own ideals. In the Forty- 
seventh Congress, he was himself, next to Kelley, 
the foremost Protectionist in the House, and when 
the health of that leader began to fail, the mantle 
of the veteran fell upon the shoulders of his col- 
league from Ohio. The closing session of that Con- 
gress found McKinley well established as one of the 
leaders of his party and the ablest debater on the 
subject of Protection. 

The years of panic had been superseded by an era 
of prosperity, dating from the resumption of specie 
payments, January I, 1879. The customs receipts 
were very large and steadily increasing. A revision 
of the Tariff seemed inevitable. Senator Eaton, of 


Connecticut, had proposed the creation of a Tariff 
Commission, to secure, if possible, a non-partisan 
readjustment of the duties. It failed to pass the 
House, but in his first annual message, President 
Arthur made a similar recommendation. McKinley 
favored the plan and voted for it, though he frankly 
stated that his personal preference would be to let 
Congress handle the subject unaided. This was 
natural enough, for McKinley, as an industrious 
member of the Ways and Means Committee, was 
probably better informed on the Tariff than any 
outside commissioner who could have been chosen. 
If all the members of Congress, or even of the com- 
mittee, had possessed the same knowledge of the 
subject, no commission would have been needed, 
except for the single purpose, which unfortunately 
has never been accomplished, of taking the Tariff out 
of politics. 

The Tariff Commission Bill was passed by both 
Houses of Congress and approved by the President 
on May 15, 1882. * In less than seven months, after 
journeying to many parts of the country and taking 

1 The commission as appointed by the President consisted of the 
following: John L. Hayes, of Massachusetts, chairman; Henry W. 
Oliver, Jr., of Pennsylvania; Austin M. Garland, of Illinois; Jacob 
A. Ambler, of Ohio; Robert P. Porter, of the District of Columbia; 
John W. H. Underwood, of Georgia; Duncan F. Kenner, of Loui- 
siana; Alexander R. Boteler, of West Virginia; and William H. Mc- 
Mahon, of New York. 

i 4 o william Mckinley 

voluminous testimony, the commission presented 
its recommendations to Congress on December 4. 
The report was referred by the Senate to the Commit- 
tee on Finance and by the House to the Committee 
on Ways and Means. Both committees proceeded 
to build up their own bills, without any very great 
respect for the opinions and suggestions of the com- 
mission. The Senate precipitated a parliamentary 
wrangle by taking as the basis of their action a bill 
for the reduction of the internal revenue, passed by 
the House at the preceding session, instead of wait- 
ing for the House to pass a new law based upon the 
report of the commission. This was in defiance of the 
constitutional prerogative of the House to originate 
all bills for raising revenue. After a lengthy debate, 
more memorable as the beginning of that parliamen- 
tary strategy which later made the fame of Thomas 
B. Reed than as a discussion of the real tariff ques- 
tion, the House voted to disagree with the Senate 
amendments and ask for a conference. The Confer- 
ence Committee carried things with a high hand, in 
some instances reporting larger duties than those 
favored by the votes of either House. Their report 
was concurred in by the Senate by a vote of 32 to 
31. Senator Sherman, who voted for the bill reluc- 
tantly and only because he felt the necessity of some 
reduction in the revenues, afterward expressed re- 


gret that he did not defeat it, as he could readily have 
done. In his "Recollections," he says: "I do not 
hesitate to say that the iron and wool sections of the 
bill, as it passed the Senate, were unjust, incongru- 
ous, and absurd. They would have reduced the iron 
and steel industries of the United States to their con- 
dition before the war, and have closed up two thirds 
of the furnaces and rolling-mills in the country." 
These sections were modified in conference, so the 
disaster that Sherman feared was averted. 

The House spent nearly the whole of the last day 
of the session, March 3, 1883, in filibustering, but 
finally accepted the conference report. Because of 
the heavy reductions on wool, pig iron, and steel 
rails, McKinley, with a majority of the Ohio delega- 
tion, voted against the Conference Committee's re- 
port. The act made a large reduction of the internal 
revenue taxes and a moderate reduction of the cus- 
toms duties. It was satisfactory neither to the friends 
of Protection nor to the Free-Traders. It was not a 
well-considered measure, worked out consistently 
on any logical principle, and, indeed, considering the 
close division of parties, it could not well have been 
anything else than a piece of patchwork. 

It was in the course of the debate on this bill that 
McKinley made his famous retort to Congressman 
Springer. It will be remembered that McKinley 



had been reelected to the Forty-eighth Congress by 
the small plurality of eight votes and that his seat 
was to be contested when the new Congress con- 

McKinley was speaking of the hardships that 
result to labor from free trade, saying, "I speak for 
the workingmen of my district, the workingmen of 
Ohio, and of the country,"when Springer interrupted 
with the uncalled-for remark, "They did not speak 
for you very largely at the last election." Quickly 
turning on his opponent, McKinley, with flashing 
eye, but with no show of anger, replied impressively: 
"Ah, my friend, my fidelity to my constituents is 
not measured by the support they give me! [Great 
applause.] I have convictions upon this subject 
which I would not surrender or refrain from advo- 
cating if ten thousand majority had been entered 
against me last October [renewed applause]; and if 
that is the standard of political morality and con- 
viction and fidelity to duty which is practiced by the 
gentleman from Illinois, I trust that the next House 
will not do what I know they will not do, make him 
Speaker of the House. [Laughter and applause] " 

The Forty-eighth Congress was strongly Demo- 
cratic. William R. Morrison, of Illinois, was ap- 
pointed chairman of the Committee on Ways and 
Means, and on March 11, 1884, reported a bill pro- 


viding for a "horizontal reduction" of twenty per 
cent upon practically the entire list of dutiable 
articles. It made an exception by providing that 
the duties should not in any case fall below those of 
the Tariff of 1861. 

The brunt of the work of opposition fell upon Mc- 
Kinley, and in the debate he gave a remarkable ex- 
hibition of his power. He objected strongly, 1 on the 
ground that the bill was clearly intended as a step 
toward free trade, that it was "but the first assault 
which is to be followed by a succession of assaults" 
intended to overthrow the Protective System. He 
then, literally, tore the bill to pieces, showing its in- 
consistencies and the impossibility of correctly as- 
sessing the duties imposed by it. This was due, 
chiefly, to the provision that the proposed reduction 
of twenty per cent must not reduce duties below 
those of the Morrill Tariff of 1861. After pointing 
out the hopeless confusion of specific, ad-valorem, 
and compound duties which this bill would create, 
McKinley said: "The bill is full of just such com- 
plications and abounds in incalculable inconsisten- 
cies and confusion, is indefinite and indeterminable, 
and is the work not of experts, is the outgrowth not 
of knowledge or information or study of the subject, 
but rather of the desire to do something — to take 
1 Speech of April 30, 1884. 

144 william Mckinley 

one step, no matter where it leads or what results 
may follow." 

He raised a laugh at the expense of the committee 
and vigorous applause on the Republican side by 
declaring: — 

"The advocates of this bill criticized the Repub- 
licans of the last Congress because they created a 
Tariff Commission, asserting that such action was a 
confession of the incapacity of a majority of the 
Committee on Ways and Means to revise the tariff. 
By reason of incapacity, as they declared, the com- 
mittee 'farmed out' the subject to a commission of 
nine experts. Much opprobrium was sought to be 
put upon the majority because of its alleged abroga- 
tion of a constitutional duty. What can be said of 
the capacity of the majority of the Committee on 
Ways and Means as evidenced by the bill now before 
us? It is a confession upon its face of absolute in- 
capacity to grapple with the great subject. [Laugh- 
ter and applause on the Republican side.] The Mor- 
rison Bill will never be suspected of having passed 
the scrutiny of intelligent experts like the Tariff Com- 
mission. This is a revision by the cross-cut process. 
It gives no evidences of the expert's skill. It is the 
invention of indolence, I will not say of ignorance, 
for the gentlemen of the majority of the Committee 
on Ways and Means are competent to prepare a 


tariff bill. I repeat, it is not only the invention of 
indolence, but it is the mechanism of a botch work- 
man. A thousand times better refer the question 
to an intelligent commission, which will study the 
subject in its relations to the revenues and industries 
of the country, than to submit to a bill like this." 

The bill was defeated by striking out the enacting 
clause, forty-one Democrats voting with the Repub- 
licans against it. This was done in dramatic fashion. 
Late in the afternoon of May 6, after the chairman 
of the Ways and Means Committee had closed the 
debate, George L. Converse, a Democrat from Co- 
lumbus, Ohio, walked to the front from his seat in 
the rear of the house, and made the motion that 
meant death to the bill, without the poor consolation 
of a yea and nay vote. Mr. Morrison and his follow- 
ers were enraged. A storm of hisses and cries of 
"traitor" broke out on the Democratic side of the 
House. "Sunset" Cox, of New York, who was pre- 
siding in the Committee of the Whole, waggishly ap- 
pointed Messrs. Converse and Morrison as tellers. 
When these two gentlemen appeared at the front 
of the chamber, to count the members as they 
passed by, Converse took his position on the Demo- 
cratic side of the central aisle, whereupon Morrison 
growled, "Get over on the other side where you 
belong." . When" the vote defeating the bill was 

h6 william Mckinley 

announced, McKinley was surrounded by his friends 
and greeted with enthusiastic demonstrations of 

In the campaign of 1884, the Republicans again 
vigorously advocated the doctrine of Protection, 
protesting against indiscriminate horizontal reduc- 
tion, but pledging themselves to correct the irregu- 
larities of the Tariff and reduce the surplus "with- 
out injuring the laborer or the great productive 
interests of the country." The Democrats carefully 
avoided their blunder of 1880, when they flatly 
favored a tariff for revenue only. They devoted a 
long paragraph to the customary abuse of the oppos- 
ing party and then explained that they meant to re- 
duce taxation so that it "shall not exceed the needs 
of the Government economically administered," and 
that this "can and must be effected without depriv- 
ing American labor of the ability to compete suc- 
cessfully with foreign labor." 

So far as the wording of the platforms might indi- 
cate, both parties would revise the Tariff and both 
would protect American industries. Mr. Blaine, in 
his letter accepting the Republican nomination, 
strongly urged the maintenance of the policy of 
Protection, which he said had brought enormous 
prosperity, showing that $30,000,000,000 had been 
added to the wealth of the country in the twenty 


years from i860 to 1880. He favored a tariff revision 
that would still maintain this policy. Mr. Cleve- 
land, in accepting the Democratic nomination, did 
not take issue with his opponent on this point. 

The campaign degenerated into a fusillade of per- 
sonalities, in the midst of which it became difficult to 
engage the attention of the public upon questions of 
principle. Mr. Blaine spoke vigorously for Protection, 
and in the Northern States his opponents labored to 
give the impression that they, too, could be trusted 
to maintain the same policy. The contest was close, 
hinging upon the vote of New York State, where 
Mr. Cleveland's plurality was only 1047 out of more 
than a million votes. Any one of several trivial 
causes might have turned the scale. The result of 
the election, though it put the Democratic Party 
into power, cannot be said to have recorded the 
verdict of the people on the question of the Tariff. 

Mr. Cleveland in his Inaugural Address recom- 
mended a readjustment of the revenues, "having 
a due regard to the interests of capital invested and 
workingmen employed in American industries." 
In his first annual message to Congress he said: "The 
question of free trade is not involved, nor is there 
now any occasion for the general discussion of the 
wisdom or expediency of a protective system. Jus- 
tice and fairness dictate that in any modification 


of our present laws relating to revenue, the indus- 
tries and interests which have been encouraged by 
such laws, and in which our citizens have large in- 
vestments, should not be ruthlessly injured or de- 
stroyed. We should also deal with the subject in 
such manner as to protect the interests of American 
labor, which is the capital of our workingmen; its 
stability and proper remuneration furnish the most 
justifiable pretext for a protective policy." 
i This was Mr. Cleveland's attitude on December 
8, 1885. Two years later he startled the whole coun- 
try with a message (on December 5, 1887) denounc- 
ing existing tariff laws as vicious, inequitable, and 
illogical, and throwing to the winds all his previously 
expressed solicitude for the "interests of American 
labor" except in so far as the reduction of taxation 
might make things cheaper for them. Apparently 
overlooking many well-known facts indicating the 
contrary, he maintained that "these laws . . . raise 
the price to consumers ... by precisely the sum paid 
for such duties," and not only is this true, he said, 
of imported goods, but of all other similar goods 
made in this country. 1 Mr. Blaine, writing from 
Florence, promptly replied to the President. In 
doing so he pointed out that " the issue which the Re- 

1 McKinley's answer to this contention has already been referred 
to. See pp. 1 18-2 1. 


publicans maintained and the Democrats avoided 
in 1884 has been prominently and specifically 
brought forward by the Democratic President, and 
cannot be hidden out of sight in 1888. The country 
is now in the enjoyment of an industrial system 
which, in a quarter of a century, has assured a larger 
national growth, a more rapid accumulation, and a 
broader distribution of wealth than were ever before 
known to history. The American people will now 
be openly and formally asked to decide whether this 
system shall be recklessly abandoned and a new trial 
be made of an old experiment which has uniformly 
led to national embarrassment and widespread in- 
dividual distress. On the result of such an issue, 
fairly presented to the popular judgment, there is 
no room for doubt." 

The immediate result of Mr. Cleveland's vigorous 
denunciation and of Mr. Blaine's defense of the pro- 
tective policy was to arouse the country to a pitch 
of excitement on the Tariff question such as had 
never before been known. In Congress, Roger Q. 
Mills of Texas, the chairman of the Committee on 
Ways and Means, introduced a bill representing the 
desires of the Democratic Party, now openly pro- 
claimed by their President. In opposition to the bill, 
McKinley delivered one of the most notable speeches 
of his career, on May 18, 1888, a speech that brought 


him to the attention of the whole country as the 
ablest advocate of Protection in Congress. The de- 
bate was a remarkable one. It has been calculated 
that in the House alone two hundred and forty 
hours of actual talk were given to it, that one hun- 
dred and fifty-one speeches were made, consuming 
fifty-one days, and that if all these speeches were 
printed in full they would make twenty or thirty 
volumes the size of an unabridged dictionary! So 
far as actual legislation was concerned, all this flood 
of eloquence accomplished nothing at all. The Re- 
publican Senate offered a substitute on the lines of 
Protection, which the House refused to consider, and 
there the matter ended. 

Yet the political effect of the Mills Bill was far- 
reaching. The country was now thoroughly aroused. 
They knew as never before the contentions of both 
parties. The Mills Bill became practically the issue 
of 1888. The Democratic Party, in its national con- 
vention, specifically endorsed the bill by a separate 
resolution, passed unanimously, and in their plat- 
form approved the views of the President and the 
action of their representatives in Congress. 

The Republicans, in their platform declared: 1 
"We are uncompromisingly in favor of the Ameri- 

1 McKinley was chairman of the Committee on Resolutions and 
presented the report to the convention. 


can system of Protection. We protest against its 
destruction, as proposed by the President and his 
party. They serve the interests of Europe; we will 
support the interests of America. We accept the 
issue, and confidently appeal to the people for their 
judgment. The Protective System must be main- 
tained. Its abandonment has always been followed 
by disaster to all interests, except those of the usurer 
and the sheriff. We denounce the Mills Bill as de- 
structive to the general business, the labor and the 
farming interests of the country, and we heartily 
endorse the consistent and patriotic action of the 
Republican representatives in Congress opposing 
its passage." 

The issue was at last squarely before the people. 
Political orators could not dodge it. Mr. Cleveland's 
views were well known and he reiterated them in 
his letter accepting a renomination by his party 
for the Presidency, maintaining that "the tariff is 
a tax" and that the consumer invariably pays it. 
This theory was so thoroughly refuted by the ac- 
tual market prices of many articles of common use, 
that General Harrison, the Republican candidate, in 
his letter of acceptance referred to those who hold 
such views as "students of maxims, not of markets." 
He said: "We do not offer a fixed schedule, but a 
principle. We will revise the schedule, modify the 


rates, but always with an intelligent provision as to 
the effect upon domestic production and the wages of 
our working-people." The, campaign turned almost 
entirely upon the Tariff. The result was the election 
of Benjamin Harrison as President and of a Repub- 
lican Congress, though the majority in both Senate 
and House was slender. 

When the Fifty-first Congress met in December, 
1889, tne fi rst interest centered in the contest for the 
Speakership. The candidates before the Republican 
caucus were Thomas Brackett Reed, of Maine, a man 
of powerful intellect and sparkling wit; Joseph G. 
Cannon, of Illinois, whose rugged personality was 
destined to be the storm center of four successive 
Congresses, and who was to hold the office of Speaker 
longer than any other statesman in the history of 
the country; David B. Henderson, of Iowa, who also 
attained the honor in later years; Julius C. Bur- 
rows, of Michigan, who became a Senator from his 
State; and William McKinley, Jr. In some respects 
McKinley would have made an ideal Speaker. His 
courteous manner had won the esteem and confi- 
dence of his opponents, and the Democrats com- 
pared him to Mr. Carlisle, who had presided over 
the House with eminent fairness. 

Reed led on the first ballot, receiving 78 votes. 
McKinley followed with 39; Cannon had 22; Bur- 


rows, 10; and Henderson, 16. The second ballot re- 
sulted: Reed, 85; McKinley, 38; Cannon, 19; Bur- 
rows, 10; and Henderson, 14. On the third ballot 
the contest narrowed down to Reed and McKin- 
ley, when the former won by a majority of a single 
vote. McKinley promptly moved to make the vote 
unanimous and the caucus closed without ill-feeling. 
L The decision, as later events proved, made an 
excellent alignment of two distinguished leaders. 
Mr. Reed possessed qualities that made him one 
of the most brilliant and powerful Speakers in the 
history of the American Congress. He ruled with a 
rod of iron and earned the sobriquet of "Czar." He 
found the House demoralized and the majority un- 
able to transact business because of the obstructive 
tactics of the minority. He took the lead in formu- 
lating a new set of rules and enforced them with 
conspicuous ability and boldness, thereby enabling 
the Fifty-first Congress to accomplish the business 
which the majority had been commissioned to do by 
the vote of the people. He did this amidst the vio- 
lent execrations of the Democrats, but they, upon 
securing the control of the next House, promptly 
paid him the compliment of adopting the "Reed 

In this work the new Speaker had the support of 
McKinley, whom he appointed a member of the 

154 william Mckinley 

important Committee on Rules, which, under the 
new arrangement, practically controlled the business 
of Congress. 1 He also made his leading opponent 
chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means, 
which carried with it the leadership of the majority 
on the floor of the House. It was an appointment of 
epoch-making moment. McKinley was the leading 
Protectionist of the country and a tariff expert of 
unsurpassed skill, not only able but willing to devote 
unlimited time and study to the complicated prob- 
lems of the position. The chairmanship of Ways and 
Means placed upon him the responsibility for the 
new tariff bill, which the whole country awaited 
with unwonted intensity of feeling, and gave him 
the opportunity, which led, first to defeat, and then 
to the White House. In this, Mr. Reed, who was 
himself a candidate for the Presidency, unwittingly 
played into the hand of his opponent. 

It was an exceptionally strong committee that Mr. 
Reed named. Tts members were: William McKinley, 
Jr., of Ohio, chairman; Julius C. Burrows, of Michi- 
gan; Thomas M. Bayne, of Pennsylvania; Nelson 
Dingley, Jr., of Maine; Joseph McKenna, of Califor- 
nia; Sereno E. Payne, of New York; Robert M. La 
Follette of Wisconsin; and John H. Gear, of Iowa, 

1 The Committee on Rules was composed of the Speaker, Mr. 
McKinley, Mr. Cannon, Mr. Randall, and Mr. Carlisle. The new 
Rules of Procedure were adopted by the House, February 20, 1890. 


Republicans: John G. Carlisle, of Kentucky; Roger 
Q. Mills, of Texas; Benton McMillin, of Tennessee; 
Roswell P. Flower, of New York; and Clifton R. 
Breckinridge, of Arkansas, Democrats. 

Of this distinguished list, the chairman became 
President of the United States; five members — 
Burrows, La Follette, Carlisle, Mills, and Gear — 
became United States Senators; two — Dingley and 
Payne — succeeded to the chairmanship of the 
Committee on Ways and Means; four — Gear, 
McMillin, Flower, and La Follette — became gover- 
nors of their respective States; Carlisle had already 
served as Speaker of the House and later became 
Secretary of the Treasury; McKenna served as At- 
torney-General in the Cabinet of McKinley and 
later was appointed Associate Justice of the Supreme 
Court of the United States; and Breckinridge repre- 
sented the United States as Minister to Russia. 

A study of McKinley 's course as chairman of 
the Committee on Ways and Means reveals both 
the quality of his strength and the cause for a mis- 
conception of his real character on the part of those 
who knew him but slightly. His power was never 
of the self-assertive kind. He assumed no airs of 
superiority, was never pugnacious, did not seek to 
command by threats or bullying, still less by bar- 
gaining, and never manifested anxiety to appear on 

i 5 6 william Mckinley 

the first pages of the newspapers. He sought results 
and the credit for them did not concern him. 
- In the framing of his famous Tariff Bill each mem- 
ber of the committee had a share. The various sched- 
ules were divided among the Republican members of 
the committee and the chairman sought to obtain 
the benefit of the special abilities of each. Mr. Ding- 
ley, of Maine, was an indefatigable worker, particu- 
larly on the woolen and cotton schedules. Mr. Gear, 
of Iowa, was the mathematician of the committee, 
and was relied upon for many of the computations, 
which he could make with surprising facility. The 
Democrats, though not allowed to change the pro- 
tective character of the bill, were nevertheless free 
to offer amendments and suggestions, some of which 
were accepted. The chairman was ever ready to al- 
low other members to have full credit for their con- 
tributions and sought no distinction for himself. 
Yet his was the dominating mind. He was familiar 
with every schedule and knew all the details. In 
Committee of the Whole he was alert and ready to 
answer every inquiry and to take advantage of every 
possible parliamentary advantage. While utilizing 
the knowledge of many minds, not only in the com- 
mittee but outside of Congress, he knew what he 
wanted in every particular and usually secured it. 
In the construction of the bill as finally presented, 


he impressed upon the measure the unmistakable 
imprint of his own positive ideas of protective prin- 
ciples and of his masterly knowledge of the indus- 
tries and business of the country. His powers of per- 
suasion enabled him to convince his associates of 
the correctness of his judgment, and he accom- 
plished his purpose in this committee precisely as 
he was able to do later as President — by the sheer 
force of reasonableness. 

the Mckinley bill 

THE answer of the country to Mr. Cleveland's 
vigorous appeal for a revenue tariff was an 
unmistakable commission to the Republicans to 
frame a tariff law on the opposite principle. The 
President's recommendations had been embodied 
in the Mills Bill, which was debated with unprece- 
dented thoroughness; the Democratic Party formally- 
endorsed this bill as a statement of the principles 
in which they now openly believed ; the Republicans 
squarely opposed it; the issue was argued in every 
State to the practical exclusion of all others; and 
before the Mills Bill received its final quietus in 
Congress, its principles were definitely repudiated by 
the voters. 

President Harrison, in his inaugural address, on 
March 4, 1889, favored a readjustment of the Tariff 
in such a way as to prevent the accumulation of all 
unnecessary surplus, and in his first message to Con- 
gress, December 3, 1889, recommended a revision of 
the Tariff Law, both in the administrative features 
and in the schedules. 
The first recommendation received prompt at- 

the Mckinley bill 159 

tention. On the 17 th of December, McKinley pre- 
sented from the Committee on Ways and Means an 
act "to simplify the laws in relation to the collection 
of the revenue." This bill was a long step in the di- 
rection of making revenue laws efficient. It is safe to 
say that many importers, however much they disliked 
the high protective duties of the McKinley Tariff, 
would have accepted its provisions with cheerful 
faces had it not been prefaced by this administra- 
tive law. 

It sought to protect the Government against im- 
position, and the honest importer against fraud. 
Under the former laws, ingenious systems of under- 
valuation and false appraisement of merchandise had 
developed, which deprived the Government of vast 
sums, estimated variously at from one fourth to one 
half the amount that would have been collected on 
a correct valuation of the imports. Dishonest im- 
porters were reaping a harvest from the advan- 
tages thereby gained over those who paid their du- 
ties honestly. To correct these abuses had been the 
object of a part of the legislation attempted by the 
previous Congress, in which both Senate and House 
were agreed. McKinley had strongly urged, but in 
vain, a Conference Committee, which might at least 
agree upon this needed reform, pointing out that 
it was a non-partisan question, concerning simply 


the honest collection of the revenue and an honest 
administration of the laws. 

The new proposition established a Board of 
General Appraisers, to whom were to be referred all 
questions regarding the proper classification and 
appraisal of importations. It was designed to relieve 
the courts of the duty of deciding intricate cases, 
many of which hinged upon technical terms of trade 
and involved complicated questions of classification. 
Such a measure should not have aroused serious 
opposition, yet it was not passed without a struggle 
and then by a strict party vote. It proved to be 
a wise and successful measure, and was allowed to 
remain on the statute books by the Congress that 
repealed the McKinley Tariff . Since then, it has been 
amended by subsequent legislation, chiefly in 1913, 
but substantial portions of it still remain in force. 1 

1 The Customs Administrative Act of 1890 has been amended by 
the Tariff Acts of 1894, 1897, and 1909, and more especially by the 
Act of 1913. The Act of 1890 was reenacted with certain modifi- 
cations in each of the above-named acts, so that it does not now 
stand as the Act of 1890. The Act of 1890 was drafted largely by 
Colonel Geo. C. Tichenor, who was Assistant Secretary of the Treas- 
ury and afterwards chairman of the Board of General Appraisers; 
A. K. Tingle, who was supervising special agent of the Treasury; and 
General Spaulding, one of the ablest assistant secretaries the Treas- 
ury ever had. These were all trained customs men. Prior to 1890 
the law was in fragmentary form, scattered here and there through 
numerous legislative enactments. All these parts were brought to- 
gether and correlated in this act which also contained many new 
provisions that marked a distinct advance in customs laws and pro- 

The Law of 1890 was improved in some respects and weakened in 

the Mckinley bill 161 

To the preparation of the general bill, the Com- 
mittee on Ways and Means devoted nearly four 
months of labor. Every interest in the country that 
asked for it was given a hearing. "Manufacturers, 
merchants, farmers, grangers, members of the Farm- 
ers' Alliance, 'agents, factors, wool-growers, Free- 
Traders and Protectionists, — all who presented 
themselves to the committee were freely, fully, pa- 
tiently heard. The minority party, equally with the 
majority, was given every facility to present jts views, 
and both those who opposed and those who advo- 
cated the bill were urged to present any testimony 
they could in support of their respective positions." * 
Mr. Flower, of New York, a Democratic member of 
the committee, frankly admitted, "I do not know 
of a single manufacturer or laborer who desired to 
be heard that has not been accorded a full and free 
hearing." This was in marked contrast to the pro- 
cedure of the committee which prepared the Mills 
Bill. In that case not only were persons who were 

others, by the later Tariff Acts, but on the whole it was one of the 
most important administrative acts in relation to the Tariff ever 
put on the statute books. 
The Act of 191 3 improves the Act of 1890 in certain particulars, 

— for example, with regard to the method of preparing and present- 
ing invoices for passage through the customs. But, on the other 
hand, giving special agents of the Treasury and secret service agents 
authority to seize books, records, etc., and penalizing importers if 
they fail to turn over the books, has been criticized as going a little 
too far. 

- l McKinley, in The Tariff in the Days of Henry Clay and Since. ■ 


interested in the maintenance of protective duties 
denied a hearing, but the minority members of the 
committee were excluded from the discussion. 

The McKinley Bill was reported on the 16th of 
April, 1 890. Its consideration was begun by the House 
on the 7th of May. In his report accompanying the 
bill, McKinley began with the statement, based upon 
the annual report of the Secretary of the Treasury, 
that for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1890, the prob- 
able excess of receipts over expenditures would be 
$92,000,000. Deducting the amount required for the 
sinking-fund, the net surplus would be $43,678,883. 
A surplus nearly as large was indicated for the com- 
ing fiscal year, and the available cash in the Treas- 
ury was nearly $90,000,000. These facts made a re- 
duction desirable and this the bill contemplated. 
The purpose of the bill was clearly stated : — 

"It is framed in the interest of the people of the 
United States. It is for the better defense of Ameri- 
can homes and American industries. While securing 
the needed revenue, its provisions look to the occu- 
pations of our own people, their comfort and their 
welfare; to the successful prosecution of industrial 
enterprises already started, and to the opening of new 
lines of production where our conditions and re- 
sources will admit. Ample revenues for the wants of 
the Government are provided by this bill, and every 

the Mckinley bill i63 

reasonable encouragement is given to productive en- 
terprises and to the labor employed therein. The aim 
has been to impose duties upon such foreign prod- 
ucts as compete with our own, whether of the soil 
or the shop, and to enlarge the free list wherever 
this can be done without injury to any American 
industry, or wherever an existing home industry can 
be helped without detriment to another industry 
which is equally worthy of the protecting care of the 

"The committee believe that, inasmuch as nearly 
$300,000,000 are annually required to meet the ex- 
penses of the Government, it is wiser to tax those 
foreign products which seek a market here in compe- 
tition with our own than to tax our domestic prod- 
ucts or the non-competing foreign products. The 
committee, responding as it believes to the sentiment 
of the country and the recommendations of the 
President, submit what they consider to be a just 
and equitable revision of the Tariff, which, while pre- 
serving that measure of protection which is required 
for our industrial independence, will secure a re- 
duction of the revenue both from customs and inter- 
nal revenue sources. We have not looked alone to 
a reduction of the revenue, but have kept steadily 
in view the interests of our producing classes, and 
have been ever mindful of that which is due to our 

164 william Mckinley 

political conditions, our labor and the character of 
our citizenship. We have realized that a reduction 
of duties below the difference between the cost of la- 
bor and production in competing countries and our 
own would result either in the abandonment of much 
of our manufacturing here or in the depression of our 
labor. Either result would bring disaster the extent 
of which no one can measure. We have recommended 
no duty above the point of difference between the 
normal cost of production here, including labor, and 
the cost of like production in the countries which 
seek our markets, nor have we hesitated to give this 
measure of duty even though it involved an increase 
over present rates and showed an advance of percent- 
ages and ad-valorem equivalents. . . . We have sought 
to look 'at the conditions of each industry at home 
and its relations to foreign competition, and provide 
for that duty which would be adequate in each case." 
The committee estimated that its recommenda- 
tions, if adopted, would reduce the revenue from 
imports at least $60,936,536 and from internal 
revenue $10,327,878, an aggregate of $71,264,414. 
By far the greatest part of this reduction was to be 
obtained by remitting the duties on sugar and mo- 
lasses, 1 which in 1889 yielded $55,975,610. It was 

I l Sugar, up to and including No. 1 6 Dutch standard in color, and 
molasses were put on the free list and a duty of four tenths of a cent 
a pound was laid on refined sugar above No. 16. A bounty of two 


stated as a reason for this radical change that the 
duty on sugar was really a tax, because so large 
a proportion of the amount consumed was neces- 
sarily imported. In this respect it differed materially 
from duties laid on articles produced or manufac- 
tured in the United States in sufficient quantity to 
meet the needs of our people. But protection was 
not to be denied the producers of sugar in this coun- 
try, and therefore a bounty of two cents a pound was 
to be paid on all sugar produced in the United States, 
for fifteen years. The estimated cost of this bounty 
was $7,000,000. 

The bounty provision, indeed, the sugar clause as 
a whole, was regarded with misgivings even by the 
friends of the bill, Mr. McKenna, a Republican mem- 
ber of the committee, going so far as openly to op- 
pose it. McKinley in the course of the debate ex- 
plained the action of the committee, by pointing 
out that only about one eighth of the sugar consumed 
was produced in the United States, and that it was 
thought desirable, by making all sugar free, to relieve 
the people of this tax upon an important food prod- 
uct. This, however, would mean ruin to the sugar 
producers of the country. "So," he argued, "the 

cents a pound was to be paid on sugar made in this country from 
cane, beets, or sorghum produced in the United States, the bounty 
to continue for fifteen years. Maple sugar was added during the dis- 
cussion of the bill. 


Committee on Ways and Means, looking to the 
average sentiment of the country, wishing on the one 
hand to give the people free and cheap sugar, and 
desiring on the other hand to do no harm to this 
great industry in our midst, have recommended an 
entire abolition of all duties upon sugar; and then, 
mindful as we have ever been of our own industries, 
we turn about and give to this industry two cents 
upon every pound of sugar produced in the United 
States, a sum equal to the duties now imposed upon 
foreign sugar imported into this country. We have 
thus given the people free and cheap sugar, and at 
the same time we have given to our producers, with 
their invested capital, absolute and complete pro- 
tection against the cheaper sugar produced by the 
cheaper labor of other countries." 

This recommendation, though wholly consistent 
with the protective theory, was generally consid- 
ered, by those who can see no sincerity of purpose in 
a tariff bill, as the part of the measure particularly 
intended to win popular support. If so, it failed in 
its purpose, for in the election which followed it 
made no impression on the popular mind. 

A similar charge was made regarding the proposed 
duties on agricultural products. These, it was said, 
were intended to win the farmer vote, which would 
not see with complacency the protection of the manu- 


facturing interests unless they were allowed to share 
in it. In all fairness it must be said that McKinley 
was actuated by no such motive, but on the contrary 
remained true to his principle of seeking the highest 
good for the greatest number. The Republican Party 
in its platforms of 1884 and of 1888 had specifically 
demanded protection for the wool-growing industry. 
McKinley proposed a small increase of one cent a 
pound in the duties on wool of the first class, nothing 
on the second class, and an advance from five to 
eight cents per pound on the third class. This en- 
couragement and defensive legislation would, in his 
judgment, enable the United States to produce all 
the wool it consumed, — about 600,000,000 pounds, 
— instead of importing more than half of it. Such a 
production would require 100,000,000 sheep, — or 
an addition to the number in the country at that 
time of about 57,400,000. The accomplishment of 
such a purpose would not only benefit the farmers, 
but the whole country. "If there is any one indus- 
try which appeals with more force than another for 
defensive duties it is this, and to no class of our 
citizens should this House more cheerfully lend legis- 
lative assistance, where it can properly be done, than 
to the million farmers who own sheep in the United 

It was not alone by the duty on wool that the 

168 william Mckinley 

committee hoped to benefit the agricultural interests 
whose "success and prosperity are vital to the na- 
tion." The rates were advanced on all "the prod- 
ucts of the soil which either do supply or can be 
brought to supply the home consumption." As a 
reason McKinley urged that "a critical examination 
of the subject will show that agriculture is suffering 
chiefly from a most damaging foreign competition 
in our home market. The increase in importations 
of agricultural products since 1850 has been enor- 
mous, mounting from $40,000,000 to more than 
$356,000,000, in 1889. This is an increase of nearly 
900 per cent, while the population increased for the 
same period less than 300 per cent. During the past 
ten years this growth in importation has been most 
rapid, and has been marked by a significant and 
corresponding decline in prices of the home-grown 

The agricultural schedules of the bill were severely 
ridiculed by the Opposition. They pointed to the 
large exports of grain and other breadstuff's and de- 
clared the absurdity of any fear that the United 
States could suffer from foreign competition. Mc- 
Kinley, keeping his eyes open to the future, met the 
argument fairly. He said: "We do not appreciate 
that while the United States last year raised 490,- 
000,000 bushels of wheat, France raised 316,000,000 

the Mckinley bill 169 

bushels, Italy raised 103,000,000 bushels, Russia, 
189,000,000 bushels, and India 243,000,000 bushels, 
and that the total production of Asia, including 
Asia Minor, Persia, and Syria, amounted to over 
315,000,000 bushels. Our sharpest competition 
comes from Russia and India, and the increased 
product of other nations only serves to increase 
the world's supply, and diminish proportionately the 
demand for ours; and if we will only reflect on the 
difference between the cost of labor in producing 
wheat in the United States and in competing coun- 
tries we will readily perceive how near we are to the 
danger line, if indeed we have not quite reached it, 
so far even as our own markets are concerned." 

Among the general provisions of the bill was a new 
arrangement by which a manufacturer could import 
his materials and after making them into his own 
product, reexport the latter, and receive back from 
the Government ninety-nine per cent of the duty 
he had paid. "This," said McKinley, "is, in effect, 
what free-traders and our political opponents are 
clamoring for, namely, 'free raw materials for the 
foreign trade.' And if you are desirous of seeing what 
you can do in the way of entering the foreign market, 
here is the opportunity for you." 

There is no doubt that the section of the McKin- 
ley Bill which attracted the greatest amount of at- 

170 william Mckinley 

tention was the proposition to increase the duty on 
tin plate. It was even more of a novelty after being 
amended than when it came from the hands of the 
committee. It was something new to legislate for the 
protection of an industry that had not been started ; 
but it was quite unique to provide that the protect- 
ing duty should automatically repeal itself if the 
effort should not succeed. 

It had been taken for granted for many years that 
tin plate could not be made in the United States. 
In 1873-75 attempts were made to manufacture it, 
but before the effort could be fairly started, the for- 
eign makers crushed the threatened competition by 
reducing the price from $12 a box to $4.50. When 
the American mills were put out of existence the 
price was" advanced to $9 and $10 a box. From that 
time until 1890 the Welsh manufacturers enjoyed a 
monopoly and fixed their own prices. In 1889 the 
importation amounted to 735,779,988 pounds, upon 
which, under the Tariff law of 1883, a duty of over 
$7,000,000 was paid. This duty was a tax, for the 
price was fixed by the foreigner, which the American 
consumer, in the absence of competition, was obliged 
to pay, plus the duty. 

Tin plate is simply sheet iron or steel, coated with 
tin. With the metals readily available there seemed 
to be no reason why it could not be produced in the 


United States and the great growth of the canning 
industry was causing a steadily increasing demand. 
McKinley saw the opportunity and made careful 
investigations. He brought to the attention of Con- 
gress letters from capitalists who were ready to 
undertake the manufacture of tin plate at once 
if guaranteed adequate protection. McKinley said: 
"We have now four mills which can be at once 
adapted to making tin plate. They can produce 
about 4000 tons a year. It would require ninety 
mills of the dimensions of those now here to make 
the tin plate used in our country, and it would re- 
quire over 23,000 men to be employed directly in 
this industry. But the benefits would not stop there. 
The additional labor in mining the coal and ores, 
in producing the pig metal, the lead, the tin, the 
lumber for boxing, and the sulphuric acid, would fur- 
nish labor to 50,000 workmen and bring support to 
200,000 people. The capital required would be above 
$30,000,000. I know no more certain and encourag- 
ing field for labor and capital than is here presented. 
We have not hesitated, therefore, to recommend the 
advanced duty." 

In the Committee of the Whole, the duty was 
fixed at 2.2 cents a pound instead of one cent as pro- 
vided by the Act of 1883. In the final vote on the 
tin-plate provision, it barely escaped defeat, being 

i 7 2 william Mckinley 

adopted by a vote of 150 to 149. The Senate, at the 
instigation of Senator Spooner, added an amendment 
providing that after 1897 all tin plate should be ad- 
mitted free, unless the domestic production for some 
one year before that date should have equaled one 
third of the importations during any one year from 
1890 to 1896. The infant was thus guaranteed pro- 
tection before he was born, but woe unto him if he 
should not develop into a healthy child ! 

Fortunately he did so develop. McKinley's faith 
was justified. The importation for the fiscal year 
1896 was 385,138,983 pounds. One third of that 
amount is 128,379,661, which was the minimum 
amount necessary' to be produced to avoid the auto- 
matic repeal of the duty. The actual production for 
the calendar year 1897 was 574779-520 pounds! 

The succeeding Congress reduced the duty to 
1.2 cents in 1894 without much protest, and the 
Dingley Law raised it to I J cents, the larger rate 
originally considered necessary to start the indus- 
try, having been found excessive. The business con- 
tinued to thrive, reaching its maximum in 191 2, 
when the total production of tin plate and terne 
plate in the United States, which before the Mc- 
Kinley Law had been nothing, reached the total 
of 2,157,055,000 pounds. The imports, which were 
735,779,988 pounds in 1889, were only 6,613,253 

the Mckinley bill 173 

pounds in 191 2, while the exports in the same year 
were 182,994,560 pounds. In 191 4, instead of the 
four mills which McKinley announced as ready to 
begin the manufacture of tin plate, there were in 
actual operation thirty large plants, comprising 358 
mills, and thirteen more were in process of con- 
struction. Thus, by the operation of a wise piece of 
legislation, a great industry was transferred from 
Wales to this country. In less than a quarter of a 
century American mills were meeting a vastly in- 
creased demand for manufacturing a product nearly 
three times as great as the total importations of the 
year preceding the McKinley Law, while the im- 
portations were reduced to a nominal amount, nearly 
all of which was reexported, thus taking advantage 
of the drawback of ninety-nine per cent of the duty 
paid. Nor did the tariff which brought about this 
important addition to American industry increase 
the price of the product. The average price of a box 
of tin plate in 1880 was $6.75; in 1889 it was $4.55. 
There was a slight increase in 1890, 1891, 1892, 1893, 
and 1894, during which time the industry was get- 
ting started, after which the price declined. In 1895 
it was $3.87, and in 1898 it was as low as $2.99. Since 
then, with the exception of a single year (1900, 
when the price was $4.82), the price has been con- 
sistently lower than it was in 1889. 

1 74 william Mckinley 

In his argument for the Tariff Bill of 1890 Mo 
Kinley made a masterly presentation of the whole 
protective principle. In answer to the claim that tar- 
iffs interrupt the export trade, he said, that, on the 
contrary, under protection such trade has steadily 
and largely increased. "In the year 1843, being the 
first year after the Protective Tariff of 1842 went 
into operation, our exports exceeded our imports 
$40,392,229, and in the following year they exceeded 
our imports $3,141,226. In the two years following, 
the excess of imports over exports was $15,475,000. 
The last year under that Tariff the excess of exports 
over imports was $34,317,249. So during the five 
years of the Tariff of 1842 the excess of exports over 
imports was $62,375,000. Under the low Tariff of 
1846 this was reversed, and, with the single ex- 
ception of the year 1858, the imports exceeded 
the exports (covering a period of fourteen years) 
$465,553,625. During the war and down to 1865 the 
imports with two exceptions exceeded the exports. 
From 1876 down to 1889 inclusive (covering a period 
of fourteen years) there were only two years when 
our imports exceeded our exports, and the total ex- 
cess of exports over imports was $1,581,906,871, of 
the products of our own people more than we brought 
into the United States." 

Foreign commerce has made such remarkable 

the Mckinley bill 175 

strides under protection as to refute the claim that 
our Tariff acts as a "Chinese wall" against foreign 
intercourse. McKinley, indeed, did not regard the 
latter as the great essential to national development. 
His mind was bent upon developing the vast home 
market, and he referred in glowing terms to the do- 
mestic commerce of the country. "But, Mr. Chair- 
man, in the presence of our magnificent domestic 
commerce, the commerce along our inland seas, our 
lakes and rivers and great railroad lines, why need 
we vex ourselves about foreign commerce? The do- 
mestic trade of the United States is 95 per cent of 
the whole of our trade. Nowhere is the progress of 
the country so manifest as in this wonderful growth 
and development. The water carriage of the United 
States along its coasts and its rivers is five times 
greater than the foreign commerce of the United 
States. Why, the movement of tonnage through the 
Detroit River in 1889 was 10,000,000 tons more than 
the total registered entries and clearances at all the 
seaports of the United States, and it was 3,000,000 
tons in excess of the combined foreign and coastwise 
registered tonnage of the ports of Liverpool and 
London. What higher testimony do we want of the 
growth of our internal commerce?" 

Incidentally he referred to the development of 
the merchant marine, in words fraught with more 


than ordinary interest at the present time: "If the 
United States would give the same encouragement 
to her merchant marine and her steamship lines as 
is given by other nations to their ships this com- 
merce on the seas under the American flag would 
increase and multiply. When the United States will 
expend from her treasury from five to six millions 
a year for that purpose, as do France and Great 
Britain to maintain their steamship lines, our ships 
will plough every sea in successful competition with 
the ships of the world." 

1 While willing to admit that the Protective Tariff 
was not wholly responsible for the country's pros- 
perity (though the fervor of his remarks sometimes 
indicates the contrary), McKinley was firmly con- 
vinced, that whatever may have been the effect of 
other causes, the prosperity could not have been 
achieved without the Protective System. 

In closing this speech, he said with great impres- 
siveness: "With me this position is a deep convic- 
tion, not a theory. I believe in it and thus warmly 
advocate it because enveloped in it are my country's 
highest development and greatest prosperity; out of 
it come the greatest gains to the people, the greatest 
comforts to the masses, the widest encouragement for 
manly aspirations, with the largest rewards, dignify- 
ing and elevating our citizenship, upon which the 

the Mckinley bill 177 

safety and purity and permanency of our political 
system depend." 

The bill was passed by the House on May 21, 
1890, by a vote of 164 yeas, all Republicans, and 
142 nays, all Democrats but two, — one Republican 
and one Independent. Six Republicans and fifteen 
Democrats did not vote. In the Senate, the bill 
was reported from the Committee on Finance on 
June 18, and debated until September 11, when it 
was passed with some important amendments. The 
chief one of these was the proposition for Reciproc- 
ity. The Committee on Ways and Means had pro- 
posed to make sugar free of duty. It fell to the lot of 
James G. Blaine, then Secretary of State, to point 
out the fact that this provision, however beneficial 
to the people of the United States, meant opening 
our markets to the free access of certain countries 
to the extent of $95,000,000. Why should we not 
get something in exchange? President Harrison pre- 
sented the substance of Secretary Blaine's suggestion, 
in a special message to Congress, June 19, 1890: — 

"It has been so often and so persistently stated 
that our tariff laws offer an insurmountable barrier 
to a large exchange of products with the Latin- 
American nations that I deem it proper to call special 
attention to the fact that more than eighty-seven 
per cent of the products of these nations sent to our 


ports are now admitted free. If sugar is placed upon 
the free list, practically every important article ex- 
ported from those states will be given untaxed access 
to our markets, except wool. The real difficulty in 
the way of negotiating profitable reciprocity treaties 
is that we have given freely so much that would have 
had value in the mutual concessions which such 
treaties imply. I cannot doubt, however, that the 
present advantages which the products of these near 
and friendly states enjoy in our markets — though 
they are not by law exclusive — will, with other 
considerations, favorably dispose them to adopt 
such measures, by treaty, or otherwise, as will tend to 
equalize and greatly enlarge our mutual exchanges." 
It was finally agreed by the Senate, and in this 
the House concurred, that for the purpose of estab- 
lishing reciprocal trade, the President should be 
empowered to suspend the provisions of the act in 
certain particulars: that is, if any country, exporting 
to the United States sugars, molasses, coffee, tea, 
and hides, should impose duties upon the products 
of the United States which, in view of their free 
access to our markets, should seem reciprocally un- 
equal or unreasonable, the President would suspend 
the provisions of the act so far as such countries 
were concerned, and during such suspension they 
would be obliged to pay certain duties on the articles 


enumerated. This was a use of the tariff, to which, 
at that time, McKinley had given little attention. 
Such matters, he thought, were more within the 
province of the Department of State than in that of 
the Ways and Means Committee of the House. In 
later years, however, he came to realize the full 
force of Mr. Blaine's suggestion. 

The McKinley Bill was the most thorough and 
consistent revision of the Tariff, from the protective 
point of view, that had ever been attempted. It was, 
as the author declared, "protective in every para- 
graph and American in every line and word." As 
the bill passed the House, it contained nearly 4000 
items. The Senate proposed 496 amendments, of 
which 445 were accepted in conference. More than 
one hundred of these were purely verbal and in 
many of the others the changes were comparatively 
unimportant. The Committee of Conference, which 
was appointed on September 15, consisted of Sena- 
tors Aldrich, Sherman, Allison, Hiscock, Voorhees, 
Vance, and Carlisle, and Representatives McKinley, 
Burrows, Bayne, Dingley, McMillin, Flower, and 
Turner. The Democratic members of the Confer- 
ence Committee refused to unite in the report, but 
it was nevertheless agreed to by both Houses of 
Congress and the bill was approved by President 
Harrison on October I. Except where otherwise 


provided, the new Tariff went into effect on Octo- 
ber 6, 1890, just one month before the congressional 

Never before had a tariff bill created such an 
uproar throughout the country. Never was such a 
measure so persistently misrepresented. Never were 
the voters more hopelessly befuddled. Never was 
their judgment so violently warped by false predic- 
tions of dire calamity. 

Unscrupulous dealers marked up the prices of 
their goods, frequently increasing those upon which 
the McKinley Act had made no change or had even 
made reductions. It was all the same to them. The 
new Tariff has made everything higher, they said, 
though as a matter of fact it had been in force so 
short a time that its effects were not as yet appreci- 
able. In McKinley's own district, a few days before 
the election, tin peddlers were hired to go into the 
rural districts. They offered coffee pots at $1 .50, and 
tin cups, worth about five cents, for twenty-five 
cents or more. Everybody was horrified. Of course 
no sales were made, but the lesson was well im- 
pressed that the dreadful McKinley Act had greatly 
increased the cost of everything. 

The same kind of misrepresentation was practiced 
by people apparently reputable. It was claimed that 
the duty on tin would vastly increase the cost of the 

the Mckinley bill i8i 

workingman's can of corn or tomatoes. The duty on 
tin plate had been increased 1.2 cents a pound. As- 
suming that this would be added to the cost and 
that the price of tin plate would not be reduced 
by American competition, the actual amount of tin 
in an ordinary can of tomatoes is so small that the 
added duty would not amount to over a third of a 
cent on a can. No account was taken of the fact that 
the people were to be relieved of a tax of $56,000,000 
a year on sugar, and that many other articles of 
common use, including drugs and chemicals, were 
on the free list. There was no time for the friends of 
the bill to meet the reckless charges against it. The 
"calamity howler" held the attention of the coun- 
try and the result was one of those violent "land- 
slides" that occasionally sweep the country. Nearly 
all the Northern States sent Democratic delegations 
to Congress. Of the 322 members of the House of 
Representatives elected, 235 were Democrats. 

In striking contrast with the false predictions of 
greatly increased prices and badly damaged com- 
merce were the real facts as presented by President 
Harrison in his annual message of December 9, 
1891: — 

"Rarely, if ever before in the history of the coun- 
try, has there been a time when the proceeds of one 
day's labor or the product of one farmed acre would 


purchase so large an amount of those things that 
enter into the living of the masses of the people. I 
believe that a full test will develop the fact that 
the tariff act of the Fifty-first Congress is very fa- 
vorable in its average effect upon the prices of arti- 
cles entering into common use. During the twelve 
months from October I, 1890, to September 30, 
1 891, the total value of our foreign commerce (im- 
ports and exports combined) was $1,747,806,406, 
which was the largest of any year in the history of 
the United States. The largest in any previous year 
was in 1890, when our commerce amounted to 
$1,647,139,193, and the last year exceeds this enor- 
mous aggregate by over one hundred millions. It 
is interesting, and to some it will be surprising, to 
know that during the year ending September 30, 
1 89 1, our imports of merchandise amounted to 
$824,715,270, which was an increase of more than 
$1 1,000,000 over the value of the imports of the cor- 
responding months of the preceding year, when the 
imports of merchandise were unusually large in antic- 
ipation of the tariff legislation then pending. The av- 
erage annual value of the imports of merchandise for 
the ten years from 1881 to 1890 was $692,186,522, 
and during the year ending September 30, 1891, 
this annual average was exceeded by $132,528,469. 
The value of free imports during the twelve months 

the Mckinley bill 183 

ending September 30, 1891, was $118,092,387 more 
than the value of free imports during the corre- 
sponding twelve months of the preceding year, and 
there was during the same period a decrease of 
$106,846,508 in the value of imports of dutiable 
merchandise. The percentage of merchandise ad- 
mitted free of duty during the year to which I have 
referred, the first under the new tariff, was 48.18, 
while during the preceding twelve months, under 
the old tariff, the percentage was 34.27, an increase 
of 13.91 per cent. If we take the six months ending 
September 30 last, which covers the time during 
which sugars have been admitted free of duty, the 
per cent of value of merchandise imported free of 
duty is found to be 55.37, which is a larger percentage 
of free imports than during any prior fiscal year in the 
history of the Government. If we turn to exports of 
merchandise, the statistics are full of gratification. 
The value of such exports of merchandise for the 
twelve months ending September 30, 1891, was 
$923,091,136, while for the corresponding previous 
twelve months it was $860,177,115, an increase of 
$62,914,021, which is nearly three times the average 
annual increase of exports of merchandise for the 
preceding twenty years; this exceeds in amount and 
value the exports of merchandise during any year 
in the history of the Government. The increase in 


the value of exports of agricultural products during 
the year referred to over the corresponding twelve 
months of the prior year was $45,846,197, while the 
increase in the value of exports of manufactured 
products was $16,838,240. There is certainly noth- 
ing in the condition of trade, foreign or domestic, 
there is certainly nothing in the condition of our 
people of any class, to suggest that the existing tariff 
and revenue legislation bears oppressively upon the 
people or retards the commercial development of 
the nation. It may be argued that our condition 
would be better if tariff legislation were on a free- 
trade basis; but it cannot be denied that all the 
conditions of prosperity and of general contentment 
are present in a larger degree than ever before in our 
history, and that, too, just when it was prophesied 
they would be in the worst state. Agitation for radi- 
cal changes in tariff and financial legislation cannot 
help, but may seriously impede, business, to the 
prosperity of which some degree of stability in legis- 
lation is essential. I think there are conclusive evi- 
dences that the new Tariff has created several great 
industries which will, within a few years, give employ- 
ment to several hundred thousand American work- 
ing men and women. In view of the somewhat over- 
crowded condition of the labor market of the United 
States every patriotic citizen should rejoice at such 

the Mckinley bill 185 

a result. The report of the Secretary of the Treas- 
ury shows that the total receipts of the Govern- 
ment, from all sources, for the fiscal year ending 
June 30, 1891, were $458,544» 2 33-°3> while the ex- 
penditures for the same period were $421,304,47046, 
leaving a surplus of $37> 2 39>7 62 .57-" 

It is interesting, also, to compare with the actual 
facts the predictions of Mr. McKinley and Mr. Mills, 
in the debate on the bill. McKinley, it will be re- 
membered, expected a reduction in customs duties of 
about $61,000,000. Mills insisted that there would 
be an actual increase of $4,000,000. Here is a slight 
variation between the two leaders of $65,000,000! 
In 1892, the first year in which the McKinley Act 
was in full operation, the receipts from customs were 
$177,000,000. In 1890 they were $229,000,000. The 
actual decrease was, therefore, about $52,000,000. 
In 1892 the imports were $813,000,000, which is 
$40,000,000 more than in 1890, and yet duty was 
paid on only $355,000,000, whereas in 1890 it had 
been paid on $507,000,000. Under the first full 
year of the McKinley Act duty was actually paid 
on $152,000,000 less of imported merchandise than 
in the year the law was so overwhelmingly con- 
demned. The percentage of duty to total importa- 
tions was only 21.26, while in 1 890 it was 29.12. 

Firm in his belief that he had acted for the best 

186 william Mckinley 

interests of the whole country, McKinley accepted 
the temporary defeat with undaunted spirit. On the 
night of the election, in 1890, when the news came to 
Canton that his cherished policy had been over- 
whelmingly repudiated at the polls, and that he 
himself had been defeated for reelection to Congress, 
Mr. George B. Frease, the editor of the Canton Re- 
pository, came into the dimly lighted room, now 
strewn with papers, where the campaign head- 
quarters had been, and there found Major McKin- 
ley alone. "It's all over," said the editor. "What 
am I to say in the paper?" The Major looked up, 
with determination in every feature. "In the time 
of darkest defeat, victory may be nearest," said he. 
There was some further talk about what ought to be 
said in the newspaper, the result of which was that 
McKinley agreed to write the editorial himself. 
Then and there, in the gloom of disappointment and 
defeat, when a weaker man, seeing nothing but the 
wreck of his life's most cherished ambition and the 
ruin of what he believed to be his greatest achieve- 
ment, would have been unable to express his thought 
from sheer despondency of spirit, he wrote a mes- 
sage buoyant in hope, firm in determination, calm, 
unresentful, undismayed, and sublimely confident 
of ultimate victory. The editorial appeared in the 
Evening Repository, November 8, 1890, as follows: — 



"Protection was never stronger than it is at this 
hour. And it will grow in strength and in the hearts 
of the people. It has won in every contest before the 
people, from the beginning of the Government. 

"It is a significant historical fact that whenever 
there has been a well-defined battle in this country 
between protection and revenue tariff, protection 
has triumphed. It will always be so, so long as we 
have a free ballot. 

"The elections this year were determined upon a 
false issue. A conspiracy between importers, many 
of whom were not even citizens of the United States, 
and the -free-traders of this country, to raise prices 
and charge it upon the McKinley Bill, was success- 
ful. But conspiracies are short-lived and soon expire. 
This one has already been laid bare, and the infamy 
of it will still further appear. Merchants are already 
advertising, now that the election is over, to sell at 
even lower prices than before the passage of the 
McKinley Bill. The trick has won this time. The 
conspiracy has triumphed. But the people who have 
been duped will not forget. Nor will the friends of 
protection lower their flag or raise the British flag. 
The result this year is but history repeating itself. 
Every great measure for the benefit of the people 


and the country, passed immediately before an elec- 
tion, has been temporarily disastrous to the party 
responsible for it. 

"The proclamation of Emancipation, the Four- 
teenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the Consti- 
tution, measures of incalculable value to mankind, 
measures of justice and right, giant steps for hu- 
manity, were followed by disaster, for the time, to 
the party in power. The great Resumption Act 
which brought this country to a sound currency, 
produced disaster to the party in power. So with 
every great measure which time alone can vindi- 
cate. Passion and prejudice, ignorance and willful 
misrepresentation are masterful for the hour against 
any great public law. But the law vindicates itself 
and a duped and deceived public reverse their de- 
crees made in the passion of the hour. 
9 "So will it be with the Tariff Law of 1890. In- 
creased prosperity, which is sure to come, will out- 
run the maligner and vilifier. Reason will be en- 
throned and none will suffer so much as those who 
have participated in misguiding a trusting people. 
Keep up your courage. Strengthen your organiza- 
tions and be ready for the great battle in Ohio in 
1 89 1, and the still greater one in 1892. Home and 
country will triumph in the end. Their enemies, 
whether here or abroad, will never be placed in per- 


manent control of the Government of Washington, 
of Lincoln, and of Grant." 

McKinley's firmness of character was never better 
illustrated than in the months that followed the de- 
feat of 1890. Urged by party associates to modify 
his views on the Tariff, he let it be known that he 
considered his principles sound before the election 
and therefore equally sound afterward. Prejudice 
and passion had temporarily prevailed over reason. 
The people would understand the question better, 
he said, after a year or two of experience under the 
new law. In response to the toast, "The Republican 
Party," at the Lincoln banquet of the Ohio Repub- 
lican League on February 14, 1893, McKinley reas- 
serted his faith in words full of hope and courage. 
He said: "The Republican Party values its prin- 
ciples no less in defeat than in victory. It holds to 
them after a reverse, as before, because it believes 
in them ; and believing in them, is ready to battle for 
them. They are not espoused for mere policy, nor to 
serve in a single contest. They are set deep and 
strong in the hearts of the party, and are interwoven 
with its struggles, its life, and its history. Without 
discouragement, our great party reaffirms its alle- 
giance to Republican doctrine, and with unshaken 
confidence seeks again the" public judgment through 


public discussion. The defeat of 1892 has not made 
Republican principles less true nor our faith in their 
ultimate triumph less firm. The party accepts with 
true American spirit the popular verdict, and, chal- 
lenging the interpretation put upon it by our political 
opponents, takes an appeal to the people, whose 
court is always open and whose right of review is 
never questioned." 

The Republican policy did not bring, as pre- 
dicted, 1 an era of high prices and unjustifiable in- 
creases in the cost of the necessities of life. On the 
contrary, prices were generally lower. 

A committee of the Senate, composed of both 
Democrats and Republicans, made a searching in- 
vestigation of the cost of food, clothing, and other 
necessaries, for each month from June I, 1889, to 
September 1, 1891. The report, which was unani- 
mous, proved that the retail prices of 214 repre- 
sentative selected articles were distinctly lower on 
the last date than in any of the preceding months. 
In the following year the United States Commis- 
sion of Labor, taking the same 214 articles, reported 
a further decrease in the cost of living, in May, 1892, 
of 2.1 per cent as compared with September, 1891, 
and 3.4 per cent as compared with June, July, and 
August, 1889. It was likewise proved that wages 
1 Democratic platform of 1888. 

the Mckinley bill 191 

had slightly increased during the same period and 
that they averaged TJ per cent higher than in Great 
Britain. As for the farmers, who were pictured 
as being deluded with false promises, while being 
"robbed by the stealthy hand of high Protection," 
they received for their products in September, 1891, 
an average of 18 per cent more than in June, 1889. 
Two years after the passage of the McKinley Act, 
therefore, the wage-earners, generally speaking, 
were not only receiving higher wages than ever be- 
fore paid in this or any other country, but could buy 
more with their money, while the farmers were ob- 
taining higher prices for their products. 

In the first six months of 1892, 40 cotton mills, 
48 knitting mills, 15 silk mills, 4 plush mills, and 2 
linen mills were built. On September 30, 1892, 
32 companies were already manufacturing tin and 
terne plate and 14 companies were building new 
mills for the purpose. The Labor Commissioner of 
the State of New York reported for the year 1891 an 
increase over 1890 of $2,i,2>i$^o in the product of 
about 6000 manufacturing establishments in that 
State. In the same year the savings banks reported 
increased deposits of nearly $100,000,000, about 
ninety per cent of which represented the savings of 
the working-people. 
" The claim that under Protection "enterprise is 

192 william Mckinley 

fettered and bound down to home markets" x was 
further answered by an export trade in the fiscal 
year 1892 of $1,030,278,148, the highest figure in 
the history of the country. 

The cry that the "tariff is a tax" was met by the 
official figures for the fiscal year 1892, when the du- 
ties collected were $52,000,000 less than in 1890 and 
$42,000,000 less than in 1 891 ; the free list was larger 
than ever before, 55. 36 per cent of all importations 
coming in free of duty, while in 1889 the percentage 
was only 34.42 per cent. The average rate of duty on 
all imports in 1892 was the lowest in thirty years, 
21.26 per cent. 

It has been charged that the McKinley Act went 
too far in its reduction of the revenue, and was the 
cause of the conversion of the surplus of $105,000,000 
in 1890 into a deficit of nearly $70,000,000 in 1894. 
There were two reasons for this change, neither of 
which is connected with the McKinley Act. In 
1893 the surplus was only $2,341,673, a reduction 
since 1890 of $103,002^23. The expenditures, includ- 
ing interest on the public debt, were $85,741,469 
more in 1893 than they were in 1890. Had they re- 
mained the same, the decrease in the surplus would 
have been only a little more than $17,000,000. In 
the fiscal year 1894 another cause came into opera- 

1 Democratic platform of 1888. 

the Mckinley bill 193 

tion, which changed the slender surplus of $2,341,673 
into a deficit of $69,803,261. This was a sudden de- 
crease in the dutiable importations of $146,000,000 
as compared with the preceding year, resulting in 
a loss of duties of over $71,000,000. Had the country 
accepted the McKinley Act promptly after its pas- 
sage, as the people came later to accept its prin- 
ciple, this deficit would not have occurred, though 
it must be admitted that the increased expenditures, 
whether justifiable or not, had cut down the surplus 
to an uncomfortably small margin. With the pro- 
tective principle apparently overthrown, and the 
certainty that a Democratic Congress would reduce 
the duties, importations were naturally held back 
awaiting the change. It may, therefore, be fairly 
said that the cause of the deficit of 1894 was partly 
the large increase in the appropriations of Congress 
and partly the reduction of imports incident to the 
anticipation of radical changes in the tariff duties. 



THE speculative period following the Civil War 
bred a large class of short-sighted persons, 
who, finding themselves hopelessly in debt, sought an 
escape through the channels of cheap money. They 
demanded the issue by the Government of plentiful 
quantities of legal-tender notes. The craze for green- 
backs was checked in 1 874 by President Grant, who 
vetoed an inflation measure intended to increase 
the legal-tender currency $18,000,000. This was fol- 
lowed on January 7, 1875, by the passage of the Act 
for the Resumption of Specie Payments, which pro- 
vided for the reduction of the legal-tender notes from 
$382,000,000 to $300,000,000. The first measure 
was a concession to the inflationists by the Repub- 
licans in Congress for political reasons — a misstep 
from which the country was saved only by the in- 
terposition of a Republican President. The later 
measure was passed by the same Congress, but under 
vastly different circumstances. The large plurality 
of the Republicans in the Forty-third Congress had 
been overturned and the incoming Congress, elected 
in November, was strongly Democratic. There was 


nothing to be gained by further concessions, and 
the Republican Congressmen accordingly rallied 
without fear to the support of this conservative 
but far-reaching legislation, and carried it unaided 
by a Democrat in either the House or the Senate. 
The date set for resumption, January 1, 1879, was 
so far ahead that opponents of the law fully ex- 
pected its repeal before it could go into effect. The 
next four years were marked accordingly by many 
attacks upon the citadel of sound money. Simul- 
taneously the demand for inflation gradually merged 
itself into an attempt to accomplish much the same 
purpose through the remonetization of silver. 

When the Act of 1873 officially discontinued the 
coinage of the silver dollar, the fact attracted little 
notice, because the silver in a dollar was then worth 
more as bullion than it would be as coin. In 1874 the 
falling price of silver changed the point of view, and 
in the ensuing years, the silver miners and owners 
of bullion saw the opportunity for profit that would 
come from inducing the Government to coin their 
silver at a nominal value greater than its real worth. 
The scheme was no sooner suggested than it re- 
ceived the enthusiastic support of all who were 
clamoring for cheaper money. The inflationists 
saw a new chance to realize their dream, for with 
unlimited free coinage of silver there would be no 

196 william Mckinley 

doubt about the expansion of the currency. Their 
wild craze for paper money was therefore converted 
into an almost equal enthusiasm for silver. Yet there 
were many strong men in both the Senate and the 
House, who favored the resumption of specie pay- 
ments and were known as "hard-money" men, who 
voted nevertheless for the free coinage of silver. 

Special bills for remonetizing silver were intro- 
duced in Congress in 1876, but no action was taken. 

On the 5th of November, 1877, a bill introduced 
by Richard P. Bland, of Missouri, was taken up 
under a suspension of the rules, and passed by the 
large majority of 163 to 34, with 93 not voting. It 
provided that any owner of silver bullion might de- 
posit it at the mints and have it coined, without 
charge, into standard silver dollars of 412J grains, 
and that such coins should be a legal tender for all 
debts, public and private, except where otherwise 
provided by contract. The Senate, though willing 
to "do something for silver," as the current phrase 
of the day expressed it, was not disposed to grant 
unlimited free coinage. They did not object to re- 
storing the standard silver dollars to circulation, but 
insisted that the seigniorage, or difference between 
the value of the silver bullion and its value when 
coined into dollars, should go into the Treasury of 
the United States instead of into the pockets of the 


bullion owners. They accordingly amended the House 
bill by providing that the Government should pur- 
chase each month not less than $2,000,000 nor more 
than $4,000,000 worth of silver and coin it into 
standard dollars of 412 J grains each. In this form 
the bill passed the Senate and was accepted by the 
House. The Bland-Allison Bill, as it was called, was 
vetoed by President Hayes, but was passed over his 
veto on February 28, 1878, by a vote of 198 to 73 in 
the House and of 46 to 19 in the Senate. 

McKinley voted for the free coinage of silver in 
its original form as proposed by Mr. Bland; for the 
Bland- Allison Bill as it came from the Senate; and 
for the passage of the bill over the veto of President 
Hayes. For these votes he was severely censured, 
not at the time, but in later years. His political 
enemies, especially tariff reformers who dreaded his 
power and wished to be rid of him, used them as a 
means of forestalling his nomination for the Presi- 
dency. He was accused of inconsistency, was said 
to be "wobbly," and denounced as unreliable. 

Such partisan charges are, in the light of subse- 
quent history, so manifestly insincere that they 
would scarcely deserve mention were it not for the 
fact that they serve to emphasize two cardinal prin- 
ciples of McKinley's character — first, his honesty, 
and second, his fearlessness. 


From the time when the young Canton lawyer first 
took the stump in Ohio, to combat the wild heresies 
of the greenback craze, which turned men's brains 
to madness in the fierce cry for more money, threat- 
ening the whole country with a deluge of inflation 
and repudiation, McKinley was consistently, persis- 
tently, and emphatically the champion of honest 
money. When the attempt was made to overthrow 
the plans for the resumption of specie payments, by 
repealing the third section of the Act of 1875, which 
authorized the Secretary of the Treasury to pre- 
pare for resumption and in doing so to dispose of 
United States bonds for the redemption and cancel- 
lation of the greenback currency, McKinley, on 
November 6, 1878, voted against the repeal, thus 
helping to make possible the successful resumption 
of specie payments on January 1/1879 — an event 
that marked the beginning of a new era of prosperity 
which was only too gladly welcomed after the years 
of depression following the panic of 1873. 

In his eulogy of Garfield, 1 delivered in the House 
of Representatives, January 19, 1886, he plainly 
showed the strength of his own desire for sound 
money in the praise accorded his former colleague. 
After saying that Garfield brought vast learning 

1 In acceptance of a statue of Garfield for the Statuary Hall in 
the Capitol. 


and comprehensive judgment to a wide range of 
subjects, he continued: — 

"Great in dealing with them all, dull and com- 
monplace in none, to me he was the strongest, broad- 
est, and bravest when he spoke for honest money, the 
fulfillment of the nation's promises, the resumption 
of specie payments, and the maintenance of the 
public faith. He contributed his share, in full meas- 
ure, to secure national honesty and preserve invi- 
olate our national honor. None did more, few, if 
any, so much, to bring the Government back to a 
sound, stable, and constitutional money. . . . 

"Tome his greatest effort was made on this floor 
in the Forty-fifth Congress, from his old seat yonder 
near the center aisle. He was at his best. He rose to 
the highest requirements of the subject and the oc- 
casion. His mind and soul were absorbed with his 
topic. He felt the full responsibility of his position 
and the necessity of averting a policy (the abandon- 
ment of specie resumption) which he believed would 
be disastrous to the highest interests of the coun- 
try. Unfriendly criticism seemed only to give him 
breadth of contemplation and boldness and force 
of utterance. 

"Those of us who were so fortunate as to hear him 
cannot efface the recollection of his matchless effort. 
Both sides of this Chamber were eager listeners, and 

200 william Mckinley 

crowded galleries bent to catch every word, and all 
were sensibly moved by his forceful logic and im- 
passioned eloquence. He at once stepped to the front 
without rival or contestant, secure in the place he 
had fairly earned. The press and the people received 
the address with warm approval, and his rank before 
the country was fixed as a strong, faithful, and fear- 
less leader. No one thing he had ever done contrib- 
uted so much to his subsequent elevation; no act 
of his life required higher courage; none displayed 
greater power; none realized to him larger honors; 
none brought him higher praise." 

If, then, McKinley was consistently in favor of 
honest money, he was equally consistent in daring 
at all times to act according to his convictions. Gar- 
field was opposed to the free coinage of silver, and 
McKinley had great respect for his opinion. Never- 
theless, believing his own views to be correct, he voted 
against his distinguished colleague. McKinley was a 
frequent visitor at the White House and Hayes was 
probably the warmest friend he had in Washington. 
Yet he voted to pass the bill over the President's 
veto. Here he showed his independence of character. 
But in later years, when a riper judgment and added 
experience convinced him of his error, he had the 
courage to brave the taunt of inconsistency. Minds 
must grow as well as bodies. Webster once said, " I 


hope I know more of the Constitution of my country 
than I did when I was twenty years old." The man 
who enters public life so completely self-satisfied 
that he cannot grow with the times, nor be moulded 
in the slightest degree by the most enlightened pub- 
lic sentiment, makes a poor public servant. Emer- 
son says, "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of 
little minds, adored by little statesmen and philos- 
ophers and divines. With consistency a great soul 
has simply nothing to do." McKinley was not one of 
those who allow consistency to "scare them from 
their self-trust." If he made a mistake, as he clearly 
did in this instance, he was big enough and brave 
enough to rectify it. 

The question may be asked, Why did McKinley 
vote for the free coinage of silver, if he was always 
in favor of sound money? The answer is simple. The 
use of silver as money under proper conditions is 
neither dishonest nor unsound. From 1838 until the 
passage of the Bland-Allison Bill in 1878 there were 
no silver dollars in circulation in the country. In 1873 
this fact was legally recognized and the gold dollar 
was made the unit of value. The Act of February 12, 
1873, came to be denounced in later years by the 
advocates of silver as a "crime," as though it had 
been passed surreptitiously. It was before Congress, 
however, for three years, and the main reason why 

202 william Mckinley 

the people took little notice of its passage was the 
fact that it did not deprive them of a dollar which 
they had previously had, but merely recognized a 
condition that had lasted thirty-five years. Up to 
that time the value of the silver in a standard dollar 
of 41 2 J grains had been generally from 100 to 105 
cents. With silver at such prices no one could doubt 
that a silver dollar was as " honest" as a gold dollar. 
About the same time there came a change in the 
relative production of gold and silver. The discovery 
of gold in California was followed by an enormous 
increase in production, its value reaching $65,000,000 
in 1853. Up to i860 scarcely any silver was pro- 
duced in this country. But in 1873 the production of 
the two metals was about equal in value, gold having 
fallen to about $36,000,000, while silver had sud- 
denly increased to about the same amount. 1 What 
could be more natural, therefore, than to suppose 
that the steadily decreasing supply of gold might 
be supplemented by the increasing production of 
silver? It was argued that the scarcity of gold had 
already seriously injured the business of the country 
and that there could be no increase in the supply 

1 The famous Consolidated Virginia Mine, of Nevada, which 
produced in 1873 only $645,000 of silver ore, yielded $16,000,000 
only two years later. In the same year Germany passed a law re- 
tiring the silver dollar from circulation and its silver coin went into 
the market as bullion. These two causes operating simultaneously 
forced a decline in the price of silver. 


because the gold-fields were becoming exhausted. 
Scientists sagaciously confirmed this view, not hav- 
ing the prescience to foretell the hidden treasures 
of Colorado, Nevada, and the Klondike. 

Almost without exception the statesmen of the 
country were in favor of bimetallism and those who 
were most conservative were giving careful study 
to the problem of how to secure the circulation of 
both gold and silver, at a parity, not affected by the 
fluctuations of market value. The Act for the Re- 
sumption of Specie Payments provided for the re- 
demption of legal-tender notes in coin, not gold. 
Coin was the word used in the Republican Platform 
of 1876; and in all the subsequent platforms, even 
that of 1896, the desirability of maintaining, under 
proper conditions, the coinage of both silver and gold 
was emphasized. In 1877, President Hayes recom- 
mended "the renewal of the silver dollar as an ele- 
ment in our specie currency, endowed by legislation 
with the quality of legal tender to a greater or less 
extent." Secretary Sherman in his Report, referring 
to the silver dollar, said: "With such legislative pro- 
vision as will maintain its current value at par with 
gold, its issue is respectfully recommended," and he 
proceeded to set forth the advantages of the use of 
silver as money. 

There was a strong demand throughout the coun- 


try for a larger circulation of money, and this meant 
silver. Nowhere was this more pronounced than in 
Ohio, where the legislature had passed a resolution, 
by nearly a unanimous vote, that "common honesty 
to the taxpayers, the letter and the spirit of the con- 
tract under which the great body of its indebtedness 
was assumed by the United States, and true financial 
wisdom, each and all demand the restoration of the 
silver dollar to its former rank as lawful money." 
* The value of the silver dollar at the time of the 
passage of the Bland Bill was about ninety-two 
cents. It was strongly urged and believed by many 
men of ability that the enactment of this law would 
restore the market value of silver and thus close 
up the disparity of eight cents between the value of 
the gold and the silver dollar. If so, there could be 
nothing unsound about the proposition because each 
dollar would be as good as the other. 

With every desire, therefore, to preserve the sound- 
ness of our monetary system, it seemed to many in 
1877 that the scarcity of gold could be remedied by 
the coinage of silver, and that a parity between gold 
and silver could be maintained. 1 In 1876 the silver 

1 "A very large number of our legislators were, no doubt, honestly 
impressed with the belief that the mere gift of legal-tender power 
to a silver dollar worth only ninety cents, and its remonetization, 
would so increase its value that it would very soon become equal 
to the gold dollar. This was a constant and favorite argument. 
Said Senator Allison: 'Legislation gives value to the precious metals, 


dollar was worth 89 cents; in 1875, 96 cents; in 1874, 
99 cents; in 1873, 100 cents; and in every previous 
year back as far as the beginning of the Govern- 
ment, with only three exceptions, it had been worth 
more than the gold dollar. With these facts in mind 
the restoration of silver to its previous market value 
did not 'seem at all impossible. If an international 
agreement could be secured to maintain the price 
of silver, it was generally believed that the free 
coinage of that metal would be not only safe but 

In assuming that the value of silver would be 
increased by the Bland Bill, and that its parity with 
gold could be maintained without provision for an 
international agreement, McKinley clearly made a 
mistake of judgment. Indeed it would have been a 
mistake even if the bill had provided for such an 
agreement. The price of silver as of other commod- 
ities conforms to the natural laws of supply and 
demand. No agreement among nations, however 
wide its extent, could do more than exert a tempo- 
rary influence. Moreover, the possibility of obtain- 
ing a conference of nations for this purpose and of 
reaching an agreement was so remote that in time 
it came to be given up as impracticable. John Sher- 

and the commercial value simply records the condition of legisla- 
tion with reference to the precious metals."' (J. Laurence Laughlin, 
History of Bimetallism in the United States.) 


man clearly pointed out the fallacy in his Report of 
1877. He said: — 

"In the United States several experiments have 
been made with the view of retaining both gold and 
silver in circulation. The Second Congress under- 
took to establish the ratio of 15 of silver to 1 of 
gold, with free coinage of both metals. By this ratio 
gold was undervalued, as one ounce of gold was worth 
more in the markets of the world than fifteen ounces 
of silver, and gold, therefore, was exported. To cor- 
rect this, in 1837 the ratio was fixed at 16 to I ; but 
16 ounces of silver were worth more than one ounce 
of gold, so that silver was demonetized. ... If the 
slight error in the ratio of 1 792 prevented gold from 
entering into circulation for forty-five years, and 
the slight error in 1837 brought gold into circulation 
and banished silver until 1853, how much more cer- 
tainly will an error now at nine per cent cause gold 
to be exported and silver to become the sole stand- 
ard of value? " 

McKinley's vote on the Bland Bill was cast 
within three weeks after his entrance into Congress. 
He was then a young man of thirty-four. He had 
never made a study of the currency. He possessed 
neither the ripe scholarship of Garfield nor the ma- 
turity of John Sherman and President Hayes. He 
could not foresee that the price of silver was to de- 


cline steadily despite the fact that the Bland-Allison 
Act and the Sherman Law of 1890 put in circula- 
tion in seventeen years nearly 400,000,000 standard 
silver dollars as against about 8,000,000 in the en- 
tire previous history of the Government, a period of 
eighty-nine years. He voted for free coinage of silver, 
not because he wanted cheap money, but because he 
believed the parity of the gold and the silver dollars 
could be maintained under that system, and that 
the silver dollar, therefore, would be an honest dol- 
lar. When he saw his mistake, he did not hesitate 
to combat the fallacy with the full strength of his 
maturer judgment. 

On January 29, 1890, a bill was introduced in the 
House by Mr. Conger, of Iowa, authorizing the issue 
of Treasury notes upon deposits of silver bullion. 
A substitute bill was passed by the House and sent 
to the Senate, which promptly sought to amend the 
measure by substituting the free coinage of silver. 
On June 25, McKinley spoke against the Senate 
amendment. In the course of a brief but vigorous 
address he said: "To tell me that the free and un- 
limited coinage of the silver of the world, in the 
absence of cooperation on the part of other commer- 
cial nations, will not bring gold to a premium, is to 
deny all history and the weight of all financial ex- 
perience. The very instant that you have opened up 


our mints to the silver bullion of the world independ- 
ently of international action, that very instant, or in 
a brief time at best, you have sent gold to a prem- 
ium; and when you have sent gold to a premium, 
then you have put it in great measure into disuse, 
and we are remitted to the single standard, that of 
silver alone; we have deprived ourselves of the ac- 
tive use of both metals." 

The House non-concurred in the Senate amend- 
ment and a Conference Committee recommended a 
measure providing for the purchase monthly, at the 
market price, of 4,500,000 ounces of silver bullion, 
or as much thereof as might be offered, and for the 
issue of Treasury notes in payment therefor, such 
notes to be redeemable in either silver or gold, and 
when so redeemed, to be reissued. The report was 
agreed to and the act became known as the Sher- 
man Law, because of the activity of that leader in 
determining its final form. This was the famous 
endless chain of which President Cleveland com- 
plained so bitterly. The notes were presented for 
redemption, then paid out and again redeemed 
until the gold reserve nearly vanished. The fear of 
a silver standard brought large quantities of securi- 
ties from Europe, for sale here, and these had to be 
paid for in gold. In the fiscal year 1892-93 the ex- 
ports of gold exceeded the imports $90,000,000. It 


became evident that the new Treasury notes were 
driving the gold out of the country. In alarm the 
President called Congress in extra session to repeal 
the law, and this was finally accomplished on No- 
vember i, 1893, Senator Sherman taking the lead in 
securing the repeal of the law that bears his name. 

The so-called Sherman Law of 1890 was a com- 
promise. It was a concession to the Silver element, 
whose power was increasing and greatly to be feared. 
It failed to satisfy them and they continued to de- 
mand free coinage. On the other hand, sound-money 
men came to realize the danger of the large conces- 
sions that had been made. The repeal of the law was 
bitterly opposed by the advocates of free coinage. 
There were strong Silver men in both parties. The 
Democratic President found his own party hope- 
lessly divided and carried the repeal only by the 
support of the Republicans. The crisis was impend- 
ing. The Silver question was forging to the front. 
Compromise was no longer possible. The question 
must be decided by the voters of the country and 
a "fight to the finish" was inevitable. When the 
fight came, McKinley's voice rang out strong and 
true for honest money — as it had always done — 
and more specifically against any proposition to 
debase the currency by the free coinage of silver. 



ALTHOUGH President Hayes was a man of 
noble character, who never spoke ill of his 
neighbor, nor slightingly of either friend ]or foe, his 
Administration was a period of political turmoil. 
This was due in part to the circumstances of his elec- 
tion. On the face of the returns the electoral vote 
was 185 for Hayes and 184 for Tilden. There were 
charges of fraud and intimidation on both sides. In 
four States, South Carolina, Florida, Louisiana, and 
Oregon the returns were disputed. Congress was 
divided. The Senate was Republican and the House 
Democratic. The questions involved were too com- 
plicated for the ordinary machinery of government, 
and accordingly an emergency device was created 
in the form of an Electoral Commission, composed 
of five Senators, five Representatives, and five 
Justices of the Supreme Court. The Senate named 
three Republicans and two Democrats; the House 
three Democrats and two Republicans. It was 
originally expected that the Supreme Court would 
select two Republicans, two Democrats, and one 
Independent — Justice David Davis, of Illinois. As 


events finally developed, this would have made 
Justice Davis practically the sole arbiter of the dis- 
pute, the one man empowered to name the next 
President of the United States. Justice Davis, having 
been elected Senator from his State only a few days 
before the act was approved, wisely escaped the re- 
sponsibility by declining to serve, on the ground that 
his acceptance would give the Senate, virtually, six 
members of the Commission and the Supreme Court 
only four. In his place Justice Joseph P. Bradley, 
a Republican, was named, making eight Republi- 
cans to seven Democrats. As Justice Davis was a 
Democrat in sympathies, and as the Democrats had 
been chiefly l responsible for the creation of the Com- 
mission, its final composition was, of course, a severe 
blow to their calculations. As the various questions 
came before the Commission, they were decided by 
a partisan vote of eight to seven. Day after day for 
a full month the questions in doubt were decided 
uniformly in favor of the Republicans by the same 
majority. The Democrats angrily charged the Re- 
publicans with gross partisanship. If the charge be 
admitted so far as the eight Republicans were con- 

1 The vote for the Electoral Commission Bill in the House was, 
158 Democrats and 33 Republicans in favor, and 68 Republicans 
and 18 Democrats against it. In the Senate there were 26 Demo- 
crats and 21 Republicans who voted yea, and 16 Republicans and 
I Democrat who voted nay. 

212 william Mckinley 

cerned, it was equally true of the seven Democrats, 
whose consistent action in voting to favor their own 
candidate did not differ in the slightest degree from 
that of their opponents. The dispute has never been 
settled. The Democrats have always claimed that 
Tilden was cheated out of the Presidency. Had the 
result been reversed, the Republicans would have 
made a similar claim for their candidate. To ascer- 
tain the real truth in every election district where 
there was a reasonable doubt would be quite im- 
possible. The dispute as to the actual returns must 
stand forever unsettled in history, though the title 
of President Hayes, as a question of law, is not sub- 
ject to challenge. Fortunately the patriotism and 
firmness of the conservative Democrats, including 
Mr. Tilden, prevented a calamitous result. But the 
anger of the party at the time was almost unre- 

The disputed election was by no means the sole 
cause of the bitterness between the parties. It had 
existed before the election and was well reflected in 
the party platforms. The Republicans charged the 
Democrats with being "false and imbecile" on finan- 
cial questions and the Democrats retorted, two 
weeks later, without taking much trouble to alter 
the phraseology, by denouncing their opponents' 
"financial imbecility and immorality." The inde- 


pendent voter was thus invited to take his choice 
between two brands of imbecility. In one paragraph 
of their platform, the Republicans "sincerely dep- 
recated all sectional feeling and tendencies" and 
in the next proceeded to stir it up by charging the 
Democratic Party with "being the same in charac- 
ter and spirit as when it sympathized with treason ; 
with making its control of the House of Representa- 
tives the triumph and opportunity of the nation's 
recent foes; with reasserting and applauding in the 
national Capitol the sentiments of unrepentant re- 
bellion; with sending Union soldiers to the rear, and 
promoting Confederate soldiers to the front," etc. 
The Democrats returned the compliment (?) by de- 
claring that the Union must "now be saved from 
a corrupt centralism, which, after inflicting upon 
ten States the rapacity of carpet-bag tyrannies, has 
honeycombed the offices of the Federal Government 
itself with incapacity, waste, and fraud: infested 
States and municipalities with the contagion of 
misrule, and locked fast the prosperity of an indus- 
trious people in the paralysis of hard times." 

The campaign was by no means as bitter as this 
preliminary duel of vituperative epithets might im- 
ply, but- when Congress met in 1877, and the dis- 
puted election had added fuel to the flames, the 
fires of partisanship were burning fiercely. 


The new Congressman from Ohio felt none of the 
spirit of conciliation which marked his later years. 
He was a partisan through and through. He felt, as 
did all Republicans, that the results of the Civil 
War must be sustained, and that the recently en- 
franchised freedmen must be guaranteed the privi- 
leges of citizenship, including the right to vote and 
to have that vote fairly and honestly counted. 

The Democrats of the North felt the necessity of 
supporting their brethren of the South, for without 
the vote of the Southern States they would be power- 
less. The Southerners found themselves in a peculiar 
position. The institution of slavery had left its 
deadly mark in the ignorance and degradation of a 
vast number of human beings, who swarmed about 
their very doors, filled up their villages and towns, 
and in some States constituted a majority of the 
entire population. These beings, formerly consid- 
ered chattels, had suddenly become men and women, 
without in the least changing their character. The 
law gave them rights, equal to those of their for- 
mer masters. But the law could not overcome in 
a day the terrible results of generations of oppres- 
sion, of unremunerated toil, of mental and moral 
neglect, and the denial of the slightest opportunity 
for self-improvement. It made no difference to the 
former masters that these results had been wrought 


by themselves. The fact remained that a degraded 
race, totally lacking in education, social refinement, 
and culture, now claimed equality with themselves. 
The idea that these despised "niggers" — there is 
no other word that expresses the Southerner's con- 
tempt — should be allowed to vote, to win elections, 
to hold office, and to attempt to govern them, was 
so repugnant to the white men of the South that 
no measures were thought unjustifiable that would 
prevent such a calamity. Therefore the South un- 
dertook to solve the problem in its own way. The 
11 Ku-KIux Klan " was organized, at first to terrify the 
negroes, but later to murder them. The shotgun and 
the bludgeon played their part to keep the negroes 
away from the polls. In some places the same result 
was more peaceably accomplished by permitting 
the negro vote to be freely cast, but as freely casting 
it out. 

The Republicans of the North, incensed at these 
practices, sought to prevent them, at least in so far 
as elections to Congress were concerned, by various 
election laws, providing for the appointment of 
supervisors to guard and scrutinize the elections, to 
arrest violators of the law, and otherwise to protect 
the purity of the ballot. 

Such measures were, of course, obnoxious to the 
Democrats of the South, who were determined to 

216 william Mckinley 

suppress the negro vote at all hazards, and in this 
they had the support of the Northern members of 
their party. The Forty-fifth Congress was Demo- 
cratic in the House of Representatives, and a fight 
was begun to repeal the safeguards which the Re- 
publicans had devised. As the President and the 
Senate were Republican, this could be accomplished 
only by means of "riders" on appropriation bills — 
an illegitimate practice which of itself deserves the 
strongest condemnation. Bills to modify the elec- 
tion laws were offered as amendments to the regular 
appropriation bill providing for the support of the 
army and other necessary expenses — a process which 
Garfield characterized as starving the Government 
into submission. These bills prohibited the presence 
of the United States troops near the polls and pre- 
vented the appointment of deputy marshals in con- 
gressional elections. The Democrats were ready to 
withhold the necessary appropriations for the sup- 
port of the Government unless they could have their 
will. The wrangle came to naught and the Forty- 
fifth Congress adjourned without passing the ap- 
propriation bill. President Hayes promptly called 
the Forty-sixth Congress in extra session. This 
Congress was strongly Democratic in both branches. 
The same legislation was again attached to the 
appropriation bill and thus presented to President 


Hayes, who vetoed it. Finally the appropriations 
were passed without the riders. 

The fight was led by General Garfield, seconded 
by McKinley. In his address of April 18, 1879, the 
latter made a thorough and careful analysis of the 
whole Democratic proposition. He maintained with 
vigor that the election laws did not interfere with 
the authority of the States, inasmuch as they con- 
cerned only elections of Representatives to Con- 
gress. He also urged that they could have no 
possible effect upon any honest elector. He made 
a masterly argument against the plan of legislation 
by means of riders on appropriation bills, quoting 
from Clayton, Bayard, Seward, Douglas, Cass, and 
other statesmen. He added: "This attempt in- 
volves the overthrow of the Constitution. This is 
the lesson taught by the early statesmen whose 
warnings I have just cited. It would destroy the veto 
power of the President, one of the safeguards against 
bad legislation, one of the checks provided by the 
organic law. It in effect says you dare not exer- 
cise your veto prerogative even though you do not 
approve of our legislation ; if you do, the wheels of the 
Government must stop. It overrides one of the con- 
stitutional guarantees; it attempts to take away free- 
dom of action upon the part of the Executive; it is 
the first step in the pathway of revolution." 

218 william Mckinley 

There was no conciliatory spirit about this ad- 
dress. McKinley spoke straight to the point and 
spared no Democratic feelings. "The issue is a new 
one, never tried before the people, and now for the 
first time pressed upon Congress by the Democratic 
leaders as a necessity to their political campaign in 
1880. In the next presidential contest there must be 
no safeguards to an honest ballot, no peace at the 
polls. Fraud and force, the great weapons of Demo- 
cratic ascendancy, must be unrestricted. The repeal 
of these laws is a Democratic necessity to the next 
presidential election. We are willing to try before the 
people the question of the constitutional powers of 
the President, and whether the election laws, passed 
in the interest of a free and honest ballot, shall be 
maintained or repealed. The great body of voters in 
this country want the Constitution preserved in full 
force, and want and will have, sooner or later, fair 
play at the elections both North and South. Re- 
peating, ballot-box stuffing, the use of tissue ballots, 
fraud at the polls, intimidation, and restraint of a 
free ballot in whatever form, must cease. The public 
sense abhors them all, and the party which practices 
such methods or quietly suffers them to be put in 
operation will be swept from power by the irresist- 
ible force of an honest and enlightened public sen- 


Referring to the attempt to repeal the law which 
prohibited the appointment to any position in the 
army of those who had served the Confederate 
States, McKinley said, with great indignation: 
"The army list is to be opened and revised, so that 
men who served in the Confederate army, who for 
four years fought to destroy this Government, shall 
be placed upon that list as commissioned officers. 
Aye, more, the men who were in our army before 
the war as commissioned officers, who were educated 
at the public expense, who took an oath to support 
the Constitution of the United States, and when the 
nation was threatened with danger resigned their 
commissions and forsook the 'flag, are to be eligible 
for reappointment to that army again. Are we quite 
ready for this?" Less than a score of years later 
the orator was to answer his own question by signing 
the commissions of two prominent Confederates, 
Joseph Wheeler and Fitzhugh Lee, as major-generals 
in the army of the United States. 

In the following year McKinley was made tempo- 
rary chairman of the Republican State Convention 
at Columbus, Ohio, and in his address * denounced 
still more vigorously the disfranchisement of the 
iijegroes. With an incisiveness born of just indigna- 
tion he pointed to the fact that in one congressional 
* April 28, 1880. 


district of Georgia the Republican vote of 9616, in 
1872, had been reduced in 1878 to only 6; in another 
from 6196 to 18; in a third from 6230 to 54; and 
that in these three districts alone, only 78 Republican 
votes were counted, although there were 22,042 six 
years before. In Mississippi, four districts which 
gave over 60,000 Republican votes in 1872, cast 
only 3000 in 1878 — a disappearance of 57,000 Re- 
publican votes in six years. In North Carolina, in 
one district, 10,282 Republican votes cast in 1876 
dwindled to 258 only two years later. With fierce 
invective he continued: "Nobody has the temerity 
to assert that there has been any decrease or dimi- 
nution of the Republican population to account for 
this change. No depopulation, no plague or pesti- 
lence has swept them from the face of the country; 
but oppressed, bullied, and terrorized, they stand 
mute and dumb in the exercise of citizenship, 
politically paralyzed; and Congress not only refuses 
to provide a remedy, but is seeking to break down 
existing guarantees. Is this system of disfranchise- 
ment to be further permitted? Is the Republican 
sentiment thus to be hushed in the South, and how 
long? Are the men who increase the representative 
power throughout these States to have no repre- 
sentation? Are free thought and free political action 
to be crushed out in one section of our country? I 


answer, No, No! but that the whole power of the 
Federal Government must be exhausted in securing 
to every citizen, black or white, rich or poor, every- 
where within the limits of the Union, every right, 
civil and political, guaranteed by the Constitution 
and the laws. Nothing short of this will satisfy 
public conscience, public morals, and public justice." 

The remedy which for a number of years was 
favored by many leading Republicans, including 
McKinley, was the curtailment of the representa- 
tion of the Southern States in Congress and the 
Electoral College in accordance with the provisions 
of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, 
namely: " But when the right to vote at any election 
for the choice of electors for the President and Vice- 
President of the United States, Representatives in 
Congress, the executive and judicial officers of a 
State, or the members of the legislature thereof, 
is denied to any of the male inhabitants of said State, 
being twenty-one years of age and citizens of the 
United States, or in any way abridged, except for 
participation in rebellion or other crime, the basis of 
representation therein shall be reduced in the pro- 
portion which the number of such male citizens shall 
bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one 
years of age in such State." 

Representation is determined by the number of 


inhabitants and not according to the votes cast. If 
a portion of the vote is suppressed, it might be 
fairly claimed that representation should be cor- 
respondingly reduced, and the reconstructionists 
who framed the amendment sought to accomplish 
this purpose. It might have saved a serious dispute 
if they had provided in the first place for apportion- 
ment on the basis of the number of votes cast. To 
deprive a State of a portion of her representation 
as a penalty for the suppression of negro suffrage, 
which had been forced upon the people against their 
will, savored of coercion. On the other hand, it was 
argued, if the negroes were not citizens, why should 
they be counted as such in making the apportion- 
ment? When the negroes were slaves they were 
counted as three fifths of their total number in this 
apportionment. Now that they were free, they were 
counted at their full number, the same as whites, 
yet were no more permitted to vote than when they 
were only chattels. McKinley pointed out the ef- 
fect of this inequality in a speech on "Equal Suf- 
frage," at Ironton, Ohio, October I, 1885. In Ohio, 
he said, which sends twenty-one Representatives to 
Congress, 781,011 votes were cast in the election of 
1884 for all the candidates. In the three States of 
Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi, which united 
send the same number of Representatives, only 


344,322 votes were cast — less than half as many, 
though the population of the three Southern States 
is slightly greater. Under the Fourteenth Amend- 
ment Congress clearly had the right to decrease the 
number of Representatives, so that one vote in the 
South would no longer equal two in the North. This 
was the remedy that McKinley urged. " If Congress," 
he said, "will curtail the power of these States, if it 
will reduce their representation numerically, they 
will soon come to respect the constitutional rights 
of their fellow citizens if from no higher motive than 
the selfish desire for power." He made the question 
one of paramount importance: "No palliation can 
be found for the wicked and willful suppression of 
the ballot, and unless it can be checked it will sap 
the very foundations of the Republic and destroy the 
only nation approximating self-government. This 
question, my fellow citizens, is at the foundation; it 
underlies all other political problems. Nothing can 
be permanently settled until the right of every citi- 
zen to participate equally in our state and national 
affairs is unalterably fixed. Tariff, finance, civil 
service, and all other political and party questions 
should remain open and unsettled until every citi- 
zen who has a constitutional right to share in their 
determination is free to enjoy it." 

He maintained this attitude in the Fifty-first 

224 william Mckinley 

Congress. When the Federal Election Bill 1 was 
under discussion he again declared that "this ques- 
tion will not rest until justice is done; and the con- 
sciences of the American people will not be permitted 
to slumber until this great constitutional right — 
the equality of suffrage, the equality of opportunity, 
freedom of political action and political thought 
— shall be not the mere cold formalities of consti- 
tutional enactment as now, but a living birthright 
which the poorest and the humblest citizen, white 
or black, native-born or naturalized, may confi- 
dently enjoy, and which the richest and most pow- 
erful dare not deny." 

The intense feeling manifested in these addresses 
was partly the result of the strong partisanship of the 
times, a remnant of the enthusiasm for North against 
South that had actuated the volunteer of 1861, and 
partly a sympathetic friendship for the colored race, 
which McKinley had frequently manifested. His 
first political speech in 1867, made before a hostile 
audience, had negro suffrage for its theme. When 
Cadet Whittaker's case was before the country, 
McKinley was a member of the Board of Visitors 
to the United States Military Academy at West 
Point. Whittaker was a negro cadet who had been 
subjected to mistreatment on account of his color. 
1 Called by the Opposition the "Force Bill." 


McKinley cordially approved the report of his col- 
league, Senator Edmunds, who made a strong plea 
for the constitutional rights of the colored man. 
In later years, when Governor of Ohio, McKinley 
was invited to visit New Orleans to make a political 
address. As the Governor of a great State and a pos- 
sible presidential candidate he was enthusiastically 
greeted. One of the first delegations to call at his 
hotel was composed wholly of colored men. They 
were denied admission by the proprietor and a second 
delegation was similarly repulsed. When McKinley 
was informed of this unpleasant incident, he quietly 
sent word to the hotel proprietor that if these colored 
people were not permitted to meet him there he would 
find some place where they could be received. The 
landlord was obdurate, and McKinley promptly, 
but without making any commotion, moved to an- 
other hotel where all classes of citizens called upon 
him freely. The incident was characteristic of his 
consistent desire to secure fair play for the colored 

The "Force Bill" of 1890 failed to pass the Senate 
and gradually the subject was dropped. The South 
found a way to suppress the negroes by means of the 
celebrated "grandfather clauses," which violated the 
spirit, but not the letter, of the Constitution and 
proved a convenient substitute for the more violent 


methods at first invoked. The North came to realize 
that the "solid South" must be accepted as a fact, 
and that Republican success could be obtained in 
spite of it. Other questions soon absorbed the at- 
tention of the country, and finally the Spanish War 
brought about a bond of union between the sections. 
McKinley changed with the times. His former ran- 
cor disappeared. The demand for "rights" gave 
way to brotherliness, and the desire to coerce melted 
before the flame of a deep patriotism. In striking 
contrast to the speeches of 1879, 1880, 1885, and 
1890 was the famous address before the Legislature 
of Georgia on December 14, 1898. 

"Sectional lines no longer mar the map of the 
United States. Sectional feeling no longer holds 
back the love we bear each other. Fraternity is the 
national anthem, sung by a chorus of forty-five 
States and our Territories at home and beyond the 
seas. The Union is once more the common altar of 
our love and loyalty, our devotion and sacrifice. The 
old flag again waves over us in peace, with new glories 
which your sons and ours have this year added to its 
sacred folds. . . . What an army of silent sentinels 
we have, and with what loving care their graves are 
kept! Every soldier's grave made during our unfor- 
tunate Civil War is a tribute to American valor. And 
while, when those graves were made, we differed 


widely about the future of this Government, those 
differences were long ago settled by the arbitrament 
of arms; and the time has now come, in the evolu- 
tion of sentiment and feeling under the providence 
of God, when in the spirit of fraternity we should 
share with you in the care of the graves of the Con- 
federate soldiers. [Tremendous applause and long- 
continued cheering^ 

"The cordial feeling now happily existing be- 
tween the North and South prompts this gracious 
act, and if it needed further justification, it is found 
in the gallant loyalty to the Union and the flag so 
conspicuously shown in the year just past by the 
sons and grandsons of these heroic dead. [Tremen- 
dous applause.] 

"What a glorious future awaits us if unitedly, 
wisely and bravely we face the new problems now 
pressing upon us, determined to solve them for 
right and humanity! [Prolonged applause and re- 
peated cheers.] " 




HE success of McKinley as a member of Con- 
gress was attributable in large measure to his 
legal ability and experience. In many of his speeches 
he discussed the subject at issue with an array of ar- 
gument and knowledge of the law such as might 
have been used in an address before the Supreme 
Court. This was notably true in his speech on the 
contest against Judge Taylor. General Garfield, hav- 
ing resigned his seat in the House of Representatives 
upon his election to the Presidency, was succeeded 
by Judge Ezra B. Taylor. Garfield had been elected 
as the Representative of the Nineteenth Ohio Dis- 
trict in 1878. In May, 1880, the Ohio Legislature 
redistricted the State so that one county was added 
and another thrown out of the Nineteenth District. 
The Governor issued writs of election to the five 
counties which constituted the district as it was in 
1878. An election was held on November 30, 1880, 
and Judge Taylor was elected by a large majority. 
When he came to take his seat in the House it was 
claimed that the old district from which he had been 
elected was no longer in existence and therefore his 



election was not valid. Major McKinley 's argument 
in support of Judge Taylor's right to the seat was a 
model of clear and forceful legal argument. 

Four years later he had occasion to make a similar 
plea, but this time in his own behalf. In the elec- 
tion of 1882 conditions were decidedly against the 
Republicans. Ohio went Democratic by 19,000 and 
only eight of the twenty-one Congressmen elected 
were Republicans. McKinley received 16,906 votes, 
against 16,898 for his opponent, Major Jonathan H. 
Wallace, — a majority of eight votes. His election 
was contested and the case was referred to the Com- 
mittee on Elections. A subcommittee of three Dem- 
ocrats and two Republicans carefully investigated 
all the questions involved and reported to the full 
committee in favor of Major McKinley. The con- 
testant claimed that seven votes were cast for John 
H. Wallace, W. W. Wallace, or W. H. Wallace, and 
thrown out in the official count, though clearly 
intended for Jonathan H. Wallace; also that in 
eleven cases he had lost votes because the name was 
spelled Walac, Wake, or Waal, though the voters 
probably intended their ballots to be cast for the 
contestant. On the other hand, the subcommittee 
developed the fact that enough illegal votes had been 
counted for Major Wallace to more than counter- 
balance all the votes that had been thrown out by 


the State Canvassing Board on account of the mis- 
spelling of the name, and that even if all the latter 
were to be counted for his opponent, McKinley still 
had a clear and legal majority. 

McKinley was still receiving the congratulations 
of his colleagues upon the part he had played in se- 
curing the defeat of the Morrison Tariff Bill when 
the Committee on Elections brought in a report 
declaring that Jonathan H. Wallace had been 
elected Representative in his place. It was a purely 
partisan recommendation. On the next day, May 
27 , 1884, McKinley made a calm and dignified 
speech, discussing the merits of the case from a legal 
point of view. He declared his preference that all 
the misspelled ballots should be given to his oppo- 
nent inasmuch as the intent of the voters was evi- 
dent. But he protested against the irregularities of 
the recount and the overthrow of the official count, 
on the testimony of witnesses no two of whom had 
agreed as to the figures. And he claimed his election, 
even after conceding all the doubtful ballots to the 

The vote of the House was thoroughly partisan, 
as is shown by the remark of Mr. Robertson, of 
Kentucky, a Democratic member of the subcom- 
mittee who voted with the two Republicans in favor 
of McKinley. He said: "Outside of the subcommit- 


tee there is not a Democratic member of the Com- 
mittee on Elections who knows anything about the 
case. Not one has even read the notice of contest. 
How they expect to decide how to vote intelligently 
and conscientiously I am not able to divine." 
"What's the difference whether they know any- 
thing about it or not?" interposed another Demo- 
crat, who was listening. "A Democrat should vote 
for a Democrat on general principles. McKinley is 
a good man to turn out, anyway." * 

It is greatly to the credit of Roger Q. Mills, 
McKinley's strongest opponent in the House, that 
he did not share this partisan spirit. Prefacing an 
elaborate analysis of the evidence, he said: " I will 
not appeal to party prejudice to aid me in my cause. 
The only appeal I make to my own prejudice is to 
get thee behind me, Satan, and that I may examine 
impartially and determine with a clear judgment 
and a living conscience, which of these two the legal 
voters have chosen for their Representative. Having 
examined the subject, I have reached the conclusion 
that Mr. McKinley was fairly elected. I do not in- 
tend to apologize for the conclusion at which I have 
arrived. I have no apologies to make to any one. 
Believing from the law and testimony that McKinley 
is elected, I should be less than a man if I should sit 
x Reported by a correspondent of the Pittsburg Dispatch. 

232 william Mckinley 

here and permit party clamor around me to drive 
me to vote against my convictions." * 

McKinley was unseated by a vote of 158 to 108. 
There was no bitterness in the harangues of those 
who opposed him. They liked McKinley person- 
ally, but had found him a dangerous opponent and 
took this opportunity to get rid of him. Their tri- 
umph was short-lived. The Forty-eighth Congress 
was nearing its end. Only the short session re- 
mained, and when the Forty-ninth Congress con- 
vened McKinley was again at his post ready to 
give them battle. 

The subject of the presidential succession came 
up for discussion in the Forty-ninth Congress. The 
Law of 1792 provided that in case of the death or 
disability of both the President and Vice-President, 
the President pro tempore of the Senate should suc- 
ceed to the Presidency, and in case there should be 
no President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House 
of Representatives should fill the office. 

The death of Vice-President Hendricks suggested 
to President Cleveland the danger that might arise 
in case the President should die at a time when there 
was a vacancy in the Vice- Presidency and also in the 
offices of President pro tempore of the Senate and 

1 Other Democrats who voted against their party were Frank 
Hurd, of Ohio, Dorsheimer and Potter, of New York, Blackburn 
and Robertson, of Kentucky. 


Speaker of the House. He accordingly called the 
attention of Congress to the desirability of a new 
law. A bill was introduced in the Senate and passed 
without division providing that in case of the death 
or disability of both President and Vice-President, 
the succession should pass to the Secretary of State, 
the Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of War, 
the Attorney-General, the Secretary of the Navy, 
and the Secretary of the Interior, in the order named. 
The recent assassination of Garfield gave point to 
the proposed legislation and Senator Hoar argued 
that if a fixed succession could be provided, so that 
a President's policies would always be carried out by 
his chief advisers and political friends, the motive 
of assassination would disappear. Unfortunately this 
reasoning proved sadly erroneous. 
* The bill was discussed in the House on January 
II, 1886. McKinley, while in favor of the purpose 
of the act, proposed a more conservative method of 
accomplishing it. He thought the principle of the 
Act of 1792 a sound one, inasmuch as the President 
pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the 
House were elected, indirectly, by the people, while 
Cabinet officers were appointed by a President. He 
offered a substitute providing a means by which there 
would never be a vacancy in the office of either the 
President pro tempore of the Senate or the Speaker of 

234 william Mckinley 

the House. He said of his substitute: " It preserves 
intact the law as our fathers made it and executes 
with certainty their purpose and that of the law itself. 
It avoids the dangerous step taken by the present 
bill, which takes away from the people of the country, 
in whom all power resides, the right to fill a vacancy 
in the Presidency in a certain contingency. ... I 
would leave that power with the people where it 
properly belongs. I am opposed to any step in the 
opposite direction. My substitute follows the path- 
way of the founders of the Government, which, in 
my judgment, is the path of safety." The House 
rejected the substitute and passed the Senate bill 
by a vote of 185 to 77. 

In supporting the bill providing for arbitration as 
a means of settling controversies between common 
carriers engaged in interstate traffic and their em- 
ployees, McKinley again made an able legal argu- 
ment. He summarized his faith in these few words: 
" I believe, Mr. Chairman, in arbitration as a prin- 
ciple; I believe it should prevail in the settlement of 
international differences. It represents a higher civ- 
ilization than the arbitrament of war. I believe it 
is in close accord with the best thought and senti- 
ment of mankind; I believe it is the true way of 
settling differences between labor and capital ; I be- 
lieve it will bring both to a better understanding, 


uniting them closer in interest, and promoting better 
relations, avoiding force, avoiding unjust exactions 
and oppression, avoiding the loss of earnings to labor, 
avoiding disturbances to trade and transportation; 
and if this House can contribute in the smallest 
measure, by legislative expression or otherwise, to 
these ends, it will deserve and receive the gratitude 
of all men who love peace, good order, justice, and 
fair play." 

Again, with invincible logic, he sustained the 
new rule of the Fifty-first Congress, permitting the 
Speaker to count a quorum, and ridiculed the con- 
tention of the minority that they could be physically 
present and constructively absent at the same time. 
His speech was the most complete and convincing 
presentation of the good sense of the rule that was 
made in the House. 

The question arose upon an appeal from the de- 
cision of the Speaker, by Mr. Crisp, of Georgia. 
Upon a yea-and-nay vote on an election case, 161 
votes were cast in the affirmative and 2 votes in the 
negative, making 2 votes less than a quorum of the 
House. Nearly 300 members were present. A ma- 
jority of the whole House would have been 165. 
The vote cast indicated no quorum, but the fact 
was that nearly nine tenths of the Representatives 
were actually in their seats while the vote was being 


taken. Acting under the new rule, Speaker Reed 
counted thirty or thirty- five members as "present 
and not voting," thus making a quorum. The ruling 
was strictly according to the facts, which no one 
questioned. The minority insisted upon the techni- 
cality that the vote alone determines the presence 
or absence of a member. In reply to Mr. Crisp, Mc- 
Kinley said: — 

"What is involved in that appeal? All that is 
involved in it is a simple practical question of fact: 
Was there a constitutional quorum present? No- 
body questions what the Constitution means. It is 
plain and explicit that a majority of the House is 
necessary to constitute a quorum to do business. 
Everybody knows how many members it takes to 
make a majority of the House. Therefore the only 
question to be determined under this appeal is 
whether a majority of the House, to wit, 165 Repre- 
sentatives, were present in their seats in the House 
of Representatives and in session to do public busi- 
ness. How is that to be ascertained? How is that 
count to be determined? Why, it is to be determined, 
Mr. Speaker, as you determine any other fact. It 
may be determined by a call of the House, it may be 
determined by a rising vote, it may be determined 
by tellers, and it may be determined, as it was yester- 
day, by the Speaker of the House, by actual count. 


"Now, there is no doubt about this question of 
fact. Nobody questions the count of the Speaker, 
because it is an incontrovertible fact that there 
were 185 or 190 members present, as the Speaker's 
announcement made it, and there were, as known 
to all of us, nearly 300 Representatives of the people 
sitting in their seats on this floor when the vote was 
taken on the consideration of the election case. 
Nearly 300 Representatives, elected and qualified, 
who had taken an oath to perform their duties under 
the Constitution, were here, visibly here, and no- 
where else. Was not the count made by the Speaker 
absolutely correct as to the number and names he 
counted? Will any gentleman who voted or whose 
name was disclosed by the Speaker's count rise in 
his place and declare he was not present? 

"Now, Mr. Speaker, what is this question? What 
are we contending about? We are contending as to 
how it shall be ascertained that we have a constitu- 
tional majority present in the House. We insist, and 
the Speaker's ruling so declares, that members in 
their seats shall be counted for the purpose of making 
a quorum, and that their refusal to respond to their 
names upon a call of the roll, though present, shall 
not deprive this House of moving in the discharge 
of great public duties and stop all legislation. Gen- 
tlemen on the other side insist upon what? That they 

238 william Mckinley 

shall perpetuate a fiction — that is what it is — that 
they shall perpetuate a fiction because they say it is 
hoary with age, a fiction that declares that although 
members are present in their seats they shall be held 
under a fiction to be constructively absent. That is 
what they are contending for. We are contending 
that this shall be a fact and a truth, not a fiction and 
a falsehood, and that members who sit in their seats 
in this hall shall be counted as present, because they 
are present. [Applause on the Republican side.] They 
want the Journal to declare a lie; we want the Jour- 
nal to declare the truth. [Renewed applause.] And 
it is the truth that hurts their position and makes it 
indefensible ; it is the continuance of the fiction that 
they invoke in justification of that position. It is 
about time to stop these legal fictions. 

"Let us be honest with each other and with the 
country; let us defeat bills in a constitutional way, if 
we can, or not at all; give freedom of debate, oppor- 
tunity of amendment, the yea-and-nay vote, by 
which the judgment and will of every Representa- 
tive can be expressed and responsibility fixed where 
it belongs, and we will preserve our own self-respect, 
give force to the Constitution of the country we have 
sworn to obey, and serve the people whose trusts 
we hold. Why, this controversy is to determine 
whether a majority shall rule and govern, or be 


subject to the tyranny of a minority. Talk about 
the 'tyranny of the majority'; the tyranny of the 
minority is infinitely more odious and intolerable 
and more to be feared than that of the majority. 
The position of the gentlemen on the other side 
means that they will either rule or ruin, although 
they are in the minority. We insist that while we 
are in the majority they shall do neither." 

With the expiration of the Fifty-first Congress 
McKinley's connection with the legislative branch 
of the Government came to an end. In the fourteen 
years only one Congress, the Fifty-first, had a clear 
Republican majority in both Houses. Speaker Reed 
and Major McKinley were the leaders. Having es- 
tablished the right of the majority to rule, this 
Congress gave strict attention to the public business. 
It passed the McKinley Tariff Act; the Customs 
Administrative Law; the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, 
which attracted more notice twenty years later 
than at the time of its passage; the so-called ''Force 
Bill," which the Senate failed to pass; a pension law 
making more liberal provision than ever before for 
the disabled soldiers, their widows and children; a 
bankruptcy act; a meat inspection law, and many 
other measures of greater or less importance. As the 
leader of the majority McKinley took part in the 
debates upon nearly all of this legislation. 

240 william Mckinley 

In his discussions on the floor his statements were 
clear, fair-minded, and convincing. He often evoked 
the laughter of his colleagues by some good-natured 
sally, or by aptly turning the tables upon his oppo- 
nent, but his speeches were not illuminated with 
brilliant flashes of wit, as were those of Speaker 
Reed. He excelled in what are known as "set 
speeches," and in these he displayed a knowledge of 
his subject, a familiarity with precedents and au- 
thorities, a mastery of the necessary statistics and a 
skill in the presentation of his argument, equaled by 
few, if any, of his colleagues. As a member of the 
minority party in the House in all but four of the 
fourteen years, his opportunities for advancement 
were limited. Yet for ten years he served as a mem- 
ber of the most important committee of the House, 
and finally as its chairman and leader of the majority. 



IN our American system of self-government a 
statesman, to be successful, has great need of 
the qualities of a good politician. A "statesman" 
is one who is versed in the art and principles of 
government, who devotes his time, or a considerable 
portion of it, to directing the affairs of state and is 
influential in moulding the policy of the nation. The 
term implies a compliment. A man is not necessarily 
a statesman if he holds public office. His ability must 
tower above the office. A "politician" is one who 
desires not so much the direction of the affairs of 
government as the opportunity to direct them, either 
for himself or for others. Hence this term has come 
to imply a selfish motive, and since many who 
would be incapable of holding office themselves may 
assist others to do so, and incidentally benefit them- 
selves, the class known as "politicians" may be 
indefinitely expanded. For this reason the word 
"politician" implies no compliment, but the reverse. 
Its root, meaning something which belongs to the 
state, made it originally synonymous with "states- 
man." The disparagement which the word implies 

242 william Mckinley 

arises from the wide variety of selfish schemes and 
questionable devices that are inevitably employed 
when an occupation is thrown open so freely to men 
of all grades of morality. 
_/ In a system where both those who make the laws 
and those who execute them are chosen by the 
people, it is clear that no man can perform the du- 
ties of a statesman until after he has experienced 
some of the trials of the politician. He must demon- 
strate his ability to the satisfaction of the voters 
before he can exercise it for the benefit of the State. * 
If he should chance to win an election to Congress, 
he cannot expect to be permitted to attend exclu- 
sively to his legislative duties at Washington. He 
must "keep his fences in repair." He must keep his 
name before the people at home, not only in his own 
town, but in every corner of his district. He must 
appear "on the stump," at least every second year, 
and sometimes for many weeks in succession. He 
must appeal to his constituents for support, and 
whether he does this by straightforward, manly ar- 
gument, or by resort to darker and subtler devices, 
the appeal must inevitably be made. All of this is 
"politics," whether honest or dishonest. The method 
depends upon the character of the individual, but 
from the process itself the statesman cannot escape. 
The State Convention — now gradually giving 


way to the " Primary" — and the National Conven- 
tion, have been powerful factors in making neces- 
sary the practice of the politician's art. Whatever 
may be said of these institutions, they have, in the 
past, played a vital part in our political system and, 
whatever their faults, have served a useful purpose. 
No other forum has ever brought our public men so 
effectually into the limelight of popular scrutiny. 
The average voter who sleeps through the long and 
dreary sessions of Congress wakes up with the trum- 
pet call of the party convention. He reads the "plat- 
form" and the candidate's "letter of acceptance" 
with an avidity which the President's message, 
delivered after the fight is over, fails to command. 
The leaders of the party do their work behind the 
doors of committee rooms, or even on the floor of 
House or Senate, without attracting much attention, 
but every move in a great convention is watched 
with eager and jealous eyes. A chance remark or 
unguarded statement may reveal a man's true char- 
acter. A false step may ruin his reputation. An 
eloquent address, a noble performance of duty, a 
graceful act of courtesy, or an exhibition of real 
power may bring him national fame. 

The true statesman, of broad-minded sagacity and 
eye single to the best interests of all the people, must, 
perforce, accomplish his purpose through the ma- 

244 william Mckinley 

chinery of the conventions, the campaign committees, 
and the stump. In doing so he becomes a "politi- 
cian"; but his own conduct may so elevate the 
meaning of the term as to make it synonymous with 
"statesman." McKinley never descended as a poli- 
tician to a plane lower than his statesmanship. 'He 
never made a dollar out of politics, except in the 
form of salaries paid him for actual service. He once 
advised a friend to keep out of Congress. This was 
in 1884, when he had been a member of the House 
of Representatives seven years. Said he, "Before I 
went to Congress I had $10,000 and a practice worth 
$10,000 a year. Now I have n't either." ^He was 
entirely free from any greed for money. With his 
growing fame many opportunities came to him, but 
he steadfastly pushed them aside. Once a man came 
to the White House to offer him a chance for a profi- 
table investment. He had no favors to ask of the 
President, and therefore, he explained, there could 
be no impropriety in accepting the proposition. 
McKinley refused, politely but firmly, with the 
remark, "There is no one who does n't want some- 
thing of the President." 

Once, when governor, he received a letter from 
the president of a prominent life insurance company, 
asking him to serve as a member of the board of di- 
rectors at a salary of $8000 a year — just what he 


was receiving as governor. The only requirement 
was that he would attend a meeting in New York 
City once a year. The use of his name would be a 
good advertisement for the company. Nothing else 
was asked or expected. McKinley replied promptly 
that he knew nothing of life insurance and saw no 
reason why he should act as a director. 

Aland company, composed of speculators who had 
bought several thousand acres of land in Texas, pro- 
posed to build a town to be named "McKinley." 
They called upon the Governor and offered him a 
substantial interest, without cost, if he would allow 
the use of his name and go to the town-site on the 
occasion of the formal opening. The Governor gently, 
but firmly, pointed out to his visitors why he could 
have nothing to do with the project, and he did it 
in terms that caused them to apologize for making 
the suggestion. The late Major J. B. Pond, about 
the same time, offered McKinley $10,000 for ten 
lectures on " Protection." The Governor laughed as 
he declined the offer. "How would it look," he said, 
"for me to go about preaching Republican doctrine 
for pay?" 

While thus scrupulously keeping away from the 
temptations which have marred the reputations of so 
many public men, McKinley never shirked the hard 
work that falls to the lot of an active politician. 

246 william Mckinley , 

From the time of his first political address in 1867 
to the end of his career, a period of more than one 
third of a century, his services as a platform speaker 
were increasingly demanded. In the campaign of 1 894 
he traveled 12,000 miles and addressed not less than 
2,000,000 people. On one day he left Des Moines, 
Iowa, at 6 a.m., and arrived at St. Paul, Minnesota 
in time to close a meeting there at 10 P.M., making in 
all twenty-three speeches during the day. In this 
campaign, as in all others, he strictly observed the 
Sabbath, but with this exception he had no rest for 
six weeks, traveling and making speeches day and 
night. He came out of the ordeal none the worse for 
the strain. The one secret of this power of endurance 
was the calmness of his disposition. No matter what 
annoyances arose — and a campaign trip brings 
them by the hundreds — McKinley never allowed 
himself to worry. 

During all this long journey he never failed to 
hold the close attention of his hearers, many of 
whom were farmers and mechanics, to whom a dry 
subject like the tariff could not be expected to appeal. 
But McKinley knew how to discuss the complicated 
problems of government in popular language. He 
framed his utterances so skillfully that their very 
simplicity added to their strength. He studied the 
making of phrases that would leave a lasting impres- 


sion, as when he said that the need of the time was 
"not more coinage, but a more active use of the 
money coined. Not open mints for the unlimited 
coinage of the silver of the world, but open mills 
for the full and unrestricted labor of American work- 

Not only did McKinley prove indefatigable in all 
the campaigns of the period of his public life, but he 
attended all the State Conventions of his party, 
except when detained by congressional and other du- 
ties. As early as 1875 he was made a member of the 
Committee on Resolutions of the Ohio Republican 
Convention, and in 1879, 1883, 1885, 1887, and 1889 
was called to serve in the same capacity, usually 
acting as chairman. In 1880 he served as temporary 
chairman of the State Convention at Columbus, and 
delivered the "keynote" speech of the campaign. 
When in the course of his remarks he referred to 
John Sherman, then the most distinguished states- 
man of Ohio, there was a storm of applause which 
continued until the delegates were worn out with 
the cheering and the frantic waving of flags, hand- 
kerchiefs, canes, and umbrellas. When this excite- 
ment subsided he went on, like a good Republican, 
to pledge himself and the party generally to the sup- 
port of General Grant or of James G. Blaine, should 
either of these gentlemen be named by the National 

248 william Mckinley 

Convention, and again aroused tumultuous cheering. 
The platform endorsed Mr. Sherman as the choice 
of Ohio for the Presidency. McKinley was nominated 
as one of the delegates-at-large, but immediately 
withdrew. To James A. Garfield fell the duty of lead- 
ing the movement in favor of Sherman. No man 
could have executed the trust more faithfully, nor 
presented the name of a candidate more eloquently. 
But Sherman, though one of the ablest of American 
statesmen, lacked the qualities that appeal to Ameri- 
can sympathy. Garfield, on the contrary, possessed 
them to a marked degree and soon became the idol 
of the Convention. Whenever he appeared, whether 
to speak in debate, to read a report, or merely to 
walk down the aisle to his place with the state dele- 
gation, he was greeted with enthusiastic applause. 
When he addressed the convention to place John 
Sherman in nomination, it was the orator and not 
his candidate in whom the delegates were interested. 
Sherman indeed fared badly in the balloting. He 
received only 93 votes on the first ballot and never 
rose higher than 120. On the final vote, Garfield 
received 399, and amid the frenzied scenes that 
are characteristic of American conventions, was de- 
clared the nominee of the party. In the campaign that 
followed, McKinley took an active part, represent- 
ing Ohio on the Republican National Committee. 


He spoke in his own and other States, frequently 
from the same platform as General Garfield, whom 
he accompanied in a part of his tour through the 

The Ohio Republican Convention of 1884 met at 
Cleveland on the 23d of April. Major McKinley 
was made permanent chairman. When the time came 
for selecting the four delegates to the National Con- 
vention, Joseph B. Foraker was first chosen by ac- 
clamation. Foraker, then thirty-eight years of age, 
was one of the rising young men of the State. He 
had served three years as Superior Judge of Hamil- 
ton County and in the convention of the preceding 
year had been nominated by acclamation for gover- 
nor. He was defeated by George Hoadly, but this 
did not diminish his popularity. As a gifted orator 
and aggressive leader he had a warm place in the 
hearts of the Republicans of Ohio. 

Major McKinley was nominated as the second 
delegate-at-large. As he was occupying the chair, 
the question was put to the convention by General 
Charles H. Grosvenor, who had made the motion, 
and carried unanimously. McKinley protested that 
he should not be considered elected. He said he had 
"promised his friends that he would not be a candi- 
date so long as Jacob A. Ambler and Marcus A. 
Hanna were in the field, and did not desire to break 

250 william Mckinley 

his word." There were cries of "No," "No," "You 
cannot withdraw," but as chairman, Major McKin- 
ley insisted that he was not elected, and ruled that 
three delegates were still to be chosen. A vote was 
then taken, among the candidates being William H. 
West, Mr. Ambler, and Mr. Hanna. Before the re- 
sult was announced, Judge West moved that Major 
McKinley be nominated by acclamation, and this 
was done amid cheering, by a rising vote. Hanna 
was nominated by acclamation as the third delegate 
and Judge West secured the fourth place by ballot. 
Marcus A. Hanna had first become prominent in 
the State in 1880, when he organized a business- 
men's campaign club in Cleveland. He represented 
the business man in politics. In the words of his 
biographer, Mr. Herbert Croly, "he could no more 
help being interested in politics, and in expressing 
that interest in an eager effort to elect men to office, 
than he could help being interested in business, his 
family, or his food." His participation in the Garfield 
campaign, his liberal contributions of money, and 
his influence and skill as a collector of campaign 
funds brought him into prominence in state politics 
as a valuable asset to the party. He was the owner 
of the Cleveland Herald and was bitterly opposed 
by Edwin Cowles, of the Leader. In the spring of 
the year he had been defeated by Cowles as a can- 


didate for delegate to the National Convention from 
the Cleveland district. It was accordingly a great 
triumph to secure unanimous election as a delegate- 
at-large by the State Convention. 

Judge West was an impressive figure and at that 
time a distinguished leader in Ohio politics. He had 
served as a judge of the Supreme Court and attorney- 
general of the State, and had been the candidate of 
the party for governor. Though totally blind, he had 
for many years swayed the political audiences of 
Ohio by his powerful oratory. 

The convention was in no sense guided by presi- 
dential preferences. Foraker and Hanna, who were 
supporters of John Sherman, were sent to the 
National Convention by unanimous votes, while 
McKinley and West, who favored Blaine, were also 
sent as delegates, the one unanimously and against 
his own protest, the other by a majority vote. 

John Sherman had been deeply grieved by his de- 
feat in 1880. He had no heart for a contest in 1884, 
and while he would have been gratified to receive the 
nomination, he made no effort to secure it. Foraker 
and Hanna favored him because of state pride, 
though both were willing to accept Blaine. McKin- 
ley, in common with a large proportion of the Repub- 
licans of Ohio, responded to those magnetic qualities 
which made Blaine the most attractive political 


leader of his time. With Blaine's tariff views he was, 
of course, in hearty accord, and so far as the charges 
against him were concerned, he simply did not be- 
lieve them. Like many other Republicans, he re- 
spected and admired the ability and splendid record 
of Sherman, but did not believe he could be nomi- 
nated in opposition to the growing enthusiasm for 
Blaine. In view of Sherman's apathetic attitude 
there was, of course, much justification for this feel- 
ing. Sherman's own choice, next to himself, would 
have been Blaine, whose only formidable competitor 
was President Arthur. Sherman opposed Arthur, 
not from personal motives, but because he regarded 
him as a politician (not of the statesman type) who 
had become President only by the accident of Gar- 
field's death. 

When a test vote came in the National Conven- 
tion it was disclosed that the Ohio delegation was 
about equally divided. The National Committee 
proposed Powell Clayton, of Arkansas, for temporary 
chairman. Clayton was a Blaine man. The support" 
ers of the opposition, led by Henry Cabot Lodge, 
presented the name of John R. Lynch, a colored man 
of Mississippi, and Lynch was elected. Ohio cast 
23 votes for Clayton, 22 for Lynch, and one delegate 
failed to vote. The two orators of the Ohio delega- 
tion figured prominently in the nominating speeches. 


Foraker ably presented the name of Sherman, and 
Judge West, "the blind man eloquent," justified his 
sobriquet in a speech naming James G. Blaine. 

Far more exacting in its requirements than the 
delivery of an eloquent oration, with the name of a 
presidential aspirant at the end of it, is the task of 
writing the party platform. Nominating speeches are 
soon forgotten, unless, indeed, they chance to con- 
tain some captivating phrase like that of Ingersoll, 
in 1876, when he proclaimed James G. Blaine as 
"a plumed knight," — a title which stuck to Blaine 
to the end of his career and impelled every Demo- 
cratic cartoonist in the country to place a ridiculous 
bunch of feathers on his hat. But the platform of a 
political party, though not always observed literally 
after the election, is a serious matter during the cam- 
paign. The slightest inadvertence, like Ingersoll's 
"plume," may furnish a ready weapon for the adver- 
sary. Every paragraph provides a text for favoring 
orators to expound, and their opponents to per- 
vert. A "plank" of any kind which the candidates 
cannot heartily support is a source of weakness. A 
set of resolutions that will bind the party together, 
appeal to the judgment as well as the sympathy of 
the voters, and at the same time leave no vulnerable 
points for attack, is a powerful contribution to the 
possibility of victory. 


To this task Major McKinley was assigned. The 
Ohio delegation named him as their member of the 
Committee on Resolutions, and the committee rec- 
ognized his consummate ability by unanimously 
making him chairman. 

As in 1880 Garfield had commanded the admira- 
tion of the convention for the superior skill with 
which he performed every duty, so in 1884 another 
Ohio man riveted upon himself the gaze of all the 
delegates, and for a similar reason. 

McKinley came to the convention well known to 
the Republicans throughout the country for his 
leadership in the tariff debates of Congress, but per- 
sonally scarcely known at all, although his pleasant 
face and courteous demeanor had always attracted 
attention in the public assemblies where he took 
part. On the third day of the convention an un- 
sought opportunity came, in which, without con- 
scious effort, he left upon every person present a 
vivid impression of the remarkable power of his 
personality. A report from the Committee on Rules 
and Order of Business had been presented, regulat- 
ing the method of selecting delegates to the next 
convention, — a perennial bone of contention in Re- 
publican conventions. A minority report was also 
offered and a lengthy discussion ensued. The chair- 
man, General John B. Henderson, of Missouri, an 


excellent man, who had served as Senator from that 
State, was inclined to let everybody talk and the 
argument dragged along interminably. Whether 
from ill-health or other cause, the General was not in 
good voice. He could not make himself heard, and 
the debate drifted into a disorderly wrangle. Twenty 
negroes and twice that number of white men were 
on the floor yelling for recognition. In vain the 
chairman pounded for order. The convention had 
"run away with him." In despair he looked for 
a younger and stronger man. His eye fell upon 
McKinley and the Ohio statesman was invited to 
the chair. 

With a single thump of the gavel that proclaimed 
throughout the hall the arrival of a master, the 
Major brought the convention to order. His voice 
rang out, clear and strong as a bugle call. What had 
been a howling mob became an orderly assemblage. 
Every perspiring orator, black and white, resumed 
his seat. Silence was restored, and then the new 
chairman, with perfect control, and parliamentary 
skill, quickly disposed of the pending question. The 
minority report was withdrawn and the majority 
report adopted. In the words of a newspaper cor- 
respondent the change was "like a cool breeze to a 
fevered face, the shadow of a great rock in a wilder- 
ness." The episode lasted only a few minutes, but 

256 william Mckinley 

in that time the whole vast assemblage saw the vision 
of a real commander. 

The next business in order was the Report of the 
Committee on Resolutions, and this was read by 
McKinley with almost dramatic effect. The plat- 
form was largely written by himself and was pre- 
sented with the vigor and enthusiasm which he 
threw into his own speeches. In a voice, strong and 
clear, audible in every corner of the huge auditorium, 
but without ostentatious display of oratory, he pre- 
sented, paragraph by paragraph, the cardinal prin- 
ciples of Republican policy, and brought forth great 
outbursts of applause. At its conclusion the report 
was enthusiastically adopted by unanimous vote. 

On the following day, McKinley again showed his 
power of control. The balloting for candidates for 
the Presidency commenced on that day. Blaine re- 
ceived on the first ballot 334^ votes, Arthur, 278, 
and Sherman only 30, of which 25 came from Ohio. 
On the second ballot Blaine received 349 votes and 
on the third 375 votes. Foreseeing that Blaine's 
rapidly growing strength would nominate him on 
the next ballot, Foraker made an effort to save his 
first choice, by moving to take a recess until the fol- 
lowing day. The motion was seconded by the Arthur 
men. Blaine's supporters were thrown into confusion. 
With victory almost within their grasp they saw the 


peril of delay. If their opponents could unite to force 
an adjournment, there was no prophet who could 
foretell what would happen on the morrow. At the 
supreme moment, when nobody else knew what to do, 
McKinley again raised the voice which the conven- 
tion had learned to respect. He chose a bold course 
and his words rang out like those of Sheridan, com- 
manding his fleeing soldiers to turn defeat into vic- 
tory. "Mr. Chairman," he said, "and gentlemen of 
the convention, I hope no friend of James G. Blaine 
will object to having the roll-call of the States made. 
Let us raise no technical objection; I care not when 
the question was raised, the gentlemen representing 
the different States here have a right to the voice 
of the convention on this subject, and as a friend 
of James G. Blaine, I insist that all his friends shall 
unite in having the roll of States called, and then 
vote that proposition down." 

With ringing cheers the Blaine men greeted this 
new call to action. Foraker's motion was defeated 
by a vote of 364 yeas and 450 nays. It was apparent 
that the convention was ready to swing to Blaine. 
While the fourth ballot was in progress, Judge For- 
aker withdrew the name of John Sherman and cast 
the 46 votes of Ohio for Blaine. The stampede 
followed, and Blaine was nominated by 544 votes 
against 276 for all other candidates. 

258 william Mckinley 

William McKinley left the convention a recog- 
nized leader in national politics. He entered at once 
upon a vigorous campaign, speaking in Ohio, In- 
diana, New York, and West Virginia. 

In the following year he was the foremost char- 
acter in the State Convention, again framing the 
platform. Joseph B. Foraker was again nominated 
for governor and Governor Hoadly was once more 
his opponent. This time the tables were turned and 
Foraker received a plurality of over 17,000. McKin- 
ley contributed loyally to his support, making 
speeches throughout the State. Hanna was a mem- 
ber of the campaign executive committee and did 
efficient service. 

The three great men of Ohio at this time were 
Sherman, Foraker, and McKinley. Sherman be- 
cause of his genuine ability as a statesman and long 
service, both to the party and to the nation, and 
Foraker on account of his brilliant oratory and dash- 
ing ways, both temporarily overshadowed the third 
of the trio, whose time had not yet come. Hanna had 
conceived a fondness for the popular young orator, 
and the friendship, which began in 1884, ripened 
into the closest personal and political relations in 

Hanna took to politics with the instinct of a 
sportsman, who packs up his equipment of heavy 


rifles and betakes himself to the jungles in search 
of "big game." The biggest game in sight was the 
Presidency and he entered into the pursuit with 
eagerness. The first object of his ambition was to 
secure the coveted position for Sherman. In spite of 
his disappointment in 1884, he continued to work for 
his favorite in the years that followed until 1888. 
After Blaine's defeat he expressed his belief that 
Sherman could have been elected, and should be 
given the opportunity. So he entered into the cam- 
paign with all the vigor of his ardent nature. Great 
prestige and power were to be gained, likewise, by 
promoting the political aspirations of a popular 
young man like Foraker. To the service of these 
two political aspirants, therefore, Hanna devoted a 
large share of his time and money. He desired no 
office for himself, but he did earnestly wish for Re- 
publican ascendancy, believing that the business 
interests of the whole country would be best served 
by keeping the party of Protection in power. 

The Sherman movement steadily gathered force. 
In the State Convention of 1887, McKinley again 
serving as a member of the Committee on Resolu- 
tions, the platform included an endorsement of John 
Sherman that was received with "a regular convul- 
sion of cheers," to quote another newspaper man. It 
was adopted without a dissenting vote. In the State 


Convention of 1888 the endorsement was made 
stronger by definite instructions to the delegates to 
"use all honorable means to secure his nomination." 
The popular Foraker was chosen delegate-at-large 
by acclamation. The three other delegates were 
Major McKinley, who received the largest number 
of votes, ex-Governor Charles Foster, and Congress- 
man Benjamin Butterworth. 

The National Convention of 1888 met in Chicago 
on Tuesday, June 19. Major McKinley was again 
made chairman of the Committee on Resolutions, 
and as he ascended the steps of the platform to read 
his report, on the third day of the convention, he 
received an ovation. His brilliant achievements in 
the Convention of 1884 and his prominent partici- 
pation in the campaigns of the succeeding years in 
many States had made him known personally to 
many of the delegates. He came also with addi- 
tional laurels won in his great fight in Congress 
against the Mills Bill. Though seeking no honors for 
himself, he was regarded with favoring eyes by many 

On Friday the balloting began. Sherman, who 
now for the first time had Ohio solidly at his back, 
led with 229 votes, Walter Q. Gresham coming next 
with 1 01. On the second ballot Sherman's vote rose 
to 249. On the third ballot the result was: Sher- 


man, 244; Gresham, 123; Alger, 122; Harrison, 94; 
Depew, 91 ; Allison, 88; Blaine, 35; Rusk, 18; McKin- 
ley, 8; Phelps, 5; Lincoln, 2. After a recess, Mr. 
Depew withdrew, and the convention adjourned to 
meet the next day. 

On Saturday morning the fourth ballot was taken. 
McKinley had received three votes on the first and 
second ballots, and eight on the third. He had come 
to the convention to support John Sherman. In 
1880 Garfield had done the same thing, but had al- 
lowed his sense of loyalty to be overwhelmed by the 
enthusiasm of the convention for himself. John 
Sherman ever after strongly doubted Garfield's sin- 
cerity — though unjustly. During the interval since 
the preceding ballot McKinley had heard many 
intimations that the deadlock could be broken if 
he would consent to be even a receptive candidate. 
Indeed, the sentiment in favor of such a solution 
was rapidly gaining strength — more than was ever 
revealed in the balloting. It was, so far, a contest 
of "favorite sons," with excellent chances in favor 
of an available "dark horse." 

McKinley steadfastly refused to give ear to such 
alluring suggestions. He knew that the time had 
come to put a stop emphatically and unmistakably 
to any movement that might reflect upon his honor. 
Accordingly, when the balloting was resumed, and a 


delegate from Connecticut cast one ballot for him, 
McKinley interrupted the roll-call with a speech that 
has seldom, if ever, been equaled for genuine elo- 
quence, vigor of expression, and absolute loyalty 
to principle. He said : — 

" Mr. President, and gentlemen of the convention: 
I am here as one of the chosen representatives of 
my State. I am here by resolution of the Republican 
State Convention, passed without a single dissent- 
ing voice, commanding me to cast my vote for John 
Sherman for President, and to use every worthy en- 
deavor for his nomination. I accepted the trust be- 
cause my heart and judgment were in accord with 
the letter and spirit and purpose of that resolution. 
It has pleased certain delegates to cast their votes 
for me for President. I am not insensible of the 
honor they would do me, but in the presence of the 
duty resting upon me I cannot remain silent with 
honor. I cannot, consistently with the wish of the 
State whose credentials I bear, and which has trusted 
me; I cannot with honorable fidelity to John Sher- 
man, who has trusted me in his cause and with his 
confidence; I cannot, consistently with my own views 
of personal integrity, consent, or seem to consent, to 
permit my name to be used as a candidate before 
this convention. I would not respect myself if I 
could find it in my heart to do so, or permit to be 


done that which could even be ground for any one 
to suspect that I wavered in my loyalty to Ohio, or 
my devotion to the chief of her choice and the chief 
of mine. I do not request — I demand, that no dele- 
gate who would not cast reflection upon me shall 
cast a ballot for me." 

This speech made a profound impression. There 
could be no doubt of its sincerity. Like Garfield's 
in 1880, it did his candidate little good, but unlike 
Garfield's, it shut the door squarely in the face of his 
own preferment. The vote of New York was changed 
in part to Harrison, who thus received 217 votes. 
Sherman had 235 votes on this ballot. A fifth was 
then taken which did not change the relative posi- 
tion of the candidates and the convention took a 
recess until Monday. Sunday was a day of busy cau- 
cusing. More than once it was intimated to McKin- 
ley by leaders from several States that Ohio might 
win the nomination if Sherman's name were with- 
drawn; but he was proof against all temptation. 
When the sixth ballot was taken on Monday, Sher- 
man again led, with 20 votes more than on Satur- 
day. Harrison had 231, a gain of only 18, but the 
sudden increase of his vote on the fourth ballot had 
plainly given an impetus to his candidacy, which 
nothing could stop except a "stampede" to some 
"dark horse." As McKinley's speech had halted 

264 william Mckinley 

the only possible movement of that kind, the nomi- 
nation of Harrison became inevitable. 

Perhaps no other man in the convention was more 
deeply impressed by McKinley's unselfish loyalty 
than Mark Hanna. He was himself a man of un- 
questioned fidelity to his friends. Sherman, with the 
full support of Ohio, had failed and his candidacy 
was now hopeless. Hanna was bitterly disappointed. 
He saw that he had made a serious mistake. He had 
sought to "hitch his wagon to a star," but failing 
to observe the brightest of the three in sight, had 
harnessed up two lesser luminaries. He began to re- 
alize that if the object of his life's ambition was to 
be the placing of an Ohio man in the presidential 
chair, he must begin by selecting a man who had the 
ability to place himself in that position. Moreover, 
he came to see that if the Protective Tariff was to be 
maintained for the benefit of the business interests 
of the country, which he ardently desired, the result 
could not be more certainly achieved than by put- 
ting into the Presidency the one man who was rec- 
ognized as its foremost champion. That one man 
was an Ohio man. The Tariff issue was now sharply 
defined. The people must decide. A victory for 
Protection could be accomplished and Ohio again 
honored with the Presidency, through the states- 
manship, the political skill, the forensic ability, and 


the personal popularity of William McKinley. These 
were the considerations which might have influenced 
Mr. Hanna had he approached the subject in a cool, 
calculating way. Doubtless they did influence his 
judgment. But Mr. Hanna possessed too warm a 
heart to choose his friends by such a process. He 
admired McKinley for his attitude toward the 
nomination. A man who could put aside the highest 
honor that his country could confer, from a sense 
of loyalty to a candidate who could not possibly be 
selected, aroused his enthusiasm. He had known 
McKinley before, and in a few minor matters had 
been in opposition to him. But when the real char- 
acter of the man was revealed, Hanna felt drawn 
toward him with a strong sense of friendliness. Their 
acquaintance suddenly ripened into sincere friend- 
ship, and on Mr. Hanna's part, disinterested per- 
sonal devotion and genuine affection. 

On the 25th of June, 1889, the Ohio Republican 
Convention met at Columbus. Seven candidates 
were placed in nomination for Governor, McKinley 
naming Asahel W. Jones, of Mahoning County. 
Governor Foraker, who was not formally placed in 
nomination, received 254 votes out of 828, no other 
candidate receiving as many as 200. There was a 
rush to change votes, and before the result was an- 
nounced Foraker had received a majority and the 


vote was made unanimous. He was escorted to the 
platform and presented to the convention by Major 
McKinley, who supported him in the campaign. In 
spite of the apparent harmony, Foraker did not re- 
ceive the full support of his party, and was defeated 
by a plurality of over 10,000, though all the other 
Republican candidates were elected. The legisla- 
ture chosen at this election was Democratic in both 
branches. They lost no time in redistricting the 
State and played the game of "gerrymander" more 
effectively than ever before. 1 In the congressional 
election of 1890, the aggregate vote of all the dis- 
tricts showed a plurality for the Republican candi- 
dates of 9490, and yet, so cleverly were the counties 
grouped, the Democrats elected fourteen Represen- 
tatives, leaving their opponents only seven. McKin- 
ley was beaten by 302 votes. John G. Warwick, his 
successful opponent, died before the expiration of his 
term and a special election was held in the district, 
in which the Democratic candidate secured a major- 
ity of 3342. This was about the normal Democratic 
majority and strikingly illustrates the effectiveness 
of McKinley's fight. The Cleveland Leader, in an 
editorial on the election, printed November 7, 1890, 
pointed out that McKinley's personal popularity had 
resulted in carrying Stark County by about 800, while 
x See ante, p. 85. 


Blaine's plurality in 1884 was only 300, and other- 
wise praised his brilliant campaign, closing with the 
remark that "the result makes Major McKinley the 
next Governor of Ohio, if he can by any means be 
prevailed upon to accept the Republican nomination 
next year." On the same day, the Pittsburg Com- 
mercial Gazette made a similar prophecy, and the 
New York Tribune said: "We congratulate Major 
McKinley upon his able and brilliant canvass and 
predict that Ohio will not long leave him to the en- 
joyment of private life." The Chicago Inter-Ocean, 
the Philadelphia Record, and the Columbus Dis- 
patch also pointed out that the logic of the situation 
meant the nomination of McKinley for governor. 
The Republican press of Ohio quickly caught the 
idea, and from the day of the election in 1890 to 
the date of the State Convention in 1891, scarcely 
another name was seriously considered for the nomi- 
nation. The strength of this sentiment is all the more 
remarkable in view of the fact that the result of the 
elections throughout the country was commonly 
taken as a rebuke to the Republican Party for pass- 
ing the McKinley Tariff Act. Evidently the Repub- 
licans of Ohio did not share that view. There were, 
indeed, many who thought the Protectionists had 
carried their theories too far, and that the disaster 
of 1890 might have been avoided by a more con- 

268 william Mckinley 

servative policy. But McKinley had won universal 
admiration within the party by his aggressive lead- 
ership and the unflinching steadfastness of his faith 
in the ultimate triumph of the protective principle. 
Those who had wavered rallied to his support, as 
straggling soldiers take new courage when they see 
the main body marching bravely forward under 
an undaunted leader. McKinley never doubted the 
wisdom of his course, and his courage had placed 
him in the forefront of Republican leaders. 



AT first, McKinley had no desire for the gover- 
norship. It did not appeal to him, as he re- 
peatedly told his friends. At that time the Governor 
of Ohio had no veto power and therefore no direct 
influence upon legislation. There was little that he 
could do except sign a few commissions and par- 
don prisoners, and McKinley did not fancy the idea 
of posing as a mere "figurehead." Moreover, the 
nomination would mean a hard fight. James E. 
Campbell, the Democratic Governor, who had de- 
feated the brilliant Foraker, was practically certain 
to be renominated. A defeat for McKinley at this 
time would be a serious blow to his prestige, and 
victory was by no means certain. The factional fight 
within the party was a dangerous menace, especially 
in an "off" year. The Democrats already held the 
governorship and the legislature, and Democratic 
ideas were apparently in the ascendant. The policy 
of high Protection, to all appearances, had been dis- 
countenanced by the public, and no one could say 
how Ohio would treat its chief apostle. In a year or 
two, at least, McKinley felt sure the tide would turn. 


He could then return to Congress if he so desired and 
resume the kind of public service in which he was 
most interested; but it was by no means certain that 
the people had as yet experienced a change of heart. 
McKinley had resisted, in the Convention of 1888, a 
strong effort to make him the presidential nominee of 
the party. Honor and loyalty forbade his acceptance 
then, but in due season the prize would seemingly 
be within his grasp. Why, then, should he imperil all 
his future prospects by taking the chances of defeat 
in his own State, for an office which he did not par- 
ticularly care to hold? 

On the other hand, the Republicans of Ohio were 
not to be denied. The newspapers were proclaiming 
him as the only logical nominee, and the pressure was 
strong in every direction. A delegation of personal 
friends finally went to Washington, in the early 
spring of 1 891, and presented the case so vigorously 
that McKinley gave his consent. Nothing further 
was necessary. The State Convention met at Colum- 
bus on the 1 6th of June. The chairman of the State 
Central Committee, Louis W. King, in calling the 
convention to order, congratulated the party upon 
having at its head "the calm, conservative, intel- 
lectual, brilliant, and eloquent Major McKinley." 
Ex-Governor Foraker, in a characteristic speech, 
placed McKinley in nomination. In conclusion, he 


said : " By common consent all eyes have been turned 
in the same direction. One man there is who, meas- 
ured by the exigencies of this occasion, stands a full 
head and shoulders above all his comrades, and that 
man is William McKinley, Jr. . . . Every Republican 
in Ohio not only knows him, but every Republican 
in Ohio loves him, and that is not all. Every Demo- 
crat in Ohio knows him and every Democrat in Ohio 
fears him. ... It is no exaggeration to say that 
never in the history of our State has any man been 
nominated for the governorship, by either party, 
who, at the time of his nomination, was such a dis- 
tinctively national and international character." 

The rules were suspended and Major McKin- 
ley was nominated by acclamation. The campaign 
which followed was one of the most exciting ever wit- 
nessed in the State. The prominence of the Repub- 
lican candidate brought national issues to the front. 
The prospect of dealing a death-blow to the Repub- 
lican Tariff policy by defeating its chief spokesman 
presented great allurements to the Democrats, who 
brought into the State many of their ablest orators. 
The silver question also came to the front. Gover- 
nor Campbell openly espoused the cause of the free 
and unlimited coinage of silver and Major McKinley 
took issue with him. The latter canvassed system- 
atically the eighty-eight counties of the State. He 

272 william Mckinley 

was elected by a plurality of 21,511 ' and the Dem- 
ocratic Legislature of the preceding two years was 
transformed into one overwhelmingly Republican. 2 
Mr. Hanna took an active part in the canvass, but 
more in behalf of Senator Sherman than in the inter- 
est of Major McKinley. His contribution to the lat- 
ter' s campaign was confined chiefly to the collection 
of funds. His interest in Sherman's reelection to the 
Senate by the next legislature was due in large meas- 
ure to the fact that Governor Foraker was an active 
candidate for the position. Hanna was a loyal friend 
of Sherman's and, by this time, the bitter enemy of 
Foraker. He sent agents into every part of the State 
to pledge legislative candidates to Sherman and 
devoted his personal efforts to the same work in his 
own county. When the caucus was held, Hanna went 
to Columbus to take charge and was rewarded by 
winning a desperate fight for his candidate. Foraker 
was defeated by a vote of 53 to 38. The result 
strengthened Hanna's hold upon the state organiza- 
tion, but was gained at the expense of bitter enmities. 

* The vote for governor was: — 

William McKinley, Jr., Republican 386,739 

James E. Campbell, Democrat 365,228 

John Seitz, People's Party 23,472 

John J. Ashenhurst, Prohibitionist 20,190 

McKinley's plurality 21,511 

9 The Seventieth General Assembly stood: Senate, 21 Republi- 
cans, 10 Democrats; House, 72 Republicans, 35 Democrats. 


McKinley's election as governor, on the contrary, 
strengthened the party throughout the State and 
was in every sense a personal triumph. 

Major McKinley was inaugurated as Governor 
of Ohio on Monday, January 11, 1892. He met the 
general assembly at the outset, in a friendly way. 
In an address, delivered on the 13th, at the joint 
session which reelected John Sherman to the Sen- 
ate, he said: "I shall have the opportunity, gentle- 
men of the general assembly, of meeting you very 
often in the next two years, and to political friends 
and political adversaries alike I desire to say that I 
trust our relations will be of the most friendly and 
agreeable character." These were not merely the 
pleasant words which one expects on such occa- 
sions. They were indicative rather of the spirit of 
an executive, who, without real power, sought to 
improve and elevate the public service by the use 
of a remarkable personal influence. The reforms 
which he promised were faithfully carried out and 
the general assembly incorporated into law nearly 
all of his recommendations. He devoted himself 
conscientiously to the study of the needs of the 
State. His appointees were chosen with few mis- 
takes of judgment and the institutions of the State 
were correspondingly well managed. 

Learning that the State did not have sufficient 

274 william Mckinley 

revenue to sustain itself, Governor McKinley set to 
work to develop a new system of taxation. This took 
the form of an excise tax on corporations which sup- 
plied ample funds to the State Treasury and brought 
about a material reduction in the state levy of taxes. 

Few statesmen have been more sincerely "the 
friend of the laboring man" than was McKinley. 
This was shown again and again in his congressional 
work. His devotion to the Protective Tariff was 
largely inspired by his familiarity with the condi- 
tion of the workingmen in his own district. He had 
lived so close to them that he knew just how a self- 
respecting American miner or mechanic desired to 
live and to bring up his family; he knew, too, that 
with competition from abroad, these workingmen 
would be compelled to change their habits of life, to 
correspond with those of the cheaply paid laborers 
of Europe; and his heart would never permit him to 
relax his efforts to keep these fellow workmen and 
neighbors from slipping down to a lower level of 
comfort and happiness. 

When he became governor, his sympathies led him 
along similar paths. In his first year he urged legis- 
lation for the safety and comfort of emplo3^ees on 
steam railways. In the following year he repeated 
this recommendation and insisted upon the introduc- 
tion of automatic couplers and air brakes on railroad 


cars. He also urged the legislature to provide the 
trolley-cars with appliances for the safety of em- 
ployees and the public, particularly pointing out the 
necessity of "vestibules" to protect the motormen 
and conductors from the hardships of severe winter 
weather. These requirements were enacted into law. 
Reference has already been made to McKinley's 
speech in advocacy of the arbitration of labor dis- 
putes, made in Congress, April 2, 1886. 1 With fine 
legal ability he forecast the difficulties and suggested 
the essentials of a successful arbitration law, as fol- 
lows: — 

1. Arbitration should be authorized and favored, 
not compelled — and should be free of expense to 
the parties. 

2. The public themselves should retain the right 
of selecting their own arbitrators, if they so desire. 

3. Awards of arbitration should rest for their 
sanction upon their own manifest justice and merits. 
This, of course, would not apply where the parties 
covenant in advance for other means of enforcement. 

4. Investigation into causes of strikes, etc., when 
made, should be thorough and impartial; and when 
disagreements continue after awards of investiga- 
tion, the facts should be laid before the public. 

A law based upon these principles was passed by 
1 See ante, p. 234. 


the Ohio General Assembly during McKinley's first 
term as governor. It is substantially like the law 
of Massachusetts, which was passed soon after Mc- 
Kinley's speech in Congress. Ohio was the second 
State to pass such laws, and many other States have 
followed the lead of these two. 

The law in Ohio worked admirably. An efficient 
Board of Arbitration was appointed, which took 
cognizance of all disputes in labor questions where 
twenty-five or more employees in the same occupa- 
tion were involved. Neither police nor militia were 
called out in settlement of any case handled by this 
board. McKinley received numerous calls from em- 
ployers and delegations of strikers, and always urged 
them to arbitrate their differences. Many disputes 
were thus quietly settled, and in some instances, 
long-continued strikes were brought to a close. In 
the Massillon district, when two thousand miners 
had been idle for eight months and all efforts toward 
a peaceful solution were apparently hopeless, the 
Governor induced both parties to come together, 
through the State Board of Arbitration, and a strike 
that had cost $1,000,000 in loss of wages and busi- 
ness was settled without violence. Another strike, 
involving four thousand employees of the Hocking 
Valley Railroad, was also quickly settled. At noon 
of July 17, 1894, a meeting was called by the Gov- 


ernor and presided over by him, at which the mem- 
bers of the State Board of Arbitration were present, 
together with a representative of the employers and 
delegations of interested citizens. Before night a 
telegram was received from the strikers' headquar- 
ters announcing a settlement, and the next morning 
thousands of freight cars that had been idle for three 
weeks were again in motion. McKinley's part in 
these negotiations was carried on so quietly that 
few of the people realized the importance of the 
work he was doing. 

The State Convention which met at Columbus, 
June 7, 1893, renominated McKinley for governor 
with many expressions of enthusiasm and approval. 
The voters gave him the unparalleled plurality of 
nearly 81,000,* after a campaign conducted almost 
exclusively on national issues, in which the Tariff 
bore a prominent part. The pendulum was beginning 
to swing the other way. The turn of the tide, which 

1 The vote was as follows: — 

William McKinley, Republican 433,342 

Lawrence T. Neal, Democrat 352,347 

Gideon P. Macklin, Prohibitionist 22,406 

Edward J. Bracken, Populist 15,563 

McKinley's plurality 80,995 

McKinley's majority 43,026 

For the first time McKinley's name appeared on the ballot as 
William McKinley. The " Jr." was dropped because of the death of 
William McKinley, Sr., on November 24, 1892. 

278 william Mckinley 

McKinley so confidently predicted in the hour of his 
defeat in 1890, was beginning to set in strongly. 

The second inauguration took place on Monday, 
January 8, 1894. The Governor's message to the 
general assembly dealt largely with the necessity of 
economy, but insisted upon the proper care of the 
benevolent institutions of the State. A very perti- 
nent suggestion — one which an over-legislated na- 
tion would be glad to hear more frequently — was 
to the effect that "a short session and but little leg- 
islation would be appreciated." 

The first term of Governor McKinley was a 
period of tranquillity, so far as the affairs of Ohio 
were concerned, but the second was marked by an 
epidemic of strikes, lynchings, and riots, which kept 
the Ohio National Guard more actively employed 
than ever before since its organization. On April 21, 
1894, a general strike of coal miners occurred, in- 
volving the States of Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, 
and Illinois, and portions of other States. The 
strikers undertook to board trains and forcibly inter- 
fere with the traffic in coal. The situation quickly 
became acute throughout the coal regions. On April 
27, Governor McKinley received a telegram from 
Mount Sterling, Ohio, signed by the sheriff of Madi- 
son County, to the effect that the so-called "Galvin 
regiment" of "Coxeyites" had boarded a freight 


train and refused to leave. The sheriff was unable 
to protect the' railroad company and called for 
assistance. Governor McKinley promptly sent five 
companies and one battery of militia, which quickly 
overawed the " Coxey Army." On May 9, at Akron, 
May 28 at Cleveland, and May 30 in Athens County, 
threatened violence necessitated the calling for 
troops. The greatest trouble of the year was in 
Guernsey County, beginning June 6. The miners 
were sidetracking the trains, stoning the crews, de- 
stroying the tracks, and defying the civil authori- 
ties. The Governor sent troops to the scene as quickly 
as possible, until 3371 officers and men were in the 
field. The various detachments were distributed 
through five or six counties from Massillon to Bel- 
laire, covering a wider extent of territory than had 
been held under military control at any time since 
the Civil War. The prompt action brought anarchy 
and violence to an end, and by the nth a compro- 
mise settlement was made by the miners and opera- 
tors. A week later work was resumed and the troops 
were gradually withdrawn. 

In the same year the good name of the State was 
threatened by frequent lynchings. On April 15 a 
prisoner was forcibly taken from the sheriff of Logan 
County and hanged. On July 27 at New Lexington 
a similar attempt was made. The Governor insisted 


that the law must be upheld. The crisis came on 
October 16, at n p.m. On that day an urgent call 
from the sheriff of Fayette County was received, 
asking for troops to protect a prisoner from mob 
violence. Two companies under Colonel A. B. Coit 
were quickly sent to Washington Court-House. An 
attempt to seize the prisoner was frustrated by the 
militia, but the mob became so dangerous that Col- 
onel Coit called for reinforcements. Before these 
could arrive he was compelled to take possession of 
the court-house and station his men inside. The 
mob continued its demonstrations, and, in spite of 
Colonel Coit's warning that he would fire if they 
attempted any violence, finally broke down one 
of the doors of the building. Colonel Coit, having 
given due warning, ordered the soldiers to fire. Two 
persons were killed outright and several others 
wounded. For this the colonel was charged with 
manslaughter, but his action was approved by a 
military court of inquiry, to whose report the Gover- 
nor gave his unqualified approval. 

The Governor during these trying times took per- 
sonal supervision of the work of the militia, bring- 
ing to bear his own experience as a soldier. In the 
disturbance of June, 1894, he watched every move- 
ment of the troops for a period of sixteen days, 
remaining in his office nightly until long after mid- 


night and frequently telegraphing instructions as 
late as 3 A.M. 

It was characteristic of McKinley's administra- 
tion as governor, that while he called out the Na- 
tional Guard without hesitation when required, he 
always insisted that the local authorities must first 
exhaust their own powers according to law, and that 
the militia should be used only as a last resort. 
: In the beginning of 1895, reports came to the Gov- 
ernor of great destitution in Hocking Valley, owing 
to the fact that, for the greater part of the preceding 
year, the miners had been out of employment. On 
January 8, a committee representing the Trade Labor 
Union of the Hocking Valley mining district called 
upon the Governor to make a statement relative to 
the needs of the sufferers. McKinley sent them back 
to Nelsonville with the request that the mayor call 
a meeting of citizens to consider the question of what 
ought to be done. On the following night, a quarter 
of an hour before midnight, the Governor received 
a message reading, "Immediate relief needed." He 
quickly sent messages to leading grocers and dealers 
in provisions, to a transfer company, and to some 
railroad officials, asking them to come at once to his 
rooms at the hotel. By five o'clock in the morning 
a car had been loaded with provisions and by nine 
o'clock it was in Nelsonville, and the work of dis- 

282 william Mckinley 

tribution begun. The Governor personally ordered 
the supplies and agreed to pay for them, but when 
his friends heard of it they insisted upon bearing 
their share of the obligation. Other towns made ap- 
peals for help and provisions for all were promptly 
forwarded. The Governor gave instructions that 
every appeal was to be met and that nobody should 
be allowed to go hungry. He wrote to the chambers 
of commerce of the principal cities and through them 
made an inquiry into the exact conditions. Finding 
many families in destitute circumstances he made 
a State-wide appeal for charity, with the result that 
he was able to distribute enough money, food, cloth- 
ing, and other necessaries to relieve the distress of 
2722 miners and their families, representing at least 
10,000 persons. The hand that had been clenched 
into a fist of steel against those who defied the law 
became a hand of mercy, soft and gentle as a woman's, 
when the same offenders, suffering from hunger and 
cold, were found to need its ministering care. 

Although he performed all the duties of his office 
with conscientious fidelity, Governor McKinley did 
not find them so onerous as to prevent his respond- 
ing to many calls for service outside the State. His 
great prominence as the author of the McKinley 
Act, which, more completely than any other, defined 
the position of the Republican Party on the subject 


of Protection, and the probability that, at an early 
date, he would be selected as the candidate of the 
party for the Presidency, made him one of the most 
conspicuous men in the nation. He was invited to 
address great public gatherings in many States. At 
Galena, Illinois, he delivered an oration in celebra- 
tion of the seventy-first anniversary of the birth of 
General Grant; at Ann Arbor, Michigan, he addressed 
the first National Convention of Republican College 
Clubs; at Beatrice, Nebraska, he made a powerful 
presentation of his tariff views in a speech on "The 
Triumph of Protection"; he dedicated the Ohio 
Building at the Columbian Exposition in Chicago; 
spoke at Rochester, New York, on "The Business 
Man in Politics"; opened the campaign of 1892 in 
a speech at the Academy of Music, Philadelphia; pro- 
nounced an eloquent eulogy of Rutherford B. Hayes 
before the Ohio Wesleyan University ; and responded 
again and again to calls for after-dinner speeches and 
campaign oratory. 

Scarcely had McKinley taken his seat in the guber- 
natorial chair when the presidential campaign of 
1892 began to absorb the attention of the country. 
General Harrison was in the last year of an excellent 
administration and expected a renomination. It 
is a dangerous proceeding for a party to deny the 
President of their own selection a second term. To 


do so would be a tacit admission that they had made 
a mistake and a repudiation of their own policies. 
The President was a man of exceptional ability, who 
had won his success in life from the sheer force of 
superior intellectuality backed by determination. 
The emotional side of his nature was seldom if ever 
displayed to the public. He was not a "good mixer." 
He possessed none of the arts of the politician by 
which friends are made, nor was he by nature one 
whose personality would beget friendly sentiments. 
He entered the Presidency with the handicap of 
"Grandfather's hat." Though far better fitted for 
the responsibilities of the office than his grandfather, 
he was persistently caricatured as a little man wear- 
ing a hat many sizes too large. Harrison was pe- 
culiarly sensitive to this taunt, and at the outset 
determined to prove that he was himself really the 
President of the United States. So jealous of his 
prerogative did he become that scarcely a man of 
those who had secured his nomination and election 
could wield the slightest influence. The result was 
that many of his friends were alienated, among them 
some of the foremost politicians of the country. 

It was this that caused the breach with James G. 
Blaine, whose position in the Cabinet was not a 
happy one. Blaine had a host of friends who re- 
garded him as a greater man than the President. 


The latter, of course, realized this feeling, and it 
touched his sensitive nature at its most vulnerable 
point. Blaine had announced as early as February 
6 that he would not be a candidate before the Con- 
vention of 1892, thus removing any cause for the 
President's jealousy. Yet the coolness between the 
two men rapidly increased, until on June 4, only 
a few days before the convention, Blaine sent a stiff 
and formal note to the President tendering his 
resignation, which the President accepted promptly 
in a message equally curt. 

The resignation of Mr. Blaine was generally un- 
derstood as a willingness on his part to accept the 
nomination. It was believed by many that the 
contest would be a close one between him and the 
President. There were many enthusiastic friends of 
McKinley, however, who fervently hoped that out 
of the deadlock, which seemed a certainty, the Ohio 
Governor would emerge a victor. The latter, who 
was a wiser politician than his friends realized, 
saw that any Republican candidate, nominated as 
the result of a fight against the President, who had 
been fairly successful, and was therefore reasonably 
entitled to the honor of an endorsement at the hands 
of his party, would enter the campaign with a heavy 
handicap. Harrison was clearly the logical candidate 
for 1892. In 1896 the way would be clear and 


McKinley knew that he was himself the choice of 
thousands of Republicans, who desired first to honor 
Harrison as they believed he deserved. 

McKinley, therefore, smilingly met the friends 
who approached him on the subject with the an- 
nouncement that he thought Harrison would be 
nominated and that he intended to vote for him. 

The Tenth Republican National Convention met 
in Minneapolis, Minnesota, June 7, 1892. Governor 
McKinley was present as a delegate-at-large and 
was elected permanent chairman of the convention. 
Although he was known to be a supporter of Presi- 
dent Harrison, there was no doubt of his absolute 
fairness to all parties and he received the unanimous 
support of the delegates. 

Mr. Hanna, though not a delegate, went to Min- 
neapolis and there opened informal headquarters for 
McKinley, seeking thereby to take advantage of any 
opportunity that might seem to favor his friend. 
But the nomination of Harrison was already, assured 
and Mr. Hanna gave up his efforts several days 
before the balloting began. 

The convention took a ballot on the presidential 
nomination on June 10. When Ohio was called, 
McKinley challenged the vote of his State, which 
cast 44 votes for McKinley and 2 for Harrison. 
Governor Foraker and Mr. Ambler claimed that as 


McKinley was in the chair, his alternate was en- 
titled to vote in his place. But the chairman over- 
ruled the point of order. It was finally settled by 
polling the delegation, with the result that 43 votes 
were cast for McKinley and 1 for Harrison, McKin- 
ley's alternate casting the vote as his chief wished. 
Later McKinley called Elliott F. Shepard, of New 
York, to the chair, and moved to make the nomi- 
nation of President Harrison unanimous. This was 
objected to, strongly, and McKinley at length with- 
drew his motion to permit some of the States to 
record their votes as they desired. When the re- 
sult was announced, Harrison received 535 J votes, 
Blaine, i82f, and McKinley, 182. The vote for 
Harrison was then made unanimous. 

As in 1888, McKinley was one of the most con- 
spicuous figures in the convention. He was called 
on by many admirers, and the Chicago newspapers 
all published interviews with him. His dignity, his 
courtesy, and his fairness as the presiding officer of 
the convention met with universal commendation. 
The following resolution was unanimously adopted: 
"Resolved: That the thanks of this convention and 
of the whole country are due and tendered to the 
Honorable William McKinley, Jr., of Ohio, for the 
splendid, impartial, and courteous way he has dis- 
charged his duties as the presiding officer of this 

288 william Mckinley 

convention. We wish Governor McKinley a pros- 
perous administration in Ohio, health and happiness 
in his private life, and an increasing usefulness in 
the service of his country." The last sentence was 
only a veiled suggestion of what was already in the 
minds of many delegates, namely, that the nominee 
of the party in 1896 had already appeared. 

On the 17th of February, 1893, an incident oc- 
curred which for a time threatened the complete 
ruin of Governor McKinley's career. Robert L. 
Walker, a manufacturer and capitalist of Youngs- 
town, Ohio, and an old friend and schoolmate of the 
Governor, made an assignment in bankruptcy, much 
to the consternation of the community. McKinley, 
although not in any way connected with his friend's 
business enterprises, was heavily involved as an en- 
dorser of his paper. He had originally stipulated 
that he would not obligate himself for more than he 
could pay and the first note was for $15,000. McKin- 
ley at that time owned the McKinley Block in Can- 
ton, subject to mortgage, with an equity of $50,000. 
He had no reason to question the solvency of his 
friend, and the endorsement was regarded at the 
time as a reasonable accommodation, extended to 
one who had previously favored him in a similar 
way, though for a smaller amount. Unfortunately, 
Walker's affairs did not prosper and the original 


accommodation was repeated, until it grew into 
formidable proportions. 

McKinley heard the news of the failure in Buffalo, 
while on his way to New York to speak at a banquet 
of the Ohio Society. He at once canceled his en- 
gagement and went to Youngstown to demand an 
explanation. With two friends he entered Walker's 
house in a high state of indignation, but found that 
gentleman ill in bed and his wife crushed. It is 
characteristic of his tenderness of heart that within 
a few minutes he had Walker by the hand, saying, 
"Have courage, Robert, there are brighter days 

Accompanied by General James L. Botsford, Mc- 
Kinley now went to Cleveland to consult his close 
friend, Myron T. Herrick. Meanwhile others had 
heard of the disaster. H. H. Kohlsaat, of Chicago, 
telegraphed, " My purse is open. Is there anything 
I can do?" This typifies the spirit of many others, 
but to them all McKinley replied that nothing could 
be done. 

That night twenty-five or thirty friends gathered 
at the home of Mr. Herrick. McKinley in an up- 
per chamber paced the floor in agony. " I have kept 
clear of all entanglements all my life," he groaned. 
"Oh, that this should come to me now!" 

It meant to him the ruin of his career. All 

2Q0 william Mckinley 

thoughts of the Presidency had vanished. He would 
resign the governorship and return to the practice 
of law. He had resolved to pay every dollar, and 
declared that he was still young and strong, and 
could earn the money. Meanwhile the friends in the 
room below were considering. It was a time when 
money was not plentiful — only two months before 
the panic of 1893. Yet the friends subscribed $25,000 
that night, supposing that to be the extent of the 
obligation. Not a man of those present ever sought 
or held office or accepted any favor in return for 
his contribution. 

The next day Mr. Herrick learned to his amaze- 
ment that the debt would be $60,000 instead of 
$25,000. He telegraphed at once to Mr. Hanna, who 
was then in New York, busy with the adjustment 
of a difficult financial matter of his own. Mr. Kohl- 
saat came from Chicago, Thomas McDougal from 
Cincinnati, and Judge Day from Canton. Banks all 
over the State were heard from and the total of 
the outstanding notes finally reached $130,000. 
Nevertheless, McKinley insisted that he would pay 
it all. Mrs. McKinley, who had been visiting in 
Boston, came to Cleveland when she learned the 
news. She had inherited an estate from her father, 
and in spite of the advice of her attorneys, insisted 
upon giving it all toward payment of the debt. Said 



she, "My husband has done everything for me all 
my life. Do you mean to deny me the privilege of 
doing as I please with my own property to help 
him now?" She was finally allowed to deed her 
property to Mr. Hanna in escrow, "to be used if 
needed," though the latter had no intention of using 
a dollar of it and eventually deeded it back. McKin- 
ley also insisted on turning over all his property 
and Messrs. Kohlsaat, Herrick, and Day were made 
trustees to receive it. A proposition was made to 
raise a fund by popular subscription, but McKinley 
would not listen to it. Some voluntary remittances 
that came to him were promptly returned. While 
willing to accept the services of the trustees in con- 
centrating the debt into a few hands and carrying 
it temporarily, he expected eventually to repay 
it. The trustees, however, had no such idea. They 
quietly raised the necessary funds from wealthy 
men of their acquaintance and paid all the notes, 
taking care that the Governor should not know 
even the names of the contributors. In the final ad- 
justment, they left him in possession of his business 
block in Canton, subject to a mortgage of $18,000, 
with all other obligations paid in full. 

Political opponents sought to make capital against 
McKinley, on the ground that he was not a good busi- 
ness man. He could n't take care of his own affairs, 


they said, and therefore was not to be trusted with 
more important responsibilities. The people of Ohio, 
however, did not take that view, but in the same 
year reelected him governor by an unprecedented 
majority. The prompt action of Mr. Herrick and 
the friends who had gathered at his house saved the 
Governor from despair and so inspired him with new 
hope that he quickly reestablished himself in the 
esteem of the people by a brilliant political speech, 
which, but for the inspiration of their confidence, he 
declared he would never have been able to make. 
The affair was not only creditable to McKinley's 
sense of honor, but also to the public-spirited gener- 
osity of the men who, rallying to the support of 
their friend, at the same time saved a valued leader 
for the service of the nation. 




BOTH the Tariff and the Currency were re- 
sponsible for the disastrous conditions of the 
country in 1893. The decisive defeat of President 
Harrison and the election of an overwhelming Demo- 
cratic majority in the House of Representatives left 
no doubt that the feeling of resentment against the 
Republican Party on account of the McKinley Tar- 
iff Act was still nearly as strong as in 1890. Yet no 
sooner had the result become known than a feeling 
of apprehension began to creep over the country. 
The ups and downs of politics, as of business, are 
largely anticipatory. The Tariff of 1890' had scarcely 
gone into effect when the people, anticipating dis- 
aster, overthrew its sponsors. Yet it had not brought 
disaster, but prosperity, and so when it became cer- 
tain, in 1892, that it was to be cast aside and super- 
seded by Free-Trade measures, the people again took 
alarm and a vague feeling of distrust took possession 
of the industrial interests. The mere agitation of a 
radical change in the Tariff Policy of the country is 
a disaster in itself. The protected industries and all 
the large commercial interests dependent upon them 

294 william Mckinley 

were now face to face with the certain prospect of 
hostile legislation. The manufacturers could plainly 
see that, under the anticipated Free-Trade Tariff, 
a large importation of foreign goods was imminent, 
and that their own product would be diminished 
thereby, and possibly shut out of the market. Mer- 
chants could see, in the threatened closing of mills 
and idleness of employees, the impoverishment of 
their customers, and the consequent desirability of 
countermanding their orders, or at least curtailing 
their purchases. The mills suddenly found their 
orders decreasing, and their output seriously re- 
duced. The result is best told in the' words of the 
annual review of business for 1893 issued by R. G. 
Dun & Company: — 

"Starting with the largest trade ever known, mills 
crowded with work and all business stimulated by 
high hopes, the year of 1893 has proved, in sudden 
shrinkage of trade, in commercial disasters and de- 
pression of industries, the worst for fifty years. . . . 
The year closes with the prices of many products 
the lowest ever known, with millions of workers 
seeking in vain for work, and with charity laboring 
to keep back suffering and starvation in all our 

All of this happened before the new Congress had 
touched the Tariff, but it was enough for the people 


to know that the party of Free-Trade was in the 
saddle, and the anticipation of what might surely 
be expected was capable of paralyzing the country 
quite as effectively as the reality. 

But the threatened change in the Tariff was not 
alone in bringing disaster. The currency of the coun- 
try had become sadly disordered. The anticipation 
of tariff changes operated as a temporary check to 
the importation of dutiable articles, for every im- 
porter naturally wished to wait long enough to get 
his goods into the country at lower rates. This cut 
down the revenues of the Government by many 
millions. The Fifty-first Congress made lavish ex- 
penditures, only exceeded by those of their Demo- 
cratic successors of the Fifty-second Congress. The 
surplus disappeared. The Secretary of the Treasury 
found serious difficulty in keeping intact his gold 
reserve of one hundred million dollars. Under the 
Currency Act of 1890 the Secretary had been em- 
powered to redeem the Treasury notes in either gold 
or silver at his discretion. When, in the spring of 
1893, the gold reserve actually fell below the es- 
tablished minimum, fears were expressed lest the 
Secretary might avail himself of the privilege of re- 
deeming the notes in silver. Even his assurances of a 
contrary intention were misunderstood and increased 
instead of allaying the fear that had now taken hold 

296 william Mckinley 

of banks and financiers generally. Gold was rapidly 
disappearing from the country. The folly of the 
Silver Law of 1890 was plainly manifest. The com- 
promise which the Republicans of Congress had 
offered the Free-Silver men was proving a costly 
one. Yet the Silver advocates were stronger than 
ever. Nobody knew what the incoming Congress 
would do. The public mind was in a state of panic 
and a crash was inevitable. As if to aggravate the 
appalling conditions, the people had drifted into an 
era of frightful extravagance and reckless specula- 
tion. The balance of trade had turned against the 
country and the total imports were vastly in excess of 
the exports. Bank loans had suddenly expanded to 
unprecedented proportions, especially in the South 
and West. The bubble was ready to burst, and the 
explosion came in the first week of May, when the 
stock market suddenly collapsed, following the fail- 
ure of a large corporation, in whose inflated shares 
there had been extensive speculation. " Runs" upon 
the banks developed in all parts of the country, but 
chiefly in the Western and Southern States. One 
hundred and fifty-eight national banks, one hundred 
and seventy-two state banks, forty-seven savings 
banks, thirteen loan and trust companies, and six- 
teen mortgage companies went down in the general 


In December, 1893, Chairman William L.Wilson 
of the House Ways and Means Committee, intro- 
duced the Tariff Bill which eventually became 
known as the Wilson-Gorman Tariff. It encountered 
violent opposition among the Democrats of the 
Senate and emphasized the serious nature of the rup- 
ture within the party. In spite of strenuous efforts 
the President failed to secure an act to his liking and 
was so thoroughly disgusted with the bill, as finally 
passed, that he let it become a law without his 
signature. It went into operation August 28, 1894. 

The income tax provision of the law, which was 
expected to produce sufficient revenue to offset re- 
ductions of the tariff duties, was declared unconsti- 
tutional. The deficit was thus further augmented 
and from every point of view the act was a failure. 
Bond issues were required to replenish the depleted 
Treasury. The repeal of the purchasing clause of 
the Sherman Law accomplished little good and the 
business depression was prolonged until the end of 
the year. 

The congressional election of 1894 revealed a 
reaction in favor of the Republicans. All the condi- 
tions were against the party in power and the pen- 
dulum swung violently in the opposite direction. 
The Democratic plurality of 94 in the House was 
changed to a Republican plurality of 142, and the 

2Q8 william Mckinley 

Senate, which had been Democratic by 3 votes, 
became Republican with a margin of 12. 

Governor McKinley had been the one Republican 
speaker in the campaign whom every state commit- 
tee wanted. The demands were so numerous and so 
insistent that it became a matter of extreme diffi- 
culty to arrange his dates. From September 25 to 
November 2, he made three hundred and seventy- 
one speeches, in three hundred different towns and 
in sixteen States. People came many miles to hear 
him and his audiences were enormous. He was hailed 
with enthusiasm as the hope of the country, the 
man whose policies had meant prosperity, and the 
only man who could break through the cloud of 
doubt and distrust that had overwhelmed the coun- 
try. A Cleveland newspaper published a cartoon in 
which Uncle Sam was pointing to McKinley as the 
rising sun of national prosperity. The idea was seized 
upon by his political supporters, and thereafter 
McKinley was persistently pictured to the voters as 
"the advance agent of Prosperity." * 

Immediately after the election, Mark Hanna 
made a remarkable resolution. It was nothing less 
than a determination to abandon the great business 
to which he had devoted twenty-eight years of hard 
work, and to give his time wholly to the promotion 

1 Jonathan P. Dolliver, of Iowa, was the first to use this expression. 


of McKinley's candidacy for the Republican Presi- 
dential nomination. In January, 1895, he passed 
over the management of his business to his brother, 
and devoted himself thenceforth to a new and more 
alluring ambition. Since 1 880 he had played the 
political game as a pastime. Now he would make it 
the sole business of his life. The chances of securing 
the nomination of his friend were very great. McKin- 
ley was the foremost Republican in the country and 
there were many indications that he was already the 
people's choice. Yet there were other statesmen, — 
notably Thomas B. Reed, — who were popular and 
worthy of the highest honors. Moreover, political 
conventions do not always register the popular will. 
The leaders — not to say bosses — come to them 
with vast powers and delegates are easily manipu- 
lated. To "steer" a candidate successfully through 
a great convention is an operation requiring con- 
summate skill and infinite patience. Hanna was a 
man of determination who expected to succeed in 
whatever he undertook. He had set his heart upon 
the nomination and election of McKinley, and he 
did not propose to take any chances. 

In spite of his strong determination, however, 
Hanna began his task with diffidence. He was not 
a skilled politician and had had little experience out- 
side of local and state affairs. He declared that he 


did not know how to handle the matter and wanted 
to find some man of larger experience who would 
manage it for him. The crisis which made him the 
real manager of McKinley's campaign came quite 

In the autumn of 1895, it became known that 
the "bosses," who were opposing McKinley, pre- 
sumably for no other reason than to force recognition 
of themselves, were ready to make terms, and Mr. 
Hanna accordingly went East to meet them. He 
returned in due season and met Major McKinley 
and Mr. Herrick in a private conference in his own 
house. The "bosses," he reported, were ready to 
name terms, and if these were accepted the fight 
would be over. One of them wished to be assured of 
the patronage of New York, another of Pennsylvania, 
others of New England, and so on. Hanna did not 
think the bargain at all undesirable, and in its re- 
sults it would be a great achievement. But McKin- 
ley's reply astonished him. " Mark," he said, " there 
are some things that come too high. If I were to 
accept the nomination on those terms it would be 
worth nothing to me, and less to the people." He 
further declared that if those were the only terms on 
which he could win the nomination, he would retire 
then and there. 

This firm stand for what Hanna instantly saw was 


the only right principle intensified the admiration 
which had been first born in him by the uncompro- 
mising firmness with which the same man stood for 
his honor in the memorable National Convention of 
1888. Out of that private conference of three friends 
grew the determination to make the fight on the 
basis of the People against the Bosses, and Mark 
Hanna then and there assumed full charge of the 

Disinterested friendship is so rare, and playing the 
game of politics for the pure enjoyment of it is so 
uncommon, that most people have looked for some 
ulterior motive as an explanation of Mr. Hanna's 
action. Why should he give up a prosperous business 
to go into politics if he did not expect a reward for 
himself? And what reward could be greater than to 
own a President, to dictate appointments and formu- 
late policies, to be in effect the President himself ? 
So said his enemies. He was grossly caricatured as 
a huge bloated creature, covered over with dollar- 
marks, his features evidencing a sordid greed and the 
gluttonous habit of fattening at the 'expense of the 
people, while McKinley figured as a puppet in his 
hands, or a child led by a string. By such false and 
brutal methods the so-called "yellow" newspapers 
sought to prejudice the masses of the people. No 
caricatures were ever more grossly libelous. When 


Hanna became known, many were astonished to find 
him a gentleman, a shrewd but honest business man, 
and an able statesman. No act of his life, either 
before or after the nomination and election of Mc- 
Kinley, affords the slightest evidence that he sought 
political preferment as the price of his services. His 
whole career, after all prejudice has been laid aside, 
points precisely to two reasons and only two for de- 
voting himself so industriously to the interests of 
his friend. They were, first, his genuine admiration 
and love of McKinley as a man, and second, his 
profound belief that the prosperity of the people 
and the best business interests of the country de- 
pended upon the reestablishment and permanent 
maintenance of the principle of Protection, and that 
this could be accomplished only by the election of 
its foremost exponent to the Presidency. A close 
examination of Hanna's record after the election fails 
to reveal a single fact to disprove this statement. 
He took no undue advantage of his position as the 
President's closest friend, and such political prefer- 
ment as he received came as the result of the reve- 
lation of an unsuspected ability. It is, therefore, 
only a matter of fairness to accept as sincere Mr. 
Hanna's own statement of his motives. When he 
returned to Cleveland after the triumphant nomi- 
nation of McKinley by the convention, he was ac- 


corded an enthusiastic reception. On that occasion 
he said : — 

"Mr. Chairman, and fellow members of the Tippe- 
canoe Club : This unexpected and almost overpower- 
ing reception robs me of what little power of speech 
I had left. I had little idea that anything I had done 
entitled me to such distinguished consideration. 
True, I have been for a number of months associated 
with a cause dear to the heart of every honest Re- 
publican in Ohio and every patriotic citizen of the 
United States. I entered upon that work because 
of my love for William McKinley. No ambition even 
for honors such as are being accorded to me on this 
occasion prompted me. I acted out of love for my 
friend and devotion to my country. I lay no claim 
to the honors you have accorded to me. I could 
have done nothing without the people. All I have 
done| is to help thej people in gaining a result upon 
which they are united — the 'accession to the Presi- 
dency of William McKinley." 

The insinuation of the cartoons that McKinley 
was dominated by Hanna was equally false. On the 
contrary, McKinley was at all times the chief and 
was so recognized by his able political manager. 
The repudiation of the bosses is sufficient proof of 
this, but instances could be multiplied to show that 
throughout their association, McKinley was inva- 


riably the master and Hanna his valued subordi- 
nate, and that Hanna consistently maintained this 
relation and no other. It is true that McKinley was 
deeply indebted to him. Presidential campaigns are 
costly, and Mr. Hanna not only gave up his time, 
but, no doubt, paid most of the pre-convention ex- 
penses out of his own funds. On the other hand, it 
must be admitted that McKinley would have re- 
ceived the nomination in any case, inasmuch as he 
was clearly the popular favorite even before Mr. 
Hanna began his campaign in January, 1895, and 
at all times thereafter. Hanna skillfully guided the 
movement, taking every possible advantage of the 
current of popular enthusiasm and making sure that 
no combination of other candidates should thwart 
his purpose. 

The fact that the two men remained mutually 
loyal to the end is the best proof that their relations 
were on a proper basis and thoroughly understood, 
for McKinley was jealous of his reputation and 
would never have tolerated the slightest imputation 
that he was not his own master. The secret of this 
perfect understanding was the disinterested spirit 
of Mr. Hanna, who demanded nothing, received 
only what he ought to have, and in all his requests 
and suggestions sought only the highest good of the 
country and of the administration of his friend. 


Mr. Hanna was a genius in making his candidate 
personally known to those who would be likely to 
have something to do with the coming convention. 
He contrived to bring to his summer home in Thomas- 
ville, Georgia, while McKinley was there as his guest, 
a large number of the representative Republicans 
of the South, to meet the distinguished Governor of 
Ohio. The latter had already made an impression 
upon the South by some telling speeches delivered 
while he was a member of Congress, and more re- 
cently by an address in New Orleans in the campaign 
of 1894, when the enthusiasm surpassed anything 
ever before accorded a Republican. He spoke to an 
audience of twelve thousand people, while half as 
many more remained outside the hall, unable to gain 
admittance. He had also addressed great crowds in 
Kentucky, Tennessee, and West Virginia on his way 
to and from New Orleans. Farmers and miners left 
their work to go to various places along the line only 
to see the train rush by, knowing it would not stop. 

Mr. Hanna capitalized all this enthusiasm, not 
only by bringing political leaders to meet McKinley, 
but by sending his emissaries, prominent among 
whom were Charles Dick, then chairman of the Ohio 
State Committee, and Joseph P. Smith, the libra- 
rian of the State, to all parts of the South. The result 
was that when other candidates sought support 


from that section they found themselves face to 
face with a strong McKinley organization. It was 
much the same throughout the Middle and Western 
States. McKinley was introduced to many North- 
ern leaders at Hanna's house in Cleveland and his 
pleasant manners always made a favorable impres- 

All this was merely preliminary work. Late in 
1895 the other candidates began to wake up. There 
were two opposing forces to be feared : first, the can- 
didacy of Thomas B. Reed, of Maine, whose brilliant 
intellect, sterling character, and enviable congres- 
sional record had earned for him a well-deserved and 
widespread popularity; and second, the "bosses" 
of the party, who were in the habit of dictating 
nominations by combinations among themselves 
whenever possible. Of the latter, the first to be 
considered was Thomas C. Piatt, who could de- 
liver, so he thought, the entire vote of the State 
of New York. His candidate was Levi P. Morton, 
the former Vice-President. Next in order was Mat- 
thew S. Quay, of Pennsylvania, who decided upon 
himself as the favorite son of his State. Senator Alli- 
son was very properly the choice of Iowa. Senator 
Cullom would have been glad of the support of 
Illinois. It was generally thought that ex-President 
Harrison might wish a renomination, in which case 


Indiana would support him. No wonder that Sena- 
tor "Billy" Mason remarked, dryly, that "nobody 
seemed to be for McKinley except the people." 

The next step for Mr. Hanna and his assistants 
was to secure some strong endorsements by the State 
Conventions. Ohio was already in line, having en- 
dorsed McKinley for the nomination in the State 
Convention of 1895. The Convention of 1896 met 
at Columbus on March 10. Mr. Foraker, who had 
recently been elected United States Senator, made 
a lengthy speech, as temporary chairman, enumer- 
ating the many reasons why McKinley should re- 
ceive "the united, hearty, cordial, enthusiastic, and 
unqualified support of Ohio." The platform con- 
tained a ringing endorsement, which was greeted 
with a volley of cheers, and a resolution was adopted 
instructing the delegates-at-large to vote and work 
for his nomination. A telegram was received from 
the Kansas Convention assuring their support of 
McKinley, to which Ohio replied with enthusiasm. 
Wisconsin followed nine days later, and then came 
Oregon, Nebraska, North Dakota, and even Ver- 

Indiana fell into line at an early date. Charles W. 
Fairbanks, who was to preside as temporary chair- 
man of the convention, called upon General Harrison 
early in the year, and said to him frankly, "If you, 


General, wish to be a candidate, I shall help you. If 
not, I am for Major McKinley." Harrison replied 
that he had wanted the nomination in 1892 and de- 
sired to succeed himself, but after four years of Dem- 
ocratic administration the thought of reorganizing 
the Government was intolerable. He added with 
twinkling eye, "Your friend Cleveland is making 
my administration luminous." Indiana soon after 
declared for McKinley. 

Illinois seemed a hard proposition. The politicians, 
who sought to control the delegation, decided upon 
Senator Cullom as their candidate. Mr. Hanna went 
to Chicago and was convinced that McKinley had 
no chance of securing the endorsement of the State 
Convention. But here a new champion sprang up 
in the person of Mr. Charles G. Dawes," afterward 
Comptroller of the Currency, whose father was 
formerly a Congressman from Ohio, and who had 
himself won the cordial esteem of Major McKinley. 
The State Convention met at Springfield in the lat- 
ter part of April. It was strongly felt at Hanna's 
headquarters that the endorsement of Illinois, fol- 
lowing the other States which were already in line, 
would insure the nomination of McKinley beyond 

Mr. Dawes took personal charge of the McKinley 
interests in the face of odds seemingly hopeless. A 


sharp contest ensued which lasted several days. It 
was a square fight, between the people, led by Mr. 
Dawes, and the combined forces of all the state 
"bosses." At last the battle was won. Illinois in- 
structed for McKinley and one of the most significant 
triumphs of the pre-convention struggle was accom- 
plished, not by Mr. Hanna, but by a young man, 
singularly capable of leadership, but hitherto un- 
known in politics, whose action was inspired, as was 
Mr. Hanna's, solely by the noble qualities of the 
candidate himself. 

The Eleventh Republican National Convention 
met in St. Louis, June 16, 1896. Charles W. Fair- 
banks, of Indiana, was temporary chairman, John 
M. Thurston, of Nebraska, permanent chairman, 
and Senator-elect Foraker at the head of the Com- 
mittee on Resolutions. As the delegates assembled 
it was clearly evident that McKinley would be 
chosen. Mr. Reed's strength proved less than had 
been expected, considering his real fitness for the 
office of President and his apparent popularity 
among the Republicans. Three fourths of his sup- 
port came from New England, but even there 
McKinley was the first choice of many delegates 
and the second choice of all. The "bosses," who 
were supporting various "favorite sons" for no other 
purpose than to assert their own claims for recogni- 

- 3 io william Mckinley 

tion in the final choice, were overwhelmingly out- 
numbered. They could not hold the delegates from 
their own States and would have been powerless 
even if they had been able to agree upon any one 
candidate. It was plainly a people's convention. 

With the nomination of McKinley practically 
assured before the convention met, the chief interest 
of the country centered upon the platform. There 
was no question about the declaration for Protection ; 
that would be made strong enough in any event, and 
most of the leaders, including the foremost candidate, 
expected it would be the principal issue of the cam- 
paign. But there was a strong undercurrent of feel- 
ing that the campaign of 1896 must settle the Cur- 
rency question. The sentiment for free silver was 
growing in the South and West, and business men 
of the East were genuinely alarmed lest the country 
should be allowed to go upon a silver basis. In 1892 
the Populists, who favored the free and unlimited 
coinage of silver at 16 to I, had polled over 1,000,000 
votes. In the Democratic State Conventions of 1896 
two thirds of the total number declared emphatically 
for free coinage. In spite of the efforts of Mr. Cleve- 
land and the leading Democrats of the East, the 
party was evidently swinging over to the support 
of free silver. With Democrats and Populists both 
favoring silver, the only hope of those who saw the 


necessity of maintaining the gold standard lay in the 
Republican Party. It was no time for equivocation. 
With the Democrats favoring the free coinage of 
silver, many Republicans, among them Mr. Hanna, 
and other close friends of McKinley, were sure the 
time had come to take firm ground in favor of the 
single gold standard. On the other hand, there were 
several Western States which certainly would be lost 
by such a declaration, and in case of a close contest 
their support might be needed. It was necessary, 
therefore, to proceed with caution. 

McKinley's attitude on this question, though un- 
mistakably sound, has been much misrepresented. 
He conferred with the leaders who called at the 
Canton house and drafted a number of Currency 
"planks." They all favored sound money and 
opposed the free coinage of silver under existing 
circumstances. He believed in the gold standard, 
both before and after the convention, but hesitated 
to use the word "gold" in the platform. The su- 
preme necessity of the hour was to hold the party 
together and thus develop a fighting force in favor of 
sound money. The Republicans of the East were 
strongly for gold ; many of those in the West were for 
silver. McKinley commissioned his friend Herrick 
to go to the East and explain his position privately 
to certain leaders and prominent business men. 


"Tell them," he said, "that if they force a declara- 
tion in favor of gold now, we shall have no support 
in the West. If we should favor silver now, we 
should gain the West and lose the East. We must 
prevent our friends in the West from tying up the 
delegates with instructions for silver. If you divide 
the party at the Mississippi River, the West will 
never yield and the election will be lost. Old party 
ties are strong, and if we can keep together until the 
convention the 'bolt' will be only a small one." 

McKinley's friends, including such men as Hanna, 
Herrick, Fairbanks, Proctor, Merriam, and others, 
went to the convention a unit in favor of the gold 
standard. They were in complete control of the situ- 
ation, and any statement that the gold plank was 
forced upon McKinley and his friends by Eastern 
politicians is manifestly untrue. To Mr. Fairbanks 
McKinley sent word, referring to this subject, "Tell 
our friends at St. Louis they can't make the plat- 
form too strong for me." 

A draft of the Currency resolution as proposed by 
McKinley was taken to St. Louis by Mr. Hanna. It 
favored maintaining all the money of the United 
States, whether gold, silver, or paper, at par with 
the best money in the world. It favored the use of 
silver along with gold to the fullest extent consistent 
with the maintenance of the parity of the two metals. 


It declared that the party would "welcome bimetal- 
lism based upon an international ratio, but until that 
can be secured it is the plain duty of the United 
States to maintain our present standard, and we are 
therefore opposed under existing conditions to the 
free and unlimited coinage of silver at sixteen to one." 
This was a " stronger" declaration than had ever 
been made before. 

There were many discussions, within and without 
the Committee on Resolutions, regarding the exact 
phraseology to be used in stating the party's finan- 
cial policy, and at length the following "plank" was 
agreed to and presented to the convention, Major 
McKinley's consent being first obtained by tele- 

"The Republican Party is unreservedly for sound 
money. It caused the enactment of a law providing 
for the resumption of specie payments in 1879. Since 
then every dollar has been as good as gold. We are 
unalterably opposed to every measure calculated to 
debase our currency or impair the credit of our coun- 
try. We are therefore opposed to the free coinage of 
silver, except by international agreement with the 
leading commercial nations of the earth, which agree- 
ment we pledge ourselves to promote; and until such 
agreement can be obtained, the existing gold stand- 
ard must be maintained. All of our silver and paper 


currency must be maintained at parity with gold, and 
we favor all measures designed to maintain invio- 
lably the obligations of the United States, and all our 
money, whether coin or paper, at the present stand- 
ard, the standard of the most enlightened nations 
of the earth." 

There has been much discussion as to who was 
entitled to the credit for inserting the word "gold" 
in the platform, and for inducing McKinley to ac- 
cept it. While the word itself proved a powerful 
factor in the campaign, the credit for suggesting it 
is a matter of small consequence. McKinley clearly 
had the gold basis in mind when he dictated the 
words "maintain our present standard." He was 
not afraid of a "strong" plank and his consent was 
not difficult to obtain for a phraseology which, in the 
opinion of such trusted friends as Hanna, Herrick, 
and others, would improve his own draft. In spite 
of the attempt of some of his antagonists before the 
convention to discredit him on account of alleged 
financial heresies, McKinley was "sound" on the 
money question. He differed from some of the other 
prominent men in the party, however, in believing 
that the real question of the campaign would be 
Protection rather than free silver. In this, as the 
event proved, he was mistaken. 

To Senator Foraker fell the honor of making the 


nomination speech, and he did so in one of his 
characteristically forceful orations. He withheld the 
name of the candidate until half through an address 
in which he eloquently described the ideal man. 
When he pronounced the magic words, "His name 
is William McKinley," the convention burst into a 
tumult of cheering, singing, shouting, the frantic 
waving of flags, handkerchiefs, and banners, and the 
playing of patriotic airs by a brass band, continu- 
ing the uproarious demonstrations of approval for 
twenty-five minutes. When at last Mr. Foraker con- 
cluded his speech, Mr. Thurston left the chair and 
eloquently seconded the nomination. 

The ballot, which is given in detail in the accom- 
panying table, resulted as follows: McKinley, 66I-J; 
Reed, 84J; Quay, 61-J; Morton, 58; Allison, 35^. The 
announcement was greeted with another outburst of 
enthusiasm, accentuated by the firing of a presiden- 
tial salute of twenty-one guns by a battery stationed 
outside. When quiet was restored, the nomination 
was made unanimous. Garret A. Hobart, of New 
Jersey, was then nominated for Vice-President, and 
the convention adjourned. 

While these scenes were being enacted in St. Louis, 
a group of fifty neighbors sat on the porch and in 
the rooms of the McKinley home on North Market 
Street, Canton. The Governor with a few intimates 




The Ballot 

















































Cal .... 

Conn.. . . 
Del ... 





Iowa. .. . 

Kan ... . 



Maine. . . 

Md .. 

Mass . . . 



Miss. . . . 

Mo .... 
fMont . . . 






Penn.. . . 


S.C ... 


Tenn.. . . 
Texas . . . 


Va . ... 
Wash . . . 
W.Va. . . 




Ariz .... 


Alaska. . 
Ind. Ter. 















661 \ 






* Bolted the Convention. t Four blank: 1 for J. Donald Cameron. 

J Three absent. § One vote passed. 

was in his office on the right of the lower hall. On the 
left was the parlor, where Mrs. McKinley was sitting 
with the aged mother of her husband, and a little 
company of friends. Upstairs was a telegraph instru- 
ment connected by private wire with the convention 
hall. All the guests were provided with score-cards 


containing the names of the States. At 5 p.m. the 
operator at the head of the stairs announced that 
the roll-call had been ordered. A tense feeling of 
anxious but hopeful expectation filled the entire 
household. One by one the States were called, in 
alphabetical order, and their votes announced. To 
nominate on the first ballot would require 453^ votes. 
By the time Ohio had been reached, the score-cards 
had already recorded 421^ votes for McKinley, 
nearly the required number. Then the operator 
called out, "Ohio, forty-six for McKinley," and 
everybody present knew that the work had been com- 
pleted by the solid vote of their own State. The 
Major arose, crossed the hall into the parlor, and 
gently kissed his wife and his mother. 

The neighbors crowded about to offer their con- 
gratulations. They had scarcely had time to do this 
before the street before the house was blocked with 
enthusiastic townsmen. A prominent citizen made 
an address of congratulation and Major McKinley, 
mounting a chair, delivered the first speech of the 
campaign. A few minutes later two thousand citizens 
of Alliance, twenty miles away, arrived before the 
house. They had started on a special train the mo- 
ment the vote of Ohio decided the result, and reached 
the Governor's house in forty- five minutes. At 7.15 
nineteen carloads of people arrived from Massillon, 


packed so closely that men were clinging to the sides 
and riding on the tops of the coaches. At 7.40 four 
trains of ten cars each brought four thousand people 
from Akron. These were followed by a special train 
from Carroll ton, and at ten o'clock a delegation ar- 
rived from Niles, the birthplace of McKinley, sixty 
miles away. Between five o'clock and midnight at 
least fifty thousand people listened to speeches by 
the candidate and many of them were personally 
greeted by him. Thus was inaugurated, spontane- 
ously, on the very day of the convention, what 
proved to be one of the most remarkable episodes 
in the history of American politics, — the rush of 
hundreds of thousands of voters to hear a presi- 
dential candidate speak from his own doorstep. A 
movement that started out of the enthusiasm of his 
nearest neighbors was encouraged by McKinley and 
his astute manager, until it reached unprecedented 

The campaigning of the two rival candidates, in- 
deed, presented a marked contrast. Mr. Bryan made 
a "whirlwind" tour of the country in a special 
train, arousing great enthusiasm by his brilliant, 
though specious, oratory. Major McKinley, on the 
contrary, felt that the dignity of the presidential 
office was such as to preclude the candidate from 
rushing about over the country in a frenzied hunt 


for votes. There were many who urged him to meet 
Mr. Bryan's activity by a counter-move, but he per- 
sistently refused. His action was justified even from 
the politician's viewpoint, for he had discovered a 
better method. He remained at home and the people 
came to him. Delegations from all parts of the coun- 
try marched daily through the streets of Canton to 
the candidate's home on Market Street. From morn- 
ing to night he addressed them from the front 
porch. His speeches, though often introduced with 
pleasantries, were solid arguments founded on fact 
and addressed to the sober judgment of the people. 
Though speaking, physically, to a crowd that over- 
flowed the lawn and street in front of his house, 
he knew that he was in reality addressing millions 
of his fellow citizens, for his speeches were printed 
in full in the newspapers throughout the country. 
Every word was carefully prepared. No utterance 
required an apology. There was no lack of variety 
of interest, as day by day he appealed to the con- 
science of his countrymen and reached their intelli- 
gence by a fair, calm, and persuasive presentation of 
the truth as he saw it. Every speech strengthened 
his cause and increased the popular respect for him. 
The "front-porch speeches" were a revelation, 
even to McKinley's closest friends. The visiting del- 
egations were of all kinds — business men, working- 

3 2o william Mckinley 

men, miners, citizens of foreign birth, "first voters," 
Southerners, religious societies, political clubs, bank- 
ers, real-estate men, tradespeople, manufacturers, 
railroad men, street-car employees, soldiers, law- 
yers, doctors, college students — in brief, Americans 
of every type. McKinley adapted his remarks in 
every case to the character of the people whom he 
addressed. He manifested a rare power of sustained 
discourse, and a marvelous knowledge of facts, which 
he marshaled with that happy faculty of making 
them interesting for which he was famous. He re- 
vealed a breadth of statesmanship and familiarity 
with a wide range of subjects that fairly astonished 
those who heard him for the first time. He dealt 
in phrases, happily expressed, which his audiences 
could understand and appreciate. He knew the is- 
sues of the campaign as few men knew them and 
could explain them to the people in simple but force- 
ful language. And he did all this with such winning 
smiles, such genial ways, and such evident sincer- 
ity, that he not only convinced his hearers, but won 
their good-will at the same time. This series of 
speeches dispelled the notion sedulously fostered by 
his opponents that McKinley was a "man of one 
idea," and raised him to a high plane in the estima- 
tion of the thinking public who saw in these remark- 
able addresses the clear indication of a power to 


grapple with the great problems which every Presi- 
dent must face. 

Scarcely less remarkable than these carefully pre- 
pared speeches, which were models of their kind, was 
the forethought and tact with which McKinley re- 
quired and obtained equal care on the part of the 
spokesman of the visiting delegations. They were 
not permitted to make extemporaneous remarks. 
Each was required to submit his speech in advance. 
If it contained anything doubtful or objectionable,, 
the orator was tactfully shown how it might be im- 
proved. Thus the careful candidate was enabled not 
only to avoid any chance remark which might be 
misconstrued, — as in the famous Burchard incident 
of the Blaine campaign, — but to adapt his own 
response properly to fit the speech of the visitor. 

Soon after the convention a number of friends- 
were at Major McKinley 's house in Canton dis- 
cussing what would be the issues of the campaign. 
Among those present were Judge Day, Mr. Hanna,, 
and Mr. Kohlsaat. Some one said, "The money 
issue is the vital thing," to which McKinley replied, 
"lama Tariff man, standing on a Tariff platform. 
This money matter is unduly prominent. In thirty 
days you won't hear anything about it." Judge Day 
remarked, laconically, " In my opinion, in thirty days 
you won't hear of anything else." And so it proved. 

322 william Mckinley 

After the platform had been adopted by the 
Republican Convention, the silver men read a 
protest against the "gold plank," and thirty-four 
delegates, including four Senators and two Repre- 
sentatives in Congress, marched out, headed by 
Henry M. Teller, of Colorado. This revolt was 
not large enough to be considered ominous, but 
when the Democratic Convention met in Chicago 
on July 7, an unexpected trend to the campaign was 
suddenly precipitated. The convention repudiated 
the administration of the party's own President, 
refusing him even a complimentary vote of com- 
mendation. In the face of strenuous counter-efforts 
by the Eastern men, the party was overwhelmingly 
committed to the free and unlimited coinage of sil- 
ver. William Jennings Bryan, in a sensational speech 
on silver, literally carried the convention by storm 
when he uttered his impassioned peroration: "We 
shall answer their demand for the gold standard by 
saying to them : ' You shall not press down upon the 
brow of labor this crown of thorns. You shall not 
crucify mankind upon a cross of gold.' " This speech 
gave the nomination to Mr. Bryan, who at once en- 
tered upon a vigorous campaign, in which, of course, 
silver was the predominant note. 

There was no "bolt" from the Democratic Con- 
vention, yet the minority was stronger than that 


which had left the Republican Party. Those who had 
opposed the silver policy stood by their conviction. 
Most of them refused to vote for the nominees, and 
many went home to work quietly for the Repub- 
lican candidates. The revolt was widespread and 
created such excitement through the country that 
the Tariff issue was, for a time, completely forgotten. 

It was clear that a "campaign of education" was 
necessary, such as the country had never known. 
Business men and financiers in all parts of the coun- 
try were keenly alive to the danger of a silver cur- 
rency. But the masses of the people knew little 
or nothing of such subjects. They knew the Tariff 
arguments pretty well, because these had been pro- 
claimed from every stump since 1888, and to a lesser 
extent for several years before that date. But the 
financial problem was a new and more difficult one. 
Mr. Bryan was loudly proclaiming the free coinage of 
silver as a panacea for all ills to which the body poli- 
tic was heir. A political panacea is like other patent 
medicines — if new and well advertised it is likely 
to have a popularity not attainable by older and 
more reliable remedies. Free silver was to be the 
cure for the hard times, and so anxiously were the 
people praying for a cure that they were very likely 
to take the newest thing on faith. 

It has often been said that if the election had been 


held in September, Mr. Bryan would have won. 
Without discussing this profitless question, it is 
sufficient to say that the danger was very great, and 
no one realized it more than Mr. Hanna. His great- 
est service to McKinley consisted not in the fact of 
securing the nomination, for that would have come 
without him, but in the masterly skill with which, as 
chairman of the Republican National Committee, he 
laid down the issues before the voters of the country. 
An army of campaigners, big and little, went into 
every part of the country where their services were 
needed. Many were men of national reputation, well 
informed and able to talk convincingly. McKinley's 
Letter of Acceptance was delayed until August 26. 
By that time he fully appreciated the importance of 
the Silver question and gave it the first place in his 
Letter. It was a strong presentation of the subject, 
in a clear, concise style that all could comprehend. 
It abounded in those terse, epigrammatic phrases 
for which McKinley was famous, such as, "Good 
money never made times hard." The candidate 
was an experienced campaigner and a hard fighter. 
He could be depended upon to perform his share of 
the task. To Mr. Hanna fell the responsibility of 
getting all these good and forceful utterances before 
the millions who could not go to Canton. He caused 
about 120,000,000 documents to be distributed 


throughout the country — largely reprints of McKin- 
ley's speeches. The majority of these dealt with the 
Silver question, but later in the campaign there came 
a demand for Protectionist reading-matter. County 
newspapers received quantities of specially prepared 
material, and lithographs, posters and cartoons were 
shipped by tons. The results of all this hard work 
began to tell in October. Gradually the enthusiasm 
for Bryan cooled as men came to their senses and 
realized the dangers of his propaganda. By October 
the election of McKinley was fairly certain, and by 
November the enthusiasm for him had reached an 
unexpected volume. The business men of the coun- 
try were aroused as never before. Their stores and 
factories were gayly decorated with flags and bunt- 
ing. Enormous parades for "Sound Money" were 
organized and marched down the streets of the cities. 
There was every evidence of popular excitement and 
interest in the result. 

A total vote of nearly 14,000,000 was polled. 
McKinley received 7,111,607, while the vote for 
Bryan was 6,509,052. The electoral vote was 271 
for McKinley and 176 for Bryan. It was a triumph 
for both Protection and Sound Money, and an un- 
mistakable commission from the people to the new 
President, to pull them out of the slough of despond 
into which they had fallen. 


william Mckinley 







Connecticut. . . . 










Louisiana , 

Maine , 


Massachusetts. . , 




Missouri , 

Montana , 



New Hampshire. 

New Jersey 

New York 

North Carolina . . 
North Dakota . . . 



Rhode Island . . . 
South Carolina. . 
South Dakota . . . 






West Virginia . . . 



Total 7.111.607 

Popular vote 























































































5. 114 
1. 91 5 
1. 07 1 








1. 951 

















































* Bryan and Watson's vote Is Included In the vote for W. J. Bryan. 

t Electoral votes were cast for Watson as follows: Arkansas, 3; Louisiana, 4; Missouri, 4; 
Montana, 1; Nebraska, 4; North Carolina, 5; South Dakota, 2; Utah, 1; Washington, 2; 
Wyoming, 1. 



THE first duty of the President-elect was the 
selection of a Cabinet and in this he had, as is 
usually the case, the unsolicited advice of practically 
all the newspapers of the country and that of a large 
proportion of its citizens. On one point all seemed 
to be agreed, namely, that one of the portfolios should 
be offered to Marcus A. Hanna. The Republicans 
generally felt that Mr. Hanna had made a magni- 
ficent record as a political general, — square, effi- 
cient, and resourceful, — and for that reason should 
have a share in the Administration, while even his 
opponents admitted that he had fairly earned the 
preferment. In this view the President-elect, of 
course, heartily coincided, although he knew, long 
before the election, that Hanna could not be induced 
to accept any appointment at his hands. Neverthe- 
less, the invitation to become one of his "chief asso- 
ciates in the conduct of the Government," was ten- 
dered Hanna, in the most cordial terms, within a 
week after the election. 

Hanna's judgment in refusing the offer was sound. 
He had been absolutely disinterested in his support 


of McKinley and he wished the country to know It. 
He had acted only from a high sense of duty to his 
country and his party, and because of genuine love 
and admiration of his friend. He realized from the 
first that the acceptance of a position in the Admin- 
istration would not only be misinterpreted by the 
public, but might cause the President embarrass- 

Moreover, Hanna did not desire a Cabinet posi- 
tion. His rare executive ability would have enabled 
him to organize and conduct a department with un- 
usual efficiency, but he had no inclination to settle 
down to such a task. He preferred a more independ- 
ent position where his skill as a leader could be more 
effectively exercised. His one political ambition was 
to obtain a seat in the United States Senate, and 
this he had cherished, with scarcely a hope of suc- 
cess, for several years. 

This ambition, in spite of Hanna's earnest desire 
to avoid any possible misunderstandings, led to a 
serious criticism, both of himself and the President. 
It came about through the appointment of John 
Sherman as Secretary of State. Mr. Sherman was 
then nearly seventy-four years of age. Critics of the 
Administration quickly pointed out the probability 
that Sherman's strength, physically and mentally, 
would be insufficient to bear the burdens of the State 


Department, particularly at a time when many im- 
portant problems were pending. At the same time 
their keen eyes saw the opportunity which the res- 
ignation of his seat in the Senate would make for 
Hanna, and the trouble-makers did not hesitate to 
make ugly insinuations. The charge, specifically, 
was that the President had deliberately appointed 
an unfit man to a place in his Cabinet to make 
room in the Senate for his friend — a proceeding of 
questionable political morality. The facts clearly in- 
dicate that no such "scheme" existed. On January 
4, 1897, McKinley addressed the following letter to 
Sherman : — 

My dear Mr. Sherman: — 

I would very much like to have you in my Admin- 
istration, as Secretary of State. It therefore gives 
me pleasure to tender you that place, and it will give 
me much satisfaction if you shall find it agreeable 
to accept. May I ask for an early reply? 

Sincerely yours, 
(Signed) Wm. McKinley. 

Hon. John Sherman, 

Washington, D.C. 

Sherman promptly accepted the offer and on 
January 11, McKinley wrote expressing his pleasure 
and inviting him to come to Canton for consultation. 


On February 18, McKinley wrote to Hanna as 
follows: — 

Dear Mr. Hanna: — 

It has been my dearest wish, ever since I was 
elected to the Presidency, to have you accept a place 
in my Cabinet. This you have known for months 
and are already in receipt of a letter from me, urg- 
ing you to accept a position in the Administration, 
written a few days after the election. You then 
stated to me that you could under no circumstances 
accept a Cabinet place, and have many times de- 
clined both publicly and to me personally to have 
your name considered in that connection. As from 
time to time I have determined upon various dis- 
tinguished gentlemen for the several Departments, 
I have always hoped and so stated to you at every 
convenient opportunity, that you would yet con- 
clude to accept the Postmaster-Generalship. You 
have so often declined and since our conversation 
on Tuesday last, I have reluctantly concluded that 
I cannot induce you to take this or any other Cabinet 
position. You know how deeply I regret this deter- 
mination and how highly I appreciate your life-long 
devotion to me. You have said that if you could not 
enter the Senate, you would not enter public life at 
all. No one, I am sure, is more desirous of your 


success than myself, and no one appreciates more 
deeply how helpful and influential you could be in 
that position. It seems to me that you will be suc- 
cessful, and I predict for you a most distinguished 
and satisfactory career in that greatest of parlia- 
mentary bodies. 

Since you will not accept the Postmaster-Gen- 
eralship, I have concluded that I ought not longer 
to defer the^ announcement of the appointment of 
some prominent Republican of the South. I now 
expect to tender the appointment to Hon. James A. 
Gary, of Baltimore, who, for full forty years, has been 
connected with the commercial and manufacturing 
interests of his City and State. I believe the appoint- 
ment will prove a satisfactory and proper one, but 
thought I would not announce it until I had again 
expressed, in this formal manner, my deep regret 
that you cannot see your way clear to accept the 
post yourself. 

With cordial regards to Mrs. Hanna and the chil- 
dren, in which Mrs. McKinley heartily joins, I am 

Yours sincerely, 
(Signed) Wm. McKinley. 

Hon. M. A. Hanna, 

Cleveland, Ohio. 

33 2 william Mckinley 

It will be seen that the President-elect continued 
to hope, during the entire time he was forming his 
Cabinet, that Hanna might yet conclude to accept 
the Postmaster-Generalship, and did not finally give 
up his wish until the Tuesday preceding the letter of 
February 1 8, only a fortnight before the inauguration. 
If Sherman had been appointed merely to create a 
vacancy for Hanna in the Senate, the President's 
efforts to induce the latter to accept a place in the 
Cabinet would have ceased on January n, the day 
he received Sherman's acceptance. Moreover, it is 
inconceivable, if such were the motive, that the 
nomination would have been made without some 
reasonable ground for the expectation that Hanna's 
appointment would follow. 

On January 4, the day Sherman was asked to enter 
the Cabinet, it was by no means certain that Hanna 
could get the appointment to fill the vacancy. 
Neither he nor McKinley ever had the slightest as- 
surance to that effect. The Governor of Ohio, Asa 
S. Bushnell, was identified with the faction in state 
politics that was opposed to Hanna. He withheld 
his decision until February 21, and did not actually 
hand the commission to Hanna until the day after 
the inauguration, thus making Senator Foraker, 
whose term began on March 4, the Senior Senator 
from the State. The appointment was made, ap- 


parently, with no relish on the part of the Governor, 
but because, as a candidate for reelection, he could 
not afford to resist the political pressure from Repub- 
licans in all parts of the State in behalf of Hanna. 

Sherman, himself, who desired the appointment 
of Hanna as his successor, felt some doubt of it, as 
is shown in a letter to his confidential adviser, 
Captain J. C. Donaldson, dated January 10, 1897, 
in which, referring to his acceptance of a Cabinet 
position, he says: "The chief impediment in the way 
is the fear that Governor Bushnell will not appoint 
Hanna to fill my unexpired term." * 

There were strong reasons for the appointment 
of John Sherman as Secretary of State. He had been 
actively engaged in the political life of the country 
for more than forty years. While his greatest fame 
had been won as Secretary of the Treasury in the 
Administration of President Hayes, yet as a member 
of the United States Senate, both before and after 
that period, he had participated in the discussion 
of nearly all the important questions of his day. In 
the expressive phrase of Senator Hoar, he was "the 
very embodiment of the character and temper of his 
time." Since 1883 he had been a member of the Sen- 
ate Committee on Foreign Relations and its chair- 
man since 1886. He had thus become familiar with 

1 Quoted from Herbert Croly's Life of Marcus Alonzo Hanna. 


all the important diplomatic affairs of recent years. 
His appointment was well calculated to command 
the respect of foreign nations, while at home he was 
universally recognized as one of the ablest statesmen 
of the country. 

That McKinley did not share the doubt which 
was immediately expressed regarding the physical 
strength of the new Secretary is shown in a letter to 
Joseph Medill, editor of the Chicago Tribune, writ- 
ten February 8, 1897: — 

Dear Mr. Medill:"— 

In reply to your favor of Feby. 4th, I beg to 
say that I concur in your opinion that the stories 
regarding Senator Sherman's "mental decay" are 
without foundation and the cheap inventions of sen- 
sational writers or other evil-disposed or mistaken 
people. When I saw him last I was convinced both of 
his perfect health, physically and mentally, and that 
his prospects of life were remarkably good. Like the 
stories about General Alger's war record, to which 
you allude, they are without foundation in fact 1 
and need no further refutation than a plain state- 
ment of the facts in each case. I thank you for your 
letter, and for the good-will to me which prompted it, 

1 At a later date McKinley discovered that he had been mis- 
informed regarding some of the facts of Alger's record. 


and trust that your health will continue to improve, 
now that the worst of the winter is over. 

Yours very truly, 
(Signed) Wm. McKinley. 

Mr. Joseph Medill, 

The selection of Sherman as Secretary of State, 
though made in good faith and received with general 
approbation by the country, nevertheless proved to 
be a mistake. An extraordinary burden was imposed 
upon the State Department early in the Adminis- 
tration, by the strained relations with Spain incident 
to the war in Cuba. It soon became evident that 
the doubters were right. The aged Secretary was 
physically and mentally unequal to the demands. 
He displayed signs of loss of memory. His health 
failed rapidly, and with it the power of concen- 
trated thought. Upon William R. Day, of Canton, 
Ohio, an intimate personal friend of the President, 
who had been made Assistant Secretary of State in 
May, 1897, fell more and more of the duties of the 
office. In the trying times when every effort was 
bent to avoid a war with Spain, Mr. Day was invited 
to' attend the meetings of the Cabinet. This unusual 
course touched the pride of the man whose place in 
the Cabinet was nominally at the head. When the 
declaration of war was finally made in April, 1898, 


Sherman realized that he did not possess sufficient 
vigor to meet the emergency, and on the 25th he of- 
fered his resignation. Senator Theodore E. Burton, 
his biographer, says: "It cannot be denied that he 
left the Cabinet with a degree of bitterness toward 
President McKinley, more by reason of his practical 
supersession than for any other reason; but also with 
a belief that he had been transferred to the Cabinet 
to make room for another in the Senate." * Such 
a feeling would be natural to any man who must con- 
fess a failure, whatever the cause; yet if Sherman's 
mental powers had not been impaired, he would have 
remembered that only a year before he had not only 
desired to leave the Senate for the Cabinet, but had 
also wished that Hanna should succeed him. 

It must be admitted at the outset that, in the 
judgment of many people, another mistake was made 
by the President-elect in the selection of his Cabinet. 
Russell A. Alger, of Michigan, was chosen as Secre- 
tary of War. He was a self-made man who in early 
youth had been farmer, district-school teacher, and 
country lawyer. At the outbreak of the Civil War 
he enlisted promptly, became successively captain, 
colonel, and brigadier-general, and emerged in 1865, 
at the age of twenty-nine, a major-general of volun- 
teers, a cavalryman of distinction, and the hero of 
1 Theodore E. Burton, John Sherman, p. 415. 


upwards of sixty battles and skirmishes. He then 
became a lumberman, accumulated wealth, entered 
politics, and was elected Governor of Michigan. He 
was frequently mentioned as a candidate for the 
Presidency, receiving as high as 142 votes in the Re- 
publican National Convention of 1888. He was a 
personal friend of McKinley and devoted himself to 
the campaign with vigor. At the time of his appoint- 
ment his ability was recognized and no criticism was 
made. He was personally one of the kindest of men. 
An associate in the Cabinet is authority for the 
statement that "he would have given all he had, if 
necessary, for the soldiers." Had there been no war, 
he would no doubt have retired from office with at 
least as much credit as the majority of his prede- 

The war with Spain suddenly imposed upon the 
War Department the duty of providing a military 
force ten times the size of the regular army, with 
the necessary equipment of arms, ammunition, 
clothing, tents, hospital supplies, means of transpor- 
tation, and countless other requirements. There was 
no general staff with military experience to look after 
these details and the men responsible were chiefly 
politicians. To meet the emergency a complete re- 
organization, not only of the army, but of the whole 
War Department, was needed, a task which would 


have demanded the exercise of rare executive ca- 
pacity and one that could scarcely have been accom- 
plished by the ablest of men within the time required. 
In justice to Alger, it must be said that the criticism 
heaped upon him by the newspapers and others was 
in large measure unfair. He was a victim of the short- 
sighted policy which prompted Congress to refuse, 
again and again, the necessary appropriations for the 
proper maintenance and equipment of the army. 
What happened to the country under his adminis- 
tration might be expected to happen in any country, 
under any administration, where the people allow 
themselves to slumber in fancied security, without 
first providing the ordinary means of defense that 
common sense and the experience of the world's his- 
tory assert to be indispensable to a nation's safety. 
The Cabinet, as finally announced, was as follows: 

1. John Sherman, of Ohio, Secretary of State. 

2. Lyman J. Gage, of Illinois, Secretary of the 


3. Russell A. Alger, of Michigan, Secretary of War. 

4. Joseph McKenna, of California, Attorney- 


5. James A. Gary, of Maryland, Postmaster- 


6. John D. Long, of Massachusetts, Secretary of 

the Navy. 


7. Cornelius N. Bliss, of New York, Secretary of 

the Interior. 

8. James Wilson, of Iowa, Secretary of Agricul- 


9. John Addison Porter, of Connecticut, was 

appointed Secretary to the President. 
With the exception of the Departments of State 
and of War, the President was extremely fortunate 
in his selections, and his mistakes of judgment in 
these two instances were more than made good by 
the efficiency of William R. Day, who successfully 
handled the Department of State until the Spanish 
War was ended, by the brilliant subsequent admin- 
istration of the office under John Hay, and by the 
reorganization of the War Department through the 
fine legal ability of Elihu Root, who was called to 
succeed Mr. Alger. Mr. Gary retired on account 
of ill-health in April, 1898, and was succeeded by 
Charles Emory Smith, of Pennsylvania. Mr. Bliss 
resigned in December of the same year, chiefly for 
family reasons, and was succeeded by Ethan Allen 
Hitchcock, of Missouri. Mr. McKenna was ap- 
pointed an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court 
of the United States and his place in the Cabinet 
was filled by John W. Griggs, of New Jersey, who 
was succeeded, toward the end of the Administra- 
tion by Philander C. Knox, of Pennsylvania. 



THE Administration of William McKinley 
began on the 4th of March, 1897, in an at- 
mosphere of friendliness and hearty good- will. Not 
since the days of Grant had a President entered upon 
his duties with a majority of the popular vote. Hayes 
and Harrison each received fewer votes than his un- 
successful opponent, while Garfield and Cleveland, 
though receiving small pluralities, failed to command 
the support of a majority of the electorate. Lincoln 
went into office the first time with over sixty per 
cent of the voters opposed to him, and though he 
received a nominal majority for his second term, 
there were eleven States not yet readmitted to the 
Union, and which did not vote. 

McKinley went into the Presidency with 7,111 ,607 
votes at his back, constituting a clear majority over 
all opposing candidates of 286,257 votes. In addi- 
tion he had the personal good-will of a large pro- 
portion of those who voted against him. Not an 
important newspaper in any of the large cities man- 
ifested a spirit of hostility. Everywhere a prevailing 
atmosphere of hopefulness and cordial good-will 


seemed to have taken possession of the people. 
Those who believed in Protection rejoiced that the 
greatest champion of their cause was now in a posi- 
tion of power. Of those who opposed Protection, 
many allowed j:heir joy in the overthrow of the 
Free-Silver spectre to drown for the moment any 
fears they might have entertained. Moreover, the 
genial nature of the successful candidate had made 
a strong appeal to the masses, and generally speak- 
ing the people of the United States wished William 
McKinley success and prosperity. 

The outgoing Administration bore a conspicuous 
part in this general manifestation of good-will. To 
those who were in the White House on the night of 
the election it is known that the Democratic Presi- 
dent was sincerely gratified by the result, while his 
Secretary of the Treasury, Mr. Carlisle, made no 
secret of his elation at the overthrow of the Silver 
fallacy. Early in February, President Cleveland sent 
a cordial and gracious letter to his successor, with 
an invitation to dine at the White House on the eve 
of the inauguration, to which the President-elect re- 
sponded in the heartiest manner. There was the ring 
of sincerity in the exchange of greetings between the 
two men, each of whom entertained a genuine feel- 
ing of respect and admiration for the other, notwith- 
standing their diverse political opinions. Cleveland's 

342 william Mckinley 

entire Cabinet seconded the efforts of their chief to 
extend a hospitable welcome to the new Administra- 
tion, each retiring secretary manifesting a spirit of 
practical helpfulness to his successor. Never before 
in the history of the country had there been a more 
courteous transfer of authority. It is worthy of note, 
also, by way of contrast with previous transitions 
of the Government from one party to another, that 
the only immediate change in the personnel of the 
public service was in the offices of the President, 
Vice-President, and members of the Cabinet. Change 
in the civil service, under a law which McKinley had 
helped to put upon the statute books, and which 
Cleveland had greatly extended in its application, 
had completely overthrown the spoils system, and 
though Republicans were eventually appointed in 
many instances to succeed Democrats, the substi- 
tutions were made gradually and with reference to 
fitness for the office, rather than to mere sectional- 
ism or partisanship. The old-fashioned scramble for 
patronage had to a large extent disappeared. 
! Inauguration day on the 4th of March, 1897, 
found President McKinley face to face with many 
serious problems. The country was suffering from 
a widespread industrial depression. The Tariff of 
1894 had not only greatly unsettled the manufactur- 
ing and commercial interests, but had failed to pro- 


vide sufficient revenue for the expenses of the Gov- 
ernment. A steadily increasing fear had spread over 
the country, lest the gold standard should not be 
maintained. The party in power in the preceding 
Administration was divided against itself, President 
Cleveland standing firmly for a sound currency, while 
the Democratic members of Congress were largely 
in favor of the free coinage of silver. 1 The loss of con- 
fidence led to the presentation of an immense volume 
of legal tender notes for redemption, and the reserve 
fund of $100,000,000 in gold, which for a long time 
had been considered by the Treasury and the pub- 
lic as a necessary safeguard, was rapidly depleted. 
Again and again President Cleveland had been forced 
to borrow money to replenish the reserve. The pur- 
chasers of bonds would, to a large extent, obtain the 
gold with which to pay for them by presenting 
greenbacks for redemption, thus depleting the re- 

» "Prior to the year 1893 it had not been generally recognized 
by our people that our present monetary system had an inherent 
weakness, the development of which was dependent only upon a 
commercial panic and deficient governmental revenues. The panic 
of that year and concurrent revenue deficiency furnished the needed 
demonstration of the existing defect. The two chief causes of this 
weakness were as follows: First, the disproportion existing between 
demand governmental currency liabilities and the gold in the Treas- 
ury with which to redeem them; and second, the fact that when 
these demand liabilities were once redeemed in gold, they could be 
used again in the payment of governmental expenses. (Charles U 
Dawes, Comptroller of the Currency, 1897-99, in The Jorum, Octo- 
ber, 1899.) 


serve still further for the purpose of replenishing it! 
The bond issues, therefore, failed to accomplish 
their purpose, until at length the Administration 
was compelled to bargain with a Wall Street syn- 
dicate, representing foreign bankers, to supply the 
necessary gold at exorbitant rates. Issues of bonds 
were made aggregating $262,315,400, adding nearly 
$11,111,000 to the annual interest charge. 

The necessity of borrowing was greatly aggravated 
by the deficiency in revenues, which amounted, in 
the four years ending June 30, 1897, to $1 55,864, 184. 1 
President Cleveland stoutly maintained that the 
funds received from the sale of bonds were used or 
needed, not for the payment of expenses, but only to 

1 The deficiency for the first year of President Cleveland's Ad- 
ministration, when the McKinley Tariff was still in force, was 
$69,803,261. It has been argued, therefore, that it was caused by 
the Republican tariff legislation of 1890 and not by the Democratic 
measure of 1894. The real cause was not the Tariff Act, but the 
extravagant appropriations of both the Republican Congress of 
1889-91 and its Democratic successor of 1891-93, and still more 
the sudden shrinkage of dutiable importations from $400,000,000 
in 1893 to only $257,000,000 in 1894, due to the certain prospect of 
an early reduction of duties and the consequent withholding of im- 
portations. (See pp. 192-193.) President McKinley, in his message of 
March 15, 1897, gave the deficit for eight months ending March 1 as 
$48,249,850.98, which, added to the deficit of $137,811,729.46 for the 
preceding three fiscal years, would make a total of $186,061,580.44. 
The large rush of importations in the remaining four months of 
the fiscal year ending June 30, 1897, due to the certain passage of 
the Dingley Law raising duties, caused such a large increase in 
customs receipts that the deficit for the year was decreased to 
$18,052,455, making the total for four years $155,864,184. 


make good the deficiency in the gold reserve. Yet it 
must be admitted that the legal tenders, redeemed 
by the Government with gold thus borrowed, were 
paid out again for current expenses. It should also 
be remembered that the first bond issue, of Febru- 
ary, 1894, was made necessary by the fact that, in 
the seven months immediately preceding, the sum of 
$98,190,000 in gold coin was used by the Treasury to 
meet its debit balances at the New York Clearing- 
House — in other words, to pay expenses for which 
there were no other funds available. 

The restoration of confidence in the intention and 
ability of the Government to maintain the gold stand- 
ard, which was needed to check this drain upon the 
gold reserve, was immediately accomplished by the 
election itself. Shortly before the election, call money 
was quoted at 125 per cent in Wall Street and "a 
long line of private individuals stood outside the 
United States sub-treasury's redemption window to 
exchange their legal tenders for gold coin. This state 
of affairs ended abruptly November 4, when election 
results were known. Money rates fell in a week to 
four per cent; within a day, gold coin was presented 
at the same sub-treasury windows for conversion 
into legal tenders." * 

There was now no danger to the gold reserve, but 
1 Noyes, Forty Years of American Finance. 


in the campaign so much emphasis had been put 
upon the issue of sound money, that loud demands 
were made, particularly by Democrats who had sup- 
ported the Republican candidate, for legislation that 
would irrevocably fix upon gold as the single stand- 
ard. On the Republican side it was claimed that the 
election was a victory for Protection as well as Sound 
Money, and Mr. McKinley, as the foremost Pro- 
tectionist of the country, was expected to correct the 
adverse legislation of 1894. 

f Nor were the domestic problems the only ones 
requiring serious thought. The Cuban question was 
rapidly reaching a point when action of some kind 
on the part of the United States would soon be in- 
evitable, and in addition there was the annexation of 
Hawaii still awaiting settlement, besides a pending 
treaty of arbitration with Great Britain, and numer- 
ous other matters of minor importance. 

Rightly deciding that the first duty of the nation 
was to put its own house in order, the President in his 
Inaugural Address placed the emphasis upon the 
immediate necessity of providing adequate revenue. 
He called attention to the industrial disturbances 
from which the country was suffering and for which 
speedy relief must be had. He pointed to the neces- 
sity of a revision of the financial system, and declared 
that this could be accomplished "with adequate 


revenue secured, but not until then" To provide 
against increasing the public debt was the " mandate 
of duty, the certain and easy remedy for most of our 
financial difficulties." The receipts of the Govern- 
ment must be made to equal or exceed the expendi- 
tures, otherwise a deficiency is inevitable. "While a 
large annual surplus of revenue may invite waste and 
extravagance, inadequate revenue creates distrust and 
undermines public and private credit" Deficiencies, 
he pointed out, can be met either by loans or by in- 
creased revenue. " Between more loans and more rev- 
enue there ought to be but one opinion. We should 
have more revenue, and that without delay, hin- 
drance, or postponement. A surplus in the Treasury 
created by loans is not a permanent nor safe reli- 
ance. . . . The best way for the Government to main- 
tain its credit is to pay as it goes — not by resorting 
to loans, but by keeping out of debt — through an 
adequate income secured by a system of taxation, 
external or internal, or both." 
: In these plain words so characteristic of Mc- 
Kinley for their simplicity and common sense, the 
President correctly indicated the starting-point 
where the country might expect to begin a success- 
ful rebuilding of its shattered industries. Revenue 
first, was the important consideration. The method 
of raising this necessary revenue must be through 


the restoration of the principles of the Protective 
Tariff. That, in the President's judgment, had been 
as clearly demanded by the people at the polls as 
the soundness of our money. He maintained that 
protective tariff legislation had "always been the 
firmest prop of the Treasury," and that the passage 
of such laws would strengthen the credit of the Gov- 
ernment both at home and abroad, and go far toward 
stopping the drain upon the gold reserve. With con- 
fidence restored, the revision of the currency laws 
could proceed with deliberation, until the right solu- 
tion should be agreed upon. 

Perhaps the public who heard or read these ex- 
pressions in the Inaugural Address did not fully 
realize the shrewdness of judgment that lay behind 
them. The President knew that more revenue was 
not only imperatively demanded, but was obtainable 
at an early date. He also knew that any change in 
the currency laws intended to establish more se- 
curely the soundness of our money would be prac- 
tically impossible under conditions then existing. 
The Fifty-fourth Congress, elected in 1894, was 
strongly Republican, and had already taken steps 
to prepare a tariff bill along the lines which the 
President would naturally favor. The Fifty-fifth 
Congress was also Republican in both branches, and 
on the Tariff the party was united. A bill to provide 


revenue along the lines of protection could there- 
fore be expected to pass readily — although as the 
event proved there were difficulties in the Senate. 
On the other hand, the prospect for such legislation 
on the currency as the country imperiously de- 
manded was not so bright. The House was anti- 
Silver by a good majority, but this was not so in the 
Senate, where there were 46 Republicans, 34 Demo- 
crats, 5 Populists, 3 Independents, and 2 Silver 
Party men. The combined opposition were all in 
favor of free silver and could count at least four 
Republicans to act with them. Any attempt to pass 
a gold-standard measure through a Senate of such 
complexion would have been futile. 

Under these circumstances, the President's deter- 
mination to settle the Tariff question first of all, 
and for that purpose, to call an extra session of Con- 
gress immediately, was a wise one. 



THE Fifty-fifth Congress convened in extra 
session, on March 15, 1897, an d the President 
sent a message urging an increase in the revenues 
of the Government by means of additional duties on 
foreign importations, so levied as "to preserve the 
home market so far as possible to our own producers; 
to revive and increase manufactures; to relieve and 
encourage agriculture; to increase our domestic and 
foreign commerce; to aid and develop mining and 
building; and to render to labor in every field of use- 
ful occupation the liberal wages and adequate re- 
wards to which skill and industry are justly entitled." 
Thomas B. Reed was again elected Speaker, and 
he promptly appointed the Committee on Ways and 
Means, naming Nelson Dingley, Jr., of Maine, as 
chairman. Mr. Dingley immediately introduced a 
new Tariff bill. It had been prepared in the Fifty- 
fourth Congress by a committee composed of nearly 
the same membership, after long deliberation and 
many public hearings, which had ended only a few 
days before. The majority of the committee were 
therefore already agreed on the new measure, and 
four days after the session began it was favorably 


reported to the House. Acting under the famous 
"Reed Rules," which both political parties now 
endorsed, the bill was taken up for consideration on 
March 22, and March 31 was fixed upon as the day 
for a final vote. With this small opportunity for de- 
bate and amendment the bill was passed on the 
date named, by a vote of 205 to 122. In the Senate, 
its course was not so smooth. The Committee on 
Finance, to which it was referred, reported the bill 
to the Senate on May 4 and it was taken up for con- 
sideration on the 25th. Senator Nelson W. Aldrich, 
of Rhode Island, the chairman of the committee, 
stated that the amendments which the committee 
proposed were in the nature of reductions in the du- 
ties proposed by the House and intimated that the 
Republican Party did not desire any extreme legis- 
lation on the Tariff. It soon developed, however, 
that the Silver Senators held the balance of power, 
and did not hesitate to demand, as the price of their 
support, concessions in the direction of higher duties. 
The result was that when the bill was passed by the 
Senate, on July 7, it carried duties higher than those 
of the House bill, instead of lower as Senator Al- 
drich and his Republican colleagues intended. Some 
of these were still further increased in conference. 
Thus it happened that the Dingley Tariff, originally 
intended by its author to impose duties lower than 


those of the McKinley Tariff of 1890, and scaled 
down by Senator Aldrich to still lower rates, finally 
emerged with higher duties than any earlier Tariff. 
Yet under its operation the country prospered as 
never before. It did not ruin our foreign trade, as 
opponents of the Protective System constantly pre- 
dicted ; on the contrary, both exports and imports in- 
creased enormously. It laid at rest all fears that 
had been created by the Act of 1894, an d working 
with the advantages of good crops, improved trade 
conditions, and restored confidence in the monetary 
system, aided powerfully in the restoration of pros- 
perity and paved the way for the development of 
American industry and business to an extent beyond 
the most sanguine dreams of its promoters. No one 
claims that the Dingley Tariff was solely responsible 
for this marvelous growth in the years that followed 
its enactment. Tariffs neither create nor destroy 
prosperity. Yet they have a vast power to accele- 
rate or retard, according to the principles upon which 
they are constructed. The Tariff of 1 897, based upon 
the principle of which President McKinley was the 
foremost exponent, amply justified his statement 
that the revival of business would "depend more 
largely upon the prompt, energetic, and intelligent 
action of Congress than upon any other single agency 
affecting the situation." * 

1 Inaugural Address. 



WHILE Congress was considering the Dingley 
Tariff Bill, events were rapidly paving the 
way for the adoption of the single gold standard. 
- The President felt that the last word had not been 
said on the subject of bimetallism. The Republican 
Platform had declared the party to be opposed to 
free coinage of silver "except by international agree- 
ment with the leading commercial nations of the 
world, which we pledge ourselves to promote" More 
than 7,000,000 voters had endorsed this declaration, 
while 6,500,000 others had declared for the free coin- 
age of silver without reference to other nations. The 
whole electorate of the country, therefore, excepting 
only some 134,000 who voted for General Palmer 
and the single gold standard, had declared, infer- 
entially at least, for bimetallism, with a difference of 
opinion regarding the necessity of securingl foreign 
cooperation. Mr. McKinley had always believed in 
bimetallism, subject to the restriction necessary to 
insure sound and honest money, and in common with 
most of the leaders of his party, believed an inter- 
national agreement not impossible. A few weeks 


before the inauguration he wrote the following letter 
to a committee of the Senate: — ^ 

Gentlemen: — 

I have received your letter of December 17 pre- 
sented by Senator Wolcott and thank you for it. 
My interview with Senator Wolcott has been most 
satisfactory. He will tell you of it. 

I am sure the Bill you propose looking to an In- 
ternational Conference is both wise and timely. 
Your suggestion about Senator Wolcott and others 
having consultations seems to me a step in the right 
direction. In these matters I shall greatly rely upon 
the wisdom of the Republican Senators and Repre- 
sentatives whose advice I shall always be glad to 
have. In a word, without having thought out the 
detail, I am anxious to bring about an international 
agreement and carry out if possible the pledge of our 
platform in that behalf. I will gladly cooperate with 
your committee and others to that end. 
Very cordially, 

(Signed) W. McKinley. 

Geo. F. Hoar, 
Wm. E. Chandler, 
John H. Gear, 
Thomas H. Carter, 

Canton, Ohio, Dec. 28, 1896. 


A letter of May 29, 1897, to John Hay contains the 
sentiment, "Arbitration as well as bimetallism is a 
matter in which good progress ought to and perhaps 
will be made in the not distant future"; and in a 
letter to Hay, on July 27, McKinley referred to bi- 
metallism as one "of the Administration's greatest 
efforts." In his Inaugural Address he promised that 
"the question of international bimetallism will have 
early and earnest attention." The Fifty-fourth Con- 
gress had anticipated his wishes by passing a bill, 
shortly before adjournment, authorizing the incom- 
ing President to call an international conference, or 
to participate, through a commission, in any such 
conference that might be called by other countries, 
for the purpose of securing "by international agree- 
ment a fixity of relative value between gold and sil- 
ver as money by means of a common ratio between 
those metals, with free mintage at such rates." He 
was further authorized, "if in his judgment the pur- 
pose specified . . . can thus be better attained," to 
appoint one or more special commissioners to visit 
the leading nations of Europe and to seek an inter- 
national agreement, for the purpose specified, by 
diplomatic negotiations. 

% On the 1 2th of April, 1897, President McKinley, 
choosing the latter course, named Edward O. Wol- 
cott, of Colorado, Adlai E. Stevenson, of Illinois, and 


Charles J. Paine, of Massachusetts, as commission- 
ers to visit Europe in the interests of international 
bimetallism. All three commissioners were ardent 
bimetallists. Messrs. Wolcott and Paine had already 
spent several months in Europe, investigating the 
trend of opinion, and felt optimistic regarding the 
results of their proposed mission. Their first visit 
was to Paris, where the French Government gave 
assurances of cordial cooperation and support. They 
then proceeded to London, where much was expected 
from the support of Mr. Balfour, then First Lord of 
the Treasury, and a strong bimetallist. A friendly 
greeting was extended to them and formal confer- 
ences were arranged. At a meeting on July 15, the 
French Ambassador made a strong plea for an in- 
ternational agreement to establish the free coinage 
of silver at a ratio of 15^ to 1, and intimated that 
France would open her mints to silver on this basis 
if Great Britain would open hers. To this Sir Michael 
Hicks-Beach, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, re- 
sponded that the English Government would not 
open her mints to the free coinage of silver and that 
whatever might be the varied opinions of his col- 
leagues on the subject of bimetallism, they were 
agreed on this. Mr. Wolcott had previously sub- 
mitted various proposals, the first and most impor- 
tant of which was that India should reopen her mints 


to the coinage of silver, the gold standard having 
been adopted in 1893. This suggestion was trans- 
mitted to the Government of India and met with a 
definite refusal in October. 

Without the cooperation of Great Britain the case 
was hopeless and the commission returned home, 
defeated. They had, however, performed a negative 
service of great value to the United States, in demon- 
strating positively, though against their own desires, 
that an international agreement was impossible. 
With this hope definitely shattered, and with the 
fulfillment of their promise to " promote " such an 
agreement, the way was clear for bimetallists like 
President McKinley, whose first desire was for 
sound money, to turn to the single gold standard 
as the only possible means of assuring the mainten- 
ance of a safe currency. In October, 1897, the gold 
standard went into effect in Japan and in Decem- 
ber of the same year was adopted by the Russian 
Government. Three years later Germany took the 
first step toward the establishment of the gold 
standard by calling in her outstanding legal-tender 
silver coins. Instead, therefore, of an international 
agreement in favor of silver, the world was rapidly 
coming to an agreement, without negotiations, in 
favor of gold. 

With the expiration of the last vestige of hope that 


an international agreement for the free coinage of 
silver might be secured, it became the plain duty of 
the President and of the Republican Party to "pre- 
serve the existing gold standard " in accordance with 
the platform of 1896. Yet the President realized 
that any legislation to establish the single gold 
standard must necessarily wait until the last half 
of his Administration. An event which took place 
on the 28th of January, 1898, fully confirmed this 
view. This was the passage by the Senate of a reso- 
lution introduced by Senator Henry M. Teller, of 
Colorado, to the effect that the bonds of the United 
States issued under certain specified acts of Con- 
gress are payable, principal and interest, at the op- 
tion of the Government, in silver dollars, and that 
it would not be a violation of public faith to make 
such payments. 

As a matter of fact, the bonds were legally payable 
in either gold or silver, and it was the doubt upon 
this very point, as to whether the Government would 
avail itself of the option to pay in silver, that had 
helped precipitate the panic of 1893. Secretary Car- 
lisle had then sought in vain to reassure the public, 
but the feeling of distrust could not be allayed. The 
fact that such a resolution as Senator Teller's could 
be passed, notwithstanding all the disasters that had 
been caused by the mere suggestion of the idea, and in 


the face of the emphatic protest at the polls against 
the repudiation of honest debts by payment in the 
cheaper metal, gave convincing proof that the time 
was not yet ripe for registering the popular will by 
legislative enactment. Fortunately, the Teller reso- 
lution was promptly condemned by the House, by a 
vote of 182 to 132. 

In his first annual message to Congress, in De- 
cember, 1897, President McKinley, avoiding any 
attempt to outline an elaborate scheme for reforms 
in the currency and banking laws, put his finger upon 
the element of greatest danger and suggested a sim- 
ple and efficacious remedy. He said : — 

"I earnestly recommend, as soon as the receipts 
of the Government are quite sufficient to pay all the 
expenses of the Government, that when any of the 
United States notes are presented for redemption in 
gold and are redeemed in gold, such notes shall be 
kept and set apart and only paid out in exchange 
for gold." 

In his second message, a year later, he renewed 
this recommendation and went a step forward, 
saying: — 

"In my judgment the condition of the Treasury 
amply justifies the immediate enactment of the 
legislation recommended one year ago, under which 
a portion of the gold holdings shall be placed in 


a trust fund from which greenbacks should be re- 
deemed upon presentation, but when once redeemed 
should not thereafter be paid out except for gold." 
' The establishment by Act of Congress, March 14, 
1900, of a reserve fund of $150,000,000 in gold, 
which followed this suggestion, together with the 
provision that notes once redeemed should not be 
paid out except for gold, was one of the most impor- 
tant financial reforms in the history of the country 
and upon this rock rests the present stability and 
safety of our financial system. President McKinley 
originated the idea. Its immediate effect was de- 
scribed by Secretary Gage in his annual report of 
December 14, 1900: "Confidence in the purpose and 
power of the Government to maintain the gold 
standard has been greatly strengthened. The result 
is that gold flows toward the Treasury instead of 
away from it. At the date of this report the free 
gold in the Treasury is larger in amount than at 
any former period in our history. Including the 
$150,000,000 reserve, the gold in the Treasury 
belonging to the Government amounts to over 
$242,000,000, while the Treasury holds, besides, more 
than $230,000,000 against which certificates have 
been issued." The great value of the creation of such 
a reserve fund lies in the separation of the question 
of revenue from that of the stability of our currency. 


If the revenues are insufficient to meet expenses, the 
fact becomes immediately evident and calls either 
for legislative remedy or for the issue of bonds. A 
deficiency does not, therefore, as heretofore, imperil 
the very foundation of our system of currency. 

The same act definitely established the gold stand- 
ard, specifically "the dollar consisting of 25.8 grains 
of gold, nine tenths fine." It provided for the ulti- 
mate retirement of all the Treasury notes issued 
in payment for silver bullion purchased under the 
Sherman Act. It also changed the national bank- 
ing law in accordance with the recommendation of 
Secretary Gage, approved by the President, to per- 
mit national banks to be organized with a minimum 
capital of $25,000 in towns of 3000 inhabitants or less 
and permitted banks to issue circulation up to the 
par value of the bonds deposited as security, instead 
of ninety per cent as before. This provision also 
proved a wise one and brought about an increase 
of $77,000,000 in bank-note issues, up to the time of 
Secretary Gage's report of December, 1900. 



IN his Inaugural Address President McKinley 
said, "Reforms in the civil service must go on, 
but the change must be real and genuine, not per- 
functory." As a member of Congress he had spoken 
and voted in favor of the Civil-Service Law, and in 
accord with the best sentiment of the country was 
heartily in favor of its enforcement. The civil-serv- 
ice rules were greatly extended by President Cleve- 
land. At the beginning of his second Administra- 
tion, the number of places in the classified list was 
42,928. By various executive orders this number 
was extended to 87,117. Those not included were 
confined to the limited number of persons whose 
appointment required confirmation by the Senate, 
and to the employees of minor importance, such 
as fourth-class postmasters, clerks in post-offices 
other than free-delivery offices, laborers and work- 
men, and miscellaneous appointees receiving small 
salaries. Thus, nearly all the important positions 
were brought within the scope of the Civil-Service 
Law. President McKinley was thus enabled, at the 
outset of his Administration, to repel the hungry 


horde of office-seekers with the statement in nearly 
every case that the office desired came within the 
classified service and was subject to competitive 

This reception, of course, did not please the large 
army of politicians, who had rendered good service 
to their party and wished recognition for themselves 
or their adherents. But it was a very substantial 
gain for the merit system, which, as Major McKin- 
ley had said in a congressional speech, 1 was "here 
and here to stay." Great pressure was brought to 
bear upon the President to induce him to revoke 
the orders of his predecessor, but he steadfastly 
resisted. The attack was then made in Congress, 
where no less than five bills were introduced to 
repeal or seriously modify the law. One of these 
proposed to take away from the classified list some 
55,000 positions. 

President McKinley, while firm in his determina- 
tion not to be moved by the clamor of the place- 
hunters, appealed to his Cabinet officers to make a 
careful examination of the working of the new rules 
and report to him. The result was an order, issued 
May 29, 1899, making certain changes which experi- 
ence had proved necessary, and all intended to make 
a real improvement in the civil service. The order 

. > April 24, 1890. ; 


was violently attacked by the National Civil-Service 
Reform League, which issued a statement to the ef- 
fect that 10,109 offices and positions were withdrawn 
from the classified service. As a matter of fact, no 
positions were removed from the classified service, 
but 9040 positions were brought into it. The order 
transferred from the examination to the registrative 
list 3790 positions, most of which were in the ord- 
nance and engineering departments of the army. 
These positions were expressly made subject to the 
rules of the classified service. Any employee violating 
these rules or using his position in any way for political 
influence would be subject to instant dismissal. The 
very nature of the employment made the use of these 
positions as rewards for political services practically 
impossible. The registrative system was one that 
had been used effectively in the Navy Department 
for several years with the entire approval of the 
Civil-Service Commission and the cordial approba- 
tion of leading civil-service reformers. The extension 
of the system to the War Department was simply a 
move in the direction of better administration. On 
account of their confidential nature, 222 positions 
of importance were made subject to non-competitive 
instead of competitive examination, thus giving to 
the heads of departments a wider latitude for the 
selection of their private secretaries and confidential 


clerks. Another change exempted from the require- 
ments of competitive examination and registration 
2831 positions, of which 2691 were recommended for 
exemption by the Civil-Service Commission. The 
number of persons affected by the order of May 29 
was less than ten per cent of the total list of employees 
and none of these were removed from the classified 
service. It would be difficult to discover in any of 
the modifications a door by which crafty spoils 
politicians could find entrance for their favorites 
into the public service. 

In his message of December, 1899, President 
McKinley said that the sweeping additions to the 
civil-service lists made by President Cleveland had re- 
sulted in making some inclusions that were "wholly 
illogical and unsuited to the work of the several 
Departments, causing friction and embarrassment. 
After long and very careful consideration it became 
evident to the heads of the Departments, responsible 
for their efficiency, that in order to remove these 
difficulties and promote an efficient and harmonious 
administration certain amendments were necessary. 
. . . All of the amendments had for their main object 
a more efficient and satisfactory administration of 
the system of appointments established by the Civil- 
Service Law. The results attained show that under 
their operation the public service has improved and 


that the civil-service system is relieved of many ob- 
jectionable features which heretofore subjected it to 
just criticism and the administrative offices to the 
charge of unbusinesslike methods in the conduct of 
public affairs. It is believed that the merit system 
has been greatly strengthened and its permanence 



THE desirability of an interoceanic canal from 
the Atlantic to the Pacific must have been 
perceived as early as 1 5 13, when Balboa crossed the 
Isthmus of Darien and from the summit of a moun- 
tain peak looked down upon the broad waters of the 
Pacific. It was only seven years later, in 1520, when 
the first proposition to pierce the Isthmus by a canal 
was made by the Spaniards. In 1581, the Spanish 
governor of Costa Rica made an expedition to survey 
a route, by way of the San Juan River to Lake 
Nicaragua and thence to the Pacific Ocean through 
the rivers emptying into the Gulf of Nicaya; and the 
project of a canal by a somewhat similar route was 
definitely brought to the attention of the King of 
Spain in the same year that the Pilgrim Fathers 
were landing on the coast of New England. It re- 
mained for the descendants of those Pilgrims to 
consummate the project. 

After Costa Rica and Nicaragua had thrown off 
the Spanish yoke, almost their first thought was the 
building of the canal, and overtures were made to 


the United States in 1825, through Henry Clay, then 
Secretary of State. The acquisition of California in 
1848, and the discovery of gold immediately follow- 
ing, gave a new impulse to the idea of crossing the 
Isthmus, resulting almost simultaneously in two dif- 
ferent movements; first, a treaty in 1849 between 
the United States and Nicaragua for the opening of a 
ship canal from Greytown to the Pacific Ocean by 
way of Lake Nicaragua, and second, the organization 
of a company of citizens of the United States for the 
construction of the Panama Railroad. 

The proposed treaty aroused the jealousy of Great 
Britain, which asserted a protectorate over the east- 
ern coast of Nicaragua, and led to the famous Clay- 
ton-Bulwer Treaty signed April 19, 1850, providing 
that Great Britain should share equally with the 
United States in the control of the canal. This suc- 
cessfully impeded all further attempts to construct 
a canal for half a century. 

The Administration of President McKinley wit- 
nessed the crystallization of sentiment, both in and 
out of Congress, in favor of a canal, built, owned, 
and operated exclusively by the United States. To 
it belongs the credit of removing the diplomatic ob- 
stacle, and of securing from Congress the financial 
support and executive authority necessary to con- 
struct the Canal — thus giving a needed impetus to 


the long-considered project which resulted in its 
speedy accomplishment. 

During the greater part of the McKinley Admin- 
istration it was generally taken for granted that, if 
the United States should build an isthmian canal, 
the route would be through Nicaragua. The French 
Panama Canal operations, begun in 1882, came to a 
disastrous end in 1893, when its chief promoters, 
Ferdinand de Lesseps and his son Charles, were 
found guilty of maladministration and corruption. 
The consequent confusion of affairs in Panama was 
such that the United States might well feel the de- 
sirability of keeping "hands off." 

On July 24, 1897, acting under the authority of a 
provision in the Sundry Civil Act of June 4, Presi- 
dent McKinley appointed a commission to examine 
all practicable routes for a canal through Nicaragua, 
and report its judgment as to the best, with an es- 
timate of the cost of the work on such route. The 
commissioners were Rear-Admiral John G. Walker, 
of the United States Navy; Professor Louis M, 
Haupt, C.E., of Pennsylvania; and Colonel Peter 
C. Hains, of the United States Army. In his first 
annual message to Congress, December 6, 1897, 
President McKinley referred to the completion of 
the Nicaragua Canal as "a subject of large impor- 
tance to our country and increasing appreciation on 


the part of the people." He stated that the commis- 
sion was at work on the consideration of " the proper 
route, feasibility, and cost of construction of the 
Nicaragua Canal, with a view of making complete 
plans for the entire work of construction of such 

A year later the whole country was thoroughly 
aroused to the need of action. The thrilling voyage 
of the battleship Oregon, from Puget Sound to Key 
West, a cruise of nearly seventeen thousand miles, 
passing through the terrors of a gale in the Straits 
of Magellan which brought more anxiety to the heart 
of Captain Clark than did the guns of the Spanish 
fleet at Santiago, gave emphasis to the need of a 
canal as nothing had ever done before. In his annual 
message of December 5, 1898, President McKinley 
set forth "the urgency of some definite action by 
the Congress at this session, if the labors of the past 
are to be utilized and the linking of the Atlantic 
and Pacific Oceans by a practical waterway is to be 
realized." He also pointed out that "the construc- 
tion of such a maritime highway is now more than 
ever indispensable to that intimate and ready inter- 
communication between our eastern and western 
seaboards demanded by the annexation of the Ha- 
waiian Islands and the prospective expansion of our 
influence and commerce in the Pacific," and that 


"our national policy now more imperatively than 
ever calls for its control by this Government." 

Without waiting for the report of the original 
commission, Congress on March 3, 1899, directed 
the appointment of a new one to make more extended 
inquiry and to report on all possible routes, whether 
in Panama, Nicaragua, or elsewhere, appropriating 
$1,000,000 for the expenses. The President named 
Admiral Walker as the chairman, and in addition 
to Colonel Hains and Professor Haupt, appointed 
Samuel Pasco, of Florida; Alfred Noble, of Illinois; 
George S. Morrison, of New York; Professor William 
H. Burr, of Connecticut; Lieutenant-Colonel Oswald 
H. Ernst, of the United States Army, and Professor 
Emory R. Johnson, of Pennsylvania. 

The commission made an extensive report to the 
President on November 30, 1900, which was laid 
before Congress at the opening of the session. It set 
forth the relative advantages and disadvantages of 
the Panama and Nicaragua routes; pointed out the 
difficulties in the way of obtaining the necessary 
rights, privileges, and franchises for the Panama 
route and the freedom from such complications in 
the Nicaragua route; and finally recommended the 
latter, principally because the increased cost of 
building a canal through Nicaragua, estimated at 
$58,000,000 more than through Panama, would be 


more than offset by the price which they thought 
the United States would have to pay for the prop- 
erty of the Panama Company. 

Meanwhile, the Secretary of State, John Hay, was 
busy seeking to remove the diplomatic stumbling- 
block. On February 5, 1900, a treaty was signed by 
Mr. Hay and Lord Pauncefote, the British Ambas- 
sador, and sent to the Senate by the President the 
same day. A storm of protest at once arose and the 
agreement was violently attacked in many news- 
papers and magazines throughout the country, as 
well as in the Senate. On March 9, Senator Davis, 
the chairman of the Committee on Foreign Rela- 
tions, reported the treaty, with amendments which 
so changed its character that Secretary Hay knew 
it would be unacceptable to Great Britain. His re- 
sentment against what he believed to be the stu- 
pidity of the minority of the Senate in thus blocking 
his most cherished plans, and his fear that the at- 
tacks in the press might injure the President, led him 
to believe that his usefulness to the Administration 
was at an end. Accordingly, on March 13, he ad- 
dressed a letter to the President, offering his resig- 
nation. Fortunately President McKinley was a man 
of wider vision and far greater patience. He returned 
Hay's resignation on the same day, and thereby 
saved the Secretary from what might have been the 


most serious blunder of his life and retained his 
services to the country not only until the plan was 
finally consummated by the signing and acceptance 
of a new and wiser treaty, but for a larger influence 
in other directions. In a private letter, not intended 
for publication, the President said: — 

"Nothing could be more unfortunate than to have 
you retire from the Cabinet. The personal loss would 
be great, but the public loss even greater. Your ad- 
ministration of the State Department has had my 
warm approval. As in all matters you have taken my 
counsel, I will cheerfully bear whatever criticism or 
condemnation may come. Your record constitutes 
one of the most important and interesting pages 
of our diplomatic history. We must bear the at- 
mosphere of the hour. It will pass away. We must 
continue working on the line of duty and honor. 
Conscious of high purpose and honorable effort, we 
cannot yield our posts however the storm may rage." 

The President was much pleased with the modesty 
of Secretary Hay on this occasion. Referring to a 
reported remark, which some one had made, that 
Hay was educated in the English school, he said, 
"I wish some one had replied to that by saying, 
'Yes, he was trained under Abraham Lincoln.'" 

When the Senate finally ratified the treaty on 
December 20, it carried the amendments to which 


the British Government objected, and, as Hay had 
anticipated, early in March, 1901, Lord Lansdowne, 
the British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, 
returned it with a friendly message, pointing out the 
reasons why his Government would prefer to let 
the original Clayton-Bulwer Treaty remain in force. 
Negotiations were renewed, with the result that a 
second treaty was signed on the 18th of November, 
1 90 1, superseding the Convention of 1850 and giving 
exclusive control of the canal to the United States. 
Ratifications were exchanged on February 21, 1902. 
The House of Representatives adopted the view 
of the Walker Commission and passed a measure for 
the construction of a canal through Nicaragua. The 
evident determination of the United States to pro- 
ceed with the building of a canal brought the Pan- 
ama Company to a realization that they must sell 
out quickly or not at all. They offered, therefore, to 
accept $40,000,000 for their rights. This presented 
the subject in a new light, and the commission re- 
versed its recommendation. The Panama enterprise 
found strong supporters in the Senate, notably Sena- 
tors Spooner and Hanna. The President, too, was 
beginning to doubt the wisdom of an irrevocable 
decision in favor of Nicaragua. The views of these 
leaders finally prevailed. A substitute for the House 
Bill was passed by the Senate and accepted by the 


House, authorizing the President to purchase the 
rights and property of the Panama Company for not 
more than $40,000,000, to secure by treaty with 
Colombia a canal zone, and to proceed with the work 
of construction. At the instance of Senator Spooner, 
an amendment was made authorizing the President 
to adopt the Nicaragua route in case he could not 
make satisfactory arrangements with the Panama 
Company and Colombia. Through the passage of the 
necessary legislation in this form the Panama Canal 
became a possibility, though the President who did 
so much to accomplish it did not live to see the 
fruition of his efforts. 



ONE of the earliest subjects to engage the atten- 
tion of President McKinley was the proposed 
annexation of Hawaii. In January, 1893, Queen Lili- 
uokalani sought to promulgate a new constitution, 
intended to increase her own power and to deprive 
foreigners of the right of franchise. The result was a 
bloodless revolution, in which a provisional govern- 
ment was set up and immediately recognized by the 
American Minister, John L. Stevens. Steps were 
taken at once to secure annexation to the United 
States. The establishment of the provisional gov- 
ernment and the surrender of her authority by the 
Queen were accomplished by the aid of a detachment 
of marines from the U.S.S. Boston, then in the har- 
bor of Honolulu, this action being taken in response 
to a plea for protection from the "Committee of 
Safety" that had been appointed, the claim being 
made that lives and property were in danger. On 
the 9th of February, acting without authority, the 
American Minister established a protectorate over 
the islands in the name of the United States. 
On the 1 6th of February, 1893, President Harrison 


sent a treaty of annexation to the Senate. One of 
the first acts of his successor, President Cleveland, 
was to send a message to the Senate withdrawing 
this treaty. The action of the American Minister 
and the landing of marines was subsequently criti- 
cized in severe terms by Cleveland's special com- 
missioner, James H. Blount, who was sent to make 
an investigation. President Cleveland then offered 
to restore the Queen to her throne on condition of 
a general amnesty to all concerned in the revolu- 
tion. These terms were refused by the Queen, with 
the result that the provisional officer remained in 
power, and proceeded to organize a republican 

By the beginning of President McKinley's Ad- 
ministration the Republic of Hawaii was firmly 
established, with a constitution framed by elected 
representatives of the people, with a government 
capable of preserving order at home, and with a rec- 
ognized place in the family of nations. In asking 
for annexation to the United States, Hawaii was 
therefore in a very different position from that of 

On the 1 6th of June, 1897, President McKinley 
submitted to the Senate a new treaty of annexation, 
together with a report from the Secretary of State, 
Mr. Sherman, in which the latter said, " Hawaii sends 


to the United States not a commission representing 
a successful revolution, but the accredited pleni- 
potentiary of a constituted and firmly established 
sovereign state." In spite of the fact that the former 
objection could no longer be urged, a large array of 
new ones instantly appeared, and were so strongly 
presented as to defeat the ratification of the treaty. 
It was claimed that the United States had no legal 
or moral right to annex the territory of an independ- 
ent state, that there would be no advantages, com- 
mercially or for military reasons, in such action, and 
that the existing government at Honolulu had no 
right so to dispose of territory belonging to the 
Hawaiian people. There was also some misplaced 
sympathy for the deposed queen, who was in reality 
entitled to small consideration. 

After Commodore Dewey's victory in Manila 
Bay, on May I, 1898, the whole subject suddenly 
assumed a new aspect of vast importance. The 
strategic value of the islands to the United States 
could no longer be doubted. President McKinley 
had again referred to the subject in his annual mes- 
sage of December, 1897, and in the spring of the 
following year it was determined to accomplish the 
annexation by direct legislation, instead of diplomatic 
procedure. Accordingly, on the 17th of May, 1898, 
Mr. Hitt, of Illinois, reported from the House Com- 


mittee on Foreign Affairs a joint resolution "to 
provide for annexing the Hawaiian Islands to the 
United States." This resolution required only a ma- 
jority of each house, while the treaty could not be 
ratified except by a two-thirds vote of the Senate. 

The President's solicitude on the subject may be 
seen in the following note in Mr. Cortelyou's diary 
of June 8, 1898: "The President is anxious about 
Hawaii. He is for annexation because he believes it 
will be for the best interests of the country. Speak- 
ing to me about it a few evenings ago he said : ' We 
need Hawaii just as much and a good deal more 
than we did California. It is manifest destiny/" 

The resolution was passed by the House on June 
15, and by the Senate on July 6, and signed by the 
President on the following day. Owing to many dif- 
ferences of opinion the act establishing a definite 
form of government was delayed for nearly a year, 
but finally became law by the President's signature 
on April 30, 1900. The former President of the Re- 
public, Sanford B. Dole, was appointed Governor, 
and Hawaii entered upon a new era in its history, 
as a Territory of the United States. 



THE Administration of President McKinley 
will stand in history as one of the great tran- 
sition periods in the progress of the country. As 
Washington successfully inaugurated the self-gov- 
ernment of the American people and Lincoln was 
able to preserve it in the hour of greatest danger, 
so McKinley, with a patience and wisdom akin to 
Lincoln's, and with a breadth of vision impossible 
in the time of Washington, successfully guided the 
affairs of state during that difficult period when the 
United States was being transformed from the posi- 
tion of an isolated nation to one of vastly greater 
influence among the powers of the world. 

It was the hand of Destiny that conferred upon 
him this unique distinction. It was characteristic 
of McKinley's career, that responsibilities not of his 
own choosing were continuously thrust upon him and 
met by him with a calm self-confidence as though 
his whole training had been but a preparation for 
them. In the spring of 1896 he had stood before the 
country as the foremost advocate of Protection and 
the "advance agent of prosperity." As such the 

CUBA k 381 

nomination for the Presidency came to him. Yet six 
months later the exigencies of politics had made him 
the foremost advocate of sound money, and as such, 
the election came to him. He proceeded to discharge 
both obligations. With the assistance of the meas- 
ures he advocated, prosperity came in overwhelm- 
ing measure and the soundness of our financial 
system was so established as to clear away all the 
fogs of doubt and distrust. Yet not for these achieve- 
ments will the administration of President McKin- 
ley be chiefly remembered. He will be known in 
history, rather, as the President who successfully 
conducted a war with Spain, after doing all in his 
power to avert it, and then, accepting the larger 
duties to humanity which the victorious result had 
thrust upon the Nation, entered with firm step and 
courageous heart upon the new era of expansion 
and international responsibility. 

To understand the Cuban question, in so far as 
it affected the fortunes of President McKinley, one 
must remember that it fell to the lot of his Ad- 
ministration to settle forever a vexed controversy 
with Spain, the roots of which can be traced back to 
the history of North America prior to the independ- 
ence of the United States. Admiral Chadwick, in 
his exhaustive treatise upon the causes of the Spanish 
American War, says, by way of introduction: — 


"The late war was but the culmination of diffi- 
culties which had their seed in the Peace of 1763. 
They sprang into life twenty years later with the 
advent on the world's stage of the American Union; 
remained in full vigor for half a century thereafter 
with scarcely an interval of repose, and waxed and 
waned for seventy-five years more, until finally war 
came in 1898 to remove the last cause of friction. 
Few of the one hundred and fifteen years from 1783 
to 1898 were free from bitterness of feeling. The war 
was thus but a final episode in a century of diplo- 
matic ill-feeling, sometimes dormant, but more often 
dangerously acute." 1 

During the greater part of the last century, Cuba 
was ruled by a captain-general, later called governor- 
general, appointed by the Spanish Crown, to whom 
was given almost absolute authority. The popula- 
tion was divided into four classes: (1) the Spaniards, 
who occupied the offices and positions of power; (2) 
the Creoles, who were the planters, business men, 
and lawyers of the islands; (3) the free mulattoes 
and negroes, constituting about one sixth of the 
population; and (4) the slaves, estimated at about 
one third of the total number. The third class was 
excluded by law from holding any civil offices, while 

x Rear-Admiral F. E. Chadwick, The Relations of the United 

States and Spain — Diplomacy. 

CUBA 383 

the fourth class were, of course, mere chattels. One 
half the population, therefore, were without any 
political rights whatever. Nor was the second class 
much more favored. The Government maintained 
its despotic character by a series of edicts, bandos, 
and decrees, so that almost all the native Cubans 
were practically deprived of civil, political, and re- 
ligious freedom, while they were cruelly taxed to 
maintain not only the regular military forces of 
Spain in the island, but a large army of Spanish 
officials, drawing enormous salaries and systemat- 
ically plundering the people in addition. 

The hatred thus engendered between the native 
Cubans and the Spanish authorities led to frequent 
uprisings, such as the Black Eagle conspiracy in 
1829 and an insurrection of the blacks in 1844, hav- 
ing for its object the murder of the entire white pop- 
ulation. The Lopez expeditions of 1848, 1850, and 
1 85 1 were more formidable, and for the first time 
seriously taxed the resources of the United States 
Government to prevent the violation of her neutral- 
ity and preserve peaceful relations with Spain. 

So long as slavery existed in the United States, the 
annexation of Cuba was greatly desired by those 
in this country who wished to extend the slave terri- 
tory as well as by the slave-owners in Cuba. Several 
efforts were made to purchase the island, the most 


serious proposal being President Polk's offer of 
$100,000,000. Any such proposition, however, would 
have been proudly spurned by the Spanish Govern- 
ment, while the entire northern section of the United 
States would not have accepted Cuba as a gift. 
The Ostend Manifesto, of 1854, proposing first a 
purchase of the island, and if that proved imprac- 
ticable, its seizure by force, brought nothing but 
well-merited obloquy to its signers. 

The abolition of slavery in the United States caused 
a change of attitude on the part of Cuban slave- 
owners, both Spanish and native, who realized that 
annexation, under the new conditions, would mean 
death to the institution of slavery. They added great 
strength to the Spanish party, who, though desiring 
more agreeable relations, felt the need of remaining 
loyal to the mother country. On the other hand, the 
reform party was also steadily gaining in power. In 
May, 1865, an appeal was made to Marshal Serrano, a 
former captain-general, then in the Spanish Cabinet, 
by twenty-four thousand Cubans, including the best 
element of the native-born population, asking for the 
sadly needed political reforms, the abolition of slav- 
ery, a new and reasonable financial system, and an 
opportunity to develop trade with the United States, 
unhampered by outrageous duties and vicious cus- 
toms regulations. The result was the appointment 

CUBA 385 

of a commission to make inquiry into the desired 
reforms. The only effect of its labors, however, was 
a royal decree, signed February 12, 1867, which 
merely changed the system, leaving all the old cor- 
ruption and immorality, and actually adding to the 
burden of taxation. This was one of a series of blun- 
ders which were to cost Spain, eventually, the loss of 
the last vestige of power in the Western Hemisphere, 
where in 1763 she had possessed "three fourths the 
habitable parts of North and South America," in- 
cluding "the richest and greatest island of the West 
Indies" and "the richest mines then known to the 
world." l The failure of this effort alienated her best 
supporters in the island and fanned the flames of the 
revolutionary spirit to a degree never before known. 
Meanwhile Spain herself was in a state of turmoil 
and revolution. In September, 1868, the dissolute 
Queen, Isabella II, who had involved the Court in 
disgraceful scandals, was overthrown, and a pro- 
visional government set up by Marshal Serrano, 
General Prim, Admiral Topete, and Senor Praxedes 
Mateo Sagasta, the last of whom was destined to 
come into close relations with the McKinley Admin- 
istration as the head of the Spanish Cabinet in 
1897-98. The Creole party in the eastern provinces 

1 Chadwick, The Relations of the United States and Spain — 


of Cuba, led by Carlos Manuel de Cespedes, an able 
lawyer and wealthy planter, seized the opportunity 
for a revolt. At first they raised the cry of the Revo- 
lution and shouted "Hurrah for Prim!" But their 
real purpose was independence. For ten years they 
maintained a bitter and determined warfare, char- 
acterized by savagery of spirit on both sides, and 
terribly destructive of the prosperity of the island. 
The diplomatic forces of the United States were 
taxed to the utmost by the numerous filibustering 
expeditions that were organized. One of these, the 
famous case of the Virginius, brought the country 
to the very brink of a war with Spain. The "Ten 
Years' War," so called, was finally ended by the 
Treaty of El Zanjon, signed February 10, 1878. It 
gave representation to the Cubans in the Spanish 
Cortes and granted some apparent reforms, which 
in reality were only "new names for old evils." 
Slavery in Cuba was practically destroyed by the 
war and it was abolished by formal decree in 1886. 
Otherwise the revolution accomplished little good 
and the embers of discontent continued to smoulder 
until 1895, when they again burst into flames. 

In the years from 1878 to 1895, Spain lost for- 
ever her final opportunity to save her western pos- 
sessions. If the promises which brought the Ten 
Years' War to a close had been fulfilled, and if 

CUBA 387 

"frankly liberal measures" had been adopted, as 
General Campos strongly recommended, the natural 
affiliations of race and historical associations would 
have kept Cuba, in all probability, a permanent 
Spanish province. But the period was characterized, 
instead, by the reckless disregard of all promises. The 
absolutism of the captain-general remained as before. 
Representation in the Cortes proved to be a farce. 
Public offices continued to be held by the Spaniards, 
who showed no disposition to give up their oppor- 
tunities for blackmail and plunder. Public improve- 
ments were neglected. The masses were given no 
chance whatever to educate their children. The in- 
dustries of the island were hampered by excessive 
imposts. Commerce with every country except 
Spain was deliberately crippled. Life and property 
were at the mercy of the captain-general. The natives 
were practically deprived of the right of suffrage, and 
there was no freedom of speech, press, or religion. 
The whole burden of the Ten Years' War was laid 
upon Cuba. She was taxed to pay for the large army 
of occupation of which she would have been only 
too glad to be rid. She was assessed to pay interest 
on the enormous debt incurred chiefly by the effort 
to subjugate her people. She paid the pensions of 
Spanish soldiers and expenses of various kinds in- 
curred by Spain in her relations with other countries. 


" In 1895 the debt of the island was $295,707,264, the 
interest on which was $9.79 for each inhabitant." x 
As Senor T. Estrada Palma, the chief representative 
of the revolutionists in Washington, said in a letter 
to the State Department, in December, 1895, mak- 
ing the terrible indictment from which the above 
facts are chiefly taken, "the causes of the Revolu- 
tion of 1775 in this country were not nearly as 
grave as those that have driven the Cuban people 
to the various insurrections which culminated in the 
present revolution." 

Having waited in vain for a peaceful solution of 
their problem, the people began to organize some 
years before the beginning of the outbreak. Jose 
Marti, a gifted young orator, who planned the in- 
surrection and raised a large sum of money for the 
purpose in the United States and elsewhere, was the 
head of the civil organization, and Maximo Gomez, a 
veteran of the former revolution, became commander- 
in-chief of the military forces, with Antonio Maceo, 
another veteran, as his chief assistant. The date of 
the uprising was set for February 24, 1895, but it 
gained little headway at first except in the extreme 
eastern province of Santiago, where it received the 
support of many of the most prominent white citi- 
zens of the district. 

1 Chadwick, The Relations of the United States and Spain — 

CUBA 389 

The fierce determination and almost reckless fury 
of the insurrectionists were shown by a proclamation 
of General Gomez dated July 1. It prohibited "the 
introduction of articles of commerce, as well as beef 
and cattle, into the towns occupied by the enemy," 
and commanded the sugar plantations to stop their 
labors on pain of having their cane burned and their 
buildings demolished. The proclamation was fol- 
lowed by more peremptory orders in November 
decreeing the total destruction of all plantations, 
with their cane, their buildings, and railroad con- 
nections, branding as traitors all who by their labor 
or otherwise should aid the sugar factories, and com- 
manding that any person caught in a violation of 
these orders should be shot. Sefior Palma, in his 
letter to Secretary Olney, sought to justify this 
terrible order of destruction and death, saying, "the 
sugar crop is a source of large income to the Spanish 
Government, directly by tax and export duty as well 
as indirectly. The action of the insurgents is per- 
fectly justified, because it is simply a blockade, so 
to speak, on land, — a prevention of the gathering, 
and hence the export, of the commodity, with, nat- 
urally, a punishment for the violation thereof." 

The order was executed all too well, and resulted 
in one year in the destruction of more than three 
fourths of the production of sugar — the chief indus- 


try of Cuba. Thousands were thrown out of employ- 
ment and great distress ensued. 

This desperate order of the insurgent leader was 
followed by one even more atrocious issued by the 
Spanish commander. In January, 1896, General 
Campos, one of the ablest as well as the most humane 
of the Spanish captains-general, and a good friend 
of Cuba, was recalled, and succeeded by General 
Weyler, a man of exactly the opposite qualities, who 
had exasperated the Cubans by his harshness and 
cruelty in the former war. Weyler arrived in Ha- 
vana on February 10, and the next day, without time 
to get his bearings, published the first of a series of 
proclamations ordering the' arrest of any one who 
should in any way help the rebels. On the 16th he 
published a long list of offenses for which the punish- 
ment would be death, including everything which 
might in the slightest degree aid the insurgents. On 
the same day he issued the first of his infamous 
"concentration" orders, calling upon the inhabi- 
tants of the eastern portion of Cuba to present them- 
selves at military headquarters within eight days, 
provided with documentary proof of their identity; 
requiring a pass to be exhibited by any one travel- 
ing within the zone of military operations and threat- 
ening dire punishment to any one not so provided ; 
and commanding all commercial establishments in 

CUBA 391 

the country districts to be vacated. On October 21 
a more drastic order was proclaimed, requiring all 
people living outside the fortified towns to concen- 
trate themselves within the lines of the Spanish 
troops in eight days or be considered as rebels, which 
meant that those who failed to comply would be shot 

The order of concentration plunged the people of 
. Cuba into a condition of indescribable suffering, 
starvation, and death. Gomez had caused a devasta- 
tion which brought great loss to the sugar planters. 
Weyler now completed the havoc by striking down 
all the remaining industries in the rural districts and 
driving the inhabitants from their fields and their 
homes or shelter into the cities and towns where 
Spanish troops were quartered. Any one attempting 
to evade this order instantly became a rebel and 
many such were shot down in cold blood. Discre- 
tionary powers were given to numerous subordinates 
to execute the death sentence mercilessly and they 
were warned to "avoid taking prisoners." Thus the 
Spanish governor directed the war, not only against 
the insurgent army, 'but against old men, women, 
and children, the sick, the feeble, the aged, and the 
helpless of the country. So thoroughly were the 
insurgent forces recruited that scarcely any men 
capable of bearing arms were found among the 

392 william Mckinley 

reconcentrados. Deprived of the last chance to earn 
a livelihood, these innocent people were herded by 
thousands into towns and villages, each surrounded 
by a trocha or trench, with small blockhouses at in- 
tervals, from which Spanish soldiers could watch 
every motion. After seeing their humble homes re- 
duced to ashes, their cattle confiscated, and their 
little crops destroyed, they were compelled to take 
up their residences in such huts as they could con- 
struct from palm leaves, frequently in low-lying, 
swampy, and malarious places. There, smallpox, 
dysentery, typhus, and yellow fever added to the 
horrors of starvation. Men, women, and children, 
after wandering through the streets in helpless beg- 
gary, died by thousands. The fertile fields became a 
desert and gaunt ruins marred the landscape where 
prosperous towns and humming factories had once 
stood. In the western half of the island, outside the 
towns, scarcely a house was left standing. The green 
fields became a wilderness, where every growing 
plant was uprooted and Spanish guerrillas roamed in 
search of Cuban insurrectos, each avoiding the other 
except as they might attack by stealth or ambuscade. 
Such was the condition of affairs in Cuba when 
President McKinley took the oath of office. In the 
preceding year a strong party in Congress had at- 
tempted to pass various resolutions, seeking to 

CUBA 393 

accord belligerent rights to the insurgents, to recog- 
nize the independence of Cuba, and to authorize the 
President to use his good offices with Spain for the 
pacification of Cuba. On April 6, 1896, a joint reso- 
lution passed both houses of Congress according 
belligerent rights to the contesting parties. 

President Cleveland correctly maintained, and 
Secretary Olney publicly announced, that only the 
Executive had the power to determine questions of 
recognition or belligerency, and that the resolutions 
of Congress were therefore nothing more than ex- 
pressions of opinion by certain distinguished gentle- 
men and had no binding force. Mr. Cleveland, how- 
ever, went so far as to foreshadow intervention, in his 
annual message of December 7, 1896: — 

"While we are anxious to accord all due respect 
to the sovereignty of Spain, we cannot view the 
pending conflict in all its features, and properly 
apprehend our inevitably close relations to it, and 
its possible results, without considering that by the 
course of events we may be drawn into such an un- 
usual and unprecedented condition as will fix a limit 
to our patient waiting for Spain to end the contest, 
either alone and in her own way, or with our friendly 
cooperation. When the inability of Spain to deal 
successfully with the insurrection has become mani- 
fest ... a situation will be presented in which our 


obligations to the sovereignty of Spain will be super- 
seded by higher obligations, which we can hardly 
hesitate to recognize and discharge." 

The views of President McKinley did not vary 
greatly from those of his predecessor, but the trend 
of events soon made his relation to the problem 
vastly different. It was no academic question that 
confronted him. The irrepressible conflict was draw- 
ing rapidly towards its crisis. It had been pending for 
more than a century. Human liberty and despotism 
could not exist together on the Island of Cuba and 
the time for final decision was at hand. The sym- 
pathies of the people of the United States had been 
stirred to a high pitch of excitement by the tales 
of suffering in Cuba, and by the spectacle of a neigh- 
boring people struggling for those inalienable rights 
of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, with 
which they believed that all people are endowed 
by their Creator. The pressure of public opinion in 
favor of doing something for Cuba was rising like a 
mighty tidal wave, threatening to engulf all oppo- 

* With the keenest sympathy for a suffering people, 
yet with his mind fixed upon the gravity of the situa- 
tion and the duty of the nation, President McKin- 
ley met the approaching storm with the strength of 
a Gibraltar. The trials which he faced, the torrent 

Copyright, Frances I',. Johnston 


CUBA 395 

of abuse which he met with calmness and dignity, 
unmoved by threats of ruin to his political career, 
and the victory with which he triumphantly emerged 
from the crisis, combine to form one of the most 
significant chapters in his life. 

The Cuban question, at the beginning of the Mc- 
Kinley Administration presented a threefold aspect: 
(i) The relief of suffering; (2) the question of bellig- 
erency or the recognition of independence; and (3) 
the possibility of intervention to end the war. 

The first problem was the relief of Americans who 
had been seized, thrown into prison, subjected to 
cruel punishment, and, in one instance, put to death. 
The case of Dr. Ruiz had aroused deep feeling. He 
was a naturalized American citizen who died in 
prison under suspicious circumstances suggesting 
murder. A train containing a Spanish paymaster 
and some soldiers was attacked by a band of revo- 
lutionists who seized the money and escaped. Wey- 
ler arrested everybody in town including Dr. Ruiz. 
In violation of treaty obligations the latter was kept 
in prison incomunicado for many days and died from 
the effects of blows on the head. One of the earliest 
acts of President McKinley was to send a special 
commissioner, William J. Calhoun, to Cuba to in- 
vestigate. He saw the cell in which Ruiz was confined 
— a narrow room, the solid plank door of which was 


lined with plates of boiler iron, with rough points. 
The jailer said the man had bumped his head against 
the door several times in a fit of frenzy, and was 
thus, himself, responsible for his death. This inci- 
dent and the imprisonment of many other persons 
claiming American citizenship impelled the new 
President to take prompt action, and so vigorous 
were his representations to the Spanish Govern- 
ment and so firm his attitude that by the end of 
April all the American prisoners had been released. 
On May 17, 1897, a special message asking for 
the relief of Americans in Cuba who were said to 
be starving was sent to Congress, and the sum 
of $50,000 was appropriated. Although the event 
proved that not so many Americans were in need 
as had been represented, the measure led to a far- 
reaching movement for relief in the following De- 
cember. On the day before Christmas the President 
appealed to the American people, having previously 
obtained assurances of cooperation from the Spanish 
authorities, and was able to report to Congress, in 
his message of April II, 1898, that already $200,000 
had been contributed, that the supplies had been 
given free transportation and admitted free of duty, 
and that thousands of lives had been saved. McKin- 
ley's personal contribution was a very liberal one. 
The amount of it has never been published and 

\ .. 

CUBA 397 

should not be even now, but the statement of an 
intimate personal friend who knows justifies the 
remark that it was probably larger in proportion 
to his income than that of any other contributor. 
Before the close of 1897, some progress was also 
made in securing from the Spanish Government as- 
surances of a more humane method of conducting 
the war. General Weyler was recalled on October 31, 
and was succeeded by Marshal Blanco, who at once 
undertook to relieve the sufferers by furnishing daily 
rations, caring for the sick and organizing protective 
committees for the benefit of those who could not 
at once obtain the general benefits secured to the 
country population. Yet his efforts were so much 
opposed by Spanish subordinates and so hindered 
by the insurgent leaders, who prevented the recon- 
centrados from returning to their homes, that but 
little amelioration was accomplished. On January 
12, 1898, the American consul at Santiago reported: 
"Squalidity, starvation, sickness, and death meet 
one in all places. Beggars throng our doors and stop 
us in the streets. The dead in large numbers remain 
over from day to day in the cemeteries unburied." 
On February 6, the commander of the U.S.S. Mont- 
gomery reported to the Secretary of the Navy that 
59,000 people had died of starvation, and diseases 
incident thereto, in the province of Matanzas and 


that 98,000 were then in a starving condition. In 
the city of Matanzas, with a population of less than 
60,000, there were 1733 deaths in December alone, 
and 14,000 people, mostly women and children, ema- 
ciated, sick, and almost beyond relief, were lying 
about the streets absolutely without food, clothing, 
or shelter. 

It was clearly evident, by this time, that even the 
most" extraordinary liberality on the part of chari- 
table people in the United States could do little to 
relieve the intolerable situation. 

Meanwhile, there were many zealous Americans, 
like Senator Morgan, of Alabama, who saw the only 
possible solution in a recognition of Cuban bellig- 
erency. On this point President McKinley was as 
determined as President Grant had been in 1875. 
In his first annual message he quoted the words of 
the latter at great length, fully agreeing with the 
conclusion- that such recognition was "unwise and 
premature" as a question of expediency and "inde- 
fensible as a measure of right." He further pointed 
out the inconvenience and positive dangers of such 
recognition, and the fact that, instead of aiding the 
Cubans, it would in reality help their enemies, be- 
cause of the fact that Spain possessed a navy and 
controlled the ports of Cuba and would therefore 
secure an advantage from the proclamation of bel- 

CUBA 399 

ligerent rights, while [the Cubans, with no ships 
and no coast towns, would receive no corresponding 

On the recognition of the independence of the 
so-called Cuban Republic, the President was equally 
firm. There was no substantial government within 
the island capable of exercising the functions of 
statehood, and no evidence that the people would 
be able to maintain a state of independent sover- 
eignty, even if it were accorded to them. Should 
they subsequently acquire such necessary powers of 
government, they could be promptly recognized. 
Meanwhile, as a question of expediency such recog- 
nition would not be wise nor prudent: it would not 
be necessary to enable the United States to inter- 
vene and pacify the island, but, on the contrary, in 
case of intervention, it would be an obvious embar- 
rassment. "Our conduct would be subject to the 
approval or disapproval of such government and we 
should become merely a friendly ally." l As Senator 
Hoar subsequently pointed out, the army and navy 
of the United States, under such circumstances, 
operating on Cuban land or in Cuban waters, must 
be under the command of the insurgent leader. 

There was left but one possible alternative, and 
that was intervention. Yet this must not be con- 
1 From the President's Message to Congress, April n, 1898. 


400 William Mckinley 

sidered until the last possibility of an adjustment by 
diplomacy had been exhausted. The President was 
violently attacked for his seeming hesitation and ap- 
parent lack of a definite policy. There' were angry 
fulminations and open impeachments of his human- 
ity. "The blood of the poor Cubans is on his head," 
declared a distinguished but unduly bellicose individ- 
ual. Yet it was the very humanity of the President 
that caused him to hold back this wave of excite- 
ment with all his power until the proper time for 
action. He once said gravely to Senator Fairbanks, 
" It is n't the money that will be spent nor the prop- 
erty that will be destroyed, if war comes, that con- 
cerns me; but the thought of human suffering that 
must come into thousands of homes throughout the 
country is almost overwhelming."