U.S. Presidents / William McKinley

William McKinley

1843 - 1901

William McKinley

Our diplomacy should seek nothing more and accept nothing less than is due us. We want no wars of conquest; we must avoid the temptation of territorial aggression. War should never be entered upon until every agency of peace has failed; peace is preferable to war in almost every contingency.  First Inaugural Address


For a long time, William McKinley was considered a mediocre President, a chief executive who was controlled by his political cronies and who was pressured into war with Spain by the press. Recent historians have been kinder to McKinley, seeing him instead as a decisive President who put America on the road to world power. McKinley's difficult foreign policy decisions, especially his policy toward China and his decision to go to war with Spain over Cuban independence, helped the U.S. enter the twentieth century as a new and powerful empire on the world stage.

Fast Facts

Niles, Ohio
Allegheny College
“Idol of Ohio”
January 25, 1871, to Ida Saxton (1847–1907)
Katherine (1871–1875), Ida (1873)
Canton, Ohio (adjacent to Westlawn Cemetery)
Lewis L. Gould

Chicago Style

Miller Center of Public Affairs, University of Virginia. “William McKinley.” Accessed July 16, 2024. https://prod.millercenter.org/president/mckinley.

Professor Emeritus of American History

Lewis L. Gould

Professor Gould is the Eugene C. Barker Centennial Professor Emeritus in American History at the University of Texas.