McKinley was born in Niles, Ohio, January 29, 1843. He attended the public schools, Poland Academy, and Allegheny College. Following graduation he taught school, then at the start of the American Civil War enlisted in the Union Army on June 23, 1861, as a private in the Twenty-third Regiment, Ohio Volunteer Infantry, and was mustered out as captain and brevet major of the same regiment in September 1865.
Following the war, McKinley studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1867. He commenced practice in Canton, Ohio. He was prosecuting attorney of Stark County, Ohio, 1869-1871, and was elected as a Republican to the Forty-fifth, Forty-sixth, and Forty-seventh Congresses (March 4, 1877-March 3, 1883). He was chairman of the Committee on Revision of the Laws (Forty-seventh Congress). He presented his credentials as a Member-elect to the Forty-eighth Congress and served from March 4, 1883, until May 27, 1884, when he was succeeded by Jonathan H. Wallace, who successfully contested his election. McKinley was again elected to the Forty-ninth, Fiftieth, and Fifty-first Congresses (March 4, 1885-March 3, 1891). He was chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means (Fifty-first Congress).
McKinley was an unsuccessful candidate for re-election in 1890 to the Fifty-second Congress. He was a delegate to the Republican National Conventions in 1884, 1888, and 1892. He was elected Governor of Ohio in 1891, reelected in 1893, and served until January 13, 1896. He was elected President of the United States in 1896.
McKinley led the country into the Spanish-American War, bringing the former colonies of Spain in the Philippines and Caribbean Sea under American control. Despite some vocal domestic opposition, his administration ushered America into a policy of international imperialism.
He was re-elected in 1900.
McKinley was shot by an anarchist, Leon Czolgosz, on September 6, 1901 while attending the Pan American Exposition in Buffalo, New York, and died from his wounds there on September 14, 1901. He is one of the four presidents to be assassinated. Interment is in the McKinley Monument (adjacent to West Lawn Cemetery), Canton, Ohio.
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