Acclaimed historian Robert Merry resurrects the presidential reputation of William McKinley in a “measured, insightful biography that seeks to set the record straight…a deft character study of a president” (The New York Times Book Review) whose low place in the presidential rankings does not reflect the stamp he put on America’s future role in the world.
Republican President William McKinley transformed America during his two terms as president (1897 – 1901). Although he does not register large in either public memory or in historians’ rankings, in this revealing account, Robert W. Merry offers “a fresh twist on the old tale…a valuable education on where America has been and, possibly, where it is going” (The National Review).
McKinley settled decades of monetary controversy by taking the country to a strict gold standard; in the Spanish-American war he kicked Spain out of the Caribbean and liberated Cuba from Spain; in the Pacific he acquired Hawaii and the Philippines; he developed the doctrine of “fair trade”; forced the “Open Door” to China; forged our “special relationship” with Great Britain. He expanded executive power and managed public opinion through his quiet manipulation of the press. McKinley paved the way for the bold and flamboyant leadership of his famous successor, Teddy Roosevelt, who built on his accomplishments (and got credit for them).
Merry writes movingly about McKinley’s admirable personal life, from his simple Midwestern upbringing to his Civil War heroism to his brave comportment just moments before his death by assassination. “As this splendid revisionist narrative makes plain….The presidency is no job for a political amateur. Character counts, sometimes even more than charisma” (The Wall Street Journal). Lively, definitive, and eye-opening, President McKinley resurrects this overlooked president and places him squarely on the list of one of the most important.