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WILLIAM McKINLEY Life History (Grolier Online)-
25th President of the United States (1897-1901).
Nickname: "Idol of Ohio".
Born: Jan. 29, 1843, Niles, Ohio.
Education: Allegheny College.
Religious Affiliation: Methodist.
Marriage: Jan. 25, 1871, to Ida Saxton (1847-1907).
Children: Katherine McKinley (1871-75); Ida McKinley (1873).
Political Affiliation: Republican.
Writings: The Tariff in the Days of Henry Clay and Since(1896).
Died: Sept. 14, 1901, Buffalo, N.Y.
Buried: Canton, Ohio (adjacent to Westlawn Cemetery).
Vice-President: Garret A. Hobart (1897-99); Theodore Roosevelt
WILLIAM McKINLEY Biography
William McKinley, (1843-1901), m[sch ]-kin'le, 25th PRESIDENT OF
THE UNITED STATES. The strengthening and expansion of presidential
power so characteristic of the 20th century began during histerm. The swift
and decisive U.S. victory in the Spanish-American Wardemonstrated this
power, as did the manner in which McKinley secured ratificationof the
Treaty of Paris, pacified the Philippines, and initiated civilgovernments in
the dependencies taken from Spain.
Throughout his career, McKinley relied on calm appeals to reasonand
common sense, and he developed the arts of political managementto a high
pitch. McKinley realized that American politics wasnonideological and
offered no permanent solutions to problems. He always retainedoptions
suited to unforeseen events. His ability to sympathize with othermen's
views and to avoid grudges made many friends and few enemies.
Complementing these professional skills were McKinley's impressive
physical presence and a legendary courtesy.
At the time of McKinley's death by assassination in 1901, the
REPUBLICAN PARTY dominated the national government and most state
governments and had won the popular majority its leaders hadsought since
McKinley's own entrance into politics a generation earlier.
William McKinley was born in Niles, Ohio, on Jan. 29, 1843. Oneof nine
children of working-class parents, McKinley matured insemifrontier Ohio.
His studies at Allegheny College were cut short by illness. Hetaught school
briefly and then joined the Army at the outset of the Civil War.McKinley
was deeply committed to preserving the Union. He saw considerableaction
throughout the war and left the Army a brevet major in 1865.
After studying in Ohio and New York, McKinley was admitted to theOhio
bar. He settled in Canton, Ohio, to practice law and participatein
Republican politics. He worked for the success of a futurepresident,
Rutherford B. HAYES, who had been his commanding officer duringthe
Civil War. McKinley's first public office was prosecutingattorney of Stark
county. Then between 1877 and 1891, except for a brief period in
1884-1885 after losing a contested election, McKinley representeda
northeastern Ohio district in the U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES.He
was noted for his honesty, thoroughness, and ability to harmonizedivergent
views. Although he lost a bid for the speakership in 1889, he waselected
chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, which developed
financial legislation, and he became a prominent national figure.
Throughout his Congressional career, McKinley worked forcivil-service
reform and other liberal measures. He cast one early vote forfree silver, but
repudiated it and other radical monetary views, becoming a majorchampion
of bimetallic "sound currency." But he attained national fame asa leading
spokesman for the Republican party's other major doctrine, tariffprotection,
which he thought would develop and diversify the American economy,
create purchasing power among producers, and promote nationalunity. He
early won the support of many workers, as well as farmers andbusinessmen
who also supported protection. The tariff act of 1890, whichestablished
high rates and which bore McKinley's name, attested to hisnational fame.
McKinley's reputation for constructive moderation suited both his
temperament and ambitions. In 1871 he married Ida Saxton, amember of a
wealthy Canton family. The early deaths of their two daughtersplunged her
into a nervousness from which she was unable to recover. Ascongressman,
governor, and president, McKinley never allowed formal duties tointerfere
with his care for her. His solicitude for her and his concern fordomestic
harmony were mirrored in his efforts to seek harmony in societyat large.
McKinley used these talents in Ohio's turbulent politics. Henever ran twice
from exactly the same district, because the dominant party in thelegislature
changed the boundaries every session. This helped give Mckinley akeen
and lasting sense of the impermanence of loyalties and fortifiedhis desire to
avoid overt controversy and political division on questions ofnational
moment. He deftly managed Ohio's divergent and often conflicting
interests--workers and farmers, shippers and buyers, old and newethnic
groups--with a skill that made him a leading Republican by the1890's.
McKinley was defeated for reelection to the House in 1890 becauseof
gerrymandering but was elected governor of Ohio in 1891 and in1893 with
substantial pluralities. Governor McKinley supported tax reform,including
higher rates for corporations. Although he called out theNational Guard to
deal with a strike by coal miners that had turned violent,McKinley
continued to enjoy the support of many workingmen.
Leaving the governorship early in 1896, McKinley set out to winthe
Republican nomination for president. He had been mentioned for the
nomination in 1888 and had polled a sizable delegate vote againstthe
incumbent president, Benjamin HARRISON, in 1892. In 1896 he hadthe aid
of Marcus A. Hanna, a Cleveland industrialist with greatexperience in Ohio
politics. Few relationships in American history have been so
misrepresented. Political opponents depicted McKinley as MarkHanna's
puppet when in fact Hanna was merely McKinley's agent. Far frommaking
McKinley president, Hanna merely organized a favorable sentimentfor him
that was already widespread in 1896. McKinley won the nominationover
the opposition of conservative Eastern Republicans. His opponentwas
William Jennings Bryan, the Democratic nominee.
In the famous "front porch campaign," which brought throngs ofvoters to his
Canton home from many states, McKinley stressed his experience,
moderation, and commitment to nationalistic rather than sectionalpolicies.
While Bryan emphasized free coinage of silver, McKinley saw tariff
protection and class harmony as the keys to revived prosperity. In
November, McKinley became the first victorious candidate since1872 to
receive a majority of the popular votes cast for the nominees ofall parties,
and he won 271 ELECTORAL votes to Bryan's 176. McKinley received
7,113,734 popular votes and Bryan 6,516,722. The voting was along
sectional lines, with Bryan carrying most of the South and West.
In view of the long agitation over the currency question that hadcome to a
climax in the campaign of 1896, it was ironic that foreign policydominated
the new administration. McKinley entered office with no clearforeign
policy but was determined to solve the Cuban question as an issuein
American political life. Like most Americans, he genuinelyabhorred the
brutality involved in Spain's efforts to suppress theinsurrection in Cuba, yet
he wished to give Spain every opportunity to leave the islandwithout
American intervention. He pressed Spain first to reform theisland, then to
grant autonomy, then independence. Spain yielded to Americanpressure on
some points but evidenced no willingness to free Cuba. Severalincidents
early in 1898, concluding with the mysterious destruction of thebattleship
Maine in Havana harbor on February 15--for which Spain was
blamed--intensified pressure in the United States for war but didnot by
themselves force the president's hand. Finally convinced thatSpain's past
performance forbade reliance on future promises, McKinley asked
CONGRESS in April for authority to intervene. Congress approved a
declaration of war on April 25.
The Spanish-American War was brief, but its results reverberatedthrough
American life for years. By the time the armistice was signed inAugust
1898, the United States had occupied Cuba and Puerto Rico and had
defeated the Spanish fleet at Manila Bay. Disposition of thePhilippine
Islands was left to the subsequent peace conference. McKinley hadprobably
not anticipated such expansionism, but he utilized his politicalskills to
soften the impact on American society. He merely seemed tohesitate in
order to gain political support, while rapidly developing publicsupport for
a policy of acquisition. By terms of the settlement, the UnitedStates
temporarily occupied Cuba, while preparing it for republicanism;took
Puerto Rico as a war indemnity; and acquired all of the Philippine
archipelago. McKinley said he felt an obligation to educate and"uplift" the
Filipinos. A sharp debate within the United States ensued, assignificant
though not numerous groups opposed the acquisition of foreignterritory.
McKinley displayed subtle and impressive executive power insecuring
Senate approval for the Treaty of Paris in February 1899 by onevote more
than the required two thirds.
McKinley devoted the rest of his term chiefly to suppressing theunexpected
revolt of Emilio Aguinaldo in the Philippines and to organizinggovernments
for the dependencies. The president named two able men, WilliamHoward
Taft and Gen. Leonard Wood, to guide the Philippines and Cuba,
respectively, toward self-government. The Foraker Act providedthe basis
for civil government in Puerto Rico.
Still another foreign problem confronted the McKinleyadministration--the
competition for markets in China by several international powers.Secretary
of State John Hay won agreement for an Open Door policy forChinese
trade. In the subsequent Boxer Rebellion, led by chauvinisticChinese
opposed to Western influence, hundreds of persons were killed.McKinley
attached 5,000 U. S. troops to an international expedition torescue Western
residents in China.
In domestic legislative affairs, McKinley's record wasimpressive. The
Dingley Tariff (1897) called for higher rates and appeared tosettle that
sharply debated question. The Gold Standard Act (1900), addressing
another old controversy, declared the gold dollar to be the solestandard of
Meanwhile, the Republican party won the off-year elections of1898, and
every index of popular approval seemed to favor the president.Old issues
were fading rapidly, as McKinley guided the United States into anew era of
concern for foreign affairs.
These and other controversial matters did not weaken thepresident's
commanding position in the Republican party as the convention and
ELECTION of 1900 approached. The only significant debate withinthe
party concerned the vice-presidential nomination, as VICEPRESIDENT
Garret A. Hobart had died in 1899. McKinley allowed theconvention to
choose Gov. Theodore ROOSEVELT of New York. Despitedissimilarities
of personal style, Roosevelt brought two major assets toMcKinley: a
refreshing youth that appealed to new elements in the party and areputation
for vigorous campaigning that he more than fulfilled.
The president did not personally campaign, yet he received thelargest
popular majority ever given a presidential candidate up to thattime in a
second contest with William Jennings Bryan. McKinley led inelectoral
votes, 292 to 155, and in popular votes, 7,219,828 to 6,358,160.
Inaugurated a second time on March 4, 1901, McKinley lookedforward to a
new term focused on domestic rather than foreign policies. Earlyin
September, he appeared at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffaloto make
an important speech on America's world role. On September 6 ananarchist
named Leon Czolgosz shot him during a public reception in theTemple of
Music. Despite early hopes for his recovery, McKinley died onSept. 14,
1901, in Buffalo. After elaborate obsequies, including widespreadmourning
abroad, his body was interred in Canton and then moved to asplendid new
memorial building in 1907.
H. Wayne Morgan
University of Oklahoma, Author, William McKinley and His America
Description: William McKinley's birthplace was a two-story frame housethat was destroyed by fire in 1935. The McKinley Federal Savings and Loancompany currently occupies the site. There is a marker on the site.
Address: William McKinley Birthplace; 36 South Main Street; Niles, OH44446
Credit: "Presidential Sites: A Directory of Places Associated withPresidents of the United States" by William G. Clotworthy
• First Lady:
Ida McKinley, Wife
• Wife's Maiden Name:
• Number of Children: 2
• Education Level: College
• School Attended: Allegheny College, Albany Law School
• Religion: Methodist
• Profession: Military, Lawyer
• Military Service: Brevet Major
• Dates of Presidency: 3/4/1897 - 9/14/1901
• Presidency Number: 25
• Number of Terms: 2
• Why Presidency Ended: Assassination
• Party: Republican
• His Vice President(s): Garret Hobart, TheodoreRoosevelt
• House of Representatives: Ohio (1877-1883), Ohio(1885-1891)
• Governor of a State: Ohio (1892-1896)
• During his term, the United States was involved in theSpanish-American War.
• He was the first president to run a "front porch" campaign-- acampaign limited in travel.
• After the Spanish-American War, the United States received thePhilippines, Guam and Puerto Rico from Spain. Cuba became free but wasnot a United States territory.
• He was the third president to be assassinated. As he was dying, heasked his attendants to be
careful of the way he told his wife.
More about William McKinley
During his term, Hawaii was annexed.
His wife, Ida Saxton, suffered from epileptic seizures. He wasdevoted to her well-being. When she suffered a seizure, her husband wouldplace his handkerchief over her face to hide her features. When it wasover he continued on as if nothing happened.
Upon seeing his assassin being pummeled by his guards, the woundedMcKinley cried out "Don't let them hurt him." "Unlike any other nation,here the people rule, and their will is the supreme law. It is sometimessneeringly said by those who do not like free government, that here wecount heads. True, heads are counted, but brains also. . ."
Description: The ninety-six-foot-high memorial is the final resting placefor William and Ida McKinley and their two daughters who died in infancy.108 marble steps lead to the mausoleum, an impressive presidentialmemorial. Open to the public.
Address: McKinley National Memorial and Museum; 800 McKinley MonumentDrive, NW; Canton, OH 44708. Phone Number: (330) 455-7043
Credit: "Presidential Sites: A Directory of Places Associated withPresidents of the United States" by William G. Clotworthy
McKinley Memorial Library; 40 North Main Street; Niles, OH 44446 PhoneNumber: (330) 652-1704
This structure has an open court flanked by a museum of McKinleymemorabilia on one side and the Niles Public Library on the other. Itfeatures an Italian marble garden and a statue of William McKinley. Thesite is open to the public.
Books By William McKinley "The Tariff in the Days of Henry Clay and Since1896"
C-SPAN's 20th Anniversary Television Series, "American Presidents: LifePortraits"
"In the late afternoon of September 6, 1901, the city of Buffalo,New York, was thrust into the spotlight for what some would call the"Queen City's Darkest Moment in History."
While attending the Pan-American Exposition, President WilliamMcKinley was assassinated at a reception in the Temple of Music.Suddenly, the dark clouds of despair fell on the Exposition and began toruin all the good that the great fair stood for. Some historians claimthat this heinous crime was the beginning of Buffalo's downfall.
On the morning of September 5, 1901, a slim man arrived at the gatesof the Pan-American exposition. He blended in with the crowd nicely. Noone would suspect that he was buying his ticket for any other purposeother than to enjoy what thousands were calling the Grandest of all theWorld's Fairs.
After passing through the gates, the man began a deliberate surveyof the Exposition grounds paying close attention to certain details suchas the layout of the walkways, the throngs of people, and the securityguards. Suddenly he saw his objective. An enormous crowd had gathered tohear a speech delivered by President William McKinley -- perhaps somewould actually get the opportunity to greet him personally and shake hishand.
With a guarded determination, the man approached the huge throng ofpeople waiting to catch a look at the President. After some time, the manfound himself close enough to be able to hear McKinley's speech. He sawthe President rise and mount to the stand. He forced his way down to thefront row to stand with the cheering people, but he stood mute.
He listened to the President's speech with a deaf ear. He wasdetermined to get closer to the President but as he made his attempt, aguard appeared in front of him blocking his chance. The man decided towait for a better opportunity.
After the President's address, the man was among the hundreds ofpeople who attempted to crowd up to the President's carriage, but he wasforced back. He saw the President drive away and cursed his misfortune.
The next day, the man returned to the Pan-American Exposition andwaited for President McKinley to return. In the early afternoon, thePresident was to greet people in the Temple of Music and the man was oneof the first to enter. He got as close to the stage as possible and wasthere when the President entered the Temple through a side door. The manwas one of the first to hurry forward when the President took hisposition and prepared to shake hands with the people.
One by one the President took their hands, and with a smile on hisface, gave a sharp downward jerk to each person's hand as he greetedthem. No one paid any attention to the man as he stood in the line thatslowly approached the President. Perhaps it was a bit odd that his handwas wrapped in a handkerchief and held close to his chest, but maybe hewas nursing an injury and was embarrassed by his wound. Best to keep itcovered up.
Finally, the man reached the President. He did not look intoMcKinley's face. As the smiling President reached out to take the man'sright hand, he extended his left hand, pressed it against the President'schest and fired the gun he was concealing under the handkerchief. Hefired twice, and would have fired again if not for the fact that he wastackled and drove to the ground.
Utter pandemonium rose up from the crowd in the Temple of Music.President McKinley, while gripping his chest, fell back into the arms ofone of the security guards. A large pool of blood was forming on hiswhite shirt. "Am I shot?" he exclaimed. After unbuttoning his vest andexamining the President, the guard replied, "I'm afraid that you are, Mr.President."
It all happened in an instant. Almost before the noise of the secondshot sounded, the assassin was tackled by secret service men and a squadof Exposition police seized the man and tore the weapon out of his hand.Soldiers of the U.S. artillery who were present at the reception set uponthe assassin and began to brutally beat him. A soft yet determined voicespoke through the chaos, "Go easy on him boys." The words came fromMcKinley who was slumped on the floor in terrible pain. The Presidentreached up for Pan-American President Milburn and said, "My wife, becareful about her. Don't let her know."
As word of the assassination attempt began to filter out of theTemple of Music, the thousands who were in attendance that day began whatcould only be described as a riot. People tried to shove their way intothe Temple to see if what they were hearing was true, while others beganan immediate cry for the death of the assassin at their hands. As thescene got more and more out of control, the military was called upon totry and restore some order while the Pan-American Exposition policeattempted to get the assassin off the grounds.
The prostrate body of the assassin lay on the floor near whereMcKinley was dying. The man had received a terrific beating from thepolice, soldiers, and detectives. The President took a painful glanceover at the scene. He raised he right hand, red with his own blood, andplaced it on the hand of his secretary. "Let no one hurt him," he gasped,and sank back into a chair. The guards carried the assassin out of hissight.
At police headquarters, the assassin was interrogated by theDistrict Attorney. "What is your name?" he asked bluntly.
"Leon Czolgosz." came the weak reply.
"Did you mean to kill the President?" asked the D.A.
"What was the motive that induced you to commit this crime?"
"I am a disciple of Emma Goldman. I killed the President because I donemy duty. I did not feel that one man should have all this power whileothers have none."
With these words, Czolgosz was led away to a cell to await histrial. Meanwhile, the City of Buffalo was anxiously awaiting the news onwhether or not President McKinley would survive the assassin's deadlyattack.
Brittanica Online- 25th president of the United States (1897-1901). UnderMcKinley's leadership, the United States went to war against Spain in1898 and thereby acquired a global empire, including Puerto Rico, Guam,and the Philippines.
McKinley was the son of William McKinley, a manager of a charcoalfurnace and a small-scale iron founder, and Nancy Allison. Eighteen yearsold at the start of the Civil War, McKinley enlisted in an Ohio regimentunder the command of Rutherford B. Hayes, later the 19th president of theUnited States (1877-81). Promoted second lieutenant for his bravery inthe Battle of Antietam (1862), he was discharged a brevet major in 1865.Returning to Ohio, he studied law, was admitted to the bar in 1867, andopened a law office in Canton, where he resided--except for his years inWashington, D.C.--for the rest of his life.
Drawn immediately to politics in the Republican Party, McKinleysupported Hayes for governor in 1867 and Ulysses S. Grant for presidentin 1868. The following year he was elected prosecuting attorney for Starkcounty, and in 1877 he began his long career in Congress asrepresentative from Ohio's 17th district. McKinley served in the House ofRepresentatives until 1891, failing reelection only twice--in 1882, whenhe was temporarily unseated in an extremely close election, and in 1890,when Democrats gerrymandered his district.
The issue with which McKinley became most closely identified duringhis congressional years was the protective tariff, a high tax on importedgoods which served to protect American manufacturers from foreigncompetition. While it was only natural for a Republican from a rapidlyindustrializing state to favour protection, McKinley's support reflectedmore than his party's pro-business bias. A genuinely compassionate man,McKinley cared about the well-being of American workers, and he alwaysinsisted that a high tariff was necessary to assuring high wages. Aschairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, he was the principalsponsor of the McKinley Tariff of 1890, which raised duties higher thanthey had been at any previous time. Yet by the end of his presidencyMcKinley had become a convert to commercial reciprocity among nations,recognizing that Americans must buy products from other countries inorder to sustain the sale of American goods abroad.
His loss in 1890 brought an end to McKinley's career in the House ofRepresentatives, but with the help of wealthy Ohio industrialist MarkHanna, McKinley won two terms as governor of his home state (1892-96).During those years Hanna, a powerful figure in the Republican Party, laidplans to gain the party's presidential nomination for his good friend in1896. McKinley went on to win the nomination easily.
The presidential campaign of 1896 was one of the most exciting inAmerican history. The central issue was the nation's money supply.McKinley ran on a Republican platform emphasizing maintenance of the goldstandard, while his opponent--William Jennings Bryan, candidate of boththe Democratic and Populist parties--called for a bimetallic standard ofgold and silver. Bryan campaigned vigorously, traveling thousands ofmiles and delivering hundreds of speeches in support of an inflatedcurrency that would help poor farmers and other debtors. McKinleyremained at home in Canton, greeting visiting delegations of Republicansat his front porch and giving carefully prepared speeches promoting thebenefits of a gold-backed currency. For his part, Hanna tapped bigbusinesses for enormous campaign contributions while simultaneouslydirecting a network of Republican speakers who portrayed Bryan as adangerous radical and McKinley as "the advance agent of prosperity."McKinley won the election decisively, becoming the first president toachieve a popular majority since 1872 and bettering Bryan 271 to 176 inthe electoral vote.
Inaugurated president March 4, 1897, McKinley promptly called aspecial session of Congress to revise customs duties upward. On July 24he signed into law the Dingley Tariff, the highest protective tariff inAmerican history to that time. Yet domestic issues would play only aminor role in the McKinley presidency. Emerging from decades ofisolationism in the 1890s, Americans had already shown signs of wantingto play a more assertive role on the world stage. Under McKinley, theUnited States became an empire.
By the time McKinley took the oath of office as president, manyAmericans- influenced greatly by the sensationalistic yellow journalismof the Hearst and Pulitzer newspapers --were eager to see the UnitedStates intervene in Cuba, where Spain was engaged in brutal repression ofan independence movement. Initially, McKinley hoped to avoid Americaninvolvement, but in February 1898 two events stiffened his resolve toconfront the Spanish. First, a letter written by the Spanish minister toWashington, Enrique Dupuy de Lôme, was intercepted, and on February 9 itwas published in American newspapers; the letter described McKinley asweak and too eager for public adulation. Then, six days after theappearance of the Dupuy de Lôme letter, the American battleship USS Mainesuddenly exploded and sank as it sat anchored in Havana harbour, carrying266 enlisted men and officers to their deaths. Although a mid-20thcentury investigation proved conclusively that the Maine was destroyed byan internal explosion, the yellow press convinced Americans of Spanishresponsibility. The public clamoured for armed intervention, andcongressional leaders were eager to satisy the public demand for action.
In March McKinley gave Spain an ultimatum, including demands for anend to the brutality inflicted upon Cubans and the start of negotiationsleading toward independence for the island. Spain agreed to most ofMcKinley's demands but balked at giving up its last major New Worldcolony. On April 20 Congress authorized the president to use armed forceto secure the independence of Cuba, and five days later it passed aformal declaration of war.
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America's 25th First Lady's Early Years By Mary Cain
"Daughter of James Saxton, founder and president of the Stark County Bankin Canton, Ohio… Granddaughter of John Saxton, 1815-founder of TheRepository and its editor for 60 years…Prized and popular student at MissSanford's boarding school in Cleveland… and graduate of Miss Eastman'sSeminary, Brooke Hall, in Media, Penn., returning to Canton in 1868 asthe "belle of Canton."
Ida lived a privileged life as the daughter of the third-wealthiest manin Canton, pillar in the Presbyterian Church and well-known communityleader. However, her life was not a sheltered or reclusive one.Immediately upon her return to Canton in 1868, she became active in avariety of community affairs, including participating in a performance atSchaefer's Opera House, a fund raiser to build the new, stone structurewhich would become the Presbyterian Church, the church at which hergrandfather was the ruling elder.
After the March-1868 performance at Schafer's, she was voted the mostpopular actress in the "tableaux," staged theater scenes featuring posedparticipants who remained motionless and silent. "Ida was the prettysister with delicate piquant features, masses of auburn hair andlanguorous blue eyes under a marble brow."
In 1868, she met William McKinley, the young attorney who had moved fromNiles to
Canton in 1867---the man who was becoming active in local communityendeavors and
politics; the man who would become the 25th President in 1896. Theintroductions were made by William's sister Anna, who had made her placein Canton as the principal of West Grammar School.
Although becoming popular, William McKinley was not among the Canton"elite" who
attended the October 1868 masquerade party which saw young Ida dress asthe "Queen of Hearts." Still, the capping of her debutante days was her8-month tour of Europe accompanied by her sister Mary "Pina" Saxton andtheir escort Miss Jeannette Alexander. "They returned as gloriousconquerors with their loot, lace and coral cameos, gloves and false hairand ermine muffs and a Swiss music box with eight tunes which they hadbrought for Ma."
Upon returning to Canton in December 1868, Ida readily demonstrated herindependent and free-thinking mind by accepting a job as teller in herfather's bank. She quickly rose from teller to cashier. It was sounconventional for a woman to hold such a position that it gave way torumors that the family's funds were depleted. Her father James replied,"I want her to be able to support herself if trouble comes her way."
It was after her return from Europe that Ida began seeing William, thefirst encounters being as they passed each other walking to thechurch---she going to the Presbyterian Church; he, at the nearbyMethodist Church, where he taught Sunday School.
In 1869, William was elected to his first post, county prosecutingattorney, being the first prosecuting attorney to take office in the newCourthouse which was dedicated February 22. Shortly after he took office,they became engaged. They were married in a lavish, 7:30 p.m. ceremony,attended by about 1,000, in the just-opened Presbyterian Church, theMcKinley's being the first couple to be married in the new church.Refreshments were served from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the ballroom of theSaxton House with the couple departing at 10 p.m. for a honeymoon, traintrip to the East. He was 27; she was 23."
*The Authentic Life of President McKinley by Alexander K. McClure andCharles Morris.
**The William McKinley Story by Edward T. Heald.
Accessed Nov., 2000 http://www2.whitehouse.gov/WH/glimpse/firstladies/html
"There was little resemblance between the vivacious young woman whomarried William McKinley in January 1871--a slender bride with sky-blueeyes and fair skin and masses of auburn hair--and the petulant invalidwho moved into the White House with him in March 1897. Now her face waspallid and drawn, her close-cropped hair gray; her eyes were glazed withpain or dulled with sedative.
Only one thing had remained the same: love which hadbrightened early years of happiness and endured through more than twentyyears of illness.
Ida had been born in Canton, Ohio, in 1847, elder daughterof a socially prominent and well-to-do family. James A. Saxton, a banker,was indulgent to his two daughters. He educated them well in localschools and a finishing school, and then sent them to Europe on the grandtour. Being pretty, fashionable, and a leader of theyounger set in Canton did not satisfy Ida, so her broad-minded fathersuggested that she work in his bank. As a cashier she caught theattention of Maj. William McKinley, who had come to Canton in 1867 toestablish a law practice, and they fell deeply in love. While he advancedin his profession, his young wife devoted her time to home and husband. Adaughter, Katherine, was born on Christmas Day, 1871; a second, in April1873. This time Ida was seriously ill, and the frail baby died in August.Phlebitis and epileptic seizures shattered the mother's health; and evenbefore little Katie died in 1876, she was a confirmed invalid.
As Congressman and then as governor of Ohio, WilliamMcKinley was never far from her side. He arranged their life to suit herconvenience. She spent most of her waking hours in a small Victorianrocking chair that she had had since childhood; she sat doing fancy workand crocheting bedroom slippers while she waited for her husband, whoindulged her every whim.
At the White House, the McKinleys acted as if her healthwere no great handicap to her role as First Lady. Richly and prettilydressed, she received guests at formal receptions seated in a blue velvetchair. She held a fragrant bouquet to suggest that she would not shakehands. Contrary to protocol, she was seated beside the President at statedinners and he, as always, kept close watch for signs of an impendingseizure. If necessary, he would cover her face with a large handkerchieffor a moment. The First Lady and her devoted husband seemed oblivious toany social inadequacy. Guests were discreet and newspapers silent on thesubject of her "fainting spells." Only in recent years have the facts ofher health been revealed.
When the President was shot by an assassin in September1901, after his second inauguration, he thought primarily of her. Hemurmured to his secretary: "My wife--be careful, Cortel you, how you tellher--oh, be careful." After his death, she lived in Canton, cared for byher younger sister, visiting her husband's grave almost daily. She diedin 1907, and lies entombed beside the President and near their two littledaughters in Canton's McKinley Memorial Mausoleum."