On the 29th day of January in 1843, William McKinley Jr. was born in the little town of Niles in Ohio. His parents were Willaim McKinley Sr., a manufacturer and the pioneer of Eastern Ohio’s iron industry, and Nancy Allison McKinley, who used to be a village leader. Both of William’s parents were of Scots-Irish and English ancestry.
The Young William
As a child, he has been fond of horseback riding, fishing, swimming, ice skating, and even hunting, like most of the young boys do. His parents were very supportive and loving, allowing William to have a well-guided yet fun-brimmed childhood. At a young age, he was exposed to his father’s iron foundry, where he gained a respectful demeanor and strong work ethics. Meanwhile, her mother, who was extremely religious, taught William the significance of courtesy, integrity, and prayers in every step of the way.
William was the seventh child, and his brothers were named James, David, Abner. Her sisters were Mary, Anna, Sarah, and Helen. When he was only at ten, their whole family had to transfer to Poland, Ohio, a small village in the state.
William was an industrious child. He studied hard and attended Poland Academy, a school run by a Methodist seminary. While he was naturally shy and reserved, but he was actually fond of speaking in public and joined different debating and extra-curricular societies.
After finishing high school, William went to Allegheny College in 1860, an institution more or less 73 miles away from his hometown. However, due to an illness and the dire finances of his family, he only got to study one term. While his health recovered, their financial issues prevented to return to Allegheny. Hoping to save enough money to return to his studies, he began working as a postal clerk and then as a school teacher at an academy near Poland, Ohio.
The Civil War
Further halting his dreams, the Civil War broke out. After the Fort Sumter’s Fall, William joined the 23rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry. He was only 18 years when he became part of the regiment.
Though young, he proved to be a valiant soldier, especially during the Battle of South Mountain and the Battle of Antietam. At first, he was under the supervision of another soon-to-be president, Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes. They had a great relationship, with the former considering the latter as his mentor. Their friendship remained throughout their lives.
With sheer hard work, William worked his way up, and at the end of his four-year stay in the Army, he was already a brevet major, a title that would leave a mark and catapult him to a successful political career.
After the Civil War ended, William went back to Ohio and finally began founding his career in law and politics. He attended Albany Law School in New York, and in 1867, he passed the bar exams in Warren, Ohio. William then moved to Canton, Ohio, the administrative center of Stark Country. Willaim established a small office and worked with George W. Belden, a renowned lawyer, and judge. He became quite successful, allowing him to purchase a few blocks of building, which gave him a relatively small but steady source of income for the coming decades.
Two years later, at a picnic, he met Ida Saxton, his future wife, and began courting her. Another two years have passed, and the two married each other. William was twenty-seven while Ida was twenty-three at that time.
First Venture Into Politics
While he was already practicing law, his involvement with the Republican Party is what solidified William’s future. In 1869, he ran as a county professor and snatched the election to one once used to be an office dominated by the Democrats. Then, from 1876 to 1891, William had his extensive career as a member of the House of Representatives. He only failed twice in re-elections. One was in 1882 when he lost by a low margin and in 1890 when the opposing party manipulated the results on his district.
During his time in Congress, William created and pushed the passage of the McKinley Tariff Act of 1890. However, it backlashed as this protectionist measure didn’t hold up and caused a massive increase in consumer prices. With that, many voters rejected most of the Republican candidates on the next selection.
Saddened by his defeat, William went back to Ohio and tried his luck in the gubernatorial race. He won by only with a slight lead. During his term, he pushed to control and lessen the gap between the labor and the management sector. With that, he devised an arbitration system aimed to fix labor disagreements and enticed many Republicans, who at first declined to acknowledge labor rights, to support his endeavors.
However, while William cared for the welfare of the workers, he chose not to provide all of their requests. In 1894, he called the National Guard to halt the violence caused by a strike of some workers from the United Mine.
Amid the economic issues in the mid-1890s, Willaim emerged to be a dependable politician in the eyes of his citizens. In 1893, his own financial status went down after the loan he had co-signed for a friend didn’t go well and led to bankruptcy. William earned the sympathy of the public, which catapulted him for winning another term as a governor in 1894. With all his experiences and popularity within his party, his journey to the White House has already been vividly clear.