Born on January 29, 1843, in Niles
OH, McKinley attended Allegheny College but joined the army at the outbreak of the Civil War
, rising to the rank of brevet major. After studying law in Albany
NY, he opened a law office in Canton
McKinley served in the United States House of Representatives for all but ten months between 1877 and 1891. His fierce support for the McKinley Tarrif, which passed in 1890, cost him popularity and he lost the next election. He then became governor of Ohio.
In 1896, running as a Republican, McKinley supported sound money and a protective tariff in defeating William Jennings Bryan, the Democrat.
During his term in office, the revolt in Cuba became more intense and on February 15, 1898, the Maine blew up in Havana Harbor. Under pressure from pro-war men like publisher William Randolph Hearst and Theodore Roosevelt, McKinley finally called for war. The Spanish American War lasted only 113 days.
Republicans renominated McKinley in 1900 and he defeated William Jennings Bryan in the election. In September, 1901, he was assassinated.