You don’t hear much these days about former President William McKinley (er, well, aside from the whole mountain in Alaska thing). But William McKinley, in his day, was as popular as they come. His assassination, six months into his second term, left the nation mourning just as strongly as it had when JFK was shot.
He was our last president to fight in the Civil War and the president who led our nation into the 20th century. He led us to victory in the Spanish-American War, helped make a name for America as a superpower and he was also our third president to be assassinated.
So what’s the deal then? Why is he so unknown these days? Well, according to former White House Chief of Staff Karl Rove, who recently authored a book on McKinley, you can blame it on progressive historians.
Just as today’s media leans left, back in the gilded age, historians kind of did the same thing. They wrote what they wanted remembered and they sorta preferred a few other politicians over McKinley. The result was that McKinley’s presidency was… let’s say, left out. In Rove’s opinion, the generation that followed McKinley were the first progressive historians and they preferred the message of William Jennings Bryan and Theodore Roosevelt over McKinley. So throughout the 1910s, 20s, and 30s, history was written with more of an emphasis on them instead of William McKinley.
True? Who knows. Interesting theory? Definitely.
Even though historians may have given McKinley the shaft, we’ve got you covered on all things related to our 25th president, our president of the week.