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The McKinley Legacy

November 16, 2016

One of the least discussed realigning elections is 1896.  There was a time when the winner of that election had the highest mountain in North America named after him, but in 2015 that designation was changed.  It was nothing personal.  William McKinley was from Ohio and had never visited Alaska.  He had no political or cultural connection to Alaska, and Alaska was not even a state until 58 years after his death.  So Mount McKinley went back to its original name, Mount Denali.  Unfortunately, there are so few monuments left to President McKinley.

Although most historians have given him an honorable ranking, no one thought he should have been carved into Mount Rushmore.  Because his presidency occurred between those of Grover Cleveland and Theodore Roosevelt, McKinley’s accomplishments have often been overlooked.

Perhaps McKinley’s greatest accomplishment as President was that of appointing good men to positions of responsibility.  He appointed John Hay Secretary of State, and Hay brought about the Open Door Policy regarding trade with China.  He appointed Elihu Root Secretary of War, and Root established the Army War College.  He appointed Charles Dawes comptroller of the currency, and Dawes later became first head of the Budget Bureau in the Harding Administration and Vice President under Coolidge.  He appointed Theodore Roosevelt Assistant Secretary of the Navy.  This office enabled Roosevelt to befriend Dr. Leonard Wood, and this relationship led Roosevelt to Cuba as Lt. Colonel of Volunteers, then to the Vice Presidency, and ultimately to the White House.

Everyone knows Theodore Roosevelt was McKinley’s successor as President, and a few may even remember Roosevelt was the first American to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, but few know that Elihu Root and Charles Dawes were also Nobel laureates in this same category.  Such is the McKinley legacy.






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