Assassinated on September 14, 1901, Republican William McKinley was the 25th president and became only the 5th president to die while in office and the 3rd of whom was killed by an assassin. His vice president Garret Hobart served from 1897-1899 until he died of heart disease while in office at the age of 55. McKinley’s replacement for Hobart, who would later replace the president himself in 1901, was Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt.
William McKinley was born on January 29, 1843 in Niles, Ohio and before he became the 25th President of the United States he was a school teacher, a lawyer and served his nation as a soldier in the American Civil War. Imperial presidency is a political science term coined by Arthur Schlesinger to describe a president-arguably all presidents in modern history, who pushes their power beyond that bestowed upon them by the Constitution. William McKinley became, perhaps the last of a different kind of imperial president.
Ever since the founding of the nation, the thirteen former Colonies pushed outward: many presidents contributing to the building of the American Empire. President McKinley won the Spanish-American War (as much as a president actually wins a war). And so under McKinley, the US seized Guam, annexed Hawaii-or “that island in the Pacific” as Jeff Sessions calls it, took control of Puerto Rico, and first won then purchased the Philippines. While McKinley was POTUS, the United States took its final form (though Hawaii wouldn’t officially become a state until 1959).
McKinley won two terms in office soundly defeating the populist William Jennings Bryan twice. He was well liked by both his allies and opponents personally. In spite of the sour face photos largely available of the president, he was well known for his easy demeanor. It served him well in politics. After passing the bar and becoming a lawyer he would serve as a congressman and the governor of Ohio before serving his two terms as POTUS.
The Spanish-American War defined most of the McKinley era and the territories, the Panama Canal (he introduced it) and his about face on tariffs would be his legacy. McKinley would walk away from protectionism and open up global markets to American products. He was even the first president to ride in a car. McKinley pushed the boundaries of presidential power and by elevating Theodore Roosevelt as his vice president he ushered large scale change in the Washington power dynamic.