Earlier this week President Obama announced that the tallest mountain in North America would no longer be called Mt. McKinley, but would revert back to its native Alaskan name, Denali. Alaska had changed the mountain's name at the state level in 1975, but politicians from Ohio, birthplace of US President and former geographic namesake, William McKinley, had opposed the change, fearing it would diminish McKinley's legacy. What is that legacy now that a peak he never climbed in a state he never visited no longer bears his name? This week we highlight some of the relevant topics surrounding America's 25th President:
William McKinley - Was born in Nile, Ohio in 1843. The last US president to serve in the Civil War, his presidency included the Spanish-American war and subsequent territorial gains of Cuba and the Philippines, the annexation of Hawaii, and advocacy for an open-door policy with China. He was re-elected for a second term in 1900, however his second administration was cut short by his assassination by the anarchist Leon Czolgosz in September of 1901.
Spanish-American War - McKinley asked congress for a declaration of war after an explosion on the USS Maine galvanized animosity toward Spain. The war was popular, easily won, and left the US with several new territories and protectorates. However, managing the colonial populations, especially with regard to the rebellion in the Philippines and instability in the Caribbean would prove difficult for decades to follow.
Gold - McKinley campaigned on a platform of endorsing the Gold Standard and was true to his word while in office. The Currency Act of 1900 consolidated the Gold Standard, which would remain in place until the administration of FDR in the 1930's.
Hawaii - The annexation of Hawaii happened on McKinley's watch, but the island's trajectory toward US incorporation began well before his administration. In 1893 (small "r") republican forces had overthrown the monarchy, and this republican government would eventually agree to annexation.
Mount McKinley - It would have been hard for William McKinley to have had anything less to do with this mountain.
William McKinley by Courtney Art Studio, 1896.jpg, By Courtney Art Studio [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
McKinley Prosperity.jpg, By Northwestern Litho. Co, Milwaukee [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Army climbers tackle Mount McKinley 130520-A-SO352-001.jpg, By John Pennell (https://www.dvidshub.net/image/937690) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
USS Maine color 1898.jpg, By Murat Halstead (Our Country in War by Murat Halstead (1898)) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons