William McKinley was the 25th President of the United States, serving from March 4, 1897 until his assassination in September 1901. McKinley led the nation to victory in the Spanish–American War, raised protective tariffs to promote American industry, and maintained the nation on the gold standard in a rejection of inflationary proposals. Though McKinley's administration was cut short with his assassination, his presidency marked the beginning of a period of dominance by the Republican Party that lasted for more than a third of a century.
McKinley was the last President to have served in the American Civil War, beginning as a private in the Union Army and ending as a brevet major. After the war, he settled in Canton, Ohio, where he practiced law and married Ida Saxton. In 1876, he was elected to Congress, where he became the Republican Party's expert on the protective tariff, which he promised would bring prosperity. His 1890 McKinley Tariff was highly controversial; which together with a Democratic redistricting aimed at gerrymandering him out of office, led to his defeat in the Democratic landslide of 1890. He was elected Ohio's governor in 1891 and 1893, steering a moderate course between capital and labor interests. With the aid of his close adviser Mark Hanna, he secured the Republican nomination for president in 1896, amid a deep economic depression. He defeated his Democratic rival, William Jennings Bryan, after a front-porch campaign in which he advocated "sound money" and promised that high tariffs would restore prosperity.