spacer William McKinley William McKinley (1843-1901)
Twenty-fifth President (1897-1901)

During his presidential campaign of 1896, William McKinley promised to cure the nation's current depression with "sound money" policies. As President, however, he never had to concern himself with restoring prosperity, which seemed to return of its own accord. Instead, one of his main worries became responding to jingoistic calls for aid in Cuba's struggle against Spanish rule.

McKinley was reluctant to meddle in that problem. But when interventionists convinced the public that the Spanish had plotted the explosion of the American battleship Maine in Cuba's Havana Harbor, he was forced to act. The result was the Spanish-American War, which led to Cuban independence and Spain's surrender of the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and Guam to the United States. Almost despite himself, McKinley thus presided over one of the most significant phases of America's shift away from its time-honored isolationism toward greater involvement on the world stage.

In September 1901, McKinley was assassinated at Buffalo's Pan American Exposition, and it is thought that this portrait was begun shortly after his death. Typifying McKinley's speaking posture, the pose seems to be patterned on a photograph from the exposition, which showed him delivering the final speech of his career.



Adolfo Muller-Ury (1864 - 1947)
Oil on canvas, circa 1901
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
NPG.97.157

Enlarged image