Chapter 20: Political Realignments in the 1890s, 1890-1900 (#3) The Presidential Election of 1896

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The McKinley Administration

  • McKinley took office in 1897 – under favorable circumstances

    • the economy had begun to revive

  • discoveries of gold in Australia and Alaska – enlarged the world’s gold supply, decreased its price, and inflated the currency as the silverites had hoped

  • McKinley and the Republicans – became the party of progress and prosperity

    • his popularity soared

      • became the first president to ride in an automobile (reaching the speed of 18 mph)

  • he set the policies of the administration

    • maintained close ties with Congress and worked hard to educate the public on national choices and priorities

    • struck new relations with the press

    • traveled far more than previous presidents

      • began the modern presidency

  • worked to revise the tariff – Dingley Tariff passed the House and Senate

    • raised average tariff duties to a record level, as the final burst of 19th century protectionism, it caused trouble for the Republican party

      • need to regulate, to control the effects of industrialism, became a central public concern of the new century

        • toyed with the idea of lowering the tariff, but one obstacle always stood in the way – the government needed revenue and tariff duties were one of the few taxes the public would support

  • during the Spanish-American War, the administration focused on the war, the peace treaty that followed, and the dawning realization that the war had thrust the US into a position of world power

    • Gold Standard Act (1900) – declared gold the standard of currency and ended the silver controversy that had dominated the 1890s

  • presidential election of 1900 – was a replay of the McKinley-Bryan fight of 1896

    • Bryan stressed the issues of imperialism and the trusts – McKinley stressed his record at home and abroad

      • the result was a landslide for McKinley

  • September 6, 1901 – McKinley stood in a receiving line at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo

    • Leon Czolgosz – a 28-year-old unemployed laborer and anarchist, moved through the line and after reaching the president, shot him

      • McKinley died and Vice President Theodore Roosevelt became president

  • a new century had begun

    • war with Spain – brought a new empire and worldwide responsibilities

      • most difficult problems would be industrialization, urbanization, and the quality of American life

    • 1896 – Henry Ford produced a two-cylinder, four-horsepower car, the first of the famous line that bore his name

    • Kitty Hawk, North Carolina – Wilbur and Orville Wright, two bicycle manufacturers, neared the birth of powered flight

  • 1890s - important decisions in these years shaped nearly everything that came after

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