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Dialogue of Cultures

Remembering President
William McKinley
100 Years After His Ass

by John Ascher
September, 2001

President William McKinley, from the Library of Congress Presidents and First Ladies Collection

This article originally appeared in September 2001, in New Federalist newspaper. The author has written other articles on American history. For more articles on American History and the American Intellectual Tradition, click here, or scroll down the page.

One hundred years ago, on Sept. 6, 1901, Leon Czolgosz shot President William McKinley as he greeted citizens in the Temple of Music, a pavilion of the Buffalo, New York, Pan-American Exposition. Eight days later, on Sept. 14, McKinley was dead, and America's most popular president since L:incoln was mourned throught the world. The American Intellectual Tradition of the Founding Fathers was broken; Theodore Roosevelt was President.

The ``Lost Cause'' of the Confederacy, ally of the British Crown, now controlled the United States, its historic enemy. The assassination of McKinley represented a fundamental turning point in U.S. and world history, a turning point, as Lyndon LaRouche has stressed, that brought us into ``the pestilence'' of the succeeding Presidents, ``from which we were not saved until FDR.''

It is now necessary for that minority of American citizens who can face the onrushing economic collapse and danger of a Dark Age, to go to the wellspring of the American Intellectual Tradition, for our own survival. We must, thereby, reverse the effect of that turning point towards disaster, by rekindling in our own minds, the meaning of the ``American Intellectual Tradition,'' and then wield it in the war we are engaged in today. Otherwise, we will lose all that the Founding Fathers intended for this republic.

On this anniversary, therefore, let us restore the history and memory of that great bearer of this tradition, William McKinley. The American people and the world can no longer afford the lies and distortions that have been heaped upon those who created the ``American System.'' Some like McKinley, Henry Carey, and James Blaine, have been relegated to obscurity, while others like Lincoln and FDR have had their lives and purposes perverted and distorted. The same Anglo-American faction today concentrates on stopping LaRouche, who represents the direct lineage, embodiment, and further development of that tradition.

The American Intellectual Tradition is not a construct imposed by historians, or others, on some quality, seen in hindsight, in an academic analysis of history. It was a conscious outlook of a distinct set of great individuals who shaped American history, who understood the U.S. Republic
as an outgrowth of the European Renaissance. These individuals, including Franklin, Washington, and Hamilton, knew well the dangers warned of by Franklin, who told his contemporaries, that the 1787 Constitutional Convention had created ``a republic--if you can keep it.''

Preserving the republic has always required great leaders, who drew upon the legacy of their predecessors, and it also necessitated, on the part of those leaders, a cultural war to organize the American people to a higher level of knowledge, in support of the mission of the United States. These leaders knew that they faced external enemies, notably Great Britain, and enemy allies in our own country. They also understood that the cultural war must be waged by promoting the common good, through scientific development and universal education, which would make the citizenry less vulnerable to bouts of ``popular opinion,'' that could destroy the mission of the nation.

For William McKinley, the memories of Washington, Clay, and Lincoln were not simply names evoked to stir patriotic sentiment, they were part of his very being. He clearly saw that the purpose of his life, with all the sacrifice, up to his final one, was to carry out their mission.

The Legacy of the Civil War

McKinley was the last of the Civil War veterans to be elected President. That list included Ulysses S. Grant, Rutherford B. Hayes, James Garfield, and Benjamin Harrison. But, of all the Civil War generation, in many respects McKinley was closest to Lincoln, and with McKinley's death, Great Britain would move to stop the spread of the American System, which had already affected countries such as Germany, Japan, and Russia. The American leadership, which would have emerged to lead this alliance of sovereign nations, was hijacked at precisely the point that the U.S. had become the preeminent industrial power in the world. World War I would be the result.

For the student of American history, assembling the story of McKinley presents enormous challenges. Never was such a popular President so quickly forgotten. Historians have accused him of mediocrity, of being a corporate pawn, and he is generally held accountable for commencing the age of American imperialism.

There are no published editions of McKinley's complete letters or speeches. McKinley himself, was quite secretive about many of his actions and thoughts on foreign policy. He penned few pieces (unlike those notorious scribblers Woodrow Wilson and Teddy Roosevelt). Considered to be one of the greatest orators of his time, he organized citizens through thousands of carefully prepared speeches on many subjects, not only during the famous ``Front Porch'' campaign for the Presidency in 1896. Numerous of his speeches, over an extensive period of time, prior to his Presidency, seem to be lost, or are very difficult to find.

One quality that made McKinley a target for assassination, was his conception of how {intentions, properly understood as the role of the mission and principles of the American System, could be applied under changing historical circumstances. He believed that a leader, operating on the basis of such ideas, could meet unexpected new developments, overcome difficulties, and maintain a proper course for the nation. In other words, he was a true optimist. He develops this outlook in a speech, given July 4, 1891 in Woodstock, Conn., which I believe should be called ``On Intentions'':

``It is a common thing to say, but a good thing to say, because it is true, that we have the best Government in the world. It represents the best thought and the best civilization; aye, more--it represents the hope and future of mankind; and yet it has never been as good as its principles. It was not so from the beginning, and it is not now.... Our principles are always better than our practices. This is true of individuals as well as nations.... Principles must always lead; they are the advance guard of right thought and action.... The founders of this Republic {declared} better than they {did}.... The Declaration of Independence, which sounded the voice of liberty to all mankind, was in advance of the thought of the great body of the people.... It took a hundred years of National life and National thought and earnest agitation, and at last wasting war, to place this Government where the Declaration of Independence anchored it.|...

"There must, I repeat, be a remedy for every wrong, a road somewhere and somehow to be found, which leads to righteousness. We can only pursue the right as it appears to us; the rest we can leave to others, and the ultimate victory may be nearer than we think. When Lincoln entered upon the execution of his great office in the turbulent year of 1861 he had not formulated the immortal Proclamation of Emancipation. When Grant started upon his final campaign against Lee, in front of Richmond, he had not thought of that famous letter [of terms of surrender].... Every great historical event in the world's progress has had its preceding steps. Those who guided and directed could not always foresee with precision the outcome and the end; they only knew what seemed right and true to them, and so, pursuing the right and the truth, mighty epochs have been marked in the world's history, and mighty results achieved for mankind.

``Men of New England, preserve the schoolhouse and the town meeting. The country owes you much. If your blood does not course through all our veins, your civilization runs everywhere throughout the Republic.''

The Garfield Assassination and Blaine

To bring the reader to understand the particular challenges facing McKinley, when he became President in 1896, we will first address the strategic setting after the Civil War, beginning with foreign-policy matters, and later, the economy. To understand McKinley's foreign policy, let us look at James G. Blaine, another leading figure of the American Intellectual Tradition. Firstly, the strategic setting: Britain remained the enemy of the United States after the Civil War, just as she had after the War of 1812. The difference was, with the success of Lincoln and the Union, in defeating the British conspiracy called ``the Confederacy,'' the United States had launched a mobilization of industry and growth unprecedented in history.

It was now time for the Americans to begin shutting off the flanks which left the nation vulnerable to enemy operations, including European colonial interests in Ibero-America, which had been the staging grounds for operations against the United States. Moreover, the nation remained to be reunited, after the bloody Civil War. Internationally, the United States would continue to gain allies through the spread of the idea of the American System, with its proven success.

Sen. James Blaine of Maine understood this strategic situation clearly, as did President James Garfield, under whom Blaine served as Secretary of State in 1881. After only 199 days in office, Garfield became the second American President to be assassinated. The nation's mission, as planned by Garfield and Blaine, was the spreading of the American System to Ibero-America, thus beginning to realize America's Manifest Destiny. This required the elimination of European, but especially British, influence. Furthermore, development in the southern hemisphere was explicitly a way to engage the southern states in an American System development outlook, and was key to the Lincoln approach for reconstruction.

As Blaine wrote, ``She [England] does not intend that any European nation shall ever become a great naval and commercial power. There is no rival left to her in the commercial world, and if she can buy us out, or bully us out, of a tariff that shall protect American industries, and bluff us out of enterprises that shall stimulate lines of American steamships, she will have done all she desires to do for her factories and for her commerce.... Is this country willing calmly to resign the scepter of the ocean to Great Britain?''

As historian Gail Hamilton notes, ``[Blaine] laid out his work in the most practical manner. Holding that the whole continent belongs to the new order, he viewed Canada as already in the line of natural assimilation.... The Latin nations to the south, of a different race but tending to Republican institutions, would have a healthier growth by retaining their autonomies, but should be cherished and strengthened by the great republic of the north. The bickerings, turmoil, revolutions, which made their daily chronicles, once removed and, still better, prevented, industry would find its natural reward in wealth, and wealth would stimulate industry. Their inexhaustible material resources would be developed. The South [Ibero-America] furnishing all that we lack and needing what we can supply, commercial treaties would be made.... Political harmony, international friendship, and national prosperity would enable the American republics to give the law to the world, and that law would be peace, and in the train of peace, prosperity, true progress, happiness.''fn1

Blaine had conducted a survey of the potential for development in South America, and said of the American nations: ``We believe that we should be drawn together more closely by the highways of the sea, and that at no distant day the railway system of the north and south will meet upon the isthmus and connect by land routes the political and commercial capitals of all America.'' Garfield and Blaine planned the immediate convening of a Pan-American Peace Congress, to begin to eliminate any problems that would prevent an explosion of republican cooperation. Vice President Chester Arthur, who became President after Garfield's death on Sept. 19, 1881, immediately replaced Blaine as Secretary of State, and cancelled the planned Pan-American Congress. Certainly, Garfield's championing of Blaine's policy had made him a target. Blaine's congress would not be held until he was again Secretary of State, under Benjamin Harrison in 1888.

James Blaine, an enormously popular leader, was nominated by the Republican Party for the Presidency in 1884, but was defeated by Grover Cleveland in one of the dirtiest elections in U.S. history. Blaine himself described his defeat and Cleveland's election as a coup by the Confederacy. Central to Blaine's efforts to reestablish John Quincy Adams' idea of a ``community of principle'' of sovereign nation-states, was the idea of reciprocity. This idea put Blaine in advance of most Republicans of this period, as he acted to push the U.S. into what he saw as its proper role in the world.

He saw the previous protectionist policies as soon to be outdated and restrictive, and the extension of trade with South America as a consistent next step. (Please note that reciprocity does not mean today's NAFTA, or free trade, but instead referred to the selective lowering of tariffs, on specific items which would mutually benefit both nations--bilateral agreements--and would at the same time enable nations to continue to develop their own industrial potential.) McKinley, head of the Ways and Means Committee during the Harrison Administration, collaborated with Blaine to establish reciprocity as a principle included in the McKinley Tariff of 1891. Reciprocity agreements were enacted quickly, and the nation began to be organized behind this idea.

McKinley's first inaugural address, in 1897, and his final speech in Buffalo on Sept. 5, 1901, just before his death (excerpted below), reference his intention to follow Blaine's policies. Their visions were identical:

``Expositions are the timekeepers of progress. They record the world's advancement. They stimulate the energy, enterprise, and intellect of the people and quicken human genius.... The Pan-American Exposition has done its work thoroughly, presenting in its exhibits evidences of the highest skill and illustrating the progress of the human family in the Western Hemisphere. This portion of the earth has no cause for humiliation for the part it has performed in the march of civilization. It has not accomplished everything; far from it. It has simply done its best.... The success of art, science, industry, and invention is an international asset and a common glory.|...

``At the beginning of the 19th Century, there was not a mile of steam railroad on the globe. Now, there are enough miles to make its circuit many times.... Our capacity to produce has developed so enormously, and our products are so multiplied, that the problem of more markets requires our urgent and immediate attention.... By the sensible trade arrangements which will not interrupt our home production, we shall extend the outlets for our increasing surplus.... Reciprocity is the natural outgrowth of our wonderful industrial development.... This exposition would have touched the heart of that American statesman whose mind was ever alert and thought ever constant for a larger commerce and a truer fraternity of the republics of the new world. His broad American spirit is felt and manifested here. He needs no identification to an assembly of Americans anywhere, for the name of Blaine is inseparably associated with the Pan-American movement....''

Major McKinley

The story of how William McKinley emerged as a statesman, is the story of the ``American System'' culture that existed during the 19th Century. Ohio was a center of this heritage, producing many Presidents, as well as many military leaders for the Union Army.

William McKinley, Jr. was a son of mid-19th-Century Ohio, called the Western Reserve, an area produced by the cross-currents of European immigration and the internal westward migration, from Pennsylvania and New England. He was born in Jan. 29, 1843, in the small town of Niles, named after Hezekiah Niles, a leading proponent of the American System, and publisher of the Niles Register.

Grandparents on both sides were iron workers in Pennsylvania and Ohio; one forged cannon for the Revolutionary War. William McKinley, Sr, was a well-known manager of several blast furnaces. The elder McKinley, on what was the frontier in the U.S. at the time, possessed only three volumes: those of Dante and Shakespeare, and the Bible. William, Jr., was educated during the period of the establishment of Ohio's public school system, brought from New England, which emphasized the Classics, and foreign languages. Bohn's Classics, which included works by Friedrich Schiller, were apparently available to him. German and French influences were common in this area of Ohio (south of Cleveland). The McKinley family itself was of proud Scotch-Irish stock.

McKinley's mother, a devout Methodist, moved the family to Poland, Ohio when he was young, for the education available at its academy. Abolitionist literature was read regularly in the household, and their town was a station in the Underground Railroad. One of McKinley's teachers had been trained at Ohio's Oberlin College, a center of the anti-slavery movement. ``Practically, the McKinleys were very strong abolitionists, and William early imbibed very radical views regarding the enslavement of the colored race,'' Mother McKinley stated. During the Civil War, McKinley was promoted to the rank of Major, for his acts of bravery. Following the war, McKinley, rejecting the advice of his former commander Rutherford B. Hayes to become a businessman, instead entered the Albany Law School, in New York, to pursue law and politics. -

Settling in Canton, Ohio in 1867, he became a local Republican leader, and was elected county prosecutor. His first election campaign was for Grant, and, in 1867, he gave his first public speech; it called for voting rights for African-Americans.

The Harmony of Interests

McKinley was dedicated, throughout his life, to the uplifting of the laboring classes and the development of the American family through rising living standards and a high-quality public education.

In a conversation with a librarian from the McKinley Library in Ohio, this author commented on how some of McKinley's biogrphers seem to denigrate his intellect. ``Of course,'' she responded, ``they hate him because he was from the working class."

Her instinct was good, but McKinley cannot be explained in terms of classes--because he represents exactly the opposite principle in American history; that of Henry Carey's ``Harmony of Interests.'' This is based upon the notion that all men are created equal, and therefore that class distinctions and class conflicts were contrary to the American System. Rising prosperity through science, invention, and internal improvements would give an opportunity for all to improve their lot. The workman of today, was tomorrow's entrepreneur.

On entering Congress in 1876, the year his friend Hayes was elected President, McKinley decided to become an expert on the protective tariff. As one of McKinley's best biographers fn2 has noted, this put him in the direct line of Henry Clay, whose battles McKinley knew in great depth. In Congress, McKinley became the protege of Pennsylvania Congressman William ``Pig Iron'' Kelley, a passionate advocate for black suffrage and protectionism; this placed McKinley directly in the circles influenced by Henry Carey. McKinley delivered numerous speeches at the University of Pennsylvania, a center of Carey's influence.

McKinley saw in the tariff, not simply protection of business interests, the typical slander of ``free trade'' Democrats, but the uplifting and development of American Labor. ``I am for America, because America is for the common people. We have no kings, we have no dukes; we have no lords. Every man in this country represents the sovereign power of this great Government, and every man has equal power with every other man to clothe that sovereign with his will.''

On cheap goods: ``Then they say `everything would be so cheap,' if we only had free trade. Well, everything would be cheap and everybody would be cheap. I do not prize the word `cheap.' It is not a word of hope; it is not a word of comfort; it is not a word of cheer; it is not a word of inspiration! It is the badge of poverty; it is the signal of distress; and there is not a man in the audience, not a white-haired man, who, if he will let his memory go back, will not recall, then when things were the cheapest, men were the poorest.... Cheap? Why, cheap merchandise means cheap men, and cheap men mean a cheap country; and that is not the kind of Government our fathers founded, and it is not the kind their sons mean to maintain. If you want cheap things, go where you can get them.... We want labor to be well paid.''

McKinley, early in his career as an attorney in Canton, took up the interests of labor. He supported the eight-hour day, and promoted arbitration as a way to settle disputes, including during his two terms as Governor of Ohio. This political alliance, which he deepened throughout his life, gave him the political base without which he would never have been elected President. McKinley's closest associate in the labor movement was Terence Powderly, head of the Knights of Labor from 1879 until 1893, and a collaborator of Henry Carey. McKinley, as President, appointed Powderly as head of Immigration at Ellis Island, New York; but Teddy Roosevelt, who hated the labor movement, fired him.

McKinley and Jim Crow

The real litmus test of the ``harmony of interests,'' for McKinley, was the post-Civil War policy towards the freed slaves, and African-Americans, generally. This was the fight to realize the original purpose of the Founders, who intended to eliminate the evil condition of slavery, inherited from the British System, but failed to do so, leaving that to future generations, who would struggle to realize those principles.

These statements from McKinley show his passion in this battle: ``My friends and fellow-citizens, the settlements of that war--and I speak for my comrades of the Grand Army of the Republic--the settlements of that war must stand as the irreversible judgment of battle and the inflexible decree of a Nation of free men. They must not be misinterpreted, they must not be nullified, they must not be weakened or shorn of their force under any pretext whatsoever.... It must not be equality and justice in the written law only. It must be equality and justice in the law's administration everywhere, and alike administered in every part of the Republic to every citizen thereof. It must not be the cold formality of constitutional enactment. It must be a living birthright.''

And in another speech: ``Our black allies must neither be forsaken nor deserted. I weigh my words. This is the great question not only of the present, but is the great question of the future; and this question will never be settled until it is settled upon principles of justice, recognizing the sanctity of the Constitution of the United States. We cherish no resentments from the war; we have no bitterness against the people of the South. We want them to be our brothers, not only in name but in spirit and heart. We bid them enjoy equally our prosperity. But at the same time we bid them obey the Constitution of the country.''

Finally: ``Nothing can be permanently settled until the right of every citizen to participate equally in our State and National affairs is unalterably fixed. Tariff, finance, civil service, and all other political and party questions should remain open and unsettled until every citizen who has a constitutional right to share in the determination is free to enjoy it.'' In the years following the Civil War, no Republican elected official fought as hard as McKinley did, to maintain what he saw was the victory of the Union, which meant suffrage for all African-Americans in the United States.

Although the battle was lost, the war won Tilden-Hayes election in 1876. That election contest, between the Republican Hayes and Democrat Tilden, was decided by Congressional intervention, giving the election to Hayes, but the compromise deal began the withdrawal of Federal troops from the South, who had protected the blacks' right to vote. Jim Crow, meaning racist segregation laws, was on the march.

In 1896, the year McKinley was elected President, the Supreme Court legalized segregation in its notorious ``separate but equal'' decision, in Plessy v. Ferguson. At the Pan-American Exposition in 1901, there were two exhibits portraying blacks in America, which symbolize this ongoing struggle. One was on the theme of the ``Old Plantation,'' showing Jeff Davis's stereotyped slaves; the other was the exhibit put together by W.E.B. Dubois, celebrating the African-American contributions to science, and the improvement of America. This exhibit was first displayed at the Paris World's Fair in 1900, and then moved through a special $15,000 allocation by the U.S. Congress, to the Buffalo fair.

With the collapse of black suffrage by 1876, the Republicans faced the challenge of maintaining their control against the insurgent former Confederate states. Congressional districts were determined by population, which counted all people, including blacks. By eliminating the black vote, therefore, the Confederate states' white voters now exercised twice the power of the voters in the North, in terms of the representation they achieved in Congress, and in the Presidential Electoral College.

The erosion of Republican electoral strength, as all the African-Americans tended to vote for the party of Lincoln, led to Grover Cleveland's 1884 victory over Blaine; and then, after Benjamin Harrison's 1888-1892 term, Cleveland defeated Harrison, in 1892, in Harrison's bid for a second term. Cleveland, the first Democrat elected after the Civil War, had not served in the war, using instead a ``substitute.'' (Teddy Roosevelt's father did the same, out of deference to his Confederate wife.) Cleveland, elected by the South, was openly backed by Great Britain, and in the four-year period between his two terms, he worked in a law firm which represented the Anglophile Wall Street banker J.P. Morgan.

McKinley said at the time: ``The Democratic victory has had still further uses. It has established beyond dispute or controversy the partnership between the Democratic free-trade leaders of the United States and the statesmen and ruling classes of Great Britain. It is a powerful alliance--a resolute and aggressive combination. If you have any doubt of it, I beg you will read the English press and the Democratic press of the United States just before and since the elections, and you will be convinced that they are fighting in the same unpatriotic cause, engaged in the same crusade against our industries. They rejoice together over the same victory. Theirs is a joint warfare against American labor and American wages, a plot against the industrial life of the Nation, a blow at the American Commonwealth.''

Cleveland, as bad as he was, still did not make Britain entirely happy: He could not openly flout anti-British sentiment in the U.S. This was evident in his stand against Britain in the dispute between Venezuela and its neighbor British Guyana, in which Cleveland acted in defense of Venezuela. Cleveland and the Democrats were destroyed partly by the effects of the crash of 1893, made possible by Lombard Street-Wall Street financial warfare against the U.S. McKinley, in an alliance, by the early '90s, with Ohio industrialist Mark Hanna, had assembled his forces for many years, poised for his shot at the Presidency. He defeated William Jennings Bryan in 1896, engineering one of the most successful campaigns in American politics, which came to be known as the ``Front Porch'' campaign. Thousands of delegations arrived at McKinley's Canton home where all were addressed by the candidate. On the first day alone, 50,000 people arrived.

McKinley addressed German, Irish, and other ethnic delegations, regional delegations, and labor groups, all with the intention of getting elected by his appeal to the harmony of interests, and promotion of the general welfare.

The British vs. the American System of Economy

Henry Carey (1783-1879), the dominant 19th-Century economist of the American System, in his The Harmony of Interests, published in 1851, had defined the difference between the American and the British systems. Lincoln implemented Carey's ideas in his war mobilization, utilized greenbacks as part of a policy of directed, plentiful, and cheap credit. High tariffs and strong protection were fully operational.

Americans after the war would not tolerate any policy that would have been considered pro-British, but while great efforts kept up high protective barriers, the financial and monetary policies after Lincoln became a fierce struggle.

In order to understand the fight over monetary policy, we must first look at the depth of anti-British sentiment in the United States in this period. Britain's role against the Union during the war was well known, including the notorious Trent affair, when a British ship was caught by a Union vessel transporting fleeing Confederate officials. Britain sponsored the construction of Confederate vessels, one of which, the Alabama, sank 58 Union ships. After the war, the U.S., led by Thaddeus Stevens, led the fight for indemnification for these British-inflicted losses. Teddy Roosevelt's favorite uncle, James Bullock, the former Confederate spy-chief who arranged the building of the Alabama and other Confederate raiders, lived in London in exile during this fight. No wonder McKinley was not fond of his second-term Vice President.

American patriots were united in animosity toward England, but were not at all united in the postwar period, on matters concerning financial policy.

Specie resumption--which meant a return to gold, and perhaps, silver, for backing of currency, became the focus of a major struggle after the war. Carey was clear in his support for Lincoln's policy, which meant a continuation of high protective tariffs, and greenbacks as the currency to finance industrial growth and westward expansion. If Lincoln had lived, he likely would have launched a new National Bank, which would have been needed to carry out a dirigistic policy for the U.S. Lacking such a bank, most Republicans believed that the continuation of the greenbacks led to easy manipulation and uncertainty of the money supply. Most supported specie resumption, which became law in 1879. With the threat of contraction of credit, American politics was changed, including by the emergence of the Greenback Party, the Populist Party, and others. Some of them gained considerable electoral strength.

In 1894, Jacob Coxey, a political figure in these circles, led a march that varied between 75 and 500 people, from Masillon, Ohio, to Washington, D.C. He demanded that the depression (during Cleveland's second term) be overturned by government creation of currency, backed up by government bonds, that would finance road construction, which he saw as inadequate. He was arrested in Washington, trying to read his proclamation on the steps of the Capitol, but was allowed to do so by Franklin Roosevelt in 1941.

The reversion to specie, however, did not reverse the system of chartered national banks that had been established by Lincoln, and, therefore, the nation did not return to the state banking chaos of the Jackson period.

Major struggles erupted over the lack of credit for Western expansion, forging populist alliances between rural organizations and the southern states against the Republican Party, which became known for its support of gold. ``Bi-metalism,'' the use of then plentiful silver, as well as gold, became the battle cry, as the means to fight the tightening of credit. McKinley was generally sympathetic to bi-metalism, before his run for the Presidency where he spoke for ``sound money.''

As President, McKinley attempted to organize an international conference on bi-metalism, gaining the support of France, but the British opposition scuttled the initiative. McKinley expanded the number of national banks with small capital, to protect western interests from credit starvation, and he established a national gold reserve as part of his adopted gold-standard legislation in 1900. U.S. gold reserves were aided in this period by the Alaska gold rush. On the tariff, after the retirement of William ``Pig Iron'' Kelley, William McKinley became the acknowledged leader of the ``American System'' pro-protection Republicans. McKinley served in the House of Representatives between 1877-84 and 1885-91.

Congressman McKinley led the fight against the anti-protective tariff Mills Bill of 1888, branding the enemies of protection as the agents of Great Britain. In 1891, under the Republican Harrison, McKinley achieved the crowning glory of his Congressional career, the McKinley Tariff. One of McKinley's accomplishments in his tariff fights, was the establishment of the American tin-plate industry, which had not previously existed; McKinley insisted that if it were protected, it would flourish. He was proven correct.

The McKinley Tariff, referenced earlier for its inclusion of reciprocity provisions, clearly brought on the ire of the nation's enemies. The immediate effect of this act, was that he was thrown out of office. Britain and her American allies, artificially raised prices just before the 1892 election, to sweep out the Republicans. McKinley's response is notable for its rejection of ``popular opinion'': understand his view of popular opinion:

``The Republican Party values its principles no less in defeat than in victory. It holds to them after a reverse, as before, because it believes in them; and believing in them, is ready to do battle for them. They are not espoused for mere policy, nor to serve in a single contest....''

In an editorial, McKinley wrote that many great acts had been subject to conspiracy against them, to fool a ``duped and deceived public,'' in ``the passion of the hour.'' But soon, ``the duped will not forget. Nor will the friends of protection lower their flag and raise the British flag.''

In an editorial, McKinley wrote that many great acts had been subject to conspiracy against them, to fool a ``duped and deceived public,'' in ``the passion of the hour.'' But soon, ``the duped will not forget. Nor will the friends of protection lower their flag and raise the British flag.''

When McKinley was inaugurated on March 4, 1897, his first act was to call a special session of Congress, to enact a strong tariff, to reverse the damage done by Democrat Grover Cleveland. One must bear in mind the cyclical nature of the crisis after specie resumption. Lyndon LaRouche has recently stressed that a systemic crisis, on the other hand, is created by the mind-set of a culture which cannot change its underlying assumptions that are leading it to destruction.

The dominant ``intention'' during the era of McKinley, was that of industrial development and progress. As one writer characterized the Pan-American Exposition of 1901: ``The Tower of Light is the tower of peace and good will, whose turrets already appear above the horizons of the future. Science, discovery, and industry are the great, immortal democrats whose teaching shall wipe out political boundaries, and heal national jealousies, and sweep hitherto hostile units into the great current of a commonweal. Monarchies and oligarchies cannot prevail against them, for they find a place for every man and bring him to it in freedom and self-respect. We shall have all America united; and what America becomes is the prototype of what the world must be.''

McKinley's Foreign Policy

In relations with other nations, McKinley followed John Quincy Adams' policy of a ``community of principle of sovereign nations,'' and the extension of the American System. During the McKinley Administration, the Trans-Siberian Railway was under construction in Russia, with full cooperation of American business interests. The pro-Russia bent of McKinley's foreign policy in China, and in reference to supplying material for Russia's railway project, shows the continuity of U.S. foreign policy from the Lincoln Administration.

In 1897, McKinley appointed Ethan Allan Hitchcock as Ambassador to Russia (he later became Secretary of the Interior), with the primary mission being to gain commercial contracts for American firms in the Russia/China project of a railway in Manchuria. This was one of the projects of Count Sergei Witte and the scientist Dmitri Mendeleyev, the former being the Russian Finance Minister who had been instrumental in bringing the American System into Russia, including through his translation of works by the German-American economist Friedrich List.

In an 1898 letter to McKinley's Secretary of State John Sherman, Hitchcock states the following: ``Russian interest in China must necessarily be paramount, not only because of existing territorial and neighborly conditions--but also in view of their present and prospective trade relations which will meet with rapid and enormous development upon the completion, within the next few years, of the Siberian Railway, and its Manchurian branch to Port Arthur, being one-third shorter in both time and distance to England's most direct route, which will make Russia a formidable competitor for the trade of China's millions of buyers and sellers.... Russian preferential friendship for our country is not dependent upon pelagic [oceanic] argument, but is as sincere, and well worth cultivating, as it is traditional.'' By the fall of 1898, Russia had ordered locomotives from the Philadelphia-based Baldwin Locomotive company, and materials and equipment from numerous other U.S. firms.

Another area of anti-British, ``American System'' diplomacy by McKinley, was his alteration of the Clayton-Bulwer Treaty of 1850, originally giving Britain dominant interest in the control of the planned canal (eventually built in Panama), asserting instead American interest in this matter. American historians of the anti-imperialist bent, generally attribute to McKinley the advent of the age of American territorial acquisitions, leading directly to the ``big stick'' of Teddy Roosevelt. In this author's view, while McKinley failed in eluding the trap set for him in Cuba and the Philippines, his assassination guaranteed that the outcome of the shift of the United States to the status of world power, would occur along the lines of the desired British geopolitical strategy. McKinley intended to continue his policy of Manifest Destiny, not on the basis of America as an imperialist power, or pawn of the British Empire. The question of Cuba, is in the center of early debates on the Monroe Doctrine, and the protection of the American republic against schemes of Britain and other colonial powers in this hemisphere. During the Cleveland Administration, the 1895 Cuba revolt led to bloody Spanish suppression, and increasing U.S. threats of intervention. The greater the U.S. threats, the harder the insurgents fought, leading to increasing sympathy from the Americans, who were major trading partners with Cuba. Cleveland told McKinley on the day of the inauguration, that he was leaving him a war with Spain.

The escalating bloodshed, U.S. protests, and continuing Spanish repression continued when McKinley became President. McKinley maneuvered to convince the Spanish to give up Cuba, so that an independent government could be established, but that seemed to no avail. Pope Leo XIII intervened to try to stop the war. Even at the point of the sinking of the USS Maine, McKinley avoided the war cries of many from Congress for retribution, and attempted to force a political solution, but he failed to break the spiral leading to war. Firstly, while Spain was not a significant military power at the time, McKinley knew that the U.S. was militarily unprepared, as the last major war mobilization had taken place 33 years earlier. Thousands died as a result of the war, not in combat in Cuba, but from the diseases in the camps, mainly in the U.S., where the military had insufficient medical personnel to deal with the public-health conditions, and the ensuing disaster.

The Al Haig-style, ``I'm in charge here'' actions by Undersecretary of the Navy Teddy Roosevelt, shows how the British pro-imperialists in Washington, were slobbering over the possibilities of entering this war. While Secretary of the Navy John D. Long was out of Washington for four hours, leaving Roosevelt in charge, Teddy ordered a full-scale alert in the Pacific, preparing Adm. George Dewey for the attack. Roosevelt was in the circles of ``American'' geopolitical thinkers such as Alfred T. Mahan, Henry Cabot Lodge, and Brooks Adams. His British controller was Sir Cecil Spring Rice, a British diplomat and intelligence officer. McKinley agonized over attacks against him on the question of U.S. imperialism. His response was to enunciate his policy of American Manifest Destiny, the spread of republicanism throughout the Pacific region. Concerning Cuba, McKinley made it clear that U.S. policy was not occupation, but the establishment of an independent government with U.S. protection, no longer to be subject to European influence.

While the U.S. could take quick steps toward disengagement in Cuba, in the Philippines, McKinley was trapped. Admiral Dewey quickly crushed the Spanish fleet, blockading Manila. The United States landed a large troop contingent, forcing the Spanish to surrender after a brief alliance with the Philippine insurgent leader Aguinaldo. The U.S. occupied Manila after the Spanish surrender, and then as the new occupiers, not liberators, became embroiled in a war not settled until April 1902. All told, over 225,000 died in this war, largely civilians from war-related diseases. Of those, 20,000 were insurgents, and 4,500 American forces. How McKinley would have dealt with this ongoing Vietnam-style war is not clear; however, the accession of Roosevelt made this war part of the new imperial junior partner role for the U.S. under Great Britain.

On Teddy Roosevelt

In summary, the attack against the U.S. by Britain was on three flanks, and then a fourth: 1) The revival of the power of the Confederacy, through Jim Crow; 2) Financial warfare, made possible partly by specie resumption; 3) The polarization of the U.S. through the creation of ``class warfare,'' attacking the harmony of interests. The fourth, was the effort to capture U.S. foreign policy, to turn the U.S. into a pawn for British geopolitics and imperialism, crushing the American Intellectual Tradition and leadership. To do this, they had to stage a coup d'etat, named Theodore Roosevelt. McKinley's first Vice President, Garret Hobart of New Jersey, died in office in 1899, forcing the selection of another candidate.

Mark Hanna commented to McKinley, after TR's selection at the 1900 Republican Convention: ``Your duty to the country is to live four more years from next March.'' McKinley himself thought that Roosevelt would be a bother during his term; that he was too pugnacious, and wrote in one letter, that TR would be unable ``to sit still long enough to preside in the Senate.''

The difference between William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt, was their two opposing views of man. McKinley believed all men had a potential given to them by virtue of being created by God, and all had a right to fulfill that potential. He saw America's role to be the extension of that idea, internally, throughout the nation, and externally, through the growing power of the U.S. in spreading the American System. Teddy Roosevelt privately believed that men were animals, determined by their breeding and bloodlines, even while publicly, as a Republican, he would give speeches citing Abraham Lincoln. These two conflicting outlooks concerning man, and the direction for America, were evident at the Pan-American Exposition.

On the one side, there was a magnificent display of American invention and industrial prowess, including the largest exhibit of incandescent illumination ever displayed in the world up until that point. Viewers reportedly shed tears of joy when sunset came, and the lights were slowly turned on The Buffalo site was chosen for its proximity to Niagara Falls and its newly built hydro-powered electric facility. Thomas Edison took extensive photographs and film footage of the event, including the canal system around the grounds. Different buildings housed machinery of every sort, including newly invented incubators for premature infants, complete with real babies.

However, contrary to the spirit of science, was the Social Darwinism of Teddy Roosevelt. Besides the slave display, there was an ``authentic'' village ``from the darkest'' Africa, with real villagers imported for the event. The shooting of McKinley on Sept. 6, 1901 in Buffalo meant that the unregenerate racist, Theodore Roosevelt, could now carry out his assigned mission to wreck the work of the American Intellectual Tradition, and to open the door for an alliance with Britain which, until then, would have been unthinkable. Roosevelt replaced the harmony of interests with class warfare, and the opening of vicious anti-immigrant campaigns. No more ``melting pot'' for America. Roosevelt halted much of the development of the Western states. His phony ``trust busting,'' gave enormous power to the Morgan financier interests, over American industrialists. He founded the U.S. domestic political police, later called the FBI.

The Manifest Destiny of John Quincy Adams, Blaine, and McKinley, gave way to the ``Great White Fleet'' and TR's ``Big Stick'' diplomacy. He initially supported the German and British bombing of Venezuela, and, only later, opposed it, to commence an anti-German campaign in the United States. Roosevelt's anti-German campaign intensified, and was, later, a critical factor in enlisting the U.S. against Germany in World War|I. Roosevelt, the follower of Anglo-American geopolitical theorists such as Admiral Mahan, inserted the U.S. into negotiations over European disputes, often secretly, all with the intent of helping his friends in England.

The Republican Party of Lincoln was dead, and soon Wall Street would control both the Republican and Democratic Parties. With Bryan soon to be out of the way, the Democratic Party and the triumph of the ``Lost Cause,'' were brought on by Roosevelt's splitting of the vote in 1912 under the Bull Moose Party, thus, ensuring the election of Woodrow Wilson. With Wilson in the White House, the Ku Klux Klan, and the Confederacy, would ride again; the Nashville Agrarians would launch a frontal assault on the American belief in progress. fn3 Roosevelt's prosecution of the War in the Philippines and the Spanish-American War became a victory for the British, because Roosevelt was now in control.

"The White Man's Burden"

"The United States and the Philippine Islands''

Take Up the White Man's burden-- Send forth the best ye breed-- Go bind your sons to exile To serve your captives' need; To wait in heavy harness On fluttered folk and wild-- Your new-caught, sullen peoples, Half devil and half child. (-Rudyard Kipling)

British Colonial Secretary Joseph Chamberlain stated the new condition with the war, in the following terms: ``In the course of the last few months a great and noteworthy change has come over the relations between the United States and Great Britain ... the two great branches of the Anglo-Saxon race.... [Until recently] there existed, unfortunately, in the minds of the American people, a deep-rooted conviction that England was unsympathetic and even hostile to the ideas of the United States; and it has taken the unmistakable evidence afforded by the attitude of Great Britain during the recent war to convince them that this suspicion was unfounded.... The natural sympathies which have thus proven to exist must tend to bring about that close union which, if accomplished, will be the most important event that the coming century has in store for us... It can hardly be necessary to say that the British nation will cordially welcome the United States into the field of colonial enterprise and influence; on the contrary, every Englishman would heartily rejoice in the co-operation of the United States in the great work of tropical civilization.''

In another statement, made two weeks after Dewey's victory in Manila Bay, Chamberlain outlined the perspective Britain held, which leads directly to World War|I: England ``must establish ... and maintain bonds of permanent amity with our kinsmen across the Atlantic.... They speak our language. They are bred of our race.... I even go so far as to say that, terrible as war may be, even war itself would be cheaply purchased if, in a great and noble cause, the Stars and Stripes and the Union Jack should wave together over an Anglo-Saxon alliance.'' This outcome outlined by Chamberlain would never have been possible without McKinley's assassination. There were no ``Anglo-Americans,''--Americans who viewed Britain as an ally--only Tories, until the murder of McKinley, whose intentions, as indicated, meant that the direction of the U.S. would have been the continued expansion of the American System around the world.

Ida Saxton McKinley and the Civil War

Few American today share McKinley's sense of responsibility and the dedication to mission. McKinley saw the assassination of his Commander-in-Chief Lincoln, the murder of his friend and fellow Ohio war veteran Garfield, yet, he knew that he, personally, had to take the baton, to move the nation forward. Two facets of his life illustrate this: On Sept. 17, 1862, the Battle of Antietam claimed the lives of 23,000 soldiers, more than in any other single day of battle of the Civil War. One half of the Ohio 23rd, 200 men, died that day, but commissionary Sergeant McKinley's heroic acts in battle won him a promotion from President Lincoln to the rank of Major, and he returned home to Ohio as a war hero.

McKinley, who often addressed groups of veterans, always spoke of the morality of his generation, notably of the volunteer soldiers, who, without hesitation, heeded Lincoln's call: ``They enlisted in the army with no expectation of promotion; not for the paltry pittance of pay; not for fame or popular applause.... They entered the army moved by the highest and purest motives of patriotism, that no harm might befall the Republic.... They were the great power. They were the majestic and irresistible force.'' (From McKinley's ``American Volunteer Soldier'' speech in New York City, 1889.)

His dedication to the historic mission of the United States, with the personal danger that entailed, was well known by his contemporaries. One of his Cabinet members, Elihu Root, said of the President: ``He was a man of great power because he was indifferent to credit,'' and ``His desire was to `get it done.' He cared nothing about the credit, but McKinley always had his way!'' The American people also were familiar with McKinley's strength of character through his well-known devotion to his wife, Ida, who suffered a severe lifelong illness, triggered by the loss of both their children, at tender ages.

Ida Saxton McKinley came from a strong Republican and abolitionist background in Canton, Ohio. Her grandfather, John Saxton, was the founder of the Canton Repository, a leading abolitionist newspaper. Mrs. McKinley died only a few years after her husband, and both are interred, along with their children, at the McKinley Memorial in Canton, Ohio.

The Final Campaign

McKinley, in defense of the ongoing U.S. military actions in the Philippines, toured the country in 1899 to make it clear that American policy was to spread American civilization, not imperialism. He said in New York in early 1900: ``There can be no imperialism. Those who fear it are against it. Those who have faith in the republic are against it. So that there is universal abhorrence for it and unanimous opposition to it.''

The sense of national unity following the war in Cuba, gave McKinley an opportunity to further the plans of Lincoln, Blaine, and others, to reunite the South with the North, hoping to heal the still open wounds. He made a whirlwind tour of the South, defending his Cuba policy, but also using the opportunity to bury the hatchet, and end the division that still split the nation. On that trip, he spoke to audiences at several black institutions, including Tuskegee Institute, where he shared the podium with Booker T. Washington and the Governor of Alabama.

Clearly, McKinley desired that unification occur in the context of industrialization and progress, not through the victory of the Lost Cause, and the breaking of the American System. He knew that the failure to enfranchise the African-Americans, and the backwardness of the South, were major vulnerabilities of the United States.

McKinley won the 1900 Presidential campaign by a wide margin, once again facing William Jennings Bryan, whose campaign was based upon attacking the danger of the trusts. The dangers of international terrorism, which, as documented by historian Anton Chaitkin,[fn4] originated in Great Britain, were being noticed by American authorities. In 1894, French President Sadi Carnot had been murdered; in 1897, the Spanish Premier had been assassinated; in 1898, the Empress of Austria was fatally stabbed; next came the murder of King Humbert of Italy, in July 1900, by one Gaetano Bresci, a silk weaver from Patterson, New Jersey, who went to Italy to kill the king. A list had been provided to American intelligence authorities, which included two of these victims--President William McKinley name was on the list.

Clearly, the international chaos desired by Britain to stop the spread of the American System, were now being deployed. McKinley was greeting the public that fateful September day when Czolgosz, who was a follower of Emma Goldman of New York City's Henry Street Settlement House, drew a concealed gun from his coat and fired. Bach's music was playing in the background. At one of the many memorial services for McKinley, a clergyman said: ``Lincoln's greatness was republican greatness. His arm was strong when public sentiment lifted it, and he was able to incarnate the intellect and conscience of the republic. McKinley's greatness was of this type....'' Neither were followers of public opinion, but molders of public thinking based upon the intentions of the founders of the republic.

McKinley, like all those of the American Intellectual Tradition, saw that there were only two directions for the United States: He said that one party--the Democratic--``stood in opposition to internal improvements and to a protective tariff, that [it] believed in class and caste and obstruction; and there has always been, on the other hand, a party that stood for the largest liberty, for the full development of the country, for the improvement of the great National water ways of the United States, and for the maintenance of a protective tariff and the widest opportunities for American aspiration; and to-day, I repeat, that the two political parties now contending for public confidence, now contesting for political control, are divided substantially on the same issues that separated the parties of the fathers all through the first century of the Republic.'' (From McKinley's speech, ``Protection and Revenue,'' Cleveland, 1889.)

One hundred years after McKinley's death, there are still ``two parties,'' or two ideas, not only in America, but throughout the world. One party still supports caste and class, while the other promotes development, now under the idea of the Eurasian Land-Bridge of Lyndon LaRouche. And the world awaits today, to see if the rebirth of the American Intellectual Tradition, in the person of LaRouche, will still find a home in the United States. That is up to us. As Lyndon LaRouche said in announcing his 2004 Presidential campaign, this time we have to do it right.


1. Gail Hamilton, Biography of James G. Blaine, Henry Bill, Norwich, 1895.

2. Charles S. Olcutt, <cf2>The Life of William McKinley,<cf1> Houghton Mifflin, 1916.

3. Stanley Ezrol, ``How the Lost Corpse Subverts the American Intellectual Tradition,''
EIR, Aug. 3, 2001.

4. ``Why the British Kill American Presidents,''New Federalist December 1994.

For Further Reading:

Allen Salisbury, The Civil War and the American System, EIR, Washington, D.C. 1992

Anton Chaitkin, Treason in America, From Aaron Burr to Averell Harriman,EIR, Washington, D.C., 1998

Anton Chaitkin, William Jones et al., ``The Land-Bridge: Henry Carey's Global Development Program,'' EIR, May 2, 1997

John Ascher, ``George Bush's Hero Was Crazy Also'' (on Teddy Roosevelt), New Federalist, June 17, 1991.

Sources for McKinley's Speeches:

Speeches and Addresses of William McKinley, from His Election to Congress to the Present Time, Appleton & Co., 1893.

Speeches and Addresses of William McKinley, from March 1, 1897 to May 30, 1900,Doubleday & McClure, 1900.

To hear a short clip of a McKinley speech:



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