William McKinley, the 25th President of the United States, born on January 29, 1843, in Niles, Ohio, had a noteworthy journey from military service to the highest office in the country. Serving in the 23rd Ohio Infantry during the Civil War, McKinley transitioned to law after the war, attending Albany Law School before establishing his legal practice in Canton, Ohio.
His foray into politics commenced with public speeches endorsing his army comrade Rutherford B. Hayes, later winning the position of prosecuting attorney of Stark County in 1869, subsequently being reelected. McKinley’s personal life saw joy and tragedy, marrying Ida Saxton of Canton, Ohio, and facing the heartbreaking loss of their two daughters at young ages, which greatly impacted Ida’s health.
Despite personal hardships, McKinley continued his political ascent, serving in the Ohio 17th congressional district, then as Governor of Ohio. His unexpected presidency nomination in 1896 led to his election. During his tenure, the Spanish-American War erupted, marking a crucial period in his leadership. Tragically, McKinley fell victim to an assassination on September 6, 1901, passing away on September 14th.
The nation mourned McKinley’s death, witnessing a massive outpouring of grief during his funeral procession across Washington, Ohio’s state Capitol, and Canton. The construction of the McKinley Memorial, envisioned by McKinley himself at a site honoring soldiers from Stark County killed in action, began in 1906. This striking monument, made of Milford Pink Granite from The George Dodds and Sons Granite Company, features a 9.5-foot-tall bronze statue of McKinley.
The ceremonial dedication on September 30, 1907, became a pivotal moment in Canton’s history, with President Theodore Roosevelt and poet James Whitcomb Riley paying homage. The monument now stands as a testament to McKinley’s legacy, housing his and Ida’s interment alongside their daughters, a lasting tribute to the revered President and his enduring impact on American history.