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Presidents' Places: William McKinley

Although McKinley was born in Niles, Ohio, "A Memorial to Our Martyred President" is located in Canton, Ohio, McKinley's home town. Apparently some people think this memorial is a fitting tribute, but my first impression was, "God, what a monstrosity. I bet McKinley would be mortified if he saw that thing."

At least it is being put to good use. In the short time I was there, about 20 people walked or jogged up and down the ninety-six steps.

William McKinley was the first president of the 20th Century, the president who established the American Empire (Puerto Rico, Philippines, Hawaii, Guam, etc.), and the person for whom Mount McKinley, the tallest mountain in North America, is named.

Both William and Ida are entombed in the Memorial, as are their two little daughters. Although Ida McKinley had never been in good health, she was an intelligent and vivacious young lady when she and William married. But her second pregnancy was very difficult; the baby died when only a few months old. Shortly after that, their first child died. Ida never recovered; she developed epilepsy, apparently, and other mental and physical illnesses.

William dearly loved her however and kept her at his side as much as possible. She sat with him at official dinners and even meetings. He could tell if she was about to have a seizure, and he would put a napkin or handkerchief over her face so no one could see her contortions. And she was insanely jealous; men had a hard time getting their wives or female friends into the White House. After her husband died, Ida's younger sister took care of her until Ida died a few years later.


All photos on this site ©Donald L. Mark 1973-2007   Back to "Presidents' Places" Index