The turn of the 20th century was a momentous time in U.S. history. After defeating imperial Spain in a brief but consequential war, America had expanded its global reach, with a footprint that stretched from Cuba and Guam to the Philippines. The country was developing and harnessing new technology like no other nation, its economic and diplomatic power was soaring, and it had nudged Europe and Japan toward a collective policy with China that favored U.S. interests.
While much has been written about these pivotal events, the man at the helm, President William McKinley, has remained stubbornly in the shadows. Stolid, sweet-tempered and deliberate, McKinley lacked the flair and boldness often associated with presidential greatness. Yet, as Robert Merry documents in his new book, titled President McKinley, the nation’s 25th president played a crucial role in how and why the great events of the day unfolded as they did – and he deserves more credit that history often gives him.
Mr. Merry spent nearly 45 years as a Washington, D.C. journalist and publishing executive, including a stint at the Wall Street Journal and as CEO of Congressional Quarterly. He also is the author of the bestseller A Country of Vast Designs, about James, K. Polk.
Robert Merry was a guest on our show last year to talk about another of his books, titled Where They Stand: The American Presidents in the Eyes of Voters and Historians.