William McKinley: Birthplace & Early Life

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

One of the most beloved U.S. Presidents, William McKinley also had an interesting background. Find out more about his birthplace and early life in this lesson.

William McKinley

He led the U.S. to victory in the Spanish American war but he was assassinated on September 14, 1901. Who was he? William McKinley, the 25th President of the United States. This president has a fascinating political history. But this lesson isn't about that. It's about his early life.

Birthplace & Family

William McKinley Jr. was born on January 29, 1843 in Niles, Ohio. He lived there until he was 10, when he moved to Poland. Nope, not the country. It's just another city in Ohio.

William was part of a loving family where he was the seventh of many children. From his dad, William Sr., he learned a hard work ethic. His dad owned and managed an iron foundry where he worked tirelessly to support his family. From his mom, Nancy Allison McKinley, he learned the value of religion, respect and honesty. His mom was very religious.

Early Life

As a child, William loved to fish, horseback ride, swim, hunt and even ice skate. But he also studied really hard at a school called Poland Academy, in Poland, Ohio. While he was a rather reserved person in private conversation, he actually enjoyed public speaking and took part in extracurricular debating societies at the time.

A young William McKinley.

Once he finished his early education, he attended Allegheny College in Meadville, Pennsylvania in 1860. Unfortunately, financial issues and illness prevented him from attending the college for more than one term. He started working as a country schoolteacher and as a clerk in the post office instead, hoping to raise enough money to go back to college.

Not long after, the U.S. Civil War began. After the fall of Fort Sumter, William joined the 23rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry. He served valiantly, including at the battle of Antietam, for which he was promoted to second lieutenant. By good chance, he also happened to be on the staff of Rutherford B. Hayes, who went on to become the 19th U.S. President and whom William stayed in touch with. In 1865, William was discharged as a brevet major.

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