While William McKinley accomplished a great deal in his Presidency, not a lot is commonly known about the 25th President of the United States. Even the $500 bill in which he was featured has been discontinued. So as some may say, out of sight, out of mind. However, although not many people know much about him, president William McKinley is responsible for the United States becoming a global superpower. Today, we will cover some interesting facts about William McKinley in our series of presidential unit studies.

William McKinley Fast Facts

Presidential Order 25th President
Political Party Republican
Born January 29th, 1843
Death September 14th, 1901
State of Birth Ohio
Name of Spouse Ida Saxton-McKinley
Served as President 1897 – 1901
Age When Elected to Office 54
Vice Presidents Had 2 Vice Presidents:
  • Garret Hobart (1897 – 1899)
  • Theodore Roosevelt (1900 – 1901)
  • Roosevelt took up the Presidency after McKinley’s assassination.
Let us ever remember that our interest is in concord, not in conflict; and that our real eminence rests in the victories of peace, not those of war.
William McKinley

William McKinley Timeline


Born in Niles, Ohio to Nancy Allison McKinley and William McKinley Sr.

1859 – 1860

Attended Allegheny College


Enlisted in the Union Army during the Civil War


Entered Ohio politics


Married Ida Saxton


Elected into Congress


Passed tariff measure that lost the Republican party the support of many voters


Ran for governor of Ohio and served two terms


Panic of 1893; Republicans regained support


Won Republican presidential nomination


Took office as 25th president


April — Led US into war with Spain over Cuban independence
  • Won U.S. possession of Puerto Rico, Guam, and Philippines
  • Cuba gained independence
December — Signed Treaty of Paris and ended the Spanish-American War


  • August — Sent American troops to put down Boxer Rebellion in China
  • November — Re-elected as President


  • September 5th — Re-inaugurated as President
  • September 6th — Shot by Leon Czolgosz
  • September 14th — Died from assassination gun shot wounds

Fun Facts About President William McKinley

  • Did you know that the 25th president of the United States, William McKinley was the first to ride in an automobile? While the automobile invention has its beginnings as far back as the early 1800’s, it wasn’t until 1885 that Karl Benz, a German inventor, created the first “true” automobile.
  • President McKinley’s first inauguration in 1897 was the first to be captured on film. Motion picture cameras were invented earlier that decade (1890’s), and thus, his inauguration was the first that was possible to be recorded.
  • McKinley loved carnations so much he wore them as a good luck charm. In a surprising turn of events, the day he was assassinated, he had just given his red carnation to a little girl before getting shot.
  • William McKinley was the first and only president between 1869 through 1913 not to wear any form of facial hair. The last president to go clean-shaven before him was President Andrew Johnson in 1869, and it wasn’t until 1913 that President Woodrow Wilson would bring back the clean-shaven preference.
  • McKinley never set foot in the state of Alaska and certainly never set eyes on the mountain peak that bears his name.
  • President McKinley once appeared on the $500 note until such high-denomination bills stopped being printed in late December, 1945. These bills were officially discontinued in 1969, though they are still legal tender in the United States.

Hands-On Activities For William McKinley

Any president study guide is made better by multisensory learning opportunities. Below, you will find activity ideas, organized by grade level, that let your students get hands-on with their exploration of the life of the 25th president of the United States.

Elementary William McKinley Activities

  • William McKinley was the first presidential candidate to utilize campaign buttons. Once your student has gotten familiar with McKinley and the causes he championed, have them design a campaign button that they think exemplifies what positions he would have run on.
  • View images of early automobiles, such as the ones William McKinley might have ridden in. See if your student can replicate one of the images with Legos™ or other interactive building toy.

Middle School William McKinley Activities

  • The Spanish American War period offers an opportunity to teach students about American imperialism. Use this discussion to let your middle schooler try his or her hand at creating their own editorial cartoon that uses symbolism to express the contrast between America and the foreign territories they controlled.
  • McKinley is one of eight presidents to be born in the state of Ohio. Using a printable Ohio map, find and mark the birthplace of each of the Ohio-born U.S. presidents.

High School William McKinley Activities

  • The $500 bill, on which McKinley is featured, has been discontinued. Have your high schooler research why certain currency denominations go out of use, then have them write a persuasive essay on which bill they think may go out of use in their lifetime.
  • Between the terms of President Harrison and President Kennedy, every president elected in a year ending in zero either died while in office or was assassinated. This phenomenon is often referred to as “Tecumseh’s Curse.” Have your high schooler track down the source of this superstition and then have them calculate the probability of it happening.