William McKinley photo

William McKinley Event Timeline

March 04, 1897

William McKinley (25) Event Timeline

03/04/1897 - 09/14/1901




Nominated at Republican National Convention in St. Louis, Missouri (which began on 06/16/1896).


Remarks in response to the in-person notification by the Presidential Notification Committee from the Republican Convention.]


Letter accepting Republican Party nomination for President.


Election Day. Defeats Democratic Nominee William Jennings Bryan, winning 271 electoral votes (61%) over Bryans 176 (39.6%). Receives 51.1% of the popular vote. 




Inaugural Address.


Calls Special session of Congress for the revision of the tariff laws.


Appoints then President of the New York City Police Board Theodore Roosevelt as the Assistant Secretary of the Navy.


In Message to Congress, recommends the appropriation of $50,000 for Americans residing in Cuba who need financial and medical assistance.


Signs an Appropriations Act (30 Stat 11) including language affirming presidential power to create forest reserves, and continuing existing reserves. The law stipulates that land may not be reserved that is more valuable for its minerals than its timber. Reserves are to protect forests and watersheds and to "furnish a continuous supply of timber for the use and necessities of citizens of the United States."


Begins Atlantic coast tour in Dispatch Boat Dolphin.

07/29/1887 - 09/13/1897

Summer Vacation and speaking tour. Includes visits to Plattsburgh, NY, Vermont, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania. Notable for inviting the press to accompany him, and actually visiting the press car on the train.


The steamship Excelsior arrives in San Francisco from Alaska carrying at least 30 passengers with gold valued at around $500,000. Their reports of perilous conditions in Dawson City and swarms of miners already in the Klondike do not deter more treasure-seekers from undertaking the journey.


Signs the Dingley Tariff Act (30 Stat 151), raising customs duties by an average of 49 percent over the levels of the 1890 McKinley Tariff.

10/29/1897 - 11/05/1897

Travels to Ohio for the Ohio elections for Governor and state legislative elections. This election would determine the status of Mark Hanna, who had been appointed to the Senate (03/05/1897) on resignation of Senator John Sherman to become Secretary of State.


First annual message to Congress.




The U.S.S. Maine enters Havana Harbor following US notification of the Spanish government of a "friendly visit."


New York Journal publishes a letter insulting President McKinley, written by Spanish minister to the United States Se–or Don Enrique Dupuy de Lôme.


U.S. battleship U.S.S. Maine blown up, two officers and 264 crew were killed either in the explosion or when the ship sank.  Within days US media emphasized the question of the cause of the explosion--onboard accident or external attack. (See Message to Senate 04/12/1898.)


Naval Court of Inquiry is formed to investigate the causes of the explosion of the USS Maine.


Signs unanimously approved appropriation of $50 M for the National defense (30 Stat 274) for use at the discretion of President McKinley.


Receives report of U.S. Naval Court of Inquiry addressing the explosion of the USS Maine. The conclusion states that "the ship was destroyed by the explosion of a submarine mine, which caused the partial explosion of two or more of her forward magazines."


Contrary to the U.S. Navy, the Spanish Navy reports that an on-board explosion caused the sinking of the U.S.S. Maine.


Forwards the Naval Court of Inquiry Report to Congress. (Link to pdf of the Administration's 307 p. submission to Congress.)


US Minister to Spain transmits to the Spanish Government the US desire for "immediate peace in Cuba" and an immediate armistice during which negotiations would proceed between the insurgents and Spain. The US foreswears interest in possessing Cuba.


Spain declines to declare a unilateral suspension of hostilities sought by the United States. This is viewed as implying a continuation of active warfare..


In a Message to Congress, requests a declaration of war with Spain.


Special Message to the Senate reports the number of officers, sailors, and marines saved, lost, and buried from the U.S.S. Maine explosion. [link to document already extracted]


Signs Joint Resolution known as the "Teller Amendment"" (30 Stat 738) recognizing independence of Cuba from Spain and demanding that Spain "relinquish its authority and government in the Island of Cuba and withdraw its land and naval forces . . ." Further the Resolution urges the President to use the US military "as may be necessary" to put the resolution to effect. The United States disclaimed "any disposition or intention to exercise sovereignty, jurisdiction, or control over said Island . . . ".


Spain responded to the demands of the "Teller Amendment" by breaking diplomatic relations with the US. The US Ambassador in Spain received instructions that in the case of War between Spain and the US, any American citizens in Spain should "receive assistance."


In order to put into effect the Teller Amendment of 04/20/1898, by Proclamation declares a blockade of Cuba between the ports of Cardenas and Bahia Honda, as well as the southern port of Cienfuegos.


Signs "An Act to provide for temporarily increasing the military establishment of the United States in time of war" to create a volunteer Army (30 Stat 361).


By Proclamation calls forth 125,000 volunteers to serve in the army pursuant to the Act of 04/22/1898.


Following the President's proclamation, Spain formally declares war on U.S.


Directs Commodore George Dewey to lead the naval Asiatic Squadron from port of Hong Kong to the Philippine Islands for the purpose of military engagement with the Spanish fleet. (See Special Message of 05/09/1898)


Signs the Declaration of War on Spain (30 Stat 364).


Commodore George Dewey leads United States to early victory over the Spanish navy in the Battle of Manila Bay: Philippines and Spanish Pacific fleet fall. Seven Spanish vessels sink with zero American losses.


Assistant Secretary of the Navy Theodore Roosevelt resigns from his administrative position and joins 1st U.S. Volunteer Cavalry Regiment.


In a Special Message, notifies Congress that on 04/24/1898 he had directed Commodore Dewey to engage the Spanish Fleet.


Issues executive orders to Secretary of War Russell A. Alger, Secretary of Treasury Lyman J. Gage, and Secretary of the Navy John D. Long outlining military occupation over the Philippine archipelago. Guidelines include the protection of churches and places of worship, places of education, national monuments, private property (with exception for eminent domain), and continuation of taxation on inhabitants from the former government.


By Proclamation, calls forth 75,000 additional volunteers to serve in the war with Spain.


Signs the Erdman Arbitration Act (30 Stat 424), authorizing government mediation in labor disputes involving carriers in interstate commerce.

06/01/1898 - 11/01/1898

Extended speaking tour includes opening The Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition in Omaha, Nebraska.

06/06/1898 Signs "An Act To remove the disability imposed by section three of the Fourteenth Amendment. . . " (30 Stat 432). This removed, without limitation as to offices held, the prohibition on holding office by those participating in an insurrection who had previously pledged an oath of allegiance to the Constitution. This extended the amnesty earlier enacted in 1872.


600 U.S. Marines land at Guantanamo Bay as part of a plan to establish a naval base.


Signs the War Revenue Act (30 Stat 448), creating new taxes to raise revenue for the Spanish-American War.


The New York Times reports that the War Department is preparing to send 20,000 troops to invade Puerto Rico.


Received delegation of General Federation of Women's Clubs en route to their national convention in Denver. At the meeting a resolution passed critical of child labor--an interest advocated by club member Jane Addams. ("The Denver Biennial," New York Tribune, 6/8/1898, 5. )


Spanish Guam surrenders to the U.S. after the U.S.S. Charleston bombarded garrisons. Commanders from Spain stationed in Guam were unaware of the ongoing war with the U.S.


By proclamation extends a U.S. Navy blockade to both the southern coast of Cuba from Cape Frances Cape Cruz and port San Juan in Puerto Rico.


U.S. defeats Spanish forces in Cuba at the Battle of San Juan Hill (or Battle of San Juan Heights), accelerating the conclusion of the war. 


Admiral William Sampson and the United States Navy defeat the Spanish Atlantic fleet off the harbor of Santiago de Cuba, opening the city to land invasion.


Signs Hawai'i Annexation Bill (30 Stat 750), transferring the sovereignty of the Republic of Hawai'i to the United States.


Issues executive order to Secretary of War Russell A. Alger to issue guidelines for the military occupation of Cuba.


Spain surrenders Santiago de Cuba to General William Shafter and the U.S. military.


The New York Times reports that army troops are expected to reach Puerto Rico today.


The U.S. invades Spanish Puerto Rico.


The New York Times reports "Our flag raised in Puerto Rico."


Proclaims an armistice signing with Spain, suspending ongoing military hostilities. Spain agrees to cede Puerto Rico and Guam to the United States and affirms Cuban independence. The future of Philippines ownership is left open to future peace deliberations. 


Newspapers report that Secretary of War Russell A. Alger has formally requested President McKinley to order an investigation into charges that the Department of War mismanaged volunteer army camps in Chickamauga (GA), Falls Church (VA), Jacksonville (FL), and Tampa (FL) during the war with Spain.


Addresses members of the Dodge Commission investigating the War Department's practices (see entry of 09/08/1898). Mismanagement of typhoid epidemics, spoiled rations, and logistical and transportation-related disorganization in volunteer army camps during war with Spain is to be scrutinized.


Delivers remarks at the Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition in Omaha, Nebraska. The speech promotes a theme of unity and progress: technological innovation, development of the western continental United States, the acquisition of foreign territory, and the unification of Northern and Southern soldiers fighting toward a common war goal against Spain.


U.S. begins military occupation of Puerto Rico.


Second annual message to Congress. Outlines the justification for declaration of war against Spain is as follows: furthering humanitarian goals, protecting American citizens' life and property who live abroad in Cuba, preservation of accessible commerce in Cuba and Caribbean, and curbing the volatile pressures placed on the United States brought on by civil conflict in Cuba. Announces plans to construct a canal through Nicaragua, connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans for commercial efficiency.


The U.S. and Spain sign the Treaty of Paris, (30 Stat 1754) ending the Spanish-American War. Spain relinquishes its control over Cuba and formally cedes ownership of Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines to the United States, broadening the United States' international obligations.
NOTE: In this Treaty, the territory name is spelled "Porto Rico," a usage that persists in official US practice for many years. The Treaty is proclaimed in Washington 04/11/1899


Issues executive orderdeclaring permanent United States military governance over the entire Philippine archipelago, transitioning from the occupying military government in Manila. The Philippine Islands are "under the free flag of the United States." "[T]he mission of the United States is one of benevolent assimilation, substituting the mild sway of justice and right for arbitrary rule."


Issues executive order to evacuate the American fleet in Havana.




Spanish forces leave Cuba and The United States takes official control.


By executive order appoints a five-member Commission to "ascertain what amelioration in the condition of the inhabitants [of the Philippines] and what improvements in public order may be practicable." Government of the Islands remains under military control "until Congress shall determine otherwise."


In reaction against the United States, a Philippine Republic is proclaimed in in the city of Malolos, under the leadership of revolutionary Emilio Aguinaldo (who had previously led Philippine resistance to Spain).


Start of the Battle of Manila, between U.S. military and troops of the recently proclaimed Philippine Republic.


The Treaty of Paris is (narrowly) ratified by the Senate and signed by the President. (See above 12/10/1898.)


Dodge Committee Report is submitted to President McKinley (see entry of 09/28/1898). [Link to the report online at the National Archives; report begins at page 107.]


By Special Message, requests Congress to appropriate funds for publicly or privately owned communication cable running from the continental United States, through Hawai'i and Guam, to the Philippines.


The Treaty of Paris proclaimed.


Issues executive order exempting thousands from civil service examinations and greater oversight over partisan motivated removals, deviating from President Cleveland's strong civil service reform platform.


Secretary of State John M. Hay releases "Open Door Policy" notes to Britain, France, Japan, and Russia to endorse international trade and open economic markets with China.


After the Dodge Commission's investigation into the mismanagement of the Spanish-American War (see above), the President accepts the Resignation of Secretary of War Russell A. Alger, to be effective 08/01/1899.


Vice President Garret Augustus Hobart passes away from heart complications.


Third annual message to Congress.




In Washington DC, Britain and the United States sign the first Hay-Pauncefote Treaty revising the Clayton-Bulwer Treaty of 1850, approving of a jointly occupied neutral isthmian canal connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean. The canal was a major interest of President McKinley. The treaty was referred to the Senate immediately after signing.  Disagreement over whether the canal could be fortified delayed ratification until the end of 1900.


Meets with representatives of the Women's Christian Temperance Union who tell him of their concerns about army Canteens selling alcoholic beverages. Canteens were eventually prohibited by law in 1901. (SF Chronicle, 2/13/1900, 2)


Signs the Gold Standard Act (31 Stat 45), establishing gold as the primary standard for redeeming paper money.


Appoints a Second Philippine Commission, tasked with establishing a civil government for the archipelago. Future president William Howard Taft is its chair.


Signs the Hawaii Organic Act (31 Stat 141). Hawai'i islands become organized into the Territory of Hawai'i.


US troops enter Peking, (together with troops from European powers) without congressional approval to quell the "Boxer Rebellion." In this uprising, Chinese nationalists had massacred foreigners. The rebellion poses a threat to Secretary Hay's "Open Door Policy" policy, thus leading to U.S. intervention.


Renominated at the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia, PA (the convention began 06/19/1900 and ended 06/21/1900). Theodore Roosevelt is nominated for Vice President to replace former Vice President Garret A. Hobart who had died in 1899.


Secretary of State John Hay releases his second "Open Door Policy" note, addressing the United States' interest in preserving a united China as it experiences civil unrest and foreign intervention in the "Boxer Rebellion."


Formally accepts the Republican nomination for his second term, as President, in Canton, Ohio.


Reelected as president. Defeats Democratic Nominee William Jennings Bryan, winning 292 electoral votes (65.3%) over Bryan's 155 (34.7%). Receives 51.7% of the popular vote (7,219,193 votes).


Fourth annual message to Congress.




Signs the Platt Amendment (31 Stat 897) to the Army Appropriation Act of 1901, granting the U.S. sweeping control over Cuba's domestic and foreign affairs.  


Second Inaugural Address.


Filipino revolutionary leader Aguinaldo Proclaims the end of rebellion in the Philippines.


Releases a statement announcing that he will not run for a third term.


In Remarks at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York, endorses tariff reciprocity to promote foreign trade and commerce with the United States.


Shot by anarchist Leon Czolgosz the day following his remarks at Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York.


Dies in Buffalo, New York after developing multi-organ gangrene.


State funeral at the Capitol in Washington, D.C.


William McKinley, William McKinley Event Timeline Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/363219

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