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McKinley opened campaign for second term in Youngstown

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is part of a weekly series marking the 120th anniversary of Niles native William McKinley’s U.S. presidency.

Mr. and Mrs. McKinley spent this week in August 1900 in their hometown of Canton.

This time was intended to be a respite from the White House; however, the president still spent the same number of hours per day, and into the night, tending to his duties.

A permanent telephone connection to the White House was in place so that President McKinley could keep in touch with Secretary George Cortelyou. In addition, the president received callers at his home in Canton, including Dr. Sanger from Manila who stopped by to discuss guerrilla groups causing unrest in the islands. Regardless, Mr. McKinley did benefit from the time away from the White House, but not as much as Mrs. McKinley — whose health noticeably improved from spending time in her personal home, free from the demands of her official residence.

Mr. and Mrs. McKinley returned to the White House on Aug. 16, a day earlier than planned due to pressing business awaiting the president. One item in particular that needed attention was a dispatch from Peking that contained intelligence on the situation in China. This situation has been skillfully addressed by McKinley columnist Mike Wilson in his two most recent columns about the Boxer Rebellion.

Mr. and Mrs. McKinley were set to remain in the White House until the end of the month when they planned to attend the Grand Army of the Republic Encampment reunion in Chicago. A couple of days after the GAR reunion, the official opening of the Ohio campaign was scheduled to take place in Youngstown.

We know that Mr. McKinley’s 1900 presidential campaign was successful, but his second term would be violently cut short by anarchist Leon Czolgosz. This assassination plot was successful, although not the first planned against President McKinley.

On August 15, 1900, the Los Angeles Times reported a “startling disclosure of anarchist plot.” The Associated Press printed the text of a letter written by C. Luigi Alfieri, of New Jersey, who found himself caught up in the assassination plot against several world leaders: “On May 1 of this year, lots were cast for the infamous enterprise. The first was Gaetano Bresel’s chance for the assassination of the bemoaned King of Italy; the second one Arturo Giovannelli’s for the killing of President McKinley. Lots were drawn to kill the Emperor of Germany, Emperor of Austria, and the President of France, Loubet.”

Alfieri reported this plot to both the Italian Consul and the federal government. He claims that he had gotten involved in an organization and realized its objectives, but was afraid to leave the group as friends told him he would be killed.

Secretary Cortelyou was constantly concerned for President McKinley’s safety. President McKinley loved greeting the people with his famous handshake. The New York Herald reported that “President McKinley’s fearlessness and freedom in meeting his countrymen, while universally commended and appreciated, has been frequently commented upon by those who realize the risks he has incurred.” McKinley was the third president to be assassinated, and the last president to not have a permanent Secret Service detail.

Theodore Roosevelt was sworn in as the 26th President of the United States and was the first president to have full-time protection from the Secret Service.

Michelle Alleman is the Director of the McKinley Memorial Library and McKinley Birthplace Home

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