William McKinley: In his own voice

The final speech of William McKinley is available at the Library of Congress website.

After reading about William McKinley's "front porch" campaign in Niles, Ohio, I expected his actual speech delivery would be more like George W. Bush than F.D.R., but I was wrong.

Maybe it's because he was from outside the East coast, or that he ran an everyman type campaign.  The way he speaks is probably typical of important men at the turn of the twentieth century, but by today's standards it sounds like the monocle guy from monopoly.

What he says and proposes are exactly what he did prior to giving this speech (he was assassinated shortly after this) .  He calls for the expansion of the Navy for the purposes of defending the economic interests abroad.  This fits perfectly in line with the Spanish- American war and the seizure of Cuba, Guam and the Philippines.  Although McKinley ushered in the execution of America's imperial ambitions, it's interesting that he doesn't say we should enhance our military power solely for the purposes of being powerful as seems to be done today.

He also calls for the protection of both labor and industry, a position that would be almost unthinkable for either political party nowadays. 

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