25 William McKinley Quotes From 25th President

Revisit some questionable moments of American leadership with our William McKinley quotes. 

William Mckinley was the twenty-fifth president of the United States.

His legacy and time in office came with some accomplishments while also leaving a sour taste in the mouths of many Americans

Learn more about this polarizing president with our William Mckinley quotes. 

Who was William Mckinley?

William Mckinley was the president of The United States of America from 1897 to 1901. 

While he is remembered for leading the US to victory during the Spanish American War, he also supported policies that hurt American communities. 

Check out these William Mckinley facts below:

  • Mckinley fought in the Civil War and the Battle of Antietam. 
  • In the war, he brought supplies to troops, where he earned the name “Coffee Bill.” 
  • Before becoming president, Mckinley was an educator who taught in a one-room schoolhouse. 

William Mckinley’s legacy on all Americans

Some argue that any time we look at historical figures from the past, it is easier to villainize or criminalize their behavior. 

Critics suggest that we cannot judge the choices and actions of people from the past who lived in different eras that held different customs and belief systems. 

This is a cop-out. 

As a teacher, it’s part of my job to learn about the legacy of individuals like William Mckinley comprehensively. 

The old adage suggests those unaware of history are bound to repeat its mistakes. 

It is interesting how uncomfortable it makes some parents of the students in my class when we learn about past presidents. 

There is no discussing William Mckinley without addressing how his policies and choices impacted the most vulnerable citizens in our country. 

I find their resistance to fully acknowledging and seeing these “leaders” interesting. Most people who hold racist ideologies do not openly share their views out of fear of being harassed or judged. 

William Mckinley’s racist platform 

We are still learning to navigate how racism impacts our nation. 

Many people still do not fully understand how racism works or the implications of institutional racism. 

William Mckinley was open about his racism. 

Like many of his political rivals, he was unwilling to alienate the southern White vote. 

He did little to address the racial unrest the country was going through. 

The conditions of African Americans, Native Americans, or other melanated groups did not matter to Mckinley. 

He refused to take action against the violence against African Americans in the South. 

His initiatives regarding race relations were cosmetic at best and did little to create positive change. 

Check out our William Mckinley quotes to learn more about this American president. 

Short William Mckinley quotes from his Pan American Expo speech

We start our list with these quotes from President’s speech in Buffalo, New York, in 1901. 

1. “Expositions are the timekeepers of progress.” — William Mckinley, Pan American Expo Speech, 1901

2. “Let us ever remember that our interest is in concord, not in conflict.” — William Mckinley, Pan American Expo Speech, 1901

3. “Our real eminence rests in the victories of peace, not those of war.” — William Mckinley, Pan American Expo Speech, 1901 

4. “Without competition, we would be clinging to the clumsy antiquated processes of farming and manufacture.” — William Mckinley, Pan American Expo Speech, 1901

5. “Our earnest prayer is that God will graciously vouchsafe prosperity, happiness, and peace to all our neighbors.” — William Mckinley, Pan American Expo Speech, 1901

Famous William Mckinley quotes about spreading American economics

For better or worse, President Mckinley spent his career expanding the American economy globally. 

6. “Buy where you can pay the easiest.” — William Mckinley, Speech in Boston, 1892

7. “Under free trade, the trader is the master and the producer the slave.” — William Mckinley, Speech in Boston, 1892

8. “We cannot take a step in the pathway of progress without benefiting mankind everywhere.” — William Mckinley, Speech in Boston, 1892

9. “Protection is but the law of nature, the law of self-preservation, of self-development, of securing the highest and best destiny of the race of man.” — William Mckinley, Speech in Boston, 1892

10. “If protection builds up and elevates 63,000,000 of people, the influence of those 63,000,000 of people elevates the rest of the world.” — William Mckinley, Speech in Boston, 1892

The top William Mckinley quotes from his campaign speeches and first inaugural address

Mckinley campaigned during a time when the United States was still actively taking sovereign territory from nations like Hawaii and the Philippines. 

11. “Illiteracy must be banished from the land.” — William Mckinley, First Inaugural Address, 1897

12. “The mission of the United States is one of benevolent assimilation.” — William Mckinley, Personal Letter, 1898

13. “War should never be entered upon until every agency of peace has failed.” — William Mckinley, First Inaugural Address, 1897

14. “The American flag has not been planted on foreign soil to acquire more territory but for humanity’s sake.” — William Mckinley, Campaign Speech, 1900

15. “We shall attain that high destiny as the foremost of the enlightened nations of the world which, under Providence, we ought to achieve.” — William Mckinley, First Inaugural Address, 1897

William Mckinley quotes and sayings about manifest destiny

Mckinley’s legacy is centered on acquiring foreign territory for the United States. 

Some would call it colonization; he would call it manifest destiny

16. “It is manifest destiny.” — William Mckinley, Speech in Boston, 1892

17. “Well, they say, buy where you can buy the cheapest.” — William Mckinley, Speech in Boston, 1892

18. “Of course, that applies to labor as to everything else.” — William Mckinley, Speech in Boston, 1892

19. “We need Hawaii just as much and a good deal more than we did California.” — William Mckinley, Speech in Boston, 1892

20. “When I next realized that the Philippines had dropped into our laps, I confess I did not know what to do with them.” — William Mckinley, Speech in Boston, 1892

The best William Mckinley quotes about the Philippines

The acquisition of the Philippines is a painful topic for many. 

For Mckinley and his cabinet, this was one of their proudest moments. 

These quotes come from the president’s interview with the magazine The Christian Advocate in 1903. 

21. “That we not leave them to themselves: they are unfit for self-government.” — William Mckinley, The Chrisitan Advocate, 1903

22. “They would soon have anarchy and misrule over there worse than Spain’s wars.” — William Mckinley, The Chrisitan Advocate, 1903

23. “That we could not give them back to Spain; that would be cowardly and dishonorable.” — William Mckinley, The Chrisitan Advocate, 1903

24. “There was nothing left for us to do but to take them all, and to educate the Filipinos, and uplift and civilize and Christianize them.” — William Mckinley, The Chrisitan Advocate, 1903

25. “We could not turn them over to France and Germany-our commercial rivals in the Orient; that would be bad business and discreditable.” — William Mckinley, The Chrisitan Advocate, 1903

Learning from history to create a brighter future

Mckinley has a checked past. 

Some consider him a hero; others consider him the opposite. 

What is your favorite William Mckinley quote?

Be sure to let us know in the comments. 

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Clifton Sankofa has Master's degrees in English, Teaching, and School Leadership. He is a veteran educator and school leader. Clifton has built his career around teaching language arts, social-emotional learning, hip-hop(e), and vegan cooking. Across the country, Black and Brown communities die over preventable diseases. Clifton's aim is to help reverse this trend through cultural shifts. Using hip-hop and cultural-centered activities, he educates young people on how to reclaim their health and heritage through sustainable vegan eating, cooking practices, and literacy skills.
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