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him to go forward and bring away that regiment, if it had not already fallen. McKinley turned his horse and, keenly spurring it, pushed it at a fierce gallop obliquely toward the advancing enemy.
“None of us expected to see him again, as we watched him push his horse through the open fields, over fences, through ditches, while a well-directed fire from the enemy was poured upon him, with shells exploding around, about, and over him.
"Once he was completely enveloped in the smoke of an exploding shell and we thought he had gone down. But no, he was saved for better work for his country in his future years. Out of this smoke emerged his wiry little brown horse, with McKinley still firmly seated and as erect as a bussar.
McKinley Directing Gen. Sheridan to Gen. Crook's Headquarters After the Famous
Ride from Winchester. “McKinley gave the Colonel the order from Hayes to fall back, saying, in addition, 'He supposed you would have gone to the rear without orders.' The colonel's reply was, 'I was about concluding I would retire without waiting any longer for orders. I am now ready to go wherever you shall lead, but, lieutenant, I "pintedly" believe I ought to give those fellows a volley or two before I go.' McKinley's reply was, “Then up and at them as quickly as possible,' and as the regiment arose to its feet the enemy came on into full view. Colonel Brown's boys gave the eneny a crushing volley, following it up with a rattling fire, and then slowly retreated toward some woods directly in their rear. At this time the enemy halted all along Brown's immediate front and for some distance to his right and left, no doubt feeling he was touching a secondary line, which should be approached
with all due caution. During this hesitancy of the enemy, McKinley led the regiment through these woods on toward Winchester.
“As Hayes and Crook saw this regiment safely off, they turned, and, following the column, with it moved slowly to the rear, down the Winchester pike. At a point near Winchester, McKinley brought the regiment to the column and to its place in the brigade. McKinley greeted us all with a happy, contented smile—no effusion, no gushing palaver of words, though all of us felt and knew one of the most gallant acts of the war had been performed.
“As McKinley drew up by the side of Hayes to make his verbal report, I heard Hayes say to him, 'I never expected to see you in life
General Sheridan also paid tribute to Mckinley's zeal, when he galloped down the line from Winchester, shouting, “Face the other way, boys, we're going back!” On that famous ride he met Lieutenant McKinley, and that young officer carried the news through General Hayes' brigade, so that wijen the advance was ordered the brigade was in place, and another Union victory was achieved.
Lieutenant McKinley was made captain on July 25, 1864, and was brevetted major by President Lincoln for gallant conduct on the fields of Opequan, Fisher's Hill and Cedar Creek. He was with the old Twenty-third in all its fights and was mustered out with the regiment in July, 1865.
McKinley's military life and advancement, as indicated by the official records, was most commendable. He enlisted as a private in Company E of the Twenty-third O. V. I., June 11, 1861; was promoted to commissary sergeant, April 15, 1862; was promoted to second lieutenant of Company D, September 23, 1862; was promoted to captain of Company G, July 25, 1864; was detailed as acting assistant adjutant general of the First division, First army corps, on the staff of General Carroll; was brevetted major, March 13, 1865, and was mustered out of service July 26, 1865.
William Henry Smith says of McKinley: "His success on merit during the war of the rebellion has had its counterpart in civil life in the public service. When someone remarked in the presence of General Hayes that Major McKinley possessed many brilliant qualities as a public man; that he was skillful in debate and tactful as a leader, but was lacking in business ability, he received this reply: “A man who before he had attained the age of twenty-one, kept up the supplies for the army of General Crook in active service in the field, is not lacking in business ability. He has capacity equal to any enterprise, for any position in life, even the highest.
BECOMES A LAWYER AND POLITICIAN.
After his military career, McKinley returned to his home in Ohio, where he entered upon the study of law with Judge Charles E. Gidden, at Poland, afterward taking a course of study at the Albany, New York, Law School, and was admitted to the bar in 1867. McKinley's early life was favored, in that he had not only true and noble parents to guide him, but in his civil career, had such a man as Judge Gidden, who is spoken of as being of high character, eloquent and forceful address, and a voice which, when once heard, was never forgotten.
He commenced his law practice in Canton, Ohio, to which place he removed, and was elected district attorney of Stark county, in which capacity he served ten years, and was re-nominated, but not elected, as the enemy, as ever, was on the alert, and caused his defeat. But this did not daunt him, and as the town of Canton grew in importance, his law practice increased.
These events would naturally lead him into politics, and we find him now launching out on that great sea, whose waves carried him to the highest and most honored position an American citizen can attain.
January 25th, 1871, Major McKinley was married to Miss Ida Saxton, daughter of J. A. Saxton, a banker, of Canton. That event had, in after years, no doubt, much to do with the strong hold on the affections of the people, acquired by Major McKinley. His wife became an invalid early in their married life. The two little girls born to them died in childhood, and Major McKinley devoted all the time he could spare from public duties to comforting his helpmate. No more beautiful example of marital devotion was ever seen than that of William McKinley to the gentle invalid, who survives him, and is enshrined with him in the hearts of his countrymen.
Major McKinley was first elected to Congress in 1876. He was nominated by the republicans, who had little hope of electing him. His opponent was Judge L. D. Woodsworth, the then incumbent of the office, and a democratic wheelhorse. There was a democratic majority in the district, the old eighteenth of 1800. Few expected this could be overcome, but Major McKinley overcame it, having a clean majority of 1,300 votes.
It was particularly felicitous for Major McKinley that his first four years in congress were coincident with the administrtion of President Hayes. The youngest member of congress, he had the intimate and near friendship of the ruler of the nation. Of course, no direct political advancement could, or did, grow out of this friendship.
He made no plunge into legislative work during his first session. The records do not contain any speech of his, nor does his name appear, on any important committee. He studied and learned, and after his first speech in 1878, on the Wood tariff bill, he was recognized as a man of power. A place on the ways and means committee was given him, and for thirteen years he remained there. It is impossible to summarize his congressional career in the limited space this volume affords, but his tariff record, which was the main work of his legislative career, is treated in another chapter. Suffice it to say, that up to the time of his unseating by the democrats in the forty-eighth congress, he was attending carefully and energetically to all his duties, and had come to be regarded as one of the ablest members of the house. So satisfied with his services were the people of his district that though the democrats sought to defeat him by gerrymandering his district, he won in every case until 1890.
The unseating of McKinley by the democratic majority in the fortyeighth congress in no wise affected his popularity at home. He had been a modest and faithful servant of the people. In every undertaking he had stood four-square to all the winds which blew, and his friends and neighbors in his native state never intended to permit such a devoted public servant to go into retirement. The experiment of putting an untried democrat in the place so long occupied by Major McKinley had not been a conspicuous success, and there were many people who, despite their party affiliations, disliked the manner in which the major had been deprived of his seat. It was generally admitted that he knew more about the real needs of his constituency which might be remedied by legislation, than any other man. That he was honest, and untiring in his efforts to do his full duty towards his people, all knew.
The democrats, however, did not propose to allow him to go back to congress, if they could help it. No doubt was entertained as to his becoming a candidate in 1884, and the democrats tried to head him off by their favorite scheme of gerrymandering the district again. The effort was unsuccessful. A hot canvass followed Major McKinley's nomination, and when the votes were counted, it was found that he had secured a majority of 1,500, despite the best efforts of the opposition.
When the major appeared in Washington in March, 1885, he found many friends to welcome him back. There was plenty of work for him to do, and he applied himself to it diligently. The index to the Congressional Record for that period contains nearly a page of memoranda showing the part he took in the legislation of the country.
He was never a flambuoyant talker, and spoke in the house only when he had something weighty to say. This was recognized long before his leadership was established, and he had attentive listeners whenever he arose to speak. During this session he delivered an address in memory of the murdered President Garfield, that was eloquent in its simplicity, and worthy of commendation, because of the high range of its thought, and the lessons of patriotism and duty which it inculcated.
Another speech uttered at that session, is memorable because it shows his long and earnest sympathy with the laboring man. Major McKinley was brought up amidst the great, throbbing iron and steel industries of the country. He had seen the struggle of the workingmen to secure proper recognition of their rights, and he felt for them the keenest sympathy. This was manifested in various ways, and was specially emphasized in the debate on the bill submitted to the house by the committee on labor, providing for “the speedy settlement of controversies and differences between common carriers engaged in interstate and territorial transportation of property or passengers, and their employees.”
There is, perhaps, more of sarcasm in his remarks than he usually permitted, but it was an open fight, and he was doubtless prepared to meet the issue to the utmost end, and to permit no unanswered attacks on the policy of his party and the principles he professed to believe in. Congressman Breckinridge, of Kentucky, had moved an amendment to the bill, which precluded board of arbitration from administering oaths subpænaing witnesses, compelling attendance, etc., and in defending