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January Coin of the Month

McKinley Presidential $1 Coin

In 1843, William McKinley was born in Niles, Ohio.  He served in the Union Army during the Civil War, practiced law in Canton, Ohio, and married Ida Saxton, a banker's daughter.  At 34, McKinley won a seat in Congress, where he "was generally on the side of the public and against private interests," according to a fellow Congressman.

In the House, he penned the "McKinley Tariff" (Tariff Act of 1890).  The Act raised some tariffs (taxes on imported goods) to almost 50 percent.  The goal was to discourage people from buying imported goods when there were American-made goods available.  There was a lot of debate about whether tariffs actually worked as planned or not.

After two terms as Governor of Ohio, McKinley ran for president as "the advance agent of prosperity," since a national depression was winding down at the time.  His opponent, William Jennings Bryan, advocated the "free and unlimited coinage of both silver and gold," which would have mildly inflated the currency.  McKinley easily won the election.

McKinley's presidency wasn't so much about prosperity as foreign policy.  The American public pressured the President to go to war against Spain for Cuba's liberation and independence.  As a result of the 100-day Spanish–American War that followed, Cuba became independent and the United States annexed other Spanish possessions—the Philippines, Guam, and Puerto Rico.

In 1899, McKinley signed into law an Act that authorized a commemorative silver dollar now known as the Lafayette dollar.  The coin was struck to commemorate France's erection of a monument to General Lafayette in Paris.

In 1900, McKinley again campaigned against Bryan and won.  But his second term ended tragically in September 1901.  As he was standing in a receiving line at the Buffalo Pan–American Exposition, a deranged man shot him twice.  He died eight days later.

Find out more about William McKinley on the William McKinley Presidential $1 Coin page.


Image shows the front of the McKinley Presidential $1 Coin.
Obverse:  A portrait of William McKinley is the central feature of this design.

Image show the back of the Presidential $1 Coin
Reverse:  The Statue of Liberty accompanies the inscriptions "United States of America" and "$1." Other inscriptions are found around the coin's edge.

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