The hateful statements about President McKinley in the NCJ (Mailbox, Dec. 14), prompt my response in his defense. He is accused of being a white supremacist who condoned lynching and committed genocide, yet he risked his life many times for the abolition of slavery. Enlisting as a private at 18, he performed heroically at the Battle of Antietam, the bloodiest day of the war, and was commissioned a lieutenant.
This victory, which cost 12,000 Union casualties (and 10,000 Confederates), enabled Lincoln to issue the Emancipation Proclamation. McKinley fought in the Shenandoah Valley under Sheridan in 1864, at Winchester and Cedar Creek, finishing the war as a major. He became a lawyer and defended striking workers before being elected to Congress in 1876. McKinley favored American interests and protective tariffs to promote U.S. productivity. His popularity got him elected president in 1896. He resisted war with Spain over Cuba but, after the 1898 destruction of the battleship Maine, Hearst's "yellow journalism" caused a nationwide demand for it that McKinley succumbed to.
Cuba was given its independence while Puerto Rico was retained. In the Pacific, the seizure of islands by the European powers resulted in the U.S. annexation of Hawaii, Samoa, Guam and others. In the Philippines, an American force overthrew Spanish power in 1898 but faced attacks by Philippine rebels in 1899 that led to a vicious guerilla war with large scale atrocities that continued after McKinley's death. McKinley was thus caught up in events beyond his control, like many of the presidents who followed him, up to the present time.
In 1901, President McKinley was assassinated by an anarchist. Shot in the stomach, he died after eight days in agony. To remove his statue from an American town 117 years later is to grant victory to his terrorist murderer.
John Brown, Mattole Valley