William McKinley, Jr. was the 25th President of the United States, and the last veteran of the American Civil War to be elected to the office. He was the last president to serve in the 19th century and the first to serve in the 20th.By the 1880s McKinley was a national Republican leader; his signature issue was high tariffs on imports as a formula for prosperity, as typified by his McKinley Tariff of 1890. As the Republican candidate in the 1896 presidential election, he upheld the gold standard, and promoted pluralism among ethnic groups. The 1896 election is often considered a realigning election that marked the beginning of the Progressive Era.McKinley presided over a return to prosperity after the Panic of 1893, and made gold the base of the currency. He demanded that Spain end its atrocities in Cuba, which were outraging public opinion; Spain resisted the interference and the Spanish-American War became inevitable in 1898. The war was fast and easy, as the weak Spanish fleets were sunk and both Cuba and the Philippines were captured in 90 days. At the peace conference, McKinley agreed to purchase the former Spanish colonies of the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and Guam, and set up a protectorate over Cuba. William McKinley was born in Niles, Ohio, on January 29, 1843, the seventh of nine children. His parents were of Scots-Irish and English ancestry. When McKinley was ten years old, he moved to Poland, Ohio He graduated from Poland Seminary and attended Mount Union College, where he was a member of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, then attended Allegheny College for one term in 1860. He did not take a degree.