McKinley, William Brown, 1856-1926

Alternative names
Birth 1856-09-05
Death 1926-12-07

Biographical notes:

William Brown McKinley, businessman and congressman, was born in Petersburg, Illinois, September 5, 1856, the son of George and Hannah (Finley) McKinley. After attending local public schools, he enrolled at the University of Illinois, Urbana, for two years. In 1881 he married Kate Frisbee of Chicago.

McKinley began a business career in the family firm of J.B. & W.B. McKinley. The company originally specialized in private banking and mortgages, then expanded into public finance and the construction of municipal utilities. In the city of his residence, Champaign, Illinois, McKinley built and controlled the trolley car lines and water, gas and electric utilities. He continued to acquire urban utilities and interurban lines across the state, eventually becoming president of both the Western Railways & Light System and the Illinois Traction Company.

After the turn of the century, McKinley served three years as a trustee of the University of Illinois, then, almost fifty, he embarked on a twenty-year career in politics. As a Republican, he was elected representative of the 19th Illinois district in the 59th, 60th, 61st, and 62nd Congresses (19051913). His unsuccessful candidacy in 1912, the year he directed President William Howard Taft's renomination campaign, was followed by three more terms in the House of Representatives (1915-1921).

McKinley left the House of Representatives for the Senate in 1920. He died on December 7, 1926, months short of completing his first term in the Senate and weeks after the disappointment of losing a renomination for a second term.

From the guide to the William Brown McKinley Papers, 1906-1920, (Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Libraries)


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  • Campaign management
  • Politicians--United States
  • Politics, government and public administration
  • Presidents--United States--Election--1912
  • Republican Party (U.S. : 1854- )
  • Political campaigns--United States
  • Republican National Committee (U.S.)
  • Legislators--United States


  • Legislators
  • Politicians


  • United States (as recorded)