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William McKinley was born in Niles, Ohio to William McKinley, Sr. (1807-1892) and Nancy (Allison) McKinley (1809-1897). William Sr. was a pig iron manufacturer. His family were Methodists of Scots-Irish and English descent. When McKinley was ten years old he moved to Poland, Ohio. After graduating from the Poland Seminary, he attended Mount Union College and Allegheny College without graduating. McKinley later enlisted as a Private in the Union Army during the Civil War. McKinley served in the army until mustering out at the rank of Captain in in 1865. After leaving the army he attended Albany Law School and was admitted to the bar in 1867. McKinley married Ida Saxton in 1871 and had two daughters, Katherine and Ida, but both of them died before reaching the age of five.
McKinley was shot by Leon Czolgosz on September 5, 1901 while attending the Pan-American Exposition and died 8 days later in Buffalo, New York. Leon Czolgosz was influenced by the Jewish social anarchist pair, Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman.