William McKinley Monument

William McKinley Monument, 1905
Charles J. Mulligan
McKinley Park
South of the intersection of Western Boulevard, Archer Avenue and 37th Street

            As this portrait was to be located in a historically working-class neighborhood, sculptor Charles J. Mulligan wanted to remind viewers of William McKinley’s sponsorship of the Tariff Act of 1890. Designed to protect domestic manufacturers from foreign competition, the bill was passed while McKinley was serving as U.S. Representative from Ohio. It helped establish McKinley as a leader of the Republican party and he was elected 25th President of the United States in 1896. In this work, McKinley is depicted with one hand on a desk and the other holding the notes for the speech promoting his tariff bill.
            On September 6, 1901, during a visit to the Pan American Exposition in Buffalo, New York, President McKinley was shot by Leon Czolgosz, an anarchist from Michigan who may have been imitating Gaetano Bresci, the assassin responsible for the death of Umberto I of Italy in 1900. Not long after McKinley’s death resulting from complications from the gunshot wounds on September 14th, Daniel F. Crilly, president of the South Park Commission in Chicago, organized a committee that included department store magnate Marshall Field and banker Charles Dawes in order to raise funds for a McKinley monument. As part of this effort, commissioners agreed to melt down a bronze statue of Christopher Columbus created by Howard Kretschmar for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition. The statue was so disliked by the public and by Chicago Tribune critics that it was placed in storage by 1897 and the artist abandoned his career as an artist. 

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