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McKinley's Backbone


Richard F. Hamilton is a professor emeritus from The Ohio State University and a research associate with the university's Mershon Center. He is the author and editor (with Holger H. Herwig) of The Origins of World War I and author of President McKinley and the Coming of War, 1898.


Many commentators have quoted and made use of a statement by Theodore Roosevelt—that President William McKinley had “no more backbone than a chocolate éclair.” Three uses of the quotation are reviewed here raising questions about the adequacy of the sources, the context, and the plausibility of that judgment.