AUTHOR'S NOTE: I thank the Earhart Foundation for financial support and Daniel DiSalvo, Robert Eisinger, Elvin Lim, Gregg Lindskog, and Patrick Roberts for comments on an earlier draft.
William McKinley and the Rhetorical Presidency
Article first published online: 11 JAN 2011
© 2011 Center for the Study of the Presidency
Presidential Studies Quarterly
Volume 41, Issue 1, pages 119–134, March 2011
How to Cite
SALDIN, R. P. (2011), William McKinley and the Rhetorical Presidency. Presidential Studies Quarterly, 41: 119–134. doi: 10.1111/j.1741-5705.2010.03833.x
- Issue published online: 11 JAN 2011
- Article first published online: 11 JAN 2011
William McKinley's important role in the development of the rhetorical presidency has been underappreciated. Based on his speeches during a fall 1898 tour and contemporaneous newspaper reports, this article argues that McKinley discussed controversial policy issues, attempted to sway public opinion, and engaged in partisan campaigning. These findings offer new evidence that contradicts Jeffrey K. Tulis's claim that chief executives avoided such activity until Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson—embracing Progressive ideology—transformed the presidency into a more visible and popular institution rooted in public speaking. McKinley's rhetorical behavior is not fatal to Tulis's thesis, but it does suggest that McKinley belongs in the “middle way” category.