The Spanish-American War and President McKinley

Lewis L. Gould

This succinct, readable outgrowth of the author’s highly-acclaimed volume The Presidency of William McKinley, deserves widespread adoption in courses on late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century U.S. diplomatic history and foreign policy. It substantially supersedes other accounts of the coming of the Spanish-American War, the war itself, and the aftermath of the conflict. Based on the most up-to-date research available, it provides a new and refreshing perspective on McKinley's handling of the war.

According to Gould, McKinley’s expansive view of presidential power had a significant effect on his role as commander-in-chief during the war years and on his efforts to make the White House a command post. McKinley laid the foundation of the modern presidency by his courageous and principled presidential leadership during the coming of the war, by the way he conducted and oversaw the war itself, and by the manner in which he made peace with Spain, acquired the Philippines, and gained approval of the Treaty of Paris in the Senate

“According to the author, McKinley's enhancement of presidential power and his personal leadership in war-making and diplomacy made him ‘the first truly modern president.’ This thesis is carefully developed and effectively argued. . . . The book’s brevity, readability, and interpretive insights make it attractive for the classroom. . . . But this is no mere digest for undergraduates, for more advanced scholars can learn from it, too.

—Pacific Historical Review

“This is by all odds the best study of the coming of the war, the war itself, and the aftermath of the conflict.”

—Paul S. Holbo, University of Oregon

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Gould’s thought-provoking analysis may cause scholars to rethink the era in a new way; its lively style will be appreciated by students.