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OPULAR interest is justly attracted to the life and work of men selected by their party as candidates for the highest honors in the gift of a great nation. They are men who represent the political purposes of millions of patriotic people; and their personality, the incidents of their careers, their rise to popularity and fame become subjects of interest to all. It is the object of this volume to tell the story of the Republican presidential candidates of 1896, to record facts, incidents, and experiences that will reveal the character of the men and enable us to see them as they are.
The story of William McKinley's life cannot fail to appeal to the minds and hearts of all who believe in their country. His is a career which well exemplifies the possibilities of American citizenship. Starting without the advantages of wealth or high station, he has made himself what he is. Nearly the whole of his active life has been
devoted to his country. Beginning as a soldier in the ranks thirty-five years ago, he served with distinction till the close of the war, and in the long and honorable public career that followed. he has steadily won his way from obscurity to high position and world-wide fame. In these years he has identified himself with a public policy never so fondly cherished by the people as now. His name has become a household word, and even if destiny should have no higher honors in store for him, his fame will endure in the annals of the best government in the world. It is impossible to obscure the interest in the story of such a busy, eventful, and honorable life.
Likewise does the career of Garret A. Hobart exemplify one of the best phases of American citizenship, persistent and energetic business ability, activity in the productive enterprises of a great people, a capacity for honest executive management to which the interests of others are entrusted.
To further enhance the usefulness of the book, chapters have been added to tell the story of the formation of the Constitution, of the origin and work of the great political party in which the candidates have taken so conspicuous and honorable a part, and to briefly sketch the lives of the Presidents. Taken together, these pages furnish a review of the history of the country for more than a hundred years — as seen through its great men.
To Major McKinley and his friends thanks are due for many acts of kindness and assistance in the preparation of
this volume. He seldom talks about himself, leaving that to his friends, and few public men have so many devoted ones as he. Special pains have been taken to obtain from those who have known him for years the most reliable information regarding his life and public services, and to secure accuracy of statement. Major McKinley was asked, and kindly consented to examine the proofs, though it should be said he is responsible for no comment or construction of mine upon his words or public acts. Deserved eulogy is the exclusive right and privilege of the biographer, and that he owes to the man whose career he has studied with growing interest and admiration.
HENRY B. RUSSELL.