With the issues clearly joined, the country rejected the Democratic candidate even more positively than four years before. The popular vote cast for McKinley was larger and that cast for Bryan smaller than in the silver election. Thus vindicated at the polls, McKinley turned with renewed confidence to the development of the policies he had so far advanced. But fate cut short his designs. In the September following his second inauguration, he was shot by an anarchist while attending the Buffalo exposition. “What a strange and tragic fate it has been of mine,” wrote the Secretary of State, John Hay, on the day of the President’s death, “to stand by the bier of three of my dearest friends, Lincoln, Garfield, and McKinley, three of the gentlest of men, all risen to the head of the state and all done to death by assassins.” On September 14, 1901, the Vice President, Theodore Roosevelt, took up the lines of power that had fallen from the hands of his distinguished chief, promising to continue “absolutely unbroken” the policies he had inherited.
SUMMARY OF NATIONAL GROWTH AND WORLD POLITICS
The economic aspects of the period between 1865 and 1900 may be readily summed up: the recovery of the South from the ruin of the Civil War, the extension of the railways, the development of the Great West, and the triumph of industry and business enterprise. In the South many of the great plantations were broken up and sold in small farms, crops were diversified, the small farming class was raised in the scale of social importance, the cotton industry was launched, and the coal, iron, timber, and other resources were brought into use. In the West the free arable land was practically exhausted by 1890 under the terms of the Homestead Act; gold, silver, copper, coal and other minerals were discovered in abundance; numerous rail connections were formed with the Atlantic seaboard; the cowboy and the Indian were swept away before a standardized civilization of electric lights and bathtubs. By the end of the century the American frontier had disappeared. The wild, primitive life so long associated with America was gone. The unity of the nation was established.