The election of 1900 was the twenty-ninth presidential election in the United States. The election was a rematch between incumbent President William McKinley and Democratic nominee, William Jennings Bryan, which resulted in a second win for McKinley.
The incumbent McKinley was easily renominated by the Republican Party. With economic growth bringing the country out of its depression, and the Spanish-American War win attributed to McKinley’s leadership, he was an easy choice for the nomination. Since McKinley’s vice president during his first term, Garret Hobart, had died in office the previous year, the Republican Party delegation selected New York Governor Theodore Roosevelt as his running mate with some reservations. Roosevelt had initially declined the position, considering the vice president an ineffective and primarily honorary role. Roosevelt was ultimately persuaded to take the position and joined McKinley in the presidential race.
Admiral George Dewey had been a strong candidate for the Democratic Party nomination for his role in the Spanish-American War and leadership abilities. Though he had many supporters, he ruffled some feathers when he showed his thirst for war, suggesting that war with Germany would be next on his list. He withdrew from the race in May, but endorsed McKinley, rather than his party’s choice. The Democratic Party continued to support William Jennings Bryan, easily granting him the nomination. Former vice president under President Cleveland’s second term as president, Adlai Stevenson, was chosen to be Bryan’s running mate.
The Populist Party, which had previously supported Bryan, divided into two groups. One group joined the Democrats and supported Bryan, while the other chose Wharton Barker and Ignatius L. Donnelly. The 1900 election was the last presidential election in which the Populist Party had a viable candidate. The Socialist Labor Party, the Social Democrats, and the Prohibition Party also nominated presidential candidates.
The new territories won by the United States in the Spanish-American War brought controversy of whether or not to make those lands independent. While Bryan supported immediate independence, the Roosevelt, who had been a leader in disputes with Cuba, claimed he wanted to civilize the people before giving them independence.
Bryan, who had risen to prominence during the 1896 election, followed a similar strategy for the 1900 election. He focused again on silver, campaigning for silver coinage and a bimetallic monetary system. But like his first presidential attempt, his second failed to secure enough electoral votes. The economic boom under McKinley’s administration was too much for Bryan to counter, as the population was content under McKinley’s leadership. The public was largely in favor of the Spanish-American War that McKinley had successfully guided his country through, and even his vice presidential candidate had played an important role.
McKinley won his reelection easily, with 292 electoral votes to Bryan’s 155 votes. The country was again divided between the North and South. William McKinley resumed his presidency, but was shot by anarchist Leon Czolgosz on September 6, 1901. He died a few days later on September 14, 1901, and was succeeded by Theodore Roosevelt, who became the twenty-sixth President of the United States.