1926-28 Rotary Stamps
7¢ William McKinley
First Day of Issue: March 24, 1927
First City: Washington, D.C.
Printing Method: Rotary Press
Perforation: 11 x 10 ½
The portrait of William McKinley on U.S. #639 is based on a photograph by New York photographer George Rockwood. The image of the 25th president became his official portrait for use at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.
President McKinley Dies
Eight days after being shot by an assassin at the Pan-American Expo, President McKinley died on September 14, 1901.
Less than a year before, McKinley had won re-election. Following his March inauguration, McKinley and his wife, Ida, began a national tour. But when Ida fell ill, they postponed the last stop, the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York, until later in the year. On September 5, McKinley addressed some 50,000 people at the fairgrounds, with Leon Czolgosz among them. Czolgosz was an anarchist who wanted to become a hero.
The following day, as the President greeted the public, Czolgosz approached McKinley and shot him twice at point-blank range in the abdomen. Upon being shot, McKinley’s first thoughts were of his wife, telling his aides to be careful how they broke the news to her. He also ordered that the mob of people surrounding Czolgosz leave him be, likely saving his life.
Initially, doctors thought McKinley’s condition was improving. However, they could not tell that he had developed gangrene internally, which was slowly poisoning his blood. Ida sat by his side throughout it all, and when his condition worsened, she cried that she wanted to go with him. He responded that “We are all going… God’s will be done, not ours.” President McKinley died in the early morning hours of September 14, 1901. His assassin was found guilty and later sentenced to death.
According to one historian, “The nation experienced a wave of genuine grief at the news of McKinley’s passing.” At least 200,000 people passed by his casket as it sat in the Capitol Rotunda and a Canton, Ohio, courthouse. McKinley was later interred at a special memorial in his honor, which was already under construction.
Perfecting Perforations on Rotary Stamps
When the Bureau began printing sheets on the rotary press, they found 11 gauge perforations were too fine, causing the stamps to separate prematurely. This resulted in the perforations being changed back to 10 gauge perforations, which had first been used in 1915. Once again, objections were raised, and the Bureau began looking for a way to perforate the stamps so they were strong enough to resist premature separation, yet fine enough to be separated without difficulty. The solution was found in a compromise that resulted in a new perforation – the 10 1/2 gauge.
This perforation seemed to please everyone and was adopted as the new standard for rotary press sheets. In the words of Linn’s author Gary Griffith, the 1926-28 Compound Perforation rotary stamps represent “if not perfection, then at least a high degree of achievement...”
Prior to taking the nation’s highest office, William McKinley served as Governor of Ohio and introduced the McKinley Tariff of 1890, which set a specific rate for U.S. imports. While this provided protection to manufacturing workers, it drove up the prices of farm equipment for farmers.
In 1896, McKinley became the last Civil War veteran to be elected President, as well as the last president to serve in the 19th century and the first to serve in the 20th century. His term was one of prosperity following the disastrous Panic of 1893, establishing gold as the basis of American currency. His demands that Spain end its violence in Cuba led to the Spanish-American War, which America won in under four months. As a result, the U.S. acquired the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and Guam. McKinley later allowed the Republic of Hawaii to join the U.S., making its residents American citizens.
McKinley was re-elected in 190,0 but was assassinated by anarchist Leon Czolgosz in 1901.