The curator for the McKinley presidential library told TPM on Monday that she’s not upset President Obama has stripped his predecessor’s name from North America’s tallest mountain. Instead, she’s just glad people are finally talking about the library’s namesake.
“We’re happy for the people of Alaska who have wanted to rename this mountain for nearly 40 years, but we are sad that our president will no longer be on the name of the mountain,” curator Kimberly Kenney said by phone from the McKinley Library & Museum in Canton, Ohio.
“But we’re really excited that people are talking about McKinley on a national scale because that doesn’t happen too often anymore,” she said. “He’s been gone over 100 years.”
McKinley, an Ohio native who was assassinated six months into his second-term, is often forgotten because of President Teddy Roosevelt’s “larger-than-life” presidency, which followed McKinley’s.
When asked by TPM about McKinley’s lasting legacy, Kenney cited his role as commander-in-chief during the Spanish-American War, which she said, was the first time the U.S. went to war on foreign soil.
“That was a fundamental shift in our foreign policy,” Kenney told TPM. “The United States became a global power with that war and it set the precedent for foreign policy into the 20th century and the 21st century. No one really realizes that or talks about that.”
Ohio Gov. John Kasich, US Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-OH) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) all voiced some sort of disappointment with President Obama’s announcement to revert North America’s highest peak to its Alaska Native name, Denali.
Photo provided by McKinley Presidential Library & Museum, which is pictured above.