William McKinley (1843-1901) was the last American President—until the recent comments by President Trump—to acclaim the American System, and he acted to put it into effect. For McKinley, the core of the system was the protective tariff, by which he expected the Federal government to ensure the health of industry, labor, agriculture, and commerce. Until he was bamboozled into launching the Spanish-American War, McKinley—as Congressman and President—also pursued a foreign policy based on American System economics, including promoting major infrastructure and nation-building projects abroad.
As Lincoln’s greenback system had been cancelled in the 1870s with Species Resumption, McKinley sought to use the gold standard in such a way as to defend of the American economy against the British imperial system. He maintained the government-supervised national banking system, so as to provide reasonable credit to farmers and entrepreneurs. He was passionate about the defense of the working people, including Afro-Americans.