Ohio University Press · Swallow Press ·

Ohio’s Kingmaker
Mark Hanna, Man and Myth

By William T. Horner

“A must-read for anyone interested in Gilded Age politics: this myth-busting book sets the record straight with sharp, well-researched prose. Horner shows how Democratic cartoonists attacked McKinley by depicting Hanna as master and McKinley as puppet, obscuring McKinley's political skills and ignoring Hanna's honorable public service.”

Karl Rove, former senior adviser and deputy chief of staff to President George W. Bush and author of Courage and Consequence

“Horner’s biography of Hanna is unquestionably the most thorough analysis to date. It is fresh, balanced, and the author’s reliance on personal papers, memoirs, newspapers, and mounds of secondary literature makes for a compelling argument and a fine study of Gilded Age politics.”

West Virginia History: A Journal of Regional Studies

“William Horner tells this...story in detail, with some shrewd insights into American politics. The book will appeal to students of the period, politics, and biography. It should end the stereotypes of the people involved.”

The Historian

“In writing the first modern biography of Mark Hanna, Professor Horner has provided historians of Gilded Age politics with a useful survey that complements the earlier work of H. Wayne Morgan and Lewis L. Gould. In his comparison of Hanna and Karl Rove, the author suggests that modern journalists should study their history more carefully.”

Northwest Ohio History

For a decade straddling the turn of the twentieth century, Mark Hanna was one of the most famous men in America. Portrayed as the puppet master controlling the weak-willed William McKinley, Hanna was loved by most Republicans and reviled by Democrats, in large part because of the way he was portrayed by the media of the day. Newspapers and other media outlets that supported McKinley reported positively about Hanna, but those sympathetic to William Jennings Bryan, the Democrats’ presidential nominee in 1896 and 1900, attacked Hanna far more aggressively than they attacked McKinley himself. Their portrayal of Hanna was wrong, but powerful, and this negative image of him survives to this day.

In this study of Mark Hanna’s career in presidential politics, William T. Horner demonstrates the flaws inherent in the ways the news media cover politics. He deconstructs the myths that surround Hanna and demonstrates the dangerous and long-lasting effect that inaccurate reporting can have on our understanding of politics. When Karl Rove emerged as the political adviser to George W. Bush’s presidential campaigns, the reporters quickly began to compare Rove to Hanna even a century after Hanna’s death. The two men played vastly different roles for the presidents they served, but modern reporters consistently described Rove as the second coming of Mark Hanna, another political Svengali.

Ohio’s Kingmaker is the story of a fascinating character in American politics and serves to remind us of the power of (mis)perceptions.

William T. Horner is a professor and the director of undergraduate studies in the Department of Political Science at the University of Missouri. He is the author of Showdown in the Show-Me State: The Fight over Conceal-and-Carry Gun Laws in Missouri.   More info →

Order a print copy

Paperback · $23.96 ·
Add to Cart

Retail price: $29.95 · Save 20% ($23.96)

Hardcover · $48 ·
Add to Cart

Retail price: $60.00 · Save 20% ($48)

Buy from a local bookstore


US and Canada only

Buy an eBook

Amazon Kindle Store Barnes & Noble NOOK Google Play iBooks Store

Availability and price vary according to vendor.

Cover of Ohio’s Kingmaker

Share    Facebook icon  Email icon


To request instructor exam/desk copies, email Jeff Kallet at

To request media review copies, email Laura Andre at

Permission to reprint
Permission to photocopy or include in a course pack via Copyright Clearance Center


Retail price: $29.95, S.
Release date: March 2010
360 pages · 6 × 9 in.
Rights:  World

Retail price: $60.00, S.
Release date: March 2010
360 pages · 6 × 9 in.
Rights:  World

Release date: March 2010
Rights:  World

Additional Praise for Ohio’s Kingmaker

“Horner…successfully strives to provide a more balanced portrait of the man. Hanna was wealthy, and he saw nothing wrong with using his wealth and the wealth of others who agreed with Republican policies to support McKinley. However, he was no ravenous capitalist in his business practices, and he generally took a moderate approach in dealings with organized labor. Horner illustrates how a concentrated campaign by segments of the media, even a century ago, can create a distorted impression which, for many, is easily mistaken for reality.”


"Ohio's Kingmaker is a well-written and engaging book, and the central theme—comparing the nearly unknown Hanna to the very familiar Rove—makes for an effective hook. Scholars will be deconstructing and critiquing the Bush presidency for years to come; the author has made a valuable contribution to understanding an important facet of both the Bush presidency and its century-old precursor."

David A. Crockett, Trinity University

Related Titles

Cover of 'In the Balance of Power'

In the Balance of Power
Independent Black Politics and Third-Party Movements in the United States
By Omar H. Ali
· Foreword by Eric Foner

In the Balance of Power presents a history and analysis of African American third-party movements that can help us better understand the growing diversity among black voters today.

History | African American · Political Science | Political Process | Political Parties · African American Studies · United States

Cover of 'Dead Last'

Dead Last
The Public Memory of Warren G. Harding’s Scandalous Legacy
By Phillip G. Payne

If George Washington and Abraham Lincoln are the saints in America’s civil religion, then the twenty-ninth president, Warren G. Harding, is our sinner. Prior to the Nixon administration, the Harding scandals were the most infamous of the twentieth century. Harding is consistently judged a failure, ranking dead last among his peers.By examining the public memory of Harding, Phillip G. Payne offers the first significant reinterpretation of his presidency in a generation.

American History · History · Ohio and Regional · American History, Midwest

Cover of 'Ohio’s War'

Ohio’s War
The Civil War in Documents
Edited by Christine Dee

In 1860, Ohio was among the most influential states in the nation. As the third-most-populous state and the largest in the middle west, it embraced those elements that were in concert-but also at odds-in American society during the Civil War era. Ohio’s War uses documents from that vibrant and tumultuous time to reveal how Ohio’s soldiers and civilians experienced the Civil War.

History · Military History · 19th century · American Civil War · Americas · North America · United States · Midwest · Ohio · American History · American History, Midwest

Cover of 'The Man Who Killed the Deer'

The Man Who Killed the Deer
A Novel of Pueblo Indian Life
By Frank Waters

The story of Martiniano, the man who killed the deer, is a timeless story of Pueblo Indian sin and redemption, and of the conflict between Indian and white laws; written with a poetically charged beauty of style, a purity of conception, and a thorough understanding of Native American values.

Fiction | Indigenous · Fiction · Literature · Western Americana · Western and Pacific States