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message 1: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44126 comments Mod
William McKinley

At the 1896 Republican Convention, in time of depression, the wealthy Cleveland businessman Marcus Alonzo Hanna ensured the nomination of his friend William McKinley as "the advance agent of prosperity." The Democrats, advocating the "free and unlimited coinage of both silver and gold"--which would have mildly inflated the currency--nominated William Jennings Bryan.

While Hanna used large contributions from eastern Republicans frightened by Bryan's views on silver, McKinley met delegations on his front porch in Canton, Ohio. He won by the largest majority of popular votes since 1872.

Born in Niles, Ohio, in 1843, McKinley briefly attended Allegheny College, and was teaching in a country school when the Civil War broke out. Enlisting as a private in the Union Army, he was mustered out at the end of the war as a brevet major of volunteers. He studied law, opened an office in Canton, Ohio, and married Ida Saxton, daughter of a local banker.

At 34, McKinley won a seat in Congress. His attractive personality, exemplary character, and quick intelligence enabled him to rise rapidly. He was appointed to the powerful Ways and Means Committee. Robert M. La Follette, Sr., who served with him, recalled that he generally "represented the newer view," and "on the great new questions .. was generally on the side of the public and against private interests."

During his 14 years in the House, he became the leading Republican tariff expert, giving his name to the measure enacted in 1890. The next year he was elected Governor of Ohio, serving two terms.

When McKinley became President, the depression of 1893 had almost run its course and with it the extreme agitation over silver. Deferring action on the money question, he called Congress into special session to enact the highest tariff in history.

In the friendly atmosphere of the McKinley Administration, industrial combinations developed at an unprecedented pace. Newspapers caricatured McKinley as a little boy led around by "Nursie" Hanna, the representative of the trusts. However, McKinley was not dominated by Hanna; he condemned the trusts as "dangerous conspiracies against the public good."

Not prosperity, but foreign policy, dominated McKinley's Administration. Reporting the stalemate between Spanish forces and revolutionaries in Cuba, newspapers screamed that a quarter of the population was dead and the rest suffering acutely. Public indignation brought pressure upon the President for war. Unable to restrain Congress or the American people, McKinley delivered his message of neutral intervention in April 1898. Congress thereupon voted three resolutions tantamount to a declaration of war for the liberation and independence of Cuba.

In the 100-day war, the United States destroyed the Spanish fleet outside Santiago harbor in Cuba, seized Manila in the Philippines, and occupied Puerto Rico.

"Uncle Joe" Cannon, later Speaker of the House, once said that McKinley kept his ear so close to the ground that it was full of grasshoppers. When McKinley was undecided what to do about Spanish possessions other than Cuba, he toured the country and detected an imperialist sentiment. Thus the United States annexed the Philippines, Guam, and Puerto Rico.

In 1900, McKinley again campaigned against Bryan. While Bryan inveighed against imperialism, McKinley quietly stood for "the full dinner pail."

His second term, which had begun auspiciously, came to a tragic end in September 1901. He was standing in a receiving line at the Buffalo Pan-American Exposition when a deranged anarchist shot him twice. He died eight days later.

Source: The White House Biography

message 2: by Bryan (new)

message 3: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44126 comments Mod
Thank you Bryan. Which ones did you like best and why?

message 4: by Bryan (new)

Bryan Craig I am sad to report that most of these book are unread. The Morgan book is more recent than Leech's book. Other authors writing in this time period cited Leech quite often, but Morgan is one of the leading authorities in the field, so I was happy this came out.

I read Williams' book. It is a good, concise history of the 1896 election. I recommend it.

Realigning America Mckinley, Bryan, and the Remarkable Election of 1896 (American Presidential Elections) by R. Hal Williams R. Hal Williams

In the Days of McKinley by Margaret Leech Margaret Leech

William McKinley and His America by H. Wayne Morgan H. Wayne Morgan

message 5: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44126 comments Mod
Thanks Bryan for the update.

message 6: by Bryan (new)

Bryan Craig This looks interesting on the Democratic side of the 1896 election:

Passion and Preferences William Jennings Bryan and the 1896 Democratic Convention by Richard Franklin Bensel by Richard Franklin Bensel

"Bensel shows the interplay of party factions in a convention whose nominee was hardly a foregone conclusion, the ways in which newspapers reported and shaped events, the role of architecture and physical space in channeling the passions aroused, and, ultimately, 'the speech' itself as both calculated intervention and ignition for a spontaneous convergence of passions that produced the unexpected outcome. One can only hope that down the road the Obama campaign and its 2008 Denver convention will benefit from a similarly revealing microanalysis."
Shelton Stromquist, American Historical Review

message 7: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44126 comments Mod
Thank you Bryan and it certainly does look interesting.

message 8: by Bryan (new)

Bryan Craig A new book:

The War Lovers Roosevelt, Lodge, Hearst, and the Rush to Empire, 1898 by Evan Thomas Evan Thomas Evan Thomas

On February 15, 1898, the USS Maine exploded in Havana Harbor. The sinking of the Maine was just the provocation Assistant Secretary of the Navy Theodore Roosevelt was looking for. Along with his friend Senator Henry Cabot Lodge and his rival, newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst, Roosevelt began stirring the public's desire for war against Spain. Roosevelt was soon charging up San Juan Hill in Cuba with his Rough Riders in a tragi-comic campaign that marked America's emergence as an empire abroad. Through the perspective of five larger-than-life characters--war lovers Roosevelt, Lodge, Hearst, and two prominent doves, House Speaker Thomas Reed and philosopher William James--Evan Thomas portrays a pivotal chapter in American history. An intriguing examination of the pull that war has on men, THE WAR LOVERS is moving saga of courage, ambition, and broken friendships with a provocative relevance to today.

message 9: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44126 comments Mod
Bryan, you are doing a great job of keeping all of the presidential threads current. Great job.

message 10: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) The President and the Assassin McKinley, Terror, and Empire at the Dawn of the American Century by Scott Miller by Scott Miller (no photo)

Just got this book so I haven't read it yet.....but someone who has read it thought it was quite good and I trust his judgment.
It covers the momentous years leading up to the assassination of McKinley and describes the very different paths that brought together the President and the anarchist who murdered him. It has gotten good reviews and has moved up on my TBR list.

message 11: by Bryan (new)

Bryan Craig Thanks so much, Jill, great addition. It should be a fascinating story, no doubt.

message 12: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) I hate to admit this, Bryan, but what I know about McKinley beyond the assassination, you could put in a I am looking forward to reading this book.

The President and the Assassin McKinley, Terror, and Empire at the Dawn of the American Century by Scott Miller by Scott Miller

message 13: by Bryan (new)

Bryan Craig William McKinley

William McKinley (The American Presidents, #25) by Kevin Phillips Kevin Phillips


By any serious measurement, bestselling historian Kevin Phillips argues, William McKinley was a major American president. It was during his administration that the United States made its diplomatic and military debut as a world power. McKinley was one of eight presidents who, either in the White House or on the battlefield, stood as principals in successful wars, and he was among the six or seven to take office in what became recognized as a major realignment of the U.S. party system.

Phillips, author of Wealth and Democracy and The Cousins' War, has long been fascinated with McKinley in the context of how the GOP began each of its cycles of power. He argues that McKinley's lackluster ratings have been sustained not by unjust biographers but by years of criticism about his personality, indirect methodologies, middle-class demeanor, and tactical inability to inspire the American public. In this powerful and persuasive biography, Phillips musters convincing evidence that McKinley's desire to heal, renew prosperity, and reunite the country qualify him for promotion into the ranks of the best chief executives.

message 14: by Bryan (new)

Bryan Craig Ohio's Kingmaker: Mark Hanna, Man & Myth

Ohio's Kingmaker Mark Hanna, Man and Myth by William Horner William Horner


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 way 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, 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 Kingmakeris a compelling story about a fascinating character in American politics and serves to remind us of the power of (mis)perceptions.

message 15: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Mar 09, 2013 04:36PM) (new)

Bentley | 44126 comments Mod
It does unfortunately and it was already cited above by one of the assisting moderators who was interested in it on their own without any self promotion.

message 16: by Bryan (new)

Bryan Craig Ida McKinley: The Turn-of-the-Century First Lady Through War, Assassination, and Secret Disability

(no image yet)Ida McKinley: The Turn-Of-The-Century First Lady Through War, Assassination, and Secret Disability by Carl Sferrazza Anthony (no photo)


This is the first full-length biography of Ida Saxton McKinley (1847– 1907), the wife of William McKinley, president of the United States from 1897 to his assassination in 1901. Long demeaned by history because she suffered from epilepsy—which the society of her era mistakenly believed to border on mental illness—Ida McKinley was an exceptional woman who exerted a strong influence on her husband’s political decisions.

Born in Canton, Ohio, Ida Saxton was the eldest of three children. Throughout her youth, Ida was remarkably independent and energetic. She was interested in art, architecture, and current events, and she was sensitive to the plight of working women. In 1871 she married lawyer and Civil War veteran William McKinley. Following the deaths of their two daughters and her mother, Ida’s physical condition deteriorated. During the years her husband served as a U.S. congressman and as Ohio governor, her health fluctuated.

Throughout William’s 1896 presidential campaign, delegations came to the McKinley home in Canton to hear the candidate speak from the front porch. Occasionally, Ida was healthy enough to speak with and meet political figures; sometimes she simply sat to hear his speeches; at other times she was entirely absent. Her husband’s devotion to her in her state became an attribute of the campaign. Author Carl Sferrazza Anthony shows that despite her frail health, Ida was determined to fulfill as much of her role as First Lady as she could. She made keen and accurate political observations—particularly in assessing the motives of those ambitious for appointments—and her unrelenting lobbying on behalf of Methodist missionary efforts factored into the president’s decision to retain the Philippine Islands for the United States.

This fascinating biography is essential reading for anyone interested in the life and times of an extraordinary First Lady.

message 17: by Bryan (new)

Bryan Craig Ida McKinley: C-SPAN's First Ladies: Influence & Image:

message 18: by Bryan (new)

Bryan Craig Major McKinley: William McKinley & the Civil War

Major McKinley, William McKinley & The Civil War by William H. Armstrong by William H. Armstrong William H. Armstrong


Major McKinley is the first complete account of the Civil War service of President William McKinley, the last of the Civil War veterans to reach the White House and the only one who served in the ranks. McKinley enlisted as a private in the 23rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry (later commanded by another future president, Rutherford B. Hayes) and was the regiment's commissary sergeant when his bravery at the Battle of Antietam led to a commission and an assignment to Hayes's military staff.

McKinley regarded the end of slavery as the significant outcome of the war and valued the contributions of the black soldiers in the Union army. After the war, as a young lawyer and congressman, he defended the rights of freedmen and did so long after others had tired of the cause. He also reached out to former Confederate soldiers in an effort to help restore unity to a divided country. This initiative eventually overshadowed and diminished his advocacy of civil rights.

Drawing on a wide variety of sources, including McKinley's own papers and the diaries and letters of men who served with him, this book presents a new picture of McKinley as a soldier and provides a fresh appreciation of his later life as a veteran in politics.

message 19: by Jerome, Assisting Moderator - Upcoming Books and Releases (new)

Jerome | 4236 comments Mod
The Spanish-American War and President McKinley

The Spanish-American War and President McKinley by Lewis L. Gould by Lewis L. Gould (no photo)


This succinct, readable paperback, an outgrowth of the author's highly-acclaimed volume The Presidency of William McKinley substantially supersedes other accounts of the coming of the war with Spain, and provides a new and refreshing perspective on McKinley's handling of the war. The volume makes clear that McKinley's expansive view of presidential power had a significant effect on his role as commander-in-chief during the war years and on his efforts to make the White House a command post. According the Gould, McKinley laid the foundation of the modern presidency by his courageous and principled presidential leadership during the coming of the war, by the purposive way in which he conducted and oversaw the war itself, and by the manner in which he made peace with Spain, acquired the Philippines, and gained approval of the Treaty of Paris in the Senate.

message 20: by Bryan (new)

Bryan Craig All the Great Prizes: The Life of John Hay, from Lincoln to Roosevelt

All the Great Prizes The Life of John Hay, from Lincoln to Roosevelt by John Taliaferro by John Taliaferro (no photo)


If Henry James or Edith Wharton had written a novel describing the accomplished and glamorous life and times of John Hay, it would have been thought implausible—a novelist’s fancy. Nevertheless, John Taliaferro’s brilliant biography captures the extraordinary life of Hay, one of the most amazing figures in American history, and restores him to his rightful place.

John Hay was both witness and author of many of the most significant chapters in American history— from the birth of the Republican Party, the Civil War, and the Spanish-American War, to the prelude to the First World War. Much of what we know about Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt comes to us through the observations Hay made while private secretary to one and secretary of state to the other. With All the Great Prizes, the first authoritative biography of Hay in eighty years, Taliaferro has turned the lens around, rendering a rich and fascinating portrait of this brilliant American and his many worlds.

Hay’s friends are a who’s who of the era: Mark Twain, Horace Greeley, Henry Adams, Henry James, and virtually every president, sovereign, author, artist, power broker, and robber baron of the Gilded Age. As an ambassador and statesman, he guided many of the country’s major diplomatic initiatives at the turn of the twentieth century: the Open Door with China, the creation of the Panama Canal, the establishment of America as a world leader.

Hay’s peers esteemed him as “a perfectly cut stone” and “the greatest prime minister this republic has ever known.” But for all his poise and polish, he had his secrets. His marriage to one of the wealthiest women in the country did not prevent him from pursuing the Madame X of Washington society, whose other secret suitor was Hay’s best friend, Henry Adams.

With this superb work, Taliaferro brings us an epic tale.

message 21: by Jerome, Assisting Moderator - Upcoming Books and Releases (new)

Jerome | 4236 comments Mod
The Presidency of William McKinley

The Presidency of William McKinley (American Presidency) by Lewis L. Gould by Lewis L. Gould (no photo)


In this interpretation of the McKinley presidency Lewis L. Gould contends that William McKinley was the first modern president. Making use of extensive original research in manuscript collections in the United States, Great Britain, and France, Gould argues that during McKinley's four and a half years in the White House the executive office began to resemble the institution as the twentieth century would know it. He rejects the erroneous stereotypes that have long obscured McKinley's historical significance: McKinley as the compliant agent of Mark Hanna or as an irresolute executive in the Cuban crisis that led to war with Spain. He contends that McKinley is an important figure in the history of the United States because of the large contributions he made to the strengthening and broadening of the power of the chief executive.

While this volume touches on many aspects of McKinley's leadership, the core of it relates to the coming of the Spanish-American War, the president's conduct of the war itself, and the emergence of an American empire from 1898 to 1900. According to Gould, the Spanish-American War was not the result presidential weakness or of cowardice before public hysteria. McKinley sought to persuade Spain to relinquish Cuba peacefully, turning to war only when it became apparent that Madrid would never acquiesce.

During the war, McKinley effectively directed the American military effort and the diplomacy that brought territorial acquisitions and peace. The process of making peace with Spain--involving, as it did, American annexation of the Philippines--and of securing the ratification of the resulting treaty in the Senate underscored McKinley's expansive view of presidential power. He functioned as chief diplomat, from the sending of senators on the peace commission to the personal supervision of the terms of the negotiation. At home he made tours of the West and South in 1898 to lead popular opinion to his position as no president had done before him. For the Senate he evidenced a readiness to dispense patronage, woo votes with personal persuasion, and marshal the resources of the political system behind his treaty.

Later episodes in McKinley's administration support Gould's thesis. In administering Puerto Rico and Cuba and in suppressing an insurrection in the Philippines, McKinley relied further on the war power and continued to shape affairs from the White House. He sent troops to china during the Boxer Rebellion in 1900 without congressional authorization, governed the new possessions through presidential commissions, and allowed Capitol Hill only a subsidiary role in the process. By 1901 the nation had an empire and a president whose manner and bearing anticipated the imperial executives of six decades later.

Gould does not argue that McKinley was a great president. He maintains, instead, that what McKinley contributed to the office, the examples he offered and the precedents he set make him an important figure in the emergence of the modern presidency in this century.

message 22: by Bryan (new)

Bryan Craig Good addition, Jerome.

message 23: by Jerome, Assisting Moderator - Upcoming Books and Releases (new)

Jerome | 4236 comments Mod
From the Front Porch to the Front Page: McKinley and Bryan in the 1896 Presidential Campaign

From the Front Porch to the Front Page McKinley and Bryan in the 1896 Presidential Campaign by William D. Harpine by William D. Harpine (no photo)


The campaign of 1896 gave the public one of the most dramatic and interesting battles of political oratory in American history, even though, ironically, its issues faded quickly into insignificance after the election. In what is often thought of as a single-issue campaign, William Jennings Bryan delivered his famous "Cross of Gold" speech but lost the election. Meanwhile, William McKinley addressed a range of topics in more than three hundred speeches-without ever leaving his front porch.

William D. Harpine traces the campaign month-by-month to show the development of Bryan's rhetoric and the stability of McKinley's. Beyond adding depth and detail to the scholarly understanding of the 1896 presidential campaign itself, this book casts light on the importance of historical perspective in understanding rhetorical efforts in politics.

message 24: by Jerome, Assisting Moderator - Upcoming Books and Releases (last edited Apr 19, 2020 04:41PM) (new)

Jerome | 4236 comments Mod
An upcoming book:
Release date: November 24, 2015

The Triumph of William McKinley: Why the Election of 1896 Still Matters

The Triumph of William McKinley Why the Election of 1896 Still Matters by Karl Rove by Karl Rove Karl Rove


From New York Times bestselling author and political mastermind Karl Rove comes a fresh look at President William McKinley, whose 1896 campaign ended a bitter period of political gridlock and reformed and modernized his party, thereby creating a governing majority that dominated American politics for the next thirty-six years.

The 1896 political environment resembles that of today: A rapidly changing electorate affected by a growing immigrant population, an uncertain economy disrupted by new technologies, growing income inequality, and contentious issues the two parties could not resolve. McKinley found ways to address these challenges and win, which is why his campaign is so relevant to our politics now.

McKinley, a Civil War hero who preferred "The Major" above any other title he was given, changed the arc of American history by running the first truly modern presidential campaign. Knowing his party could only win if it grew beyond its base, he reached out to diverse ethnic groups, including openly seeking the endorsement of Catholic leaders and advocating for black voting rights. Running on the slogan "The People Against the Bosses," McKinley also took on the machine men who dominated his own party. He deployed campaign tactics still used today, including targeting voters with the best available technology. Above all, he offered bold, controversial answers to the nation’s most pressing challenge; how to make a new, more global economy work for every American; and although this split his own party, he won the White House by sticking to his principles, defeating a charismatic champion of economic populism, William Jennings Bryan.

The 1896 election is a compelling drama in its own right, but McKinley's strategies offer important lessons for both political parties today.

message 25: by Jerome, Assisting Moderator - Upcoming Books and Releases (new)

Jerome | 4236 comments Mod
Release date: September 5, 2017

President McKinley: The Art of Stealthy Leadership

President McKinley The Art of Stealthy Leadership by Robert W. Merry by Robert W. Merry (no photo)


In this great American story, acclaimed historian Robert Merry resurrects the presidential reputation of William McKinley, which loses out to the brilliant and flamboyant Theodore Roosevelt who succeeded him after his assassination. He portrays McKinley as a chief executive of consequence whose low place in the presidential rankings does not reflect his enduring accomplishments and the stamp he put on the country’s future role in the world.

Republican President William McKinley in his two terms as president (1897 – 1901) transformed America. He established the US as an imperial power. Although he does not register large in either public memory or in historians’ rankings, in this revealing account, Robert W. Merry unfolds the mystery of how this bland man managed so much powerful change.

McKinley settled decades of monetary controversy by taking the country to a strict gold standard; in the Spanish-American war he kicked Spain out of the Caribbean and liberated Cuba from Spain; in the Pacific he acquired Hawaii and the Philippines through war and diplomacy; he developed the doctrine of “fair trade”; forced the “Open Door” to China; forged our “special relationship” with Great Britain. In short, he established the non-colonial imperialism that took America into global preeminence. He expanded executive power and managed public opinion through his quiet manipulation of the press. McKinley paved the way for the bold and flamboyant leadership of his famous successor, Teddy Roosevelt, who built on his accomplishments (and got credit for them).

Merry writes movingly about McKinley’s admirable personal life, from his simple Midwestern upbringing to his Civil War heroism to his brave comportment just moments before his death by assassination (it was only six months into his second term when he was shot). Lively, definitive, and eye-opening, President McKinley resurrects this overlooked president and places him squarely on the list of one of the most important.

message 26: by Jerome, Assisting Moderator - Upcoming Books and Releases (new)

Jerome | 4236 comments Mod
Release date: December 16, 2020

Forgotten Legacy: William McKinley, George Henry White, and the Struggle for Black Equality

Forgotten Legacy William McKinley, George Henry White, and the Struggle for Black Equality by Benjamin R. Justesen by Benjamin R. Justesen (no photo)


In Forgotten Legacy, Benjamin R. Justesen reveals a previously unexamined facet of William McKinley’s presidency: an ongoing dedication to the advancement of African Americans, including their appointment to significant roles in the federal government and the safeguarding of their rights as U.S. citizens.

During the first two years of his administration, McKinley named nearly as many African Americans to federal office as all his predecessors combined. He also acted on many fronts to stiffen federal penalties for participation in lynch mobs and to support measures promoting racial tolerance. Indeed, Justesen’s work suggests that McKinley might well be considered the first “civil rights president,” especially when compared to his next five successors in office. Nonetheless, historians have long minimized, trivialized, or overlooked McKinley’s cooperative relationships with prominent African American leaders, including George Henry White, the nation’s only black congressman between 1897 and 1901.

Justesen contends that this conventional, one-sided portrait of McKinley is at best incomplete and misleading, and often severely distorts the historical record. A Civil War veteran and the child of abolitionist parents, the twenty-fifth president committed himself to advocating for equity for America’s black citizens. Justesen uses White’s parallel efforts in and outside of Congress as the primary lens through which to view the McKinley administration’s accomplishments in racial advancement. He focuses on McKinley’s regular meetings with a small and mostly unheralded group of African American advisers and his enduring relationship with leaders of the new National Afro-American Council. His nomination of black U.S. postmasters, consuls, midlevel agency appointees, military officers, and some high-level officials―including U.S. ministers to Haiti and Liberia―serves as perhaps the most visible example of the president’s work in this area. Only months before his assassination in 1901, McKinley toured the South, visiting African American colleges to praise black achievements and encourage a spirit of optimism among his audiences.

Although McKinley succumbed to political pressure and failed to promote equality and civil rights as much as he had initially hoped, Justesen shows that his efforts proved far more significant than previously thought, and were halted only by his untimely death.

message 27: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44126 comments Mod
Thank you Jerome

message 28: by Andrea (new)

Andrea Engle | 907 comments I second the motion, Jerome! The length of my TBR List just got longer ...

message 29: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44126 comments Mod

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