When William was a small lad, he worked in a small wire making company and was known for his hard work. Everyone thought of him as a strong man, but later while working he had a mental breakdown and was forced to leave his work. At the age of 34, McKinley won a seat in Congress. His attractive personality, exemplary character, and quick intelligence enabled him to rise rapidly to higher seats. 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”, he was generally on the side of the public and against private interests.