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Governor Philip Watkins McKinney

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Office Dates:  Jan 01, 1890 - Jan 01, 1894

Born:  Mar 17, 1832

Passed:  Mar 01, 1899

Birth State:  Virginia

Party:  Democrat

Family:  Married twice -- Ann Fleming Christian (one child); Annie Clay (one child)

School(s):  Hampden-Sidney College, Washington College (now Washington & Lee University)

Military Service:  Army

PHILIP WATKINS MC KINNEY was born in New Store, Buckingham County, Virginia.  He graduated from Hampden-Sydney College in 1851, receiving a special medal for debating.  He went on to study law and commanded a cavalry unit that he helped to raise in the Army of Northern Virginia, suffering severe wounds at Brandy Station.  McKinney served for seven sessions in the Virginia House of Delegates between 1869 and 1865 and was the Commonwealth’s Attorney for Prince Edward County for a number of years.  After failing to win elections for Congress in 1872, for Attorney General in 1881, and for Governor in 1885, he waged a successful campaign for the governorship in 1889 on a platform that attacked northern Republicans and fomented fear of advancement for African-Americans.  During his four years as governor, McKinney focused on improving the state’s economy and strengthening the Virginia Democratic Party.  He also initiated plans to curb the influence of lobbyists and railroads and to enact a state income tax.  After leaving office, he retired to private life in Farmville.


Library of Virginia, Virginia Governor, Executive Papers (1889-1893: McKinney).  Accession 42829.  Biographical/Historical Note. State Government Records Collection, Library of Virginia, Richmond, VA  23219.

The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. 2. New York: James T. White & Company.

Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 4. Westport, CT: Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols

Stiles, Kenneth L. 4th Virginia Cavalry. Lynchburg, VA: H.E. Howard, Inc., 1985.

Wallace, Lee A. A guide To Virginia Military Organizations, 1861-1865. Lynchburg, VA: H.E. Howard, Inc., 1986.
Washington Post, March 4, 1899, p. 3 (obituary).

Younger, Edward and Moore, James Tice, eds. The Governors of Virginia, 1860-1978. Charlottesville, VA: University Press of Virginia, 1982.