JAMES B. McCREARY was born in Madison County, Kentucky on July 8, 1838. His education was attained at Centre College, where he graduated from in 1857, and at Cumberland University in Tennessee, where he earned his law degree in 1859. During the Civil War, he served as a major in the Confederate Army, and rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel by the time of his discharge. McCreary entered politics in 1869, serving as a member of the Kentucky House of Representatives, a position he held until 1875. He also served as house speaker from 1871 to 1875. McCreary won the 1875 Democratic gubernatorial nomination and was elected governor in the general election. During his first term, he advocated for the Agricultural and Mechanical College to become independent from the Kentucky University, he endorsed advancing the state’s public school system, and he recommended restructuring the state’s river navigation system. After leaving office, McCreary was elected and served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1885 to 1897. He also was appointed a delegate to the International Monetary Conference in 1892, and was a member of the U.S. Senate from 1903 to 1909. In 1911, McCreary was reelected to the governor’s office. During his second administration, the state board of health was created, property taxes were cut, the prohibition issue versus the county option was deliberated, and roads, highways, and educational programs were all advanced. McCreary left office on December 7, 1915, and retired from public service. Governor James B. McCreary passed away on October 8, 1918, and was buried at the Richmond Cemetery.
Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress
Governors' Papers, Kentucky Department for Libraries & Archives, Public Records Division
The Political Graveyard
Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 2, Westport, Conn.; Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.