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.
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