WILLIAM ALEXANDER MAC CORKLE was born in Lexington, Virginia. After graduating from the College of Law at Washington and Lee University in 1879, he began the practice of law, and served as Prosecuting Attorney of Kanawha County, West Virginia from 1880 to 1889. During his term as governor, legislation was enacted requiring every male taxpayer between the ages of twenty-one and fifty to work two days each year on the roads in the area of his residence. MacCorkle was later elected to the West Virginia State Senate. He also authored Some Southern Questions, The Monroe Doctrine, The Book of the White Sulphur, The Personal Genesis of the Monroe Doctrine, and Recollection of Fifty Years of West Virginia.
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.
The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. 12. New York: James T. White & Company.