John McKinley

John McKinley (May 1, 1780 – July 19, 1852) was a U.S. Senator from the state of Alabama and an associate justice of the United States Supreme Court.

John McKinley
Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States
In office
April 22, 1837  July 19, 1852
Nominated byMartin Van Buren
Preceded bySeat established
Succeeded byJohn Campbell
United States Senator
from Alabama
In office
March 4, 1837  April 22, 1837
Preceded byGabriel Moore
Succeeded byClement Clay
In office
November 27, 1826  March 4, 1831
Preceded byIsrael Pickens
Succeeded byGabriel Moore
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Alabama's 2nd district
In office
March 4, 1833  March 4, 1835
Preceded bySamuel Mardis
Succeeded byJoshua Martin
Personal details
Born(1780-05-01)May 1, 1780
Culpeper County, Virginia, U.S.
DiedJuly 19, 1852(1852-07-19) (aged 72)
Louisville, Kentucky, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic-Republican (Before 1825)
Democratic (1828–1852)
Other political

Early life

Born in Culpeper County, Virginia, his family moved to Kentucky when he was an infant. In that state he read law and was admitted to the bar in 1800, practicing in Frankfort and Louisville from 1800 to 1819 before moving to Huntsville, Alabama.

Political career

After serving in the Alabama House of Representatives, he was elected to the U.S. Senate, serving his first term from November 27, 1826 to March 3, 1831, being elected to fill out the rest of the term of Henry H. Chambers. Israel Pickens served as interim senator until McKinley was elected. He was reelected to the Senate, but served only from March 4, 1837 until his abrupt resignation on April 22 of that same year. McKinley received a recess appointment from President Martin Van Buren on April 22, 1837, to a newly created seat (one of two which had been created by Congress – 5 Stat. 176) on the Supreme Court. Formally nominated on September 18, 1837, McKinley was confirmed by the United States Senate on September 25, 1837, and received his commission the same day. There was no interim senator this time, and Clement C. Clay was elected to the post. McKinley served on the Supreme Court for fourteen years. He died in Louisville, Kentucky, on July 19, 1852, at the age of 72.[1][2]

Legacy and honors

The community of McKinley, Alabama is named in his honor.[3]

During World War II the Liberty ship SS John McKinley was built in Brunswick, Georgia, and named in his honor.[4]


  1. John McKinley, 1838-1852 Archived 2008-07-24 at the Wayback Machine, Supreme Court Historical Society
  2. McKINLEY, John, (1780–1852), Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
  3. Marengo County Heritage Book Committee (2000). The heritage of Marengo County, Alabama. Clanton, Alabama: Heritage Publishing Consultants. p. 9. ISBN 1-891647-58-X.
  4. Williams, Greg H. (25 July 2014). The Liberty Ships of World War II: A Record of the 2,710 Vessels and Their Builders, Operators and Namesakes, with a History of the Jeremiah O'Brien. McFarland. ISBN 978-1476617541. Retrieved 9 December 2017.


U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Samuel Mardis
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Alabama's 2nd congressional district

March 4, 1833 – March 4, 1835
Succeeded by
Joshua Martin
U.S. Senate
Preceded by
Israel Pickens
U.S. Senator (Class 3) from Alabama
Served alongside: William King
Succeeded by
Gabriel Moore
Preceded by
Gabriel Moore
U.S. Senator (Class 3) from Alabama
Served alongside: William King
Succeeded by
Clement Clay
Legal offices
New seat Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States
Succeeded by
John Campbell
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