William Alexander MacCorkle was born near Lexington, Virginia. After briefly teaching school in Pocahontas County, he attended Washington and Lee University. In 1879, he established a law practice in Charleston and also taught school. From 1880 to 1889, he served as the Kanawha County prosecuting attorney.
As governor, MacCorkle advocated increased funding for state institutions and improved transportation. Through an advertising program, he actively promoted the state's natural resources to attract industry. MacCorkle opposed the growing labor movement among coal miners and dispatched the state militia to break a strike.
After leaving office, MacCorkle returned to his Charleston law practice. In his numerous travels, he continued to publicize the state's resources. In 1910, he was elected to the West Virginia Senate. MacCorkle was also a founder and president of the Citizens National Bank, which later merged with the Charleston National Bank. He died at his home, Sunrise, in 1930.
Inventory of the William A. MacCorkle Collection
Finding aid to Governor William Alexander MacCorkle Papers
West Virginia's Governors
West Virginia History Center