William Casey Marland was born in Johnson City, Illinois, and moved with his parents to Glen Rogers, Wyoming County, at age seven. After working in the coal mines, he attended the University of Alabama and received his law degree from West Virginia University. During World War II, Marland saw combat duty as a Navy gunnery officer in the South Pacific and attained the rank of lieutenant. He served briefly as a law clerk for the United States District Court for Southern West Virginia before being named the state Assistant Attorney General by Governor Clarence Watson Meadows in 1948. The following year, Marland was appointed Attorney General and was elected to that position the following year.
Three days after becoming governor, Marland proposed a severance tax on extractive industries, most notably coal. The legislature, heavily backed by the coal industry, blocked this tax and others which would have benefitted schools and roads. Marland advocated the desegregation of schools, expansion of the state parks and other recreational facilities, improved unemployment and workers' compensation laws, and an industrial development program.
After an unsuccessful bid for the United States Senate in 1956, Marland established a law practice in Charleston. In 1958, he again was defeated for the Democratic Senate nomination and moved to Chicago to work for a coal company. Several years later, he was discovered driving a taxi cab following a battle with alcoholism. In 1965, Marland returned to West Virginia as associate director of a horse racing enterprise. Soon thereafter, he was stricken with cancer. Marland died in Barrington, Illinois, later that year.
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