SCHS: Court History — Rosette Detail

John McKinley, 1837-1852

Justice John McKinley, 1838-1852
JOHN McKINLEY was born in Culpeper County, Virginia, on May 1, 1780, but at an early age moved with his family to Kentucky. He studied law on his own and was admitted to the bar in 1800. McKinley practiced law for a time in Frankfort, the state capital, and Louisville, the commercial center. McKinley then moved to Alabama and settled in Huntsville, where he became active in politics. McKinley was elected to the Alabama State Legislature in 1820, 1831, and 1836. In 1826, the Legislature elected him to the United States Senate, where he served until 1831. He was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1833 and served one term. In 1837, Congress expanded the Supreme Court from seven to nine members. In that same year, the Alabama Legislature re-elected McKinley to the United States Senate. However, McKinley accepted an appointment to one of the two new Supreme Court seats from President Martin Van Buren on September 18, 1837. The Senate confirmed the appointment on September 25, 1837. McKinley served on the Supreme Court for fourteen years. He died on July 19, 1852, at the age of seventy-two.