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March 2, 2014 / Joanne Yeck

Buckingham Notables: Philip W. McKinney


Philip W. McKinney

In 1899, Hampden-Sydney College’s student publication, Kaleidoscope, printed a tribute to the distinguished alumnus, Philip W. McKinney (1832-1899). Born in Buckingham County, McKinney served as Governor of Virginia from 1890-1894.

The memorial article was written by Thomas J. Garden who had known McKinney since college days. To Garden, McKinney was “Phil,” a humble, diffident, and refined boy from Buckingham County.  Garden wrote:

To say that he was born May 1st, 1832, and died March 1st, 1899, is all that he would wish to be said about him. Such was his aversion to praise, and so retiring was he in the sweetness of his nature that he shrank from any demonstrations of display made in his honor….

Educated at an old-field school at New Store, his home and native place in Buckingham County, Virginia, by good instructors he early was prepared for college and it was at Hampden-Sydney that the writer had the privilege and the honor of first knowing his classmate Phil W. McKinney,—a diffident blushing youth of seventeen, gentle in manner, courteous to all, fluent and attractive in conversation, a good speaker and such were his oratorical gifts that he easily carried off the prize as best speaker in our graduating class of 1851. While at college, I had the best of opportunities to know Phil McKinney. We often prepared our recitations together, took long walks in the groves and around the campus grounds, and after we left college he induced me to take a school at New Store and I lived in the same room with him for years and I can say neither at college nor during all these fifty years that have passed in which we have been thrown frequently together I have never known him to take even a drink of ardent spirits or utter an oath, or bet at a game of chance, and his language has been always chaste and refined. Of how many public men of these days can this truthfully be said?

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