John McKinly

Infobox Officeholder
honorific-prefix =
name = Dr. John McKinly
honorific-suffix =



imagesize =
small

office = President of Delaware
term_start = February 12 1777
term_end = September 22 1777
predecessor = new office
successor = Thomas McKean
birth_date = birth date|1721|2|21|mf=y
birth_place = Ulster, Ireland
death_date = death date and age|1796|8|21|1721|2|21
death_place = Wilmington, Delaware
spouse = Jane Richardson
party = Federalist
residence = Wilmington, Delaware
alma_mater =
occupation =
profession = physician
religion = Presbyterian

Dr. John McKinly (February 21 1721 – August 21 1796) was an American physician and politician from Wilmington, in New Castle County, Delaware. He was a veteran of the French and Indian War, served in the Delaware General Assembly, was the first elected President of Delaware, and for a time was a member of the Federalist Party.

Early life and family

McKinly was born February 21 1721 in Ulster, Ireland and emigrated to Wilmington, Delaware in 1742. In 1761, he married Jane "Jenny" Richardson, a daughter of the Quaker miller, Richard Richardson. They had no children. Their home was at the northwest corner of 3rd and French Streets in Wilmington, now the location of an office building. They were members of the First Presbyterian Church of Wilmington, which is now known as the First and Central Presbyterian Church at Rodney Square in Wilmington. Although nothing seems to be known of his medical education, he soon established himself as a popular physician. In 1747 he was commissioned a lieutenant in the New Castle County militia, and in 1756, during the French and Indian War, he was commissioned again as a major. Along with others, he built a bombproof battery and magazine at the site of the old Fort Christina, in an area known as "the Rocks." It was proudly reported that it equaled if not exceeded, "any on the continent for strength and beauty." [ cite journal |last = Rowe |first = G.S |title = Vignettes of Delaware History |journal = Delaware Tercentenary Almanack & Historical Repository |volume =|issue = |pages = |date = 1938 |url = ]

Political career

Eighteenth century Delaware was politically divided into loose factions known as the "Court Party" and the "Country Party." The majority Court Party was generally Anglican, strongest in Kent County and Sussex County, worked well with the colonial Proprietary government, and was in favor of reconciliation with the British government. The minority Country Party was largely Ulster-Scot, centered in New Castle County, and quickly advocated independence from the British. McKinly, like most of the rest of population and the majority in the General Assembly, was associated with the Court Party and its moderate policies. However, his Ulster-Scots background and prominence in the Presbyterian Church community made him acceptable to many who normally associated themselves with the Country Party.

McKinly was elected Sheriff of New Castle County in 1757, served 4 three year terms as Chief Burgess of the town of Wilmington between 1758 and 1776. He also represented New Castle County in the Assembly of the Lower Counties from the 1771/72 session through the 1775/76 session. In the events leading up to the American Revolution, he became a member of the Delaware Committee of Correspondence in October 1773, and was chairman by November 1774. Meanwhile he served as Brigadier General of the New Castle County militia.

When the Assembly of the Lower Counties declared its separation from the British government on June 15 1776, it created a Council of Safety to run the newly independent state when the Assembly was not in session. It consisted of five members from each county. McKinly was one of those representing New Castle County, and was elected President of the Committee. Then when Delaware elected its first House of Assembly in October 1776, he was again elected to represent New Castle County in the 1776/77 session, and was chosen by that body as its Speaker.

President of Delaware

On February 12 1777 the General Assembly elected him to be Delaware's first Chief Magistrate or President and he served until he was replaced on September 22 1777. As President, he was immediately faced with an insurrection by Loyalists, particularly in Sussex County. There was also an immediate need to recruit new soldiers for the Delaware regiment in the Continental Army, as the enlistments of the original regiment had expired. However, events completely overtook him after the major British victory at the Battle of Brandywine on September 11 1777. The evening after the battle the 71st Regiment, Frazer's Highlanders, were sent the 10 miles to Wilmington to meet up with the British fleet on the Delaware River and establish a hospital for the wounded. In the course of doing so they found and captured the state treasury, including most of the state papers. They also found President McKinly at home in his bed, and they took him into captivity as well. He was kept as a prisoner of war on the "Roebuck," and later on the "Solebay," in the Delaware River.

John Scharf in his "History of Delaware" describes the situation:

"General Howe remained in camp on the Brandywine, and on the evening after the battle sent a detachment of troops to Wilmington to seize President John McKinly and secure such plunder as might fall in their way. They took the President from his bed at dead of night, and seizing a sloop that lay in the stream, loaded it with valuables stolen from the people, a large quantity of public and private money, many of the public and private records and all the papers and certificates of the loan and treasury offices. With these rich prizes the marauders returned to camp, but on the 12th and 13th Wilmington was occupied in force by the British, while the men-of-war "Roebuck" and "Liverpool" laid opposite the town. Many of the British wounded had been brought into Wilmington, and the people at least knew that they were safe from bombardment so long as any of their houses were turned into British hospitals." [ cite book |title= History of Delaware 1609-1888. 2 vols |last= Scharf |first= John Thomas |year= 1888 ]

In an August 20 1778 letter to Henry Laurens, the President of the Continental Congress, McKinly wrote:

"Several circumstance concurred to render my staying at Wilmington necessary to the public whilst the enemy were moving toward Philadelphia, and being more solicitous to perform my duty, than for my own personal safety, I was unexpectedly made a prisoner in my own house there on the night succeeding the 12th day of September last, by the 71st British Regiment, said to contain at that time of 900 men, who were detached to take possession of that place for the accommodation of such of their Army as were wounded the day preceding, at the Battle of Brandywine. I sustained at this time some heavy losses of private property." [*cite book |title = The Philadelphia Campaign|last = McGuire |first = Thomas J. |coauthors = |work= |publisher = Stackpole Books |location = Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania |pages = p. 278|year = 2006]

When the British left Philadelphia in June 1778, McKinly was transferred to Flatbush, New York. He was finally paroled in August 1778, having been exchanged for William Franklin, Loyalist Governor of New Jersey, and Benjamin Franklin's son.

{|class=wikitable style="width: 94%" style="text-align: center;" align="center"
-bgcolor=#cccccc!colspan=12 style="background: #ccccff;" |Delaware General Assembly
"(sessions while President)"
-!Year!Assembly!!Senate Majority!Speaker!!House Majority!Speaker
-
1776/77
1st|
Party shading/Federalist |"non-partisan"
Party shading/Federalist |George Read|
Party shading/Federalist |"non-partisan"
Party shading/Federalist |Thomas McKean
-
###@@@KEYEND@@@###

Professional career

After his release, McKinly returned to his medical practice and remained active in Wilmington affairs. He never held political office again, refusing an appointment to the Continental Congress and losing a General Assembly election for his old job as President in February 1783. He helped found the Delaware Medical Society in 1789 and was also a member of the Newark Academy Board of Trustees before 1783, becoming President of the Board from 1794 until his death in 1796. The Academy of Newark eventually developed into the University of Delaware. He was known to have contributed to the salaries of the teachers in the school and sponsored many students in their education. [ New Castle Presbytery History [http://www.ncpresbytery.org/history.htm] ]

Death and legacy

McKinly died August 21 1796 in Wilmington, Delaware, was buried first at the Presbyterian Churchyard there. His remains were moved to the Wilmington & Brandywine Cemetery in 1922. There is a marker placed in his memory in the cemetery at South Park Drive, near its intersection with North Adams Street.

McKinly was the only Chief Executive of Delaware known to have been born in a foreign country. Although he was Ulster-Scot, and from New Castle County, he was a moderate on the issue of independence, viewing the break with Britain with reluctance and regret. This being the position held by most of the population, he was widely acceptable, especially in Kent County and Sussex County. George Read was his political ally and mentor, and most likely lined up the support for his election as President. Thomas McKean and his allies were, therefore, generally opponents. Ardent revolutionaries such as James Tilton referred to him as "a patch on the back of George Read," and an "old woman." McKinly always blamed Thomas McKean for the lengthy captivity he endured. [cite journal |last = Rowe |first = G.S |title = The Travail of John McKinly, First President of Delaware |journal = Delaware History |volume = XVII |issue = |pages = 24, 28, 36 |date = 1976 |url = ]

The John McKinly Laboratory at the University of Delaware is named in his honor.

There is no known portrait of John McKinly.

Almanac

Elections were held October 1st. Members of the General Assembly took office on October 20th, or the following weekday. State Assemblymen had a one year term. The General Assembly chose the State President for a three year term.

{|class=wikitable style="width: 94%" style="text-align: center;" align="center"
-bgcolor=#cccccc!colspan=7 style="background: #ccccff;" | Public Offices
-! Office! Type! Location! Elected! Took Office! Left Office! notes
-Party shading/Anti-Administration
Sheriff
Judiciary
New Castle
1757
October 4 1757
October 3 1760
New Castle County
-Party shading/Anti-Administration
Chief Burgess
Executive
Wilmington
1758
October 20 1758
October 20 1761
Wilmington
-Party shading/Anti-Administration
Chief Burgess
Executive
Wilmington
1766
October 20 1766
October 20 1769
Wilmington
-Party shading/Anti-Administration
Chief Burgess
Executive
Wilmington
1770
October 20 1770
October 20 1773
Wilmington
-Party shading/Anti-Jacksonian
Assemblyman
Legislature
New Castle
1771
October 21 1771
October 20 1772|
-Party shading/Anti-Jacksonian
Assemblyman
Legislature
New Castle
1772
October 20 1772
October 20 1773|
-Party shading/Anti-Jacksonian
Assemblyman
Legislature
New Castle
1773
October 20 1773
October 20 1774|
-Party shading/Anti-Jacksonian
Assemblyman
Legislature
New Castle
1774
October 20 1774
October 20 1775|
-Party shading/Anti-Administration
Chief Burgess
Executive
Wilmington
1774
October 20 1774
October 28 1776
Wilmington
-Party shading/Anti-Jacksonian
Assemblyman
Legislature
New Castle
1775
October 20 1775
June 15 1776|
-Party shading/Anti-Jacksonian
President
Executive
New Castle|
June 15 1776
October 28 1776
Council of Safety
-Party shading/Anti-Jacksonian
State Representative
Legislature
New Castle
1776
October 28 1776
February 12 1777|
-Party shading/Anti-Jacksonian
State President
Executive
New Castle|
February 12 1777
September 22 1777
[replaced when captured and imprisoned by the British.]
###@@@KEYEND@@@###

{|class=wikitable style="width: 94%" style="text-align: center;" align="center"
-bgcolor=#cccccc!colspan=7 style="background: #ccccff;" |Delaware General Assembly "service"
-! Dates! Assembly! Chamber! Majority! Governor! Committees! District
-Party shading/Federalist
1776/77
1st
State House
"non-partisan"
none
Speaker [resigned upon election as State President.]
New Castle "at-large"
###@@@KEYEND@@@###

Notes

References

*cite book |title = History of the State of Delaware, 3 vols. |last = Conrad |first = Henry C. |coauthors = |work = |publisher = Wickersham Company |location = Lancaster, Pennsylvania |year = 1908 |id =
*cite book |title = Democracy in Delaware |last= Hoffecker |first= Carol E. |coauthors= |work= |publisher= Cedar Tree Books |location= Wilmington, Delaware |pages= |year= 2004 |id= ISBN 1-892142-23-6
*cite book |title = History of Delaware Through its Governors |last= Martin |first= Roger A. |coauthors= |work= |publisher= McClafferty Press |location= Wilmington, Delaware |pages= |year= 1984 |id=
*cite book |title = Memoirs of the Senate |last= Martin |first= Roger A.|coauthors= |work= |publisher= Roger A. Martin |location= Newark, Delaware |pages= |year= 1995 |id=
*cite book |title = Federalist Delaware 1775-1815 |last = Munroe |first = John A. |coauthors = |work= |publisher = Rutgers University |location = New Brunswick, New Jersey |pages = |year = 1954 |id=
*cite journal |title = Reflections on Delaware and the American Revolution |last = Munroe |first = John A. |journal = Delaware History |volume = XVII |issue = |pages = 6 |date = 1976 |url =
*cite book |title = Biographical Directory of American and Revolutionary Governors 1607-1789 |last = Racino |first = John W. |year = 1980 |publisher = Meckler Books |location = Westport, CT |id = ISBN 0-930466-00-4
*cite journal |title = The Travail of John McKinly, First President of Delaware |last = Rowe |first = G.S |journal = Delaware History |volume = XVII |issue = |pages = 24, 28, 36 |date = 1976 |url =
*cite book |title = History of Delaware 1609-1888. 2 vols |last = Scharf |first = John Thomas |coauthors = |work = |publisher = L. J. Richards & Co |location = Philadelphia |year = 1888 |id =
*cite book |title = Appletons’ Encyclopedia of American Biography |last = Wilson |first = James Grant |coauthors = John Fiske |work = |publisher = D. Appleton and Company |location = New York |year = 1888 |id =

External links

*Find A Grave|id=7461367
* [http://www.russpickett.com/history/delgov1.htm#mckin John McKinly at "Delaware’s Governors"]
* [http://www.russpickett.com/history/mckinbio.htm John McKinly biography by Russell Pickett]

Places with more information

* [http://www.hsd.org/ Historical Society of Delaware] , 505 Market St., Wilmington, Delaware (302) 655-7161
* [http://www.lib.udel.edu/ University of Delaware Library] , 181 South College Ave., Newark, Delaware (302) 831-2965


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