Joseph W. McCorkle

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Joseph Walker McCorkle
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's at-large district
In office
March 4, 1851 – March 3, 1853
Preceded byJames A. McDougall
Succeeded byPhilemon T. Herbert
Personal details
Born(1819-06-24)June 24, 1819
Piqua, Ohio
DiedMarch 18, 1884(1884-03-18) (aged 59)
College Park, Maryland
Resting placeForest Hill Cemetery (Piqua, Ohio)
Political partyDemocratic
EducationKenyon College

Joseph Walker McCorkle (June 24, 1819 – March 18, 1884) was an American lawyer and politician who served one term as a California congressman from 1851 to 1853.

Early life[edit]

McCorkle was born in Piqua, Ohio on June 24, 1819.[1] He attended Kenyon College as a member of the class of 1839, but left before graduating.[2] He studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1842.[1] He moved to Dayton, Ohio, where he established a law practice.[1] From 1845 to 1849, McCorkle also served as Dayton's postmaster.[1]

In 1849, McCorkle moved to San Francisco, California at the start of the gold rush.[1] In 1850, he was an unsuccessful candidate for judge of California's Eighth Judicial District.[1]

Continued career[edit]

Later in 1850, McCorkle obtained the Democratic nomination for the California State Assembly.[1] He won the general election and served one term, 1850 to 1852.[1] In 1850, he was the Democratic nominee for Congress from California's 2nd District.[1] He was elected and served one term, 1851 to 1853.[1] He was an unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1852.[1]

On June 1, 1853, a dispute with he fought a duel with William M. Gwin, a fellow Democrat and one of California's U.S. Senators, over the management of federal patronage.[3] Gwin and McCorkle fired rifles at each other in San Mateo, California and came away unharmed.[3] A donkey in a field several hundred yards away was accidentally struck and died.[4]

Later life[edit]

After leaving Congress, McCorkle moved from San Francisco to Marysville, California where he returned to practicing law.[1] In 1853, he was appointed judge of the 9th Judicial District, and he served until 1857.[1] In 1855, he was an unsuccessful candidate for U.S. Senator.[1]

In 1857, McCorkle returned to San Francisco where he resumed practicing law.[1] In 1860, just after the 1859 discovery of the Comstock Lode, he moved to nearby Virginia City, Nevada, where he practiced law until 1870.[1] He left Virginia City to practice law in Washington, D.C., where he specialized in cases before the American-Mexican Claims Commission.[1]

Death and burial[edit]

In retirement, McCorkle resided in Branchville, College Park, Maryland.[1] He died in Branchville on March 18, 1884.[1] McCorkle was buried at Forest Hill Cemetery in Piqua, Ohio.[1] He was a lifelong bachelor and had no children.[5]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t United States Congress (1961). Biographical Directory of the American Congress, 1774-1961. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office. p. 1288 – via Google Books.
  2. ^ Kenyon College (1899). General Catalogue of Kenyon College. Toledo, OH: Franklin Printing & Engraving Co. p. 31 – via Google Books.
  3. ^ a b O'Meara, James (1881). Broderick and Gwin: The Most Extraordinary Contest for a Seat in the Senate. San Francisco, CA: Bacon & Company. pp. 38–40. ISBN 9780598278869 – via Google Books.
  4. ^ Truman, Benjamin Cummings (1884). The Field of Honor. New York, NY: Fords, Howard, & Hulbert. p. 571 – via Google Books.
  5. ^ Stutesman, John Hale (1983). Alexander McCorkle (1722-1800) & His Kin. San Francisco, CA: J.H. Stutesman. p. 80 – via Google Books.

External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's at-large congressional district

Succeeded by