William Pinckney McLean, lawyer, legislator, judge, and member of the first state Railroad Commission, the son of Allen F. and Ann (Rose) McLean, was born in Copiah County, Mississippi, on August 9, 1836. His father died when William was two, and his mother moved the family to Cass County, Texas. One of William's brothers was John Howell McLean. William McLean attended the University of North Carolina, where he earned his bachelor's degree in 1857 and his law degree in 1858. He then returned to Texas, where he married Margaret Batte in 1859; the couple had eight children. McLean practiced law for brief periods in Marshall and then in Jefferson before moving to Victoria and buying a farm on the Guadalupe River. In 1861 he was elected to the Texas legislature as a representative from DeWitt, Victoria, Calhoun, Jackson, Refugio, and Goliad counties. He soon resigned his seat, however, to join the Confederate Army as a member of the Nineteenth Texas Infantry, Walker's Texas Division. He served with this division throughout the war and rose to the rank of adjutant general. After the war he moved to Titus County. In 1869 he was again elected to the Texas legislature, this time as a representative from Titus and Red River counties. He served as a member of the Democratic state executive committee and as a presidential elector in 1872. The same year he was elected to the United States Congress from the Second Congressional District. After his one term in Washington, he chose not to seek reelection. He returned to Titus County and was elected a delegate to the Constitutional Convention of 1875. He subsequently resumed private law practice until 1884, when he was elected judge of the Fifth Judicial District of Texas. Again he retired after serving a single term and returned to his private law practice. In 1891 Governor James Stephen Hogg appointed McLean to the first Railroad Commission. He was reappointed in 1893 but resigned in 1894 to move to Fort Worth and practice law. He was highly successful in his law career and enjoyed a statewide reputation. He attended the Democratic state convention in 1898 and chaired it in 1902. He continued to practice law until his death on March 13, 1925. He was a member of the Episcopalian Church and a Mason.
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Dallas Morning News, March 14, 1925. Frank W. Johnson, A History of Texas and Texans (5 vols., ed. E. C. Barker and E. W. Winkler [Chicago and New York: American Historical Society, 1914; rpt. 1916]). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.
Law, Law Enforcement, and Outlaws
Politics and Government
Dallas/Fort Worth Region
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Cecil Harper, Jr.,
“McLean, William Pinckney,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed May 27, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
Most Recent Revision Date:
November 20, 2020
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