Joseph A. Mackey, Jr. was born in Providence, Rhode Island on July 22, 1947. His father, Joseph Mackey, was an attorney, and his mother, Margaret Mackey, was a teacher. At the time of this interview in 2003, she was 93 years old. He attended the University of Pennsylvania and received his degree in English Literature. Mackey moved to Maine in 1970, and later went to law school at the University of Maine in 1973. He worked on many Democratic campaigns in the state of Maine, and also worked on the presidential Campaign of Jimmy Carter.
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L'Hommedieu, Andrea, "Mackey, Joseph A., Jr. oral history interview" (2003). Edmund S. Muskie Oral History Collection. 231.