Manchin was born in Farmington, West Virginia to Kathleen and Joseph Manchin I. His parents were of Italian descent. He received an A.B. degree in political science and sociology and a master's degree in education from West Virginia University.
Manchin was first elected to the West Virginia House of Delegates in 1948 at age 21, but was defeated in his bid for re-election in 1950. He spent most of the 1950s working as a high school teacher and wrestling coach.
In 1961, President John F. Kennedy appointed him to serve as State Director of the Farmers Home Administration and he served at the federal level as Special Assistant to the National Administrator of the Farmers Home Administration, holding those positions.
In 1972, he ran for West Virginia Secretary of State when incumbent Jay Rockefeller retired to run for governor. In the seven candidate Democratic primary, he lost and ranked second place with 18% of the vote, behind Thomas Winner who won with a plurality of 20% of the vote. After the election, Governor Arch A. Moore, Jr. in 1973 appointed him to direct the Rehabilitation Environmental Action Program (REAP), a successful effort which rid the State of more than 100,000 junked cars as well as numerous appliances.
In 1976, Manchin ran again to become Secretary of State and defeated incumbent Republican James McCartney 55%-45%.
In 1980, he won re-election with 71% of the vote.
Elected State Treasurer in 1984, he created the Teddi Program which brought 28,000 new jobs to West Virginia. He was impeached by the House of Delegates on March 30, 1989, amid a controversy over bad investments that lost the state $279 million mainly during the time period between April and June 1987. The impeachment resolution blamed Manchin for negligence in delegating and supervising the investment fund, making improper investments and covering up losses.
Though he initially vowed to stay in office, conviction by the Senate would have meant losing his eligibility to run for office again, and could have cost him his pension. He resigned before his trial by the State Senate was completed.
He later returned to the House of Delegates in 1998, where he served until his death from a massive heart attack in 2003.
The House of Delegates called him "a flamboyant character of the first magnitude" and praised his love of ceremony in their resolution honoring him after his death.Government Organization
Roads and Transportation
Veteran Affair (Vice Chair)
Enrolled Bills (Chair)
Manchin was married to Stella Machel Petros and had three children. One of his sons, Mark, was Chief of Webster County School District. A Roman Catholic, he served as a lector at his church.