Kerr, Michael Crawford, 1827-1876

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Michael Crawford Kerr (March 15, 1827 – August 19, 1876) was a Prosecuting Attorney in the 52nd Judicial District, an American legislator, and the first Democratic Speaker of the United States House of Representatives after the Civil War.

He was born at Titusville, Pennsylvania and educated at the Erie Academy. He graduated from the University of Louisville School of Law in 1851. He moved to New Albany, Indiana in 1852 and was a member of the State Legislature from 1856 to 1857.

He was elected to Congress in 1864 as a War Democrat, having vigorously opposed the Copperhead element in his district. He won the praise of Republican Governor Oliver P. Morton for helping suppress illegal conspiracies by Copperheads.

Kerr served in the United States House of Representatives as a Democrat from Indiana from 1865 to 1873. In Congress he was looked upon as one of the leaders of the Democratic party. He strongly opposed the Republican policy of Reconstruction in the Southern States. He was not re-elected in 1872.

His hard money views on financial questions did not meet with favor in his agrarian constituency, where he openly antagonized the inflationists and the Greenback element and favored the resumption of specie payments. In 1874, however, after a sharp contest he won the seat back, and on his re-entry into Congress was elected to the speakership. He presided as Speaker at only the first session of the Forty-fourth Congress and died of consumption shortly after its adjournment.

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Gresham, Walter Quintin, 1832-1895. Collection, 1858-1946, bulk 1858-1935. Indiana Historical Society Library
referencedIn Newspaper graphics collection, 1854-1910. Indiana Historical Society Library
referencedIn James P. Hambleton papers, 1857-1893 Emory University Library, Special Collect Department
contributorOf Indiana political letters addition, 1866-1907 Indiana Historical Society Library
referencedIn Marble, Manton, 1834-1917. Manton Marble papers, 1838-1916 (bulk 1864-1898). Library of Congress
referencedIn Cravens mss., 1850-1872 Lilly Library (Indiana University, Bloomington)
referencedIn Manton Marble Papers, 1838-1916, (bulk 1864-1898) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn Newspaper and magazine graphics collection, 1854-1913. Indiana Historical Society Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Place Name Admin Code Country
Titusville PA US
New Albany IN US
Rockbridge County VA US
Speakers of the House, U.S. Congress
State Representative
Representatives, U.S. Congress--Indiana


Birth 1827-03-15

Death 1876-08-16






Ark ID: w6r8133c

SNAC ID: 49632463