Daniel Kerr (politician)
Born near Dalry, Ayrshire, Scotland, Kerr emigrated to the United States with his parents, Hugh Kerr and Margaret Galt, settling in Madison County, Illinois, in 1841. He attended the common schools. Kerr graduated from McKendree College in 1858. On November 9, 1861, he was united in marriage to Clara Theresa Estabrook in Edwardsville, Illinois. After studying law, he was admitted to the bar in 1862 and commenced practice in Edwardsville, Illinois.
He served as member of the Illinois House of Representatives in 1868, serving until 1870. In 1870 he moved to Grundy Center, Iowa, where he continued to practice law, and also farmed. He was a school director in 1875.
Kerr was elected mayor of Grundy Center in 1877. He was elected to the Iowa House of Representatives in 1883.
In 1886, ran for the Republican nomination to Congress in the Fifth Iowa District. His money did him no harm; nor did owning the Grundy Center Argus, a Republican newspaper. A bitter fight in the convention left bruised feelings all around, and the leading Republican newspaper in Cedar Rapids, the Evening Gazette, charged the money-changers had brought about Kerr's nomination. Kerr could counter by pointing to his battle against jobbery in the Illinois legislature and still more to the advantages he had brought to his community in pushing the Burlington railroad into the northwestern counties of the state. Kerr's own known prohibitionist leanings harmed him seriously among the German Republicans in Cedar Rapids, but made up for it among Republican farmers in the drier countryside. Most of all, the incumbent Democratic congressman, Benjamin Frederick, found it impossible to rein in a savagely-divided and ill-natured party. Kerr was elected as a Republican to the Fiftieth Congress, unseating incumbent Democrat Benjamin T. Frederick. After re-election in 1888 and service in the Fifty-first Congress, he declined to run for a third term in 1890. In all, he served in Congress from March 4, 1887 to March 3, 1891. After leaving Congress, Kerr resumed the practice of law.
Kerr had served as a delegate to the Republican National Convention in 1888 and 1896. In 1896 he indicated that he supported the free coinage of silver, a position closer to Democratic presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan than to his own party's candidate, William McKinley. Soon thereafter he switched parties, becoming a Democrat.
He moved to Pasadena, California, in 1909 and lived there until 1916, when he returned to Grundy Center, where he died on October 8, 1916. He was interred in Rose Hill Cemetery.
- Benjamin Gue, "History of Iowa: From the Earliest Times to the Beginning of the Twentieth Century," vol. IV, p. 153 (1903).
- Dubuque Daily Herald, June 12, 1886; Cedar Rapids Evening Gazette, August 24, 30, November 26, 1886.
- Editorial, Iowa State Register (Waterloo), 1896-09-11 at p. 5.
- "Will Accept: Daniel Kerr as Silver Gubernatorial Candidate," Iowa State Register (Waterloo), 1897-04-22 at p. 1.
- "Democrats Meet," Cedar Rapids Evening Gazette, 1900-09-04 at p. 2.
- "May Indorse Candidacy," Waterloo Daily Courier, 1902-08-21 at p. 1.