Francis Kernan

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Francis Kernan
Francis Kernan - Brady-Handy.jpg
United States Senator
from New York
In office
March 4, 1875 – March 4, 1881
Preceded by Reuben E. Fenton
Succeeded by Thomas C. Platt
Personal details
Born (1816-01-14)January 14, 1816
Wayne, New York
Died September 7, 1892(1892-09-07) (aged 76)
Utica, New York
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Hannah A. Devereux
Profession Politician, Lawyer
Religion Roman Catholic

Francis Kernan (January 14, 1816 – September 7, 1892) was an American lawyer and politician from New York. He was a U.S. Senator (D-NY) from 1875 to 1881.

Biography[edit]

Kernan was the son of Gen. William Kernan, who came to America from County Cavan, Ireland, in 1800, and Rose Anna (Stubbs) Kernan. He graduated from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., in 1836, then studied law, and removed to Utica, New York in 1839. He was admitted to the bar in July 1840, and then practiced law with Joshua A. Spencer.

Kernan was school commissioner of Utica, manager of the New York State Hospital, Reporter of the New York Court of Appeals from 1854 to 1857, a member of the New York State Assembly (Oneida Co., 1st D.) in 1861, and a regent of the University of the State of New York from 1870 until his death.

He was elected as a Democrat to the 38th United States Congress, defeating the Republican boss Roscoe Conkling, and served from March 4, 1863, to March 4, 1865. In 1864, he was defeated for re-election by Conkling.

In 1872, he was the Democratic/Liberal-Republican candidate for Governor of New York, but was defeated by Republican John Adams Dix. During these times, Kernan, Roscoe Conkling and Horatio Seymour were the heads of New York state politics, known as the "Utica trio".

In January 1875, Kernan was elected a U.S. Senator from New York, the first Catholic senator from the state, and its first Democratic senator in 24 years. He served from March 4, 1875, to March 4, 1881, alongside the Republican boss Conkling. At the 1876 Democratic National Convention in St. Louis, U.S. Senator Kernan nominated Samuel J. Tilden for U.S. President. In January 1881, Kernan was defeated for re-election by Republican Thomas C. Platt. After Platt's resignation in May 1881, Kernan ran again for the Senate in the following special election, but was defeated by Republican Warner Miller, the Democrats being the minority party in that year.

He numbered among his friends Abraham Lincoln, Horatio Seymour, Samuel J. Tilden, Thomas F. Bayard, and Grover Cleveland. Both as a member of the New York Assembly and as a U.S. Congressman, he was a "War Democrat".

Family[edit]

In 1843, Kernan married Hannah A. Devereux, daughter of Nicholas Devereux, of Utica, with whom he had ten children.[1]

Kernan's son, Michael Kernan, became a stockbroker and New York State Senator. His grandson, Michael Kernan, Jr. (1927–2005) was a journalist with the Washington Post. Michael Kernan's father was Nicholas Edward Kernan, not Francis Kernan.

Notes[edit]

References[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
R. Holland Duell
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 21st congressional district

1863–1865
Succeeded by
Roscoe Conkling
United States Senate
Preceded by
Reuben E. Fenton
U.S. Senator (Class 1) from New York
1875–1881
Served alongside: Roscoe Conkling
Succeeded by
Thomas C. Platt