Bernard W. Kearney

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Bernard W. Kearney as a Member of Congress, 1944.

Bernard William "Pat" Kearney (May 23, 1889 – June 3, 1976) was a Republican member of the United States House of Representatives from New York. Kearney served on the U.S. House of Representative's Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) during the Cold War.

Early life[edit]

"Pat" Kearney was born in Ithaca, New York on May 23, 1889,[1] the son of Patrick B. Kearney, a clothier, and Josephine M. (Oster) Kearney.[2] He graduated from Albany Law School in 1914, where he was a member of the Delta Chi Fraternity, and became an attorney in Gloversville.[3]

He served in the New York National Guard from 1909 until 1917, first as a member of Company G, 2nd New York Infantry, and then with Troop B, 1st New York Cavalry.[4] He served on the border with Mexico during the Pancho Villa Expedition, attended Officer Training School at Fort Niagara and received his commission in 1917.[5][6]

Legal career[edit]

Kearney practiced law in Hamilton and Fulton Counties. He was the City Judge of Gloversville from 1920 to 1924. He served as Assistant District Attorney of Hamilton County from 1924 to 1929, and Fulton County from 1929 to 1931. He was Fulton County District Attorney from 1931 to 1942.[7]

World War I[edit]

Kearney served in France as a member of units in the 27th Division during World War I, and saw combat at St. Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne.[8] He received the French Legion of Honor (Officer) and Croix de Guerre.[9][10]

Post World War I[edit]

Kearney at time of appointment to command New York's 53rd Brigade.

He continued his National Guard service after the war, commanding the 105th Infantry Regiment as a Colonel,[11] and the 53rd Brigade as a Brigadier General.[12] He retired from the National Guard in 1940.[13]

Active in veterans organizations, Kearney served as National Commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars from 1936 to 1937.[14]

World War II[edit]

During World War II Kearney commanded a brigade in the New York Guard, the volunteer organization that performed the New York National Guard's stateside functions while National Guard soldiers were serving overseas.[15]

Post World War II[edit]

When the 27th and 42nd Infantry Divisions were fielded in New York as part of the National Guard's post-war reorganization, Kearney was recalled from retirement, promoted to Major General, and assigned as commander of the 27th Division.[16] He retired again in 1948.[17]

Congressional career[edit]

Kearney was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1942, and served eight terms, January 3, 1943 to January 3, 1959.[18] He rose to become the ranking Republican member of the House Un-American Activities Committee, and developed a reputation as a staunch anti-communist.[19] His major legislative accomplishment was co-authorship and passage of the GI Bill to benefit veterans returning from World War II. Kearney was also given credit for having suggested the law's title.[20]

Retirement and death[edit]

Kearney did not run for reelection in 1958.[21] In retirement he resided in Canandaigua, New York[22] and Venice, Florida.[23]

In 1959 Congress passed special legislation authorizing Kearney to accept and wear the Philippine Legion of Honor (Commander).[24][25] He received this award in 1953 to acknowledge his support and efforts to boost the morale of the Philippine resistance during the Japanese occupation in World War II.[26]

He died in Venice on June 3, 1976.[27] He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery, Section 30, Grave 352.[28]


  1. ^ Williams Press, The New York Red Book, Volumes 56-59; Volume 63, 1947, page 639
  2. ^ S. J. Clarke, History of the Mohawk Valley, Gateway to the West, 1614-1925, 1925, page 418
  3. ^ Delta Chi Fraternity, Delta Chi Quarterly, Volume 12, 1914, page 429
  4. ^ The New York National Guardsman, Commands 53rd Brigade: Brigadier General Bernard W. Kearney, August 1937, page 7
  5. ^ Georgina Pell Curtis, Benedict Elder, editors, The American Catholic Who's Who, Volume 5; Volumes 7-9; Volumes 11-20, 1939, page 217
  6. ^ The Otsego Farmer, Know Your Candidates: Bernard W. Kearney, November 1, 1956
  7. ^ Williams Press, The New York Red Book, Volumes 56-59; Volume 63, 1947, page 826
  8. ^ Commands 53rd Brigade, page 7
  9. ^ Johnstown-Gloversville Leader-Republican, Congressman Kearney to Resign as Brigadier General in Guard, January 29, 1943
  10. ^ Veterans of Foreign Wars, Foreign Service, Volumes 25-26, 1937, page 20
  11. ^ J.B. Lyon Company, New York State Legislative Documents, Volume 1, Issues 1-12, 1938, page 43
  12. ^ New York Times, Col. Kearney Promoted: Will Be Brigadier General in Command of Troy and Brooklyn Units, June 18, 1937
  13. ^ Army and Navy Journal, Inc., Army and Navy Journal, Volume 78, Issues 1-26, 1940, page 54
  14. ^ Veterans of Foreign Wars, Past Commanders-in-Chief, 2010, page 1
  15. ^ Williams Press, Public Papers of Thomas E. Dewey, 1946, page 580
  16. ^ Associated Press, Schenectady Gazette, Will Organize Two Divisions, Fighter Wing, February 15, 1947
  17. ^ New York Times, Guard Leader Retires: Maj. Gen. B. W. Kearney Is Put on Reserve List, June 5, 1948
  18. ^ New York Times, Kearney to Retire: Upstate Member Will Leave the House After 16 Years, April 29, 1958
  19. ^ Boston Globe, Obituary, Ex-Rep. Bernard Kearney, GI Bill of Rights co-author, June 5, 1976
  20. ^ Veterans of Foreign Wars, Annual meeting Proceedings, 1959, pages 12-13
  21. ^ Bill Becker, New York Times, House Seats Lost by G.O.P. Upstate, November 5, 1958
  22. ^ John R. Moore, Schenectady Gazette, Colonie, Albany and More, July 23, 1970
  23. ^ U.S. House of Representatives, Congressional Record: Remarks of Samuel S. Stratton Volume 122, Part 14, 1976, page 16633
  24. ^ Amsterdam Evening-Recorder, Stratton Backing Bill to Authorize Kearney Citation, July 10, 1959
  25. ^ U.S. Government Printing Office, Private Law 86-208, An Act to Authorize Major General Bernard W. Kearney, to Accept and Wear the Philippine Legion of Honor in the Degree of Commander, September 21, 1959, page 1
  26. ^ Troy Times-Record, Philippines Honor Rep. Kearney, March 5, 1953
  27. ^ New York Times, Ex-Rep. Kearney, 87, is Dead in Florida, June 3, 1976
  28. ^ Arlington National Cemetery Grave Locator, retrieved September 27, 2013

External links[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Frank Crowther
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 30th congressional district

Succeeded by
Jay LeFevre
Preceded by
Clarence E. Kilburn
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 31st congressional district

Succeeded by
Dean P. Taylor
Preceded by
Leo W. O'Brien
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 32nd congressional district

Succeeded by
Samuel S. Stratton