John W. Kern

John Worth Kern (December 20, 1849 – August 17, 1917) was a Democratic United States Senator from Indiana. While the title was not official, he is considered to be the first Senate majority leader (and in turn, the first Senate Democratic Leader), while serving concurrently as chairman of the Senate Democratic Caucus. He was also the Democratic vice presidential nominee in the 1908 presidential election.

Born in Alto, Indiana, Kern practiced law in Kokomo, Indiana, after graduating from the University of Michigan Law School. He won election to the Indiana Senate before serving as the city solicitor of Indianapolis. After running unsuccessfully for the position of Governor of Indiana, Kern was selected as the vice presidential nominee at the 1908 Democratic National Convention. The Democratic ticket of William Jennings Bryan and Kern was defeated by the Republican ticket of William Howard Taft and James S. Sherman.

Kern won election to the United States Senate in 1910, becoming a progressive ally of President Woodrow Wilson. He was elected Chairman of the Senate Democratic Caucus and helped pass several major pieces of legislation, including the Clayton Antitrust Act, the Revenue Act of 1913, and the Federal Reserve Act. He also introduced the Kern Resolution, which led to the investigation of conditions in coal mines, and supported passage of the Seventeenth Amendment. He was defeated for re-election in 1916, losing to Republican Harry Stewart New, and Kern died the following year.

John Kern
JohnWKern
Chairman of the Senate Democratic Caucus
In office
March 4, 1913 – March 4, 1917
DeputyJ. Hamilton Lewis
Preceded byThomas S. Martin
Succeeded byThomas S. Martin
United States Senator
from Indiana
In office
March 4, 1911 – March 4, 1917
Preceded byAlbert J. Beveridge
Succeeded byHarry New
Personal details
Born
John Worth Kern

December 20, 1849
Alto, Indiana, U.S.
DiedAugust 17, 1917 (aged 67)
Asheville, North Carolina, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
EducationUniversity of Michigan, Ann Arbor (LLB)

Early life

He was born in Alto, Indiana, the eldest of eight boys.[1] Kern studied at the University of Michigan Law School, and began the practice of law in Kokomo, Indiana.

Early career

He served as Kokomo's city attorney from 1871 to 1884. Kern was elected to the Indiana Senate in 1893, serving for four years, serving at the same time as assistant U.S. Attorney for Indiana.

From 1897 to 1901 he was city solicitor of Indianapolis. He was the unsuccessful Democratic candidate for Governor of Indiana in 1900 and 1904. After these defeats, he returned to his law practice, traveled to Europe, and spent six months at a sanatorium in Asheville, North Carolina, for reasons of health.

In the 1908 election, he was the Democratic candidate for Vice President, running mate to third-time Presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan as a Midwestern compromise. Bryan was defeated by Taft. Kern then sought election to the United States Senate from Indiana (the legislature then being Democratic-controlled), but was outmaneuvered by fellow Democrat Benjamin F. Shively.

United States Senate

Indiana's other Senate seat came up for election in 1910, and this time the legislature elected Kern. He entered the Senate in 1911, one of ten new Democrats—most of them progressives. Joining Shively, Kern became a progressive Democrat and an opponent of monopolistic corporate power. He quickly became involved in an effort to shake up his party's conservative leadership. In 1912, he helped write the Democratic platform, which had progressive planks in favor of banking and tariff reform, and direct popular election of Senators.

In the election of 1912, Woodrow Wilson was elected president, Democrats gained a majority in the House, and eleven more progressive Democrats entered the Senate. Kern's national stature as a progressive, his skill at conciliation, and his personal popularity resulted in his unanimous election as Chairman of the Democratic Caucus and de facto majority leader. He worked closely with President Wilson and often met with him privately. He kept the peace and promoted unity that helped propel Wilson's initiatives through the Senate. These included tariff reform, the nation's first income tax (as permitted by the 16th Amendment), the Federal Reserve Act, antitrust laws, and the Federal Trade Commission.

In 1913, Kern was contacted by labor activist Mary Harris Jones ("Mother Jones"), who had been imprisoned by a military court in West Virginia during the Paint Creek-Cabin Creek strike of 1912. In response, Kern introduced the Kern Resolution, adopted by the Senate on May 27. The resolution led to the Senate Committee on Education and Labor investigation into conditions in West Virginia coal mines. Congress almost immediately authorized two similar investigations: into conditions in copper mining in Michigan and coal mining in Colorado.[2]

Kern had advocated direct popular election of Senators, and helped enact the 17th Amendment to establish it in 1913. However, when Kern sought re-election in 1916 under the new system, he was defeated by Republican Harry S. New, narrowly losing the popular vote (47.8% to 46.1%).[3]

Retirement and death

At Bryan's urging, Wilson considered Kern for appointment to various offices, but Kern was in poor health and unable to serve. He died on August 17, 1917, in Asheville, five months after leaving the Senate. He was originally interred at his summer home near Hollins, Virginia, and re-interred in Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis twelve years later. He was survived by his wife Araminta C. Kern, who died at age 85 in 1951, and his son John W. Kern Jr., a future judge and mayor of Indianapolis.[4]

References

  1. ^ "Time Line of Howard County, 1844-". Kokomo-Howard County Public Library. Archived from the original on 12 November 2013. Retrieved 2 June 2014.
  2. ^ Steel, Edward M.The court-martial of Mother Jones, page 61
  3. ^ DIRECT ELECTIONS TO THE UNITED STATES SENATE 1914-98 at Psephos
  4. ^ "Mrs. John W. Kern". New York Times. March 5, 1951. p. 21.

External links

Sources

  • Walter J. Oleszek, "John Worth Kern: Portrait of a Floor Leader," in First Among Equals: Outstanding Senate Leaders of the Twentieth Century, Richard A. Baker & Roger H. Davidson, eds., Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly, 1991, 7–37.
Party political offices
Preceded by
Benjamin F. Shively
Democratic nominee for Governor of Indiana
1900, 1904
Succeeded by
Thomas R. Marshall
Preceded by
Henry G. Davis
Democratic nominee for Vice President of the United States
1908
Preceded by
Thomas S. Martin
Chair of the Senate Democratic Caucus
1913–1917
Succeeded by
Thomas S. Martin
First Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator from Indiana
(Class 1)

1916
Succeeded by
Samuel M. Ralston
U.S. Senate
Preceded by
Albert J. Beveridge
U.S. Senator (Class 1) from Indiana
1911–1917
Served alongside: Benjamin F. Shively, Thomas Taggart, James Eli Watson
Succeeded by
Harry New
Preceded by
William P. Dillingham
Chair of the Senate Elections Committee
1913–1917
Succeeded by
Atlee Pomerene
1900 Indiana gubernatorial election

The 1900 Indiana gubernatorial election was held on November 6, 1900 in all 92 counties in the state of Indiana. Winfield T. Durbin was elected governor over his Democratic opponent, John W. Kern.

1904 Indiana gubernatorial election

The 1904 Indiana gubernatorial election was held on November 8, 1904 in all 92 counties in the state of Indiana. Frank Hanly was elected governor over his Democratic opponent, John W. Kern.

1908 Democratic National Convention

The 1908 Democratic National Convention took place from July 7 to July 10, 1908, at Denver Auditorium Arena in Denver, Colorado.

The event is widely considered a significant part of Denver's political and social history.

1908 United States presidential election

The United States presidential election of 1908 was the 31st quadrennial presidential election, held on Tuesday, November 3, 1908. Secretary of War and Republican Party nominee William Howard Taft defeated three-time Democratic nominee William Jennings Bryan.

Popular incumbent President Theodore Roosevelt honored his promise not to seek a third term, and persuaded his close friend, Taft, to become his successor. With Roosevelt's support, Taft won the presidential nomination of the 1908 Republican National Convention on the first ballot. Having lost the 1904 election badly, the Democratic Party re-nominated Bryan, who had been defeated in 1896 and 1900 by Republican William McKinley. Despite his two previous defeats and the waning of the Free Silver issue, Bryan remained extremely popular among the more liberal and populist elements of the Democratic Party.

Bryan ran a vigorous campaign against the nation's business elite, but the Democrat suffered the worst loss of his three presidential campaigns. Taft won 51.6% of the popular vote and carried most states outside of the Solid South. Taft's triumph gave Republicans their fourth straight presidential election victory. Two third party candidates, Eugene V. Debs of the Socialist Party and Eugene W. Chafin of the Prohibition Party, each took over 1% of the popular vote.

1908 United States presidential election in Alabama

The 1908 United States presidential election in Alabama took place on November 3, 1908. All contemporary 46 states were part of the 1908 United States presidential election. Alabama voters chose eleven electors to the Electoral College, which selected the president and vice president.

Alabama was won by the Democratic nominees, former Representative William Jennings Bryan of Nebraska and his running mate John W. Kern of Indiana.

1908 United States presidential election in Kentucky

The 1908 United States presidential election in Kentucky took place on November 3, 1908. All contemporary 46 states were part of the 1908 United States presidential election. Kentucky voters chose thirteen electors to the Electoral College, which selected the president and vice president.

Kentucky was won by the Democratic nominees, former Representative William Jennings Bryan of Nebraska and his running mate John W. Kern of Indiana.

1908 United States presidential election in Maryland

The 1908 United States presidential election in Maryland took place on November 3, 1908. All contemporary 46 states were part of the 1908 United States presidential election. Maryland voters chose eight electors to the Electoral College, which selected the president and vice president.

Maryland was won by the Democratic nominees, former Representative William Jennings Bryan of Nebraska and his running mate John W. Kern of Indiana.

1908 United States presidential election in Nebraska

The 1908 United States presidential election in Nebraska took place on November 3, 1908. All contemporary 46 states were part of the 1908 United States presidential election. Nebraska voters chose eight electors to the Electoral College, which selected the president and vice president.

Nebraska was won by the Democratic nominees, former Representative William Jennings Bryan of Nebraska and his running mate John W. Kern of Indiana.

1908 United States presidential election in New Jersey

The 1908 United States presidential election in New Jersey took place on November 3, 1908. All contemporary 46 states were part of the 1908 United States presidential election. New Jersey voters chose 14 electors to the Electoral College, which selected the president and vice president.

New Jersey was won by the Republican nominees, United States Secretary of War William Howard Taft of Ohio and his running mate Congressman James S. Sherman of New York. Taft and Sherman defeated the Democratic nominees, former Congressman and two-time prior presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan of Nebraska and his running mate Senator John W. Kern of Indiana. Also in the running was the Socialist Party candidate, Eugene V. Debs, who ran with Ben Hanford.

Taft carried New Jersey comfortably with 56.80% of the vote to Bryan's 39.07%, a victory margin of 17.72%.Eugene Debs came in a distant third, with 2.19%.

Like much of the Northeast, New Jersey in the early decades of the 20th century was a staunchly Republican state, having not given a majority of the vote to a Democratic presidential candidate since 1892. While winning a comfortable victory nationwide, Taft easily held New Jersey in the Republican column in 1908.

On the county level map, Taft carried 18 of the state's 21 counties, breaking 60% of the vote in 8 counties. Bryan won only the 3 rural counties in western North Jersey, Warren, Sussex, and Hunterdon, which had long been reliably Democratic enclaves in an otherwise Republican state.

New Jersey's election result in 1908 made the state over 9% more Republican than the national average.

1908 United States presidential election in New York

The 1908 United States presidential election in New York took place on November 3, 1908. All 46 contemporary states were part of the 1908 United States presidential election. New York voters chose 39 electors to the Electoral College, which selected the president and vice president.

New York was won by the Republican nominees, United States Secretary of War William Howard Taft of Ohio and his running mate Congressman James S. Sherman of New York. Taft and Sherman defeated the Democratic nominees, former Congressman and two-time prior presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan of Nebraska and his running mate Senator John W. Kern of Indiana. Also in the running was the Socialist Party candidate, Eugene V. Debs, who ran with Ben Hanford.

Taft carried New York State with 53.11 percent of the vote to Bryan’s 40.74 percent, a victory margin of 12.37 percentage points. Debs finished a distant third, receiving 2.35 percent of the vote in the state.

New York weighed in for this election as about 4 percentage points more Republican than the national average.

1908 United States presidential election in North Carolina

The 1908 United States presidential election in North Carolina took place on November 3, 1908. All contemporary 46 states were part of the 1908 United States presidential election. North Carolina voters chose twelve electors to the Electoral College, which selected the president and vice president.

North Carolina was won by the Democratic nominees, former Representative William Jennings Bryan of Nebraska and his running mate John W. Kern of Indiana.

1908 United States presidential election in Tennessee

The 1908 United States presidential election in Tennessee took place on November 3, 1908. All contemporary 46 states were part of the 1908 United States presidential election. Tennessee voters chose twelve electors to the Electoral College, which selected the president and vice president.

Tennessee was won by the Democratic nominees, former Representative William Jennings Bryan of Nebraska and his running mate John W. Kern of Indiana.

1908 United States presidential election in West Virginia

The 1908 United States presidential election in West Virginia took place on November 3, 1908, as part of the 1908 United States presidential election. West Virginia voters chose seven representatives, or electors, to the Electoral College, who voted for president and vice president.West Virginia was won by the 42nd Secretary of War William Howard Taft (R–Ohio), running with representative James S. Sherman, with 53.42% of the popular vote, against former representative William Jennings Bryan (D–Nebraska), running with John W. Kern, a former Indianian state senator with 43.17% of the popular vote.The Socialist Party of America chose four-time candidate for President of the United States Eugene V. Debs (S–Indiana), running with Ben Hanford, with 1.43% of the popular vote. The Prohibition Party ran Eugene Chafin (P–Wisconsin) with Aaron S. Watkins, the president of Asbury College and received 1.99% of the vote.

1908 United States presidential election in Wyoming

The 1908 United States presidential election in Wyoming took place on November 3, 1908, as part of the 1908 United States presidential election. Wyoming voters chose three representatives, or electors, to the Electoral College, who voted for president and vice president.

Wyoming was won by the Secretary of War William Howard Taft (R–Ohio), running with representative James S. Sherman, with 55.43 percent of the popular vote, against representative William Jennings Bryan (D–Nebraska), running with Senator John W. Kern, with 39.67 percent of the popular vote.

Federal Employees' Compensation Act

The Federal Employees' Compensation Act (FECA), is a United States federal law, enacted on September 7, 1916. Sponsored by Sen. John W. Kern (D) of Indiana and Rep. Daniel J. McGillicuddy (D) of Maine, it established compensation to federal civil service employees for wages lost due to job-related injuries. This act became the precedent for "disability insurance" across the country and the precursor to broad-coverage health insurance.President Woodrow Wilson signed H.R. 15316 into law on September 7, 1916.The Federal Employees' Compensation Commission was the original administrator of the FECA. However, the Commission did not exist at the time the FECA went into effect and claims accumulated for more than six months while members were selected and sworn into office. The Federal Employees' Compensation Commission officially began its duties on March 14, 1917. The Commission was abolished on May 16, 1946 by President Harry S. Truman as part of the Reorganization Act of 1939. Its duties were transferred to the Federal Security Agency on July 16, 1946.

Harry Stewart New

Harry Stewart New (December 31, 1858 – May 9, 1937) was a U.S. politician, journalist, and Spanish–American War veteran. He served as Chairman of the Republican National Committee, a United States Senator from Indiana, and United States Postmaster General.

John W. Kern III

John W. Kern III (born 1928 or 1929 – January 30, 2018) was a judge of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals.

Kern graduated from Princeton University in 1949 and Harvard Law School in 1952. After law school, he moved to Washington, D.C. to clerk for Judge Harold Montelle Stephens of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. He worked as an assistant to Attorney General Ramsey Clark and as an Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Columbia before being nominated to the Court of Appeals in 1968.

In 1980, Kern was one of several more conservative judges, led by Frank Q. Nebeker, who attempted unsuccessfully to prevent the reappointment as chief judge of Theodore R. Newman Jr.. After sixteen years on the bench, Kern assumed senior status and became dean of the National Judicial College in Reno, Nevada, on October 3, 1984. He returned to the court in 1987 and continued to hear cases until his retirement on December 31, 2011.In 1998, Kern was appointed by Judge Norma Holloway Johnson as a special master to investigate whether independent counsel Ken Starr had illegally leaked secret grand jury information concerning the Monica Lewinsky scandal to media outlets. In 1999, Kern submitted a report clearing Starr of the allegations.Kern's grandfather, John W. Kern, was a Senator from Indiana and the first Senate Majority Leader. His father, John W. Kern Jr., was the 31st mayor of Indianapolis and later chief judge of the United States Tax Court. Kern's son, John W. Kern IV, is also a lawyer.

John W. Kern Jr.

John Worth Kern Jr. (1900-1971) was the 31st mayor of the city of Indianapolis, Indiana.

Kern graduated from Washington and Lee University in 1920 and Harvard Law School in 1923. Prior to serving as mayor, Kern was a judge on the Superior Court of Marion County. He took office as mayor in 1935 and resigned on September 2, 1937, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed him to a seat on the U.S. Board of Tax Appeals, which later became the United States Tax Court. Kern was reappointed by President Truman in 1950 when his first term expired and served as chief judge before retiring from active service on June 30, 1961.Kern's father was Senator John W. Kern, the first Senate Majority Leader, and his son was John W. Kern III, a judge of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals. His grandson, John W. Kern IV, is also a lawyer.

Thomas S. Martin

Thomas Staples Martin (July 29, 1847 – November 12, 1919) was an American lawyer and Democratic Party politician from Albemarle County, Virginia, who founded a political organization that held power in Virginia for decades (later becoming known as the Byrd Organization) and who personally became a U.S. Senator who served for nearly a quarter century and rose to become the Majority Leader (and later Minority Leader) before dying in office.

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