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 3, 1881
Preceded byReuben E. Fenton
Succeeded byThomas C. Platt
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 21st district
In office
March 4, 1863 – March 3, 1865
Preceded byR. Holland Duell
Succeeded byRoscoe Conkling
Member of the New York State Assembly
from the Oneida County, 1st district
In office
January 1, 1861 – December 31, 1861
Preceded byJames McQuade
Succeeded byCharles M. Scholefield
Personal details
Born(1816-01-14)January 14, 1816
Wayne, New York
DiedSeptember 7, 1892(1892-09-07) (aged 76)
Utica, New York
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Hannah A. Devereux
ProfessionPolitician, Lawyer

Francis Kernan (January 14, 1816 – September 7, 1892) was an American lawyer and politician. A resident of New York, he was active in politics as a Democrat, and served in several elected offices, including member of the New York State Assembly, member of the United States House of Representatives, and United States Senator from 1875 to 1881.

Early life[edit]

Kernan was born in Wayne, New York[1][a] on January 14, 1816,[2] the son of General William Kernan, who came to America from County Cavan, Ireland in 1800 and Rose Anna (Stubbs) Kernan, who was also a native of Ireland.[3]

He graduated from Georgetown University in 1836.[2] Kernan then studied law with his brother in law Edward Quinn of Watkins Glen, New York, and moved to Utica, New York in 1839 intending to pursue a legal career.[2] He completed his studies with Joshua A. Spencer, was admitted to the bar in July 1840, and then practiced law in partnership with Spencer as Spencer and Kernan.[2] He later practiced in partnership with relatives as the senior partner of Kernan and Quinn, later Kernan, Quinn and Kernan.[2] From 1854 to 1857, Kernan was Reporter of Decisions for the New York Court of Appeals.[2]


Kernan was a longtime Utica school board member,[2] and a member of the board of managers of the New York State Hospital.[3]

He was a member of the New York State Assembly (Oneida County, 1st District) in 1861, and delegate to the 1867 New York Constitutional Convention.[2] From 1870 until his death, Kernan served on the University of the State of New York Board of Regents.[2]

He was elected as a Democrat to the Thirty-eighth Congress, defeating Republican Roscoe Conkling, and served from March 4, 1863 to March 3, 1865.[2] In 1864, he was defeated for re-election by Conkling.[2] As a member of the New York Assembly and the U.S. House during the American Civil War, Kernan was a prominent War Democrat.[4]

In 1872, he was the Democratic/Liberal Republican candidate for Governor of New York, but he was defeated by Republican John Adams Dix.[2]

In January 1875, Kernan was elected a U.S. Senator from New York,[4] the first Catholic senator from New York[5] and its first Democratic senator in 24 years.[6] He served from March 4, 1875 to March 3, 1881, alongside Roscoe Conkling.[4] At the 1876 Democratic National Convention in St. Louis, Kernan nominated Samuel J. Tilden for President.[4] In 1880, Kernan received the honorary degree of LL.D. from Georgetown University.[3] 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.[7]


In 1843, Kernan married Hannah A. Devereux, daughter of Nicholas Devereux of Utica.[2] They were the parents of 10 children.[2]

Death and burial[edit]

Kernan died in Utica on September 7, 1892.[2] He was interred at St. Agnes Cemetery in Utica.[2]



  1. ^ Some sources indicate Tyrone, New York.




External sources[edit]

New York Assembly
Preceded by
James McQuade
New York State Assembly
Oneida County, 1st District

Succeeded by
Charles M. Scholefield
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
R. Holland Duell
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 21st congressional district

Succeeded by
Roscoe Conkling
U.S. Senate
Preceded by
Reuben E. Fenton
U.S. Senator (Class 1) from New York
Served alongside: Roscoe Conkling
Succeeded by
Thomas C. Platt