Michael C. Kerr

Michael Crawford Kerr
Michael C. Kerr - Brady-Handy.jpg
28th Speaker of the United States House of Representatives
In office
December 6, 1875 – August 19, 1876
Preceded byJames G. Blaine
Succeeded bySamuel J. Randall
Leader of the House Democratic Caucus
In office
December 6, 1875 – August 19, 1876
Preceded byJames Lawrence Orr
Succeeded bySamuel J. Randall
Member of the
U.S. House of Representatives
from Indiana
In office
March 4, 1865 – August 19, 1876
Preceded byJames A. Cravens (2nd)
William S. Holman (3rd)
Succeeded bySimeon K. Wolfe (2nd)
Nathan T. Carr (3rd)
Constituency2nd district (1865–73)
3rd district (1873–76)
Member of the Indiana General Assembly
In office
Personal details
BornMarch 15, 1827
Titusville, Pennsylvania
DiedAugust 19, 1876 (aged 49)
Rockbridge County, Virginia
Political partyDemocratic
Alma materUniversity of Louisville
Kerr's home in New Albany, Indiana

Michael Crawford Kerr (March 15, 1827 – August 19, 1876) was a Prosecuting Attorney in the 52nd Judicial District, an American legislator, and the first Democratic Speaker of the United States House of Representatives after the Civil War.

Early life[edit]

He was born at Titusville, Pennsylvania and educated at the Erie Academy. He graduated from the University of Louisville School of Law in 1851. He moved to New Albany, Indiana in 1852 and was a member of the State Legislature from 1856 to 1857.

Political career[edit]

He was elected to Congress in 1864 as a War Democrat, having vigorously opposed the Copperhead element in his district. He won the praise of Republican Governor Morton for helping suppress illegal conspiracies by Copperheads.[1]

Kerr served in the United States House of Representatives as a Democrat from Indiana from 1865 to 1873. In Congress he was looked upon as one of the leaders of the Democratic party. He strongly opposed the Republican policy of Reconstruction in the Southern States. He was not re-elected in 1872.

His hard money views on financial questions did not meet with favor in his agrarian constituency, where he openly antagonized the inflationists and the Greenback element and favored the resumption of specie payments. In 1874, however, after a sharp contest he won the seat back, and on his re-entry into Congress was elected to the speakership. He presided as Speaker at only the first session of the Forty-fourth Congress and died of consumption shortly after its adjournment.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Jacob Piatt Dunn, Indiana and Indianans (1919) vol 2 p 651-2 online


  • Halsell, Willie D., ed. "Advice from Michael C. Kerr to a Reconstructed Rebel Congressman." Indiana Magazine of History 33 (September 1941): 257-61.
  • Smith, William Henry. The history of the state of Indiana (1897) p. 798-800 online
  • Stampp, Kenneth. Indiana politics during the Civil War (1949)

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
James G. Blaine
Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives
December 6, 1875 – August 19, 1876
Succeeded by
Samuel J. Randall
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
James A. Cravens
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Indiana's 2nd congressional district

March 4, 1865 – March 3, 1873
Succeeded by
Simeon K. Wolfe
Preceded by
William S. Holman
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Indiana's 3rd congressional district

March 4, 1875 – August 19, 1876
Succeeded by
Nathan T. Carr