John E. Kenna facts for kids
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John E. Kenna
|United States Senator
from West Virginia
March 4, 1883 – January 11, 1893
|Preceded by||Henry G. Davis|
|Succeeded by||Johnson N. Camden|
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from West Virginia's 3rd district
March 4, 1877 – March 3, 1883
|Preceded by||Frank Hereford|
|Succeeded by||Charles P. Snyder|
April 10, 1848|
Kanawha County, Virginia (now West Virginia)
|Died||January 11, 1893
Kenna was born in Kanawha County, Virginia (now West Virginia, near the city of St. Albans) and lived his early life at Upper Falls, where his father was lockmaster and owned a sawmill. He had little education, and at the age of 16 he served in the "Iron Brigade" with General Joseph O. Shelby in the Confederate States Army and was wounded. After returning home, he read law and was admitted to the bar in 1870. He became very active in the emerging Democratic Party of West Virginia.
He rose from prosecuting attorney of Kanawha County in 1872 to Justice pro tempore of the county circuit in 1875, and to the United States House of Representatives in 1876. While in the House he championed railroad legislation and crusaded for aid for slack-water navigation to help the coal, timber, and salt industries in his state. These activities earned him a seat in the United States Senate in 1883, where he continued fighting for his two causes.
Kenna became Democratic minority leader and emerged as a powerful and controversial speaker on the issue of the independence of the executive branch of the government. He forcefully defended President Grover Cleveland on several issues and indicted the Senate Republican majority for failure to pass tariff reforms. Kenna was a practicing Catholic and member of the congregation at St. Joseph's on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. His career was cut short with his sudden death at the age of 44 on January 11, 1893.
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