Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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KERR, Michael Crawford (ker), statesman, born in Titusville, Pennsylvania, 15 March, 1827; died in Rockbridge, Alum Springs, Virginia, 19 August, 1876. He studied for a time at the Erie academy, where he was graduated in 1845. He became a teacher, and then attended the law school of the Louisville university, Kentucky, where he was graduated in 1851. In 1852 he removed to New Albany, Indiana, and began the practice of law. Two years later he was chosen city attorney, and, after one year's service, prosecuting attorney of Floyd county. He was elected a member of the Indiana legislature in 1856. and in 1862 was chosen reporter of the supreme court of Indiana, publishing, while in that position, five volumes of reports which are regarded as the best of those that have been issued by the court. He was elected as a Democrat to congress in 1864, and served continuously till 1872, when he refused a renomination for his own district, but ran for con-gressman-at-large on the state ticket against God-love S. Orth, and was defeated by a majority of only 126 votes. In 1874: he was chosen to represent his own district after a bitter canvass against a coalition candidate, and he was elected speaker of that body, 6 December, 1875. His health began to fail rapidly after the election of 1874, and was so broken after he was chosen speaker that it was with difficulty he performed the duties of the office during the first session of congress, and four days after its adjournment he died of consumption. Mr. Kerr was a tall and massively built man, with a serious and powerful face. The cast of his character was earnest, his rule of action was conscientiousness, and his mind was strong rather than brilliant. Though a vigorous and at tiines fierce opponent, he always commanded the respect of his political enemies. He fought strongly against the reconstruction legislature of the Republican party, but owed his chief distinction to his efforts for a revision of the tariff in the direction of free trade, his adherence to the policy of resumption, and his opposition to the inflation theory. He was an eager investigator of the principles of finance, and fearless in advocating their application, so that he found himself at one time almost alone among the politicians of Indiana in fighting against an indefi-nate issue of greenbacks. During his congressional career he served on the committees on private land claims, elections, railways, and canals, the civil service, and ways and means.
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