John W. Kern
John Worth Kern was a Democratic United States Senator from Indiana
Indiana is a US state, admitted to the United States as the 19th on December 11, 1816. It is located in the Midwestern United States and Great Lakes Region. With 6,483,802 residents, the state is ranked 15th in population and 16th in population density. Indiana is ranked 38th in land area and is...

. While the title was not official, he is considered to be the first Senate Majority leader
Party leaders of the United States Senate
The Senate Majority and Minority Leaders are two United States Senators who are elected by the party conferences that hold the majority and the minority respectively. These leaders serve as the chief Senate spokespeople for their parties and manage and schedule the legislative and executive...

 (and in turn, the first Senate Democratic Leader), while serving concurrently as Chairman of the Senate Democratic Caucus.

Born in Alto, Indiana
Alto, Indiana
Alto is an unincorporated town in Harrison Township, Howard County, Indiana, United States. It is part of the Kokomo, Indiana Metropolitan Statistical Area. Alto will become part of Kokomo through annexation....

, Kern studied law at the University of Michigan
University of Michigan
The University of Michigan is a public research university located in Ann Arbor, Michigan in the United States. It is the state's oldest university and the flagship campus of the University of Michigan...

. He began to practice law in Kokomo, Indiana
Kokomo, Indiana
Kokomo is a city in and the county seat of Howard County, Indiana, United States, Indiana's 13th largest city. It is the principal city of the Kokomo, Indiana Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes all of Howard and Tipton counties....

, where he served as city attorney (1871–1884). He was elected to the Indiana Senate
Indiana Senate
The Indiana Senate is the upper house of the Indiana General Assembly, the state legislature of the U.S. state of Indiana. The Senate is composed of 50 members representing an equal number of constituent districts. Senators serve four-year terms without term limits...

 in 1893, serving for four years, serving at the same time as assistant U.S. Attorney
United States Attorney
United States Attorneys represent the United States federal government in United States district court and United States court of appeals. There are 93 U.S. Attorneys stationed throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands...

 for Indiana. From 1897 to 1901 he was city solicitor of Indianapolis
Indianapolis is the capital of the U.S. state of Indiana, and the county seat of Marion County, Indiana. As of the 2010 United States Census, the city's population is 839,489. It is by far Indiana's largest city and, as of the 2010 U.S...

, and was the unsuccessful Democratic candidate for Governor of Indiana
Governor of Indiana
The Governor of Indiana is the chief executive of the state of Indiana. The governor is elected to a four-year term, and responsible for overseeing the day-to-day management of the functions of many agencies of the Indiana state government. The governor also shares power with other statewide...

 in 1900 and 1904. After these defeats, he returned to his law practice, travelled to Europe, and spent six months at a sanatorium in Asheville, North Carolina, for reasons of health.

In 1908, he became a Midwestern compromise vice presidential
Vice President of the United States
The Vice President of the United States is the holder of a public office created by the United States Constitution. The Vice President, together with the President of the United States, is indirectly elected by the people, through the Electoral College, to a four-year term...

 candidate on William Jennings Bryan's
William Jennings Bryan
William Jennings Bryan was an American politician in the late-19th and early-20th centuries. He was a dominant force in the liberal wing of the Democratic Party, standing three times as its candidate for President of the United States...

 third unsuccessful run for the presidency. After Bryan was defeated by Taft, Kern was subsequently outmaneuvered by Democrat Benjamin F. Shively
Benjamin F. Shively
Benjamin Franklin Shively was a United States Representative and Senator from Indiana. Born near Osceola, Indiana, attended the common schools and the Northern Indiana Normal School at Valparaiso. He taught school from 1874 to 1880, engaged in journalism from 1880 to 1884, and was secretary of the...

 for an open U.S. Senate seat for Indiana.

But when Indiana's other Senate seat opened in 1910, the Democratic-controlled state legislature rewarded him with a seat in the United States Senate
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

. This election brought ten new Democrats—most of them progressives—into the Senate. Joining Benjamin 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 played a leading role in the preparation of the progressive platform of the Democratic Party, which featured declarations in favor of banking and tariff reform and the popular election of senators.

After the election of 1912, which featured the election of Woodrow Wilson, the return of a Democratic majority to the House, and the election of another eleven progressive Democrats to the Senate combined with Kern's national stature as a progressive, his skills at conciliation, and his personal popularity resulted in his unanimous election as majority leadership in the Senate. As leader, he played a key role in organizing the Senate and his party. He worked closely with the president and often visited 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 passage of the Federal Reserve Act, enactment of antitrust laws, and the establishment of the Federal Trade Commission.

In 1913 Kern was contacted by the labor activist Mary Harris Jones ("Mother Jones"), imprisoned by a military court in West Virginia during the Paint Creek-Cabin Creek strike of 1912
Paint Creek-Cabin Creek strike of 1912
The Paint Creek-Cabin Creek strike of 1912 was a confrontation between striking coal miners and coal operators in Kanawha County, West Virginia, centered around the area enclosed by two streams, Paint Creek and Cabin Creek....

. As a result Kern introduced the Kern Resolution
Kern Resolution
The Kern Resolution, sponsored by Sen. John W. Kern of Indiana and adopted on May 27th, 1913, called for an investigation into the then ongoing Paint Creek-Cabin Creek strike of 1912 in West Virginia....

, adopted by the Senate on May 27th. The resolution led to the United States Senate's Committee on Education and Labor opening an investigation into conditions in West Virginia coal mines. Congress almost immediately authorized two similar investigations the cooper mining industry in Michigan, and mining conditions in Colorado.

A champion of the direct election of senators, Kern was defeated for reelection in 1916. At Bryan's urging, Wilson considered him for appointment to high public office, but Kern died on August 17, 1917 in Asheville, North Carolina
Asheville, North Carolina
Asheville is a city in and the county seat of Buncombe County, North Carolina, United States. It is the largest city in Western North Carolina, and the 11th largest city in North Carolina. The City is home to the United States National Climatic Data Center , which is the world's largest active...

, nine months after leaving the Senate. He was originally interred on the Kern estate near Hollins, Virginia
Hollins, Virginia
Hollins is a census-designated place in Botetourt and Roanoke counties in the U.S. state of Virginia. Hollins covers much of the area known locally as "North County". The population was 14,309 at the 2000 census. It is part of the Roanoke Metropolitan Statistical Area...

 and then interred in Crown Hill Cemetery
Crown Hill Cemetery
Crown Hill Cemetery, located at 700 West 38th Street in Indianapolis, is the third largest non-governmental cemetery in the United States at . It contains of paved road, over 150 species of trees and plants, over 185,000 graves, and services roughly 1,500 burials per year. It sits on the highest...

, Indianapolis, Indiana
Indianapolis, Indiana
Indianapolis is the capital of the U.S. state of Indiana, and the county seat of Marion County, Indiana. As of the 2010 United States Census, the city's population is 839,489. It is by far Indiana's largest city and, as of the 2010 U.S...

twelve years later.
The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.