St. Patrick’s Day Special: 129 Irish-Born Members of Congress

Nearly 130 U.S. Senators, Representatives, and Territorial Delegates were born in Ireland – with 40 percent serving New York and Pennsylvania

williampaterson10.jpgWith St. Patrick’s Day upon us, Smart Politics turns its lens on the dozens of members of Congress who were born in Ireland – most of whom immigrated to the United States in the 18th and 19th Centuries.

Smart Politics examined information in the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress and finds there have been a total of 111 U.S. Representatives who were born in Ireland, 16 U.S. Senators, two territorial delegates, and two who served in more than one of these positions.

(An additional 11 individuals from Ireland did not serve in the U.S. House or Senate but were members of the Continental Congress).

Forty percent of all Irish-born members of Congress have come from two states – New York and Pennsylvania.

New York has elected 27 Irish-born U.S. Representatives while Pennsylvania has elected 22 to the U.S. House and two to the U.S. Senate for a total of 24.

For most of the 19th Century New York and Pennsylvania also had the largest congressional delegations in the country overall.

Ohio is next with 10 Irish-born members followed by New Jersey with nine, Illinois with eight, Indiana and Missouri with four, and California, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, South Carolina, and Virginia with three.

Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, Rhode Island, and Tennessee have had two each while Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Iowa, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Vermont, Wisconsin, and Wyoming have had one.

A total of 32 states have had at least one Irish-born member in the upper or lower legislative chambers.

The following 18 states have not had an Irish-born member in their U.S. House or U.S. Senate delegations: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Kansas, Maine, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, and West Virginia.

Notable members of the U.S. House or Senate who were born in Ireland include:

William Paterson of New Jersey (pictured at top, born in County Antrim) who served just shy of one term in the U.S. House from 1789 to 1790 before resigning to become the second Governor of New Jersey. Paterson would serve in that position until 1793 when he became an Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court until his death in 1806.

Democratic U.S. Senator James Shields (Altmore, County Tyrone) is the only American in history to serve in the U.S. Senate from three different states. Shields was first elected from Illinois (1849-1855), then Minnesota (1858-1859), and then Missouri (1879) where he served for just over a month.

Ohio Republican Thomas Young (Killyleagh, County Down) became Governor of Ohio after Rutherford Hayes resigned after winning the presidential Election of 1876. Young served for approximately 10 months and then won a seat in the U.S. House where he served for two terms from 1879 to 1883.

Two members held multiple positions in Congress.

Colorado Democrat Thomas Patterson served as a Territorial Delegate (1875-1876), U.S. Representative (1877-1879), and U.S. Senator (1901-1907).

New Jersey Democrat William Hughes was elected to both the House (1903-1905; 1907-1912) and the Senate (1913-1918).

In addition to James Shields mentioned above, one other Irish-born member of Congress served multiple states.

Democratic-Republican U.S. Representative Matthew Lyon was first elected to the chamber for two terms from Vermont (1797-1801) and then four terms after he moved to Kentucky (1803-1811).

Of course, most of the members of the nation’s upper and lower legislative chambers who were born in Ireland served in the 18th and 19th Centuries when there was a significant level of immigrants from that nation.

The last Irish-born member to serve on Capitol Hill was New York Democrat William Barry.

Barry – the only Irish member born in the 20th Century – was born in County Mayo in 1902 and was elected to five terms to the U.S. House and served from 1935 until his death in 1946.

The most recent Irish-born U.S. Representative to pass away is Democrat Michael Stack of Pennsylvania.

Representative Stack, born in Listowel, County Kerry, served two terms from 1935 to 1939 and died at the age of 72 in December 1960.

Earlier that year also brought the passing of New Jersey Democrat Eugene Kinkead at the age of 84.

Kinkead was born in Buttevant, County Cork while his parents were abroad in 1876 and later was elected for three terms to the U.S. House from 1909 to 1915.

There have been more than twice as many Irish-born Democrats than Republicans serve in Congress.

Sixty-two such Democrats (plus four independent Democrats) have served since the 1830s compared to just 30 Republicans/Whigs (plus one Liberal Republican).

There have also been Populist, Greenback, and Anti-Masonic Irish-born members during the two-party era.

Irish-Born Members of Congress, 1789-Present

State
Name
Position
Party
Years
AR
William Hynes
US Rep
Liberal Republican
1873-1875
CA
Eugene Casserly
US Sen
Democrat
1869-1873
CA
John McGrath
US Rep
Democrat
1933-1939
CA
John Conness
US Sen
Douglas Democrat; Union Republican
1863-1869
CO
Thomas Patterson
Del, US Rep, US Sen
Democrat
1875-1876; 1877-1879; 1901-1907
FL
Charles Jones
US Sen
Democrat
1875-1887
GA
Richard Wilde
US Rep
Democratic-Republican; Crawford Republican; Jacksonian
1815-1817; 1825-1825; 1827-1835
GA
Richard Whiteley
US Rep
Republican
1870-1875
GA
Patrick Walsh
US Sen
Democrat
1894-1895
IA
William Smyth
US Rep
Republican
1869-1870
ID
James Gunn
US Rep
Populist
1897-1899
IL
Thompson Campbell
US Sen
Democrat
1851-1853
IL
William Cullen
US Rep
Republican
1881-1885
IL
John Finerty
US Rep
Independent Democrat
1883-1885
IL
Lawrence McGaan
US Rep
Democrat
1891-1895
IL
Thomas Cusack
US Rep
Democrat
1899-1901
IL
William Moxley
US Rep
Republican
1909-1911
IL
James Graham
US Rep
Democrat
1909-1915
IL, MN, MO
James Shields
US Sen
Democrat
1849-1855; 1858-1859; 1879-1879
IN
William Prince
US Rep
Democratic-Republican
1823-1824
IN
John Ewing
US Rep
Anti-Jacksonian; Whig
1833-1835; 1837-1839
IN
Robert Lowrey
US Rep
Democrat
1883-1887
IN
Thomas Taggart
US Sen
Democrat
1916-1916
KY
Stephen Ormsby
US Rep
Democratic-Republican
1811-1813; 1813-1817
KY
Whiteside Hunter
US Rep
Republican
1887-1889; 1895-1897; 1903-1905
LA
Alexander Porter
US Sen
Whig
1833-1837
LA
Matthew Lagan
US Rep
Democrat
1887-1889; 1891-1893
LA*
Daniel Clark
Del
N/A
1806-1809
MA
Patrick Collins
US Rep
Democrat
1883-1889
MA
Henry Naphen
US Rep
Democrat
1899-1903
MA
Robert Davis
US Rep
Republican
1883-1889
MD
William McCreery
US Rep
Democratic-Republican
1803-1809
MD
William Walsh
US Rep
Democrat
1875-1879
MD
John McDonald
US Rep
Republican
1897-1899
MI
Thomas Weadock
US Rep
Democrat
1891-1895
MI
John Smith
US Rep
Republican
1911-1921; 1921-1923
MN
Thomas Wilson
US Rep
Democrat
1887-1889
MO
John Hogan
US Rep
Democrat
1865-1867
MO
Nicholas Ford
US Rep
Greenbacker
1879-1883
MO
James Cooney
US Rep
Democrat
1897-1903
MS
William Hammett
US Rep
Democrat
1843-1845
NC
Matthew Locke
US Rep
Anti-Administration; Democratic-Republican
1793-1799
NJ
William Paterson
US Sen
Pro-Administration
1789-1790
NJ
William Sewell
US Sen
Republican
1881-1887; 1895-1901
NJ
William McAdoo
US Rep
Democrat
1883-1891
NJ
Edward McDonald
US Rep
Democrat
1891-1892
NJ
John Dunn
US Rep
Democrat
1893-1895
NJ
William Hughes
US Rep, US Sen
Democrat
1903-1905; 1907-1912; 1913-1918
NJ
Eugene Kinkead
US Rep
Democrat
1909-1915
NJ
David Baird
US Sen
Republican
1918-1919
NJ
Frank McNulty
US Rep
Democrat
1923-1925
NM
Bernard Rodey
US Sen
Republican
NV
William Woodburn
US Rep
Republican
1875-1877; 1885-1889
NV
James Fair
US Sen
Democrat
1881-1887
NY
James Gordon
US Rep
Pro-Administration
1791-1795
NY
Campbell White
US Rep
Jacksonian
1829-1835
NY
Joseph Mullen
US Rep
Whig
1847-1849
NY
Michael Walsh
US Rep
Democrat
1853-1855
NY
William Robinson
US Rep
Democrat
1867-1869; 1881-1885
NY
John Morrissey
US Rep
Democrat
1867-1871
NY
Thomas Kinsella
US Rep
Democrat
1871-1873
NY
William Roberts
US Rep
Democrat
1871-1875
NY
Thomas Creamer
US Rep
Democrat
1873-1875; 1901-1903
NY
Daniel O’Reilly
US Rep
Independent Democrat
1879-1881
NY
James O’Brien
US Rep
Independent Democrat
1879-1881
NY
Michael Nolan
US Rep
Democrat
1881-1883
NY
Abraham Dowdney
US Rep
Democrat
1885-1886
NY
Timothy Campbell
US Rep
Democrat
1885-1889; 1891-1895
NY
Nicholas Kane
US Rep
Democrat
1887-1887
NY
William Cockran
US Rep
Democrat
1887-1889; 1891-1895; 1904-1909; 1921-1923
NY
John Quinn
US Rep
Democrat
1889-1891
NY
John Wiley
US Rep
Democrat
1889-1891
NY
John Graham
US Rep
Democrat
1893-1895
NY
William Ryan
US Rep
Democrat
1893-1895
NY
Denis Hurley
US Rep
Republican
1895-1899
NY
Samuel McMillan
US Rep
Republican
1907-1909
NY
Richard Young
US Rep
Republican
1909-1911
NY
John Clancy
US Rep
Democrat
1913-1915
NY
Michael Farley
US Rep
Democrat
1915-1917
NY
Patrick Carley
US Rep
Democrat
1927-1935
NY
William Barry
US Rep
Democrat
1935-1946
OH
John Thomson
US Rep
Jacksonian
1825-1827; 1829-1837
OH
William Russell
US Rep
Jacksonian; Whig
1827-1833; 1841-1843
OH
James Shields
US Rep
Jacksonian
1829-1831
OH
Alexander Harper
US Rep
Whig
1837-1839; 1843-1847; 1851-1853
OH
John Hastings
US Rep
Democrat
1839-1843
OH
William Kennon
US Rep
Democrat
1847-1849
OH
John Johnson
US Rep
Independent Democrat
1851-1853
OH
William Johnston
US Rep
Democrat
1863-1865
OH
Thomas Young
US Rep
Republican
1879-1883
OH
John Warwick
US Rep
Democrat
1891-1892
OR
George Shiel
US Rep
Democrat
1861-1863
PA
Thomas Fitzsimons
US Rep
Pro-Administration
1789-1795
PA
William Findley
US Rep
Anti-Administration; Democratic-Republican
1791-1799; 1803-1817
PA
William Irvine
US Rep
Anti-Administration
1793-1795
PA
John Smilie
US Rep
Anti-Administration; Democratic-Republican
1793-1795; 1799-1812
PA
Blair McClenachan
US Rep
Democratic-Republican
1797-1799
PA
Thomas Burnside
US Sen
Republican
1815-1816
PA
Thomas Rogers
US Rep
Democratic-Republican
1818-1824
PA
Robert Philson
US Rep
Democratic-Republican
1819-1821
PA
Patrick Farrelly
US Rep
Democratic-Republican; Jackson Republican; Jacksonian
1821-1826
PA
William McCreery
US Rep
Jacksonian
1829-1831
PA
James Harper
US Rep
Anti-Jacksonian; Whig
1833-1837
PA
William Beatty
US Rep
Democrat
1837-1841
PA
Thomas Henry
US Rep
Anti-Masonic; Whig
1837-1843
PA
Samuel Hays
US Rep
Democrat
1843-1845
PA
John Moffet
US Rep
Democrat
1869-1869
PA
Samuel Barr
US Rep
Republican
1881-1885
PA
William McAleer
US Rep
Democrat; Independent Democrat
1891-1895; 1897-1901
PA
John Tener
US Rep
Republican
1909-1911
PA
George Oliver
US Sen
Republican
1909-1917
PA
Michael Donohue
US Rep
Democrat
1911-1915
PA
Joseph McLaughlin
US Rep
Republican
1917-1919; 1921-1923
PA
Patrick McLane
US Rep
Democrat
1919-1921
PA
James Hazlett
US Rep
Republican
1927-1927
PA
Michael Stack
US Rep
Democrat
1935-1939
RI
Thomas Davis
US Rep
Democrat
1853-1855
RI
George O’Shaunessy
US Rep
Democrat
1911-1919
SC
Aedanus Burke
US Rep
Anti-Administration
1789-1791
SC
Pierce Butler
US Sen
Pro-Administration; Anti-Administration; Democratic-Republican
1789-1876
SC
O’Brien Smith
US Rep
Democratic-Republican
1805-1807
TN
John Rhea
US Rep
Democratic-Republican
1803-1815; 1817-1823
TN
James Reynolds
US Rep
Democratic-Republican
1815-1817; 1823-1825
VA
Alexander Smyth
US Rep
Democratic-Republican; Crawford Republican; Jacksonian
1817-1825; 1827-1830
VA
William Armstrong
US Rep
Adams; Anti-Jacksonian
1825-1833
VA
Andrew Beirne
US Rep
Democrat
1837-1841
VT, KY
Matthew Lyon
US Rep
Democratic-Republican
1797-1801; 1803-1811
WI
Michael Griffin
US Rep
Republican
1894-1899
WY
Patrick Sullivan
US Sen
Republican
1929-1930

* Served from the Orleans Territory. Compiled by Smart Politics.

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1 Comment on "St. Patrick’s Day Special: 129 Irish-Born Members of Congress"

  1. Wow, I didn’t knew we had so many irish membres in our congress. This list is pretty impressive! The map is pretty nice too since I thought irish people went mostly in Canada, but irish people really got all over the country and made nice work! Thanks for this knowledge, very interesting post!

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