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History of Iowa From the Earliest Times to the Beginning of the Twentieth Century/4/John F. Kinney

JOHN F. KINNEY was born in Oswego County, New York, April 2, 1816. He received a liberal education for that time and studied law. In August, 1844, he located at Fort Madison, Iowa, and the following year was elected Secretary of the Council of the Legislative Assembly, serving two sessions. In 1846 he was appointed Prosecuting Attorney and in June, 1847, when but thirty-one years of age, was appointed by the Governor Judge of the Supreme Court. In 1848 he was elected to the same office by the General Assembly for a term of six years. In 1853 he gave a dissenting opinion in a case before the Supreme Court involving the right of counties to issue bonds to aid in building railroads. Judge Kinney held that under the Constitution counties had no right to permit a majority of the voters to impose a tax upon the people to build railroads. A few years later Judge Samuel F. Miller of the United States Supreme Court gave a similar dissenting opinion. He referred to the opinion of Judge Kinney as a correct rendition of the law on the subject before the Iowa Supreme Court. Had these opinions prevailed hundreds of thousands of dollars would have been saved to the people of several Iowa counties for which no value was ever received. In August, 1853, Judge Kinney was appointed by President Pierce Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Utah. Accepting the position he made the journey of 1,500 miles with his family in an emigrant wagon over the plains then infested with hostile Indians. In 1860 he was reappointed by President Buchanan and in 1863 was removed by the Republican administration. Returning to Nebraska, he was chosen to Congress and gave his support to the war measures of that body. In 1867 he was a member of a commission to report upon the condition of the Sioux Indians. He was appointed by President Arthur agent for the Yankton Sioux Indians of Dakota, serving until 1889, when he removed to California where he died August 16, 1902.