William Henry Powell’s painting of the Discovery of the Mississippi by De Soto
William Henry Powell’s dramatic and brilliantly colored canvas was the last of...


The Summerhouse on the Capitol Grounds surrounded by pink azalea flowers.
A few ideas to help you in planning a visit to Capitol Hill.


Painted portrait of Dr. William Thornton
The Architect of the Capitol (AOC) is the builder and steward of America’s...


Instagrammers in the Olmsted Summerhouse on the Capitol Grounds
Early on this beautiful September morning, a group of Instagrammers came...

Explore Capitol Hill

John E. Kenna

Alexander Doyle

Given by West Virginia in 1901
Hall of Columns
U.S. Capitol

Marble statue of John E. Kenna

John Kenna was born on April 10, 1848, in Kanawha County, Virginia, which became part of the state of West Virginia in 1863. He had little education, and at the age of 16 he served with General Shelby in the Confederate 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 Cleveland on several issues and indicted the Senate Republican majority for failure to pass tariff reforms. His brilliant career was cut short with his sudden death at the age of 45 on January 11, 1893.

Last Updated: October 14, 2014