Joseph W. Keifer
Photograph of Joseph Warren Keifer (1836-1932) an Army officer and politician from Clark County, Ohio, 1881-1883.
Joseph Warren Keifer was a prominent nineteenth century Ohio political and military leader.
He was born on January 30, 1836, in Clark County, Ohio. Keifer graduated from Antioch College and began practicing law in Ohio in 1858. With the outbreak of the American Civil War, Keifer left his practice and enlisted in the Union Army. He was originally commissioned a major in the Third Ohio Volunteer Infantry. During the war's first two years, Keifer primarily served in Tennessee, Kentucky, and western Virginia. From 1863 to 1865, he was in the East and battled Confederate forces in Virginia and North Carolina. He was present at Robert E. Lee's surrender at Appomattox Courthouse, Virginia, and at Joseph Johnston's surrender in North Carolina. Keifer was wounded on four separate occasions during the war and rose to the rank of brigadier-general of volunteers.
Following the Civil War, the federal government offered Keifer a position in the regular army as a lieutenant colonel, but he refused. Keifer did return to the military in 1898, when President William McKinley appointed him a major general in the regular army. Keifer commanded the United States force that captured Havana, Cuba, during the Spanish-American War. He was mustered out of the service in 1899.
Keifer returned to his law practice in Springfield, Ohio, in 1865. He also played an active role in his community. Keifer was involved with several organizations including the Grand Army of the Republic, the Soldiers and Sailors Orphans Home, the Ohio State Archaeological and Historical Society, the Order of the Loyal Legion, and the Organization of Spanish War Veterans. He also served as a member of the board of trustees of Antioch College.
Keifer also became active in national and state politics in the years following the Civil War. He served in the Ohio Senate from 1868 to 1869 as a member of the Republican Party. From 1877 until 1885, he represented Ohio in the United States House of Representatives. From 1881 until 1883, Keifer served as the Speaker of the House. He was the first Ohioan to hold this position. He returned as a representative to the House from 1905 to 1911.
Keifer died on April 22, 1932.
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