John Kean (South Carolina politician)

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John Kean
John Kean (NYPL b12349141-421766) (cropped).jpg
Etching of John Kean by Max Rosenthal
Member of the Continental Congress
In office
Personal details
Born1756 (1756)
Charleston, Province of South Carolina
DiedMay 4, 1795(1795-05-04) (aged 38–39)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Resting placeSt. John’s Churchyard
(m. 1789)
ChildrenPeter Philip James Kean
OccupationMerchant, politician, cashier of the Bank of the United States

John Kean (1756 – May 4, 1795) was an American merchant, banker and member of the Continental Congress from South Carolina who was the first in a long line of American politicians.[1][2]

Early life[edit]

Kean was born in Charleston, South Carolina in 1756.[1] He was raised in Beaufort County, South Carolina by his mother, Jane Grove and stepfather, Captain Samuel Grove, a wealthy and successful merchant.[3][4]


Kean apprenticed with his stepfather's business partner, Peter Lavien,[4] learning business and bookkeeping.[3] By the time of the American Revolutionary War, Kean was a prominent merchant in his home state of South Carolina.[1]

During the War, he served as deputy paymaster of the South Carolina Militia under paymaster Daniel de Saussure. Kean was taken prisoner during the Siege of Charleston in 1780 by General Sir Henry Clinton.[1] Kean was detained as a prisoner of war at sea, along with de Saussure's son, Henry William de Saussure, where Kean was confined aboard for several months leading to his development a respiratory disease. Upon his release, Kean was appointed a member of the commission to audit accounts of the Revolutionary Army by General Washington.[1]

Kean also served as a delegate for South Carolina in the Continental Congress from 1785 to 1787.[5] Kean advocated ratification of the United States Constitution at South Carolina's ratifying convention.[6] Kean compiled "actual enumerations" of the population of the 13 states for consideration at the Constitutional Convention in 1787, a precursor to the U.S. Census.[7]

After General Washington became the first President of the United States, he appointed Kean cashier of the Bank of the United States in Philadelphia which he served at until his death.[1]

Personal life[edit]

In 1789, Kean was married to Susan Livingston (1759–1853) of the prominent northern Livingston family.[8] Susan was the daughter of Peter Van Brugh Livingston, the New York State Treasurer,[9] and Mary (née Alexander) Livingston.[10] She was also the granddaughter of Philip Livingston, the 2nd Lord of Livingston Manor, and the niece of New Jersey's governor William Livingston, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution.[2] Together, they were the parents of one child:[11]

Kean died at age 39 on May 4, 1795, in Philadelphia from the respiratory disease he developed during the Revolution. He was interred in St. John’s Churchyard in Philadelphia.[1]

Following his death his widow purchased a large estate known and home built by her governor uncle, known as Liberty Hall,[14] which showcases the contributions of the Livingston and Kean families.[15] In 1800, his widow remarried to Count Julian Niemcewicz, a Polish nobleman who fled Poland after fighting unsuccessfully for Polish independence from Russia but returned in the wake of Napoleon's successful campaigns.[10][16]


His great-grandsons (named John Kean and Hamilton Fish Kean) both served as U.S. Senators for New Jersey. His great-grandnephew was US Representative Robert Winthrop Kean and his great-great-grandnephew is New Jersey Governor Thomas Kean.[17][11]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "KEAN, John - Biographical Information". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved 3 April 2018.
  2. ^ a b Felzenberg, Alvin S. (2006). Governor Tom Kean: From the New Jersey Statehouse to the 9-11 Commission. Rutgers University Press. p. 264. ISBN 9780813537993. Retrieved 3 April 2018.
  3. ^ a b Rowland, Lawrence Sanders; Moore, Alexander; Rogers, George C. (1996). The History of Beaufort County, South Carolina: 1514-1861. University of South Carolina Press. p. 264. ISBN 9781570030901. Retrieved 3 April 2018.
  4. ^ a b Laurens, Henry (1988). The Papers of Henry Laurens: Jan. 5, 1776-Nov. 1, 1777. University of South Carolina Press. p. 79. ISBN 9780872495166. Retrieved 3 April 2018.
  5. ^ Journals of the Continental Congress.title=Apr. 1, 1782, to Nov. 1, 1788, inclusive; also, the Journal of the Committee of the States, from the 1st Friday in June, to the 1st Friday in August, 1784, with an Appendix (1823). Apr. 1, 1782, to Nov. 1, 1788, inclusive; also, the Journal of the Committee of the States, from the 1st Friday in June, to the 1st Friday in August, 1784, with an Appendix. Way and Gideon. p. 772. Retrieved 3 April 2018.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-07-19. Retrieved 2011-03-16.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^ Roberts, Sam (May 19, 2010). "Early Census Is Found in a New Jersey University's Files". The New York Times. New York City, New York. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved June 6, 2022.
  8. ^ Stahr, Walter (2012). John Jay: Founding Father. Diversion Books. p. 268. ISBN 9781938120510. Retrieved 3 April 2018.
  9. ^ Livingston, Edwin Brockholst (1910). The Livingstons of Livingston Manor: Being the History of That Branch of the Scottish House of Callendar Which Settled in the English Province of New York during the Reign of King Charles II; and also including an Account of Robert Livingston of Albany, "The Nephew," a Settler in the same Province, and his principal Desecendants. The Knickerbocker Press. p. 228. ISBN 9785872064213. Retrieved 3 April 2018.
  10. ^ a b Cutter, William Richard (1919). American Biography: A New Cyclopedia. Pub. under the direction of the American Historical Society. pp. 56–57. Retrieved 3 April 2018.
  11. ^ a b Lowndes, Arthur (1912). Archives of the General Convention III. New York: Episcopal Church General Convention Commission on Archives. p. 345. Retrieved 3 April 2018.
  12. ^ Aitken, William Benford (1912). Distinguished Families in America, Descended from Wilhelmus Beekman and Jan Thomasse Van Dyke. Knickerbocker Press. p. 145. Retrieved 3 April 2018.
  13. ^ Ferry, Esq., Frank J. (2012). Nucky: The Real Story of the Atlantic City Boardwalk Boss. BookBaby. p. 95. ISBN 9781483548814. Retrieved 3 April 2018.
  14. ^ Gerstenzang, N. M. (9 June 1974). "The Kean Estate Mirrors Family's". The New York Times. Retrieved 3 April 2018.
  15. ^ "History - Liberty Hall Museum". Retrieved 3 April 2018.
  16. ^ Greene, Richard Henry; Stiles, Henry Reed; Dwight, Melatiah Everett; Morrison, George Austin; Mott, Hopper Striker; Totten, John Reynolds; Pitman, Harold Minot; Ditmas, Charles Andrew; Forest, Louis Effingham De; Maynard, Arthur S.; Mann, Conklin (1880). The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record. New York Genealogical and Biographical Society. p. 75. Retrieved 3 April 2018.
  17. ^ "KEAN, John - Biographical Information". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved 3 April 2018.

External links[edit]