Skip to main content

Daniel J. Keefe

Commissioner General of Immigration, July 1, 1909 - May 31, 1913

Born the son of a teamster at Willow Springs, Illinois, on September 27, 1852, Daniel Keefe went to work at an early age. After his mother died in 1862, he left school with just a fourth grade education. Keefe’s father died four years later leaving him orphaned at the age of fourteen. By the time he reached eighteen, he was working as a longshoreman. In 1882 Keefe was elected President of the Lumber Unloaders' Association. His career in organized labor continued as he served as President of the National Longshoremen's Association from 1893 to 1908 and as a member of the executive council of the American Federation of Labor (AFL) from 1903 to 1908.

President Theodore Roosevelt appointed Keefe as Commissioner-General of Immigration on December 1, 1908. Upon taking office, President Taft reappointed Keefe. As Commissioner General Keefe oversaw the Immigration Service during a period of mass immigration and he lobbied for strengthened immigration restrictions.

After leaving office in May 1913, Keefe was a Conciliation Commissioner for the U.S. Department of Labor, where he worked to prevent and settle labor disputes for the U.S. Shipping Board Merchant Fleet Corporation from 1921 to 1925. Daniel Keefe died on January 2, 1929, at Elmhurst, Illinois.



<< back to Commissioners and Directors

Last Reviewed/Updated: