Daniel Joseph Keefe

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

Born the son of a teamster at Willowsprings, Illinois, on September 27, 1852, Keefe went to work at an early age. By age eighteen he was a longshoreman, later a labor contractor and in 1882 he was elected President of the Lumber Unloaders' Association. His career continued with organized labor 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 from 1903 to 1908. President Theodore Roosevelt appointed Keefe as Commissioner-General of Immigration on December 1, 1908. His term in that post has been summarized as follows:

In that office he soon found himself merely an instrument for the administration of an act which he considered entirely inadequate as interpreted by the solicitor of the Department of Commerce and Labor. In defense against criticisms of his administration by former associates in the labor movement he could only recommend in his annual reports methods of strengthening the law--recommendations which fell with Taft's veto of the bill imposing a literacy test.

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

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