Kelley, William Darrah (dârˈə) [key], 1814–90, American legislator, b. Philadelphia. He was admitted (1841) to the bar and served (1847–56) as judge of the court of common pleas for Philadelphia. Originally a Democrat and a believer in free trade, he joined the Republican party when it was founded, because of its antislavery stand. The depression of 1857 and his fear that goods produced by low-paid foreign labor would flood the country converted him to protectionism. He was elected to Congress in 1860 and was continuously reelected for the rest of his life. As a staunch radical, he supported black suffrage and military reconstruction in the South. He served on the Committee on Ways and Means for 20 years. His sincerity and financial disinterestedness were never questioned, but his constant emphasis on protection as a cure-all and his frequent mention of Pennsylvania's iron industry led his colleagues to call him "Pig Iron" Kelley. He was an advocate of currency inflation for the sake of labor and the farmer. He published a number of books, including Speeches, Addresses, and Letters on Industrial and Financial Questions (1872), Letters from Europe (1879), and The Old South and the New (1888).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.