Born in Providence, Rhode Island, JOHN SAMMON MC KIERNAN graduated from Notre Dame University in 1934 and from Boston University Law School in 1937. He went on to practice law and served as legal advisor to the Providence Civil Service Commission as well as chairman of the Providence Fair Rents Committee in 1941. In 1942 and 1943 he was first Assistant City Solicitor for Providence, a position to which he returned after serving in the U.S. Army during World War II. As Lieutenant Governor and presiding officer of the state Senate in 1949, McKiernan cast the tie-breaking vote that resulted in the adoption of new rules effectively giving Democrats control of the Senate’s legislative committees for the first time in more than decade. He became caretaker governor the following year for a few short weeks after incumbent John O. Pastore resigned to become a member of the U.S. Senate. He resigned as Lieutenant Governor in 1956 to accept appointment as an Associate Justice of the Rhode Island Superior Court.
Mohr, Ralph S. Governors for Three Hundred Years (1638-1954): Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.State of Rhode Island, Graves Registration Committee, August 1954.
Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 4. Westport, CT: Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.