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Bernhard Martin Jacobsen (March 26, 1862 - June 30, 1936) was a Democratic U.S. Representative from Iowa who served nearly three full terms during the Great Depression. He was the father of William S. Jacobsen, who succeeded him in Congress following his death.

Born in Tönder, (which was then a part of Schleswig, Germany but is now in Denmark), Jacobsen attended the public schools. He immigrated in 1876 to the United States with his parents, who settled in Clinton, Iowa. He learned to speak English while serving as a helper in a Clinton sawmill.[1] He was employed as a clerk in a dry goods store until 1886, when he engaged in the mercantile business. He served as postmaster of Clinton 1914-1923. He retired from the mercantile business in 1927 and engaged in the industrial finance business.

In 1930, Jacobsen was elected as a Democrat to represent Iowa's 2nd congressional district, unseating incumbent Republican Congressman F. Dickinson Letts. He was the first Democrat elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Iowa since 1916. In the next two elections (in which Iowa Democrats established, then retained, a clear majority of U.S. House seats), Jacobsen won by large margins.

On June 1, 1936, Jacobsen won the Democratic primary for a fourth term, this time to the Seventy-fifth Congress.[2] However, he died on June 30, 1936 in Rochester, Minnesota, after ten days of hospitalization.[3] A special nominating convention selected his son, William S. Jacobsen, to fill his place on the ballot. His son then held the seat in the general election, defeating Charles Penningroth of Cedar Rapids.

He was interred in Springdale Cemetery, Clinton, Iowa.


  1. ^ Editorial, "An Immigrant Boy Who Climbed the Ladder," Waterloo Daily Courier, 1936-07-01, at 4.
  2. ^ "Successful at the Primaries Held Monday," Oelwein Daily Register, 1936-06-03, at 1.
  3. ^ "Congressman Jacobsen Dies," Mason City Globe-Gazette, 1936-06-30, at 1.

PD-icon.svg This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.



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