Robert F. Wagner: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Robert Ferdinand Wagner

Portrait of Robert F. Wagner in the U.S. Senate Reception Room

In office
March 4, 1927 – June 28, 1949
Preceded by James W. Wadsworth, Jr.
Succeeded by John Foster Dulles

In office
October 17, 1913 – December 31, 1914
Governor Martin H. Glynn
Preceded by Martin H. Glynn
Succeeded by Edward Schoeneck

Born June 3, 1877(1877-06-03)
Nastätten, Hesse-Nassau, Kingdom of Prussia, German Empire
Died May 4, 1953 (aged 75)
New York City, New York
Political party Democratic
Religion Roman Catholic

Robert Ferdinand Wagner (June 8, 1877 – May 4, 1953) was an American politician. He was a Democratic U.S. Senator from New York from 1927 to 1949.


Origin and early life

He was born in Nastätten, then in the Province Hesse-Nassau, Kingdom of Prussia, German Empire (now in Rhein-Lahn-Kreis, Rhineland-Palatinate, Federal Republic of Germany) and immigrated with his parents to the United States in 1885[1]. His family settled in New York City and Wagner attended the public schools. He graduated from the College of the City of New York (now named City College) in 1898 where he was a brother of Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity and from New York Law School in 1900. He was admitted to the bar in 1900.

Political career

He was a member of the New York State Assembly from 1905 to 1908, and of the New York State Senate from 1909 to 1918. He was President pro tempore of the New York State Senate from 1911 to 1914, and became Acting Lieutenant Governor of New York after the impeachment of Governor William Sulzer, and the succession of Lt. Gov. Martin H. Glynn to the governorship. In 1914, while Wagner remained President pro tem, John F. Murtaugh was chosen Majority Leader of the State Senate, the only time before 2009 that the two offices were not held by the same person. In January 1915, following the loss of the Senate majority by the Democrats, Wagner became Minority Leader until his retirement in 1918. Also, during his time in the State Senate, he served as Chairman of the State Factory Investigating Committee (1911–1915). Wagner was a delegate to the New York State Constitutional Conventions of 1915 and 1938, and a justice of the New York Supreme Court from 1919 to 1926.

Brain Trust

Wagner was also a member of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Brain Trust. He was very involved in labor and protection of the average worker. He was one of the leading heads in the creation of the National Industrial Recovery Act and the National Recovery Administration. After the Supreme Court had ruled the National Industrial Recovery Act and the National Recovery Administration unconstitutional and it was destroyed Wagner helped pass a similar law known as the National Labor Relations Act. The National Labor Relations Act, perhaps Wagner's greatest achievement, was a leading event that led to the fair treatment of workers.

Wagner introduced the Social Security Act bill into the United States Senate.

U.S. Senate

Wagner was elected as a Democrat to the United States Senate in 1926, and reelected in 1932, 1938 and 1944. He resigned on June 28, 1949, due to ill health. He was unable to attend any sessions of the 80th or 81st Congress from 1947 to 1949 because of a heart ailment.[2] Wagner was Chairman of the Committee on Patents in the 73rd Congress, of the Committee on Public Lands and Surveys in the 73rd and 74th Congresses, and of the Committee on Banking and Currency in the 75th through 79th Congresses. He was a delegate to the United Nations Monetary and Financial Conference in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire in 1944.

His most important legislative achievements include the National Industrial Recovery Act in 1933 and the Wagner-Steagall Housing Act‎ of 1937. After serving as chairman of the National Labor Board and witnessing first-hand its problems, he introduced and won passage of the National Labor Relations Act, or Wagner Act,[3] that created the National Labor Relations Board in 1935. This was important because portions of NIRA, including the right of unions to collectively bargain, had recently been deemed unconstitutional by the United States Supreme Court. He also introduced the Railway Pension Law, and cosponsored the Wagner-O'Day Act, the predecessor to the Javits-Wagner-O'Day Act.

The Wagner-Hatfield amendment to the Communications Act of 1934 aimed at turning over twenty-five percent of all radio channels to non-profit radio broadcasters did not pass. This action led to a cover for Time magazine. He also co-sponsored with Rep. Edith Rogers (R-Mass.) the Wagner-Rogers Bill to admit 20,000 Jewish refugees under the age of 14 to the United States from Nazi Germany, but the bill was rejected by the United States Congress in February 1939.

Wagner and Edward P. Costigan sponsored a federal anti-Lynching law. In 1935 attempts were made to persuade President Franklin D. Roosevelt to support the Costigan-Wagner Bill. However, Roosevelt refused to support a bill that would punish sheriffs who failed to protect their prisoners from lynch mobs. He believed that he would lose the support of Southern Democrats in Congress and lose his entire New Deal program. There were 18 lynchings of blacks in the South in 1935, but after the threat of federal legislation the number fell to eight in 1936, and to two in 1939.

Death and legacy

Wagner was a Brother of Phi Sigma Kappa during his college years at the Zeta Chapter of the City College of New York.

After leaving the Senate, Mr. Wagner was a partner in the firm later known as Finley, Kumble, Wagner, Underberg, Manley, Myerson & Casey.[4]

Robert Wagner died in New York City and is interred in Calvary Cemetery, Queens, New York City.

His son was Robert F. Wagner, Jr., Mayor of New York City from 1954 to 1965.

On September 14, 2004, a portrait of Wagner, along with one of Senator Arthur H. Vandenberg, was unveiled in the Senate Reception Room. The new portraits joined a group of distinguished former Senators, including Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, John C. Calhoun, Robert M. La Follette, Sr., and Robert A. Taft. Portraits of this group of Senators, known as the "Famous Five", were unveiled on March 12, 1959.


American Passages: a History of the United States


  • J. Joseph Huthmacher: Senator Robert F. Wagner and the Rise of Urban Liberalism (1968)
New York Assembly
Preceded by
Gotthardt Litthauer
New York State Assembly, New York County, 30th District
Succeeded by
Maurice F. Smith
Preceded by
Thomas Rock
New York State Assembly, New York County, 22nd District
1907 - 1908
Succeeded by
George Baumann
New York State Senate
Preceded by
John T. McCall
New York State Senate, 16th District
1909 - 1918
Succeeded by
Joseph Foley
Political offices
Preceded by
George H. Cobb
Majority Leader of the New York State Senate
1911 - 1914
Succeeded by
John F. Murtaugh
Preceded by
George H. Cobb
President pro tempore of the New York State Senate
1911 - 1914
Succeeded by
Elon R. Brown
Preceded by
Martin H. Glynn
Lieutenant Governor of New York

1913 - 1914
Succeeded by
Edward Schoeneck
Preceded by
Elon R. Brown
Minority Leader of the New York State Senate
1915 - 1918
Succeeded by
James A. Foley
United States Senate
Preceded by
James Wolcott Wadsworth Jr.
United States Senator (Class 3) from New York
Served alongside: Royal S. Copeland, James M. Mead, Irving Ives
Succeeded by
John Foster Dulles

External links



Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address