Fred R. Zimmerman

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Fred R. Zimmerman
Fred R. Zimmerman.jpg
25th Governor of Wisconsin
In office
January 3, 1927 – January 7, 1929
LieutenantHenry A. Huber
Preceded byJohn J. Blaine
Succeeded byWalter J. Kohler, Sr.
22nd & 24th Secretary of State of Wisconsin
In office
January 1, 1923 – January 3, 1927
GovernorJohn J. Blaine
Preceded byElmer S. Hall
Succeeded byTheodore Dammann
In office
January 2, 1939 – December 14, 1954
GovernorJulius Heil
Walter Goodland
Oscar Rennebohm
Walter Kohler, Jr.
Preceded byTheodore Dammann
Succeeded byLouis Allis
Member of the Wisconsin State Assembly
In office
Personal details
Born(1880-11-20)November 20, 1880
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
DiedDecember 14, 1954(1954-12-14) (aged 74)
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Political partyRepublican

Fred R. Zimmerman (November 20, 1880 – December 14, 1954) was a Republican politician from Milwaukee, who served as a state Assemblyman, 25th Governor of Wisconsin, and Wisconsin Secretary of State. His son Robert C. Zimmerman was also Wisconsin Secretary of State from 1957 until 1975.[1]

Background and early career[edit]

Zimmerman was born in Milwaukee, son of Charles E. Zimmerman and Augusta Fiesenhauser Zimmerman, and grandson of German-American Forty-Eighters. His father was born in New York state and came to Milwaukee in 1875. His mother was born in Wisconsin of parents who were natives of Stuttgart. Zimmerman's father, a molder, died when he was 5 and at an early age he began contributing to the support of his family by selling newspapers. After completing grammar school, he attended night school briefly, and held various jobs until he was 22, when he started the Bee Hive Dairy, distributing milk to Milwaukee residents. He left this job, after his marriage, to take a position as a traveling salesman with the Pfister & Vogel Leather Company, and also worked as a bookkeeper for a Milwaukee lumber firm.

Elective office[edit]


Zimmerman was elected to the Wisconsin State Assembly by six votes in 1908 in a three-way race, receiving 1703 votes on the Republican ticket to 1697 for Democrat Harry R. McLogan, and 1159 for Socialist Gilbert H. Poor, to represent the 8th Milwaukee County district (8th and 23d wards of the City of Milwaukee).[2] He was an active member of the Progressive faction of his party, but served only one term (1909–1910), losing the 1910 election in a four-way contest to Socialist James H. Vint with 1521 votes, to 1501 for Zimmerman, 143 for McLogan, and 12 for Prohibitionist William H. Trout.[3]

Secretary of State[edit]

In 1922, Zimmerman (by then an industrial relations manager for Nash Motors) had moved to the Town of Lake and served two years on the Town Board. He received the Republican nomination and election as Wisconsin Secretary of State in 1922 (with 77.7% of the vote in a four-way race) [4] and re-election in 1924 in a five-way race, earning a then-record 509,771 votes statewide.[5] During this period he remained closely identified with the Progressive faction of the Republican Party.


When the Progressives refused to endorse him in the gubernatorial election in 1926 (because of his failure to support the 1924 Presidential candidacy of Robert M. La Follette, Sr.),[6] Zimmerman ran in the Republican primary election as an "independent" against both Progressive (Herman Ekern) and Stalwart (Charles B. Perry) candidates, as well as another "independent". Zimmerman won the Republican nomination and was elected by an absolute majority, outpolling Stalwart Perry (who came in second, running as an "Independent"), as well as the Democratic, Socialist, Prohibitionist and Socialist Labor candidates combined, with 350,927 votes out of 552,921.[7] In 1928 he was defeated for re-nomination, running a poor third to Stalwart Walter J. Kohler, Sr. and Progressive Congressman Joseph D. Beck.[8]

Thereafter he went into a political decline for several years, briefly holding a position in the Beverage Tax Commission in 1936.

Secretary of State once more[edit]

Zimmerman was nominated and elected Secretary of State on the Republican ticket in 1938 and served until his death, polling a larger vote at each subsequent election and in 1952 again received the highest total ever given any candidate for any office in the state.

Private life[edit]

Zimmerman was a delegate to the Republican National Conventions in 1916, 1920, 1924, 1940, and 1944. He was attacked as a member of America First, but he denied membership therein, although he generally followed the isolationist position. He died in Milwaukee in 1954 just after again winning re-election as Secretary of State.


Further reading[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
John J. Blaine
Governor of Wisconsin
1927 – 1929
Succeeded by
Walter J. Kohler, Sr.