Fred Schwengel

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Fred Schwengel
Fred Schwengel.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Iowa's 1st district
In office
January 3, 1967 – January 3, 1973
Preceded by John R. Schmidhauser
Succeeded by Edward Mezvinsky
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Iowa's 1st district
In office
January 3, 1955 – January 3, 1965
Preceded by Thomas E. Martin
Succeeded by John R. Schmidhauser
Member of the Iowa House of Representatives
In office
1945–1955
Personal details
Born Frederick Delbert Schwengel
May 28, 1906
Sheffield, Iowa
Died April 1, 1993 (1993-05) (aged 86)
Arlington County, Virginia
Political party Republican
Residence Sheffield, Iowa
Alma mater Northeast Missouri Teachers College, University of Iowa

Frederick Delbert "Fred" Schwengel (May 28, 1906 – April 1, 1993) was a Republican U.S. Representative from southeastern Iowa.

Personal background[edit]

Born on a farm near Sheffield, Iowa, Schwengel attended the rural schools in West Fork Township and high schools in Chapin and Sheffield. He graduated from Northeast Missouri Teachers College at Kirksville, Missouri in 1930 where he was an undergraduate member of Phi Sigma Epsilon Fraternity, and attended graduate school at the University of Iowa in Iowa City from 1933 to 1935.

To this day, Truman State University displays a collection of Schwengel's personal collection of Abraham Lincoln historical artifacts that were donated by Schwengel's wife, Ethel, after his death in 1993.

Schwengel had founded the United States Capitol Historical Society in 1962, and continued to serve as its president after his defeat, until 1993. Early in his career, he served as national president of Phi Sigma Epsilon fraternity.[1] He also was a founder and president of the Republican Heritage Foundation. He also served as the President of the Iowa Chamber of Commerce and chairman of the National Civil War Centennial Commission and the Joint Sessions of Congress for the Lincoln Sesquicentennial.[2]

He served in the Missouri National Guard from 1929 to 1936.

He served as athletic coach and instructor of history and political science in public schools of Shelbina, Missouri and Kirksville, Missouri from 1930 to 1937. He engaged in the insurance business in Davenport, Iowa from 1937 to 1954.

State offices[edit]

Schwengel was elected to the Iowa House of Representatives in 1944, serving five consecutive terms, from 1945 to 1955. He also served as member of the Iowa Development Commission from 1949 to 1955.

Congress[edit]

In 1954, the Congressman in Iowa's 1st congressional district, Thomas E. Martin, ran for the U.S. Senate. Schwengel ran and won the Republican nomination for the seat,[3] and easily defeated John J. O'Connor in the general election. He won re-election in the following four elections. However, in the 1964 Democratic landslide, Schwengel (like all but one of Iowa's Republican U.S. House members) was defeated. He lost to University of Iowa political science Professor John R. Schmidhauser by fewer than 4,000 votes. But Schmidhauser, like many members of the 1964 freshman class, served only one term; in 1966 Schwengel ran again for his former seat and defeated Schmidhauser by fewer than 5,000 votes, then defeated him again in 1968 by a wider margin. In all, Schwengel served eight terms in Congress.

In 1970 Schwengel narrowly defeated Iowa legislator Edward Mezvinsky by only 765 votes. Redistricting before the 1972 election shifted several Republican areas out of the 1st district, so when Mezvinsky ran against Schwengel a second time in 1972, he won with 53 percent of the vote.

While in Congress, Schwengel was known as one of the more moderate members of the Republican House caucus. While conservative on social issues, he was very pro-labor and pro-civil rights, and was a strong supporter of separation of church and state.[4] Reportedly, his opposition to school prayer led to his 1974 defeat.[5]

After Congress[edit]

Schwengel had founded the Capitol Historical Society in 1962, and continued to serve as its president after his defeat, until 1993. He also was a founder and president of the Republican Heritage Foundation.

Schwengel received the first JM Dawson Award from the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty in 1986[6] for, among other things, his stance against school prayer in 1970 that eventually led to his defeat from Congress.[5]

His collegiate fraternity, Phi Sigma Epsilon, participated in a merger with Phi Sigma Kappa in 1985. At the onset, Schwengel was strongly supportive of this merger, and influential in the decision as a much-loved past president and ritual author for Phi Sigma Epsilon. At its completion, Schwengel agreed to serve as an Historian for the combined fraternity and as a trustee of the PSK Foundation.[1]

Schwengel died on April 1, 1993, in Arlington, Virginia. The Interstate 80 bridge crossing the Mississippi River near Davenport, Iowa is named in his honor.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Rand, Frank Prentice; Ralph Watts; James E. Sefton (1993). All The Phi Sigs - A History. Self-published. p. 237. 
  2. ^ Palen, Kathy (October 8, 1986). "BJCPA Honors Two Baptists With Inaugural Dawson Awards" (PDF). Baptist Press. Retrieved 13 July 2010. 
  3. ^ "Schwengel is Winner in Close Race," Muscatine Journal and News-Tribune, 1954-06-08 at 1.
  4. ^ Raffensperger, Gene; Norman, Jane (April 3, 1993). "Schwengel dies at 86; served in U.S. House". Des Moines Register. 
  5. ^ a b Tiller, Carl (1994). At Calvary: A history of the first 125 years of Calvary Baptist Church, Washington, D.C., 1862-1987 : with glimpses of the years 1988-94. Trinity Rivers Pub. 
  6. ^ "BJC Awards". Retrieved 13 July 2010. 
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Thomas E. Martin
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Iowa's 1st congressional district

1955–1965
Succeeded by
John R. Schmidhauser
Preceded by
John R. Schmidhauser
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Iowa's 1st congressional district

1967–1973
Succeeded by
Edward Mezvinsky