Frederick Steiwer

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Frederick Steiwer
United States Senator
from Oregon
In office
March 4, 1927 – January 31, 1938
Preceded by Robert N. Stanfield
Succeeded by Alfred E. Reames
Oregon State Senator
In office
Constituency Umatilla County
Personal details
Born (1883-10-13)October 13, 1883
Jefferson, Oregon
Died February 3, 1939(1939-02-03) (aged 55)
Washington, D.C.
Political party Republican
Profession attorney

Frederick Steiwer (October 13, 1883 – February 3, 1939) was an American politician and lawyer in the state of Oregon. A native of the state, he was county district attorney and member of the Oregon State Senate from Eastern Oregon and a veteran of World War I. A Republican, he was elected to the United States Senate and served there from 1927 to 1938. Twice a candidate for the Republican nomination to the U. S. Presidency, he delivered the keynote address during the 1936 Republican National Convention.

Early life[edit]

Frederick Steiwer was born in Marion County, Oregon, on a farm near the city of Jefferson on October 13, 1883.[1] The son of John F. and Ada (née May) Steiwer, he received his education in the local public schools.[2] In 1902, he graduated from Oregon State Agricultural College (now Oregon State University) at Corvallis with a bachelor of science degree.[2] Steiwer then attended the University of Oregon in Eugene where he earned a bachelor of arts degree in 1906 before attending the school's law school, then located in Portland.[2]

In 1908, he was admitted to the Oregon State Bar and began practicing law for the Portland firm Snow & McCamant where he had already been employed.[2] In March 1909, he left the firm and moved to Eastern Oregon where he formed a partnership with G. W. Phelps in Pendleton.[2] A member of the Masons and a farmer, he also joined the Phi Delta Phi legal fraternity.[1][2]

Political career[edit]

Steiwer started his career in public office in 1909 as the deputy district attorney for Umatilla County, serving until 1910.[1] In 1912, he was elected as the district attorney for the county and served until 1916. That year he was elected to the Oregon State Senate as a Republican representing Umatilla County and District 20.[3] He only served during the 1917 legislative session, resigning to enlist in the United States Army during the First World War.[1] He served from 1917 to 1919 in the Sixty-fifth Field Artillery with rank of first lieutenant.[1]

In 1926, Steiwer was elected as a Republican to the United States Senate, defeating incumbent Robert N. Stanfield in the primary.[1][4] He won with only 39% of the vote, running against Democrat and later judge Bert E. Haney and Stanfield, then running for re-election as an independent.[citation needed] In 1928, he was one of many candidates for the Republican Presidential nomination at the National Convention, with fellow Oregonian Herbert Hoover winning the nomination and then the fall election.[citation needed] At the 1936 Republican National Convention he was the keynote speaker and temporary chairman,[5] as well as an unsuccessful candidate for the nomination.[6][7] Steiwer was re-elected in 1932 and served from March 4, 1927 until January 31, 1938, when he resigned to return to the practice of law after suffering health problems.[8] He had undergone gall bladder surgery in November 1936.[9]

While in the Senate he was chairman of the Committee on Expenditures in Executive Departments (Seventy-second Congress).[1] He also served on the Senate Judiciary Committee and helped oppose President Roosevelt's plan to pack the Supreme Court.[10] Steiwer was an opponent of Roosevelt and The New Deal.[11] In April 1937, he proposed an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to create a nationwide primary for selection of the candidates for the U.S. Presidency and Vice-Presidency.[12] No amendment was ever passed.

Later years and family[edit]

On December 12, 1911, he married Frieda Roesch in Pendleton, and they would have two children.[13] One daughter, named Elizabeth,[14] had a son who married the daughter of Thomas J. Watson, Jr. of IBM fame.[15] His uncle was Winlock W. Steiwer, a state senator. Upon leaving the Senate, he returned to the full-time practice of law in Washington, D.C.[1] Frederick Steiwer died in the District of Columbia on February 3, 1939, at the age of 55.[1] He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery in neighboring Virginia.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Frederick Steiwer". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. United States Congress. Retrieved 2008-12-02. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Colmer, Montagu, and Charles Erskine Scott Wood. 1910. History of the Bench and Bar of Oregon. Portland, Or: Historical Pub. Co. p. 229.
  3. ^ "1917 Regular Session (29th)". Oregon State Archives. Retrieved 2008-12-02. 
  4. ^ "In Oregon". Time. May 31, 1926. Retrieved 2008-12-02. 
  5. ^ Roth, Bennett (June 22, 1992). "Zeroing in on the Republicans; Getting Ready for the GOP; Keen competition exists to give keynote speech". The Houston Chronicle. 
  6. ^ "Steiwer Departs With No Bid To Run". New York Times. May 4, 1936. p. 2. 
  7. ^ "Steiwer Demands State-Run Relief And Ending Of WPA". New York Times. May 3, 1936. 
  8. ^ "Steiwer, Oregon Republican, Quits Senate; Gov. Martin, Democrat, to Name Successor". The New York Times. January 28, 1938. p. 1. 
  9. ^ "Steiwer Undergoes Operation". New York Times. November 10, 1936. p. 4. 
  10. ^ Cushman, Barry (February 1994). "Rethinking the New Deal Court". Virginia Law Review (Virginia Law Review) 80 (1): 201–261, pp. 217–18. doi:10.2307/1073597. JSTOR 1073597. 
  11. ^ "Republican Chiefs Assail New Deal". New York Times. May 3, 1935. 
  12. ^ "National Primary Asked by Steiwer". New York Times. April 10, 1937. p. 3. 
  13. ^ Corning, Howard M. (1989) Dictionary of Oregon History. Binfords & Mort Publishing. p. 234.
  14. ^ "Elizabeth Steiwer Wed.". New York Times. April 22, 1934. pp. N6. 
  15. ^ "Jeannette Watson Wed To Ralph McElvenny Jr.". New York Times. June 11, 1967. p. 93. 

External links[edit]

United States Senate
Preceded by
Robert N. Stanfield
U.S. Senator (Class 3) from Oregon
Succeeded by
Alfred Evan Reames