Frederick Steiwer

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Frederick Steiwer
United States Senator
from Oregon
In office
March 4, 1927 – January 31, 1938
Preceded by Robert Stanfield
Succeeded by Alfred 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.
Resting place Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington, Virginia
Nationality United States
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Freida Roesch Steiwer
(m.1911–1939, his death)
Children 1 son, 1 daughter
Parents John Frederick Steiwer
Ada Eugenie May Steiwer
Alma mater Oregon Agricultural College
B.S., 1902
University of Oregon
B.A., 1906
Profession Attorney
Military service
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch US Department of the Army Seal.png U.S. Army
Years of service 1917–1919
Rank US-O2 insignia.svg  First lieutenant
Unit 65th Field Artillery Regiment
Battles/wars World War I

Frederick Steiwer (October 13, 1883 – February 3, 1939) was an American politician and lawyer in the state of Oregon.[1]

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 from 1927 to 1938.[1] Twice a candidate for the Republican nomination to the Presidency, he delivered the keynote address during the 1936 Republican National Convention.[2][3]

Early life[edit]

Born in Oregon on a farm near Jefferson in Marion County,[4] Steiwer's parents were John F. and Ada (née May) Steiwer. He received his education in the local public schools,[5] and entered Oregon State Agricultural College (now Oregon State University) at Corvallis at age 15 in 1898 and graduated four years later with a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering.[5] 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.[5]

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.[5] In March 1909, he left the firm and moved to eastern Oregon where he formed a partnership with G. W. Phelps in Pendleton.[5] A member of the Masons and a farmer, he also joined the Phi Delta Phi legal fraternity.[4][5]

Political career[edit]

Steiwer started his career in public office in 1909 as the deputy district attorney for Umatilla County, serving until 1910.[4] In 1912, he was elected as the district attorney for the county and served until 1916. That year he was elected to the state senate as a Republican representing Umatilla County and District 20.[6] Steiwer only served during the 1917 legislative session, resigning to enlist in the U.S. Army during the First World War.[4] He served from 1917 to 1919 in the Sixty-fifth Field Artillery with rank of first lieutenant.[4]

In 1926, Steiwer was elected as a Republican to the U.S. Senate, defeating incumbent Robert Stanfield in the primary.[4][7] He won with only 39% of the vote, running against Democrat and later judge Bert 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,[8] as well as an unsuccessful candidate for the nomination.[9][10] 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.[11] He had undergone gall bladder surgery in November 1936.[12]

While in the Senate he was chairman of the Committee on Expenditures in Executive Departments (Seventy-second Congress).[4] He also served on the Senate Judiciary Committee and helped oppose President Roosevelt's plan to pack the Supreme Court.[13] Steiwer was an opponent of Roosevelt and The New Deal.[14] 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.[15] 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.[16] One daughter, named Elizabeth,[17] had a son who married the daughter of Thomas J. Watson, Jr. of IBM fame.[18] 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.,[4] Steiwer died in the District of Columbia at the age of 55 on February 3, 1939,[4] and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery in neighboring Arlington, Virginia.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Fred Steiwer, former U.S. Senator from Oregon, dies in East Friday". Eugene Register-Guard. Associated Press. February 3, 1939. p. 1. 
  2. ^ Ferguson, Harry (June 10, 1936). "New Deal rebels wooed by G.O.P.". Pittsburgh Press. United Press. p. 1. 
  3. ^ "'Return to American system,' keynote advises G.O.P.". Pittsburgh Press. United Press. June 10, 1936. p. 7. 
  4. ^ 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. 
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ "1917 Regular Session (29th)". Oregon State Archives. Retrieved 2008-12-02. 
  7. ^ "In Oregon". Time. May 31, 1926. Retrieved 2008-12-02. 
  8. ^ 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. 
  9. ^ "Steiwer Departs With No Bid To Run". New York Times. May 4, 1936. p. 2. 
  10. ^ "Steiwer Demands State-Run Relief And Ending Of WPA". New York Times. May 3, 1936. 
  11. ^ "Steiwer, Oregon Republican, Quits Senate; Gov. Martin, Democrat, to Name Successor". The New York Times. January 28, 1938. p. 1. 
  12. ^ "Steiwer Undergoes Operation". New York Times. November 10, 1936. p. 4. 
  13. ^ 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. 
  14. ^ "Republican Chiefs Assail New Deal". New York Times. May 3, 1935. 
  15. ^ "National Primary Asked by Steiwer". New York Times. April 10, 1937. p. 3. 
  16. ^ Corning, Howard M. (1989) Dictionary of Oregon History. Binfords & Mort Publishing. p. 234.
  17. ^ "Elizabeth Steiwer Wed.". New York Times. April 22, 1934. pp. N6. 
  18. ^ "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