Governors
of
Wisconsin


page 4



Governors


Davidson, James O. 1854 - 1922
  Definition: politician, governor, b. Sogn, Norway. He migrated to the U.S. in 1872, and in 1877 settled in Soldiers Grove, where he began a successful mercantile business. A Republican, he was state assemblyman (1893-1898), and in the assembly became identified with the La Follette Progressive Republicans in the anti-railroad pass fight. With his Norwegian background and progressive inclinations, Davidson rose rapidly in the ranks of the La Follette Republicans. He was Wisconsin state treasurer (1899-1903), and in 1902 was elected lieutenant governor as the running mate of Robert M. La Follette, Sr. (q.v.). Re-elected to this office in 1904, he served from Jan., 1903, until Jan. 1, 1906. When La Follette resigned the governorship to take his seat in the U.S. Senate, Davidson became governor (Jan. 1, 1906), but in the Republican gubernatorial primary held in September of the same year, La Follette threw his support to Irvine L. Lenroot (q.v.). Davidson, feeling that his loyalty to Progressivism had been betrayed, appealed to the Norwegian vote and captured the nomination. In 1908 he was renominated without opposition and in 1910 declined to be a candidate. During Governor Davidson's administration (Jan. 1906-Jan. 1911), much of the progressive program was implemented. State control was extended over the issuing of stocks by private corporations and the power of the state railroad commission was increased so that virtually all public utilities were brought within its supervision. The two-cent-per-mile railroad fare bill was enacted, and Davidson also supported the state income tax and laws providing for stricter regulation of insurance companies. After leaving office, the breach between Davidson and La Follette grew increasingly wider, and he eventually joined forces with more conservative Republicans, such as Isaac Stephenson (q.v.), Emanuel Philipp (q.v.), and William Howard Taft. He served on the state board of control under appointment from Governor Philipp (1915-1919). Who's Who in Amer., 12 (1922); E. B. Usher, Wis. (8 vols., Chicago, 1914); R. S. Maxwell, La Follette and the Rise of the Progressives [Madison, 1956]; Madison Wis. State Journal, Dec. 17, 1922; J. O. Davidson Papers.
[Source: Dictionary of Wisconsin biography]

Above: During the 1890s Assemblyman James O. Davidson (on the left, wearing a bowler hat) of Soldiers Grove, was an early supporter of the La Follette wing of the Republican Party. In 1899 he became state treasurer, and in 1902 Davidson was elected lieutenant governor as the running mate of Robert M. La Follette, Sr. Davidson became governor on January 1, 1906 when La Follette resigned to become senator. In the Republican gubernatorial primary election in September 1906, La Follette threw his support to Irvine Lenroot. Davidson won anyway and was ultimately responsible for enactment of much of the the Progressive legislative program. In 1910 he chose not to run again, however. Davidson eventually became allied with the Stalwart wing of the Republican Party. This photograph shows Governor Davidson shortly after his 1906 electoral success, but the occasion documented is unknown.


McGovern, Francis Edward 1866 - 1946
  Definition: lawyer, politician, governor, b. near Elkhart Lake. He graduated from the Univ. of Wisconsin (1890), studied law, and was admitted to the Wisconsin bar in 1897. A Progressive Republican, he made his reputation as crusading district attorney for Milwaukee County (1905-1909), and was an unsuccessful candidate for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senator in 1908. In 1910 he was elected governor and served two terms in that office. During his first term, much of the progressive program was brought to fruition, including legislation to establish a practical income tax program, workmen's compensation, regulation of child and woman's labor, the encouragement of cooperatives, and the curtailment of corrupt political practices. Although Robert M. La Follette, Sr. (q.v.) and McGovern had maintained outward harmony before 1912, the growing power of McGovern led to a clash of political ambitions that came to a climax in the Republican national convention of 1912. McGovern worked for a coalition of Roosevelt and La Follette forces in an attempt to defeat Taft. La Follette denounced him as a "traitor" for this action, and the incident opened a breach in Wisconsin Progressive ranks. In 1912 McGovern was re-elected with the reluctant support of La Follette, but his second term was largely ineffectual because of the opposition of La Follette's men in the legislature. The same opposition contributed to McGovern's defeat in the senatorial campaign of 1914. During World War I he served in the judge advocate's office of the 18th army division, rising to the rank of lieutenant colonel, and in 1920 was general counsel for the U.S. shipping board and claims chairman of the U.S. Emergency Fleet Corporation. Returning to private law practice in Milwaukee, McGovern maintained his political ambitions and was an unsuccessful candidate for governor on the Democratic ticket in 1940. During the 19 30's he was chairman of the committee on crime and criminal justice of the Wisconsin Conference of Social Work. Who's Who in Amer., 24 (1946); Milwaukee Journal, May 17, 1946; F. L. Holmes, et al., eds., Wis. (5 vols., Chicago, 1946); Wis. Mag. Hist., 40; R. S. Maxwell, La Follette and the Rise of the Progressives . . . [Madison, 1956); F. E. McGovern Papers.
[Source: Dictionary of Wisconsin biography]

Philipp, Emanuel Lorenz 1861 - 1925
  Definition: businessman, politician, governor, b. Sauk County. He taught country school for a time, and in 1880 became a railroad telegrapher at Baraboo. He was later transferred to Milwaukee, and from 1889 to 1902 held various executive positions with the Gould system lines and with the Schlitz Brewing Co. and its affiliates. He managed a lumber and stave company in Mississippi (1894-1902), and founded the town of Philipp, Tallahatchie County, Miss. In 1903 he organized the Union Refrigerator Transit Co. of Wisconsin, purchasing the equipment of the URT of Ky. (a Gould family property), and eventually built the firm into one of the most successful refrigerator transit companies in the country. A Republican, Philipp supported Robert M. La Follette, Sr. (q.v.), for the governorship in 1900, and assisted in forming a coalition that led to La Follette's nomination and election. With other conservative Republicans, however, he soon grew dissatisfied with La Follette's tax policies, especially in respect to railroads, broke with him in 1901, and after 1904 became one of the ablest leaders of the Stalwart faction of the party. Philipp was the author of The Truth about Wisconsin Freight Rates (1904) and Political Reform in Wisconsin (1910), both books criticizing La Follette's progressive program. In 1914, with the Progressive faction of the Republican party badly split, Philipp was successful in winning the Republican gubernatorial nomination, and in Nov., 1914, was elected governor. He was twice re-elected, and served from Jan., 1915, to Jan., 1921. Although at first charged by some of the progressive leaders with corruption and too great an interest in the railroads, Philipp's scrupulous integrity could never really be challenged. During his administration he favored reduction of expenditures and limitations on independent boards; he provided state aid for the improvement of rural schools; he established the state system of accounting, the State Department of Agriculture, and the State Conservation Commission. With the threat of World War I imminent, Philipp favored neutrality, but vigorously supported the war effort once the U.S. was involved. He organized the state council of defense, and the state food administration, and equipped the Wisconsin National Guard for federal service. As much as any man, Philipp was successful in combatting the violent war hysteria of the time, and was elected to his third term on a platform that both supported the war effort and upheld constitutional liberties. Philipp was also instrumental in establishing a four-year medical course at the Univ. of Wisconsin and in constructing the Wisconsin General Hospital. He was not a candidate for re-election in 1920 and, after leaving the governor's office, retired to his home in Milwaukee where he served as regent of Marquette Univ., and was a director of the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul R.R. R. S. Maxwell, Emanuel L. Philipp (Madison, 1959); Dict. Amer. Biog.; Milwaukee Sentinel, June 16, 1925; E. L. Philipp Papers.
[Source: Dictionary of Wisconsin biography]


Blaine, John James 1873 - 1934
  Definition: politician, governor, U.S. Senator, b. Town of Wingville, Grant County. He attended public schools in Montfort, and received a law degree from Northern Indiana Univ. at Valparaiso (1896). Returning to Wisconsin, he was admitted to the bar in 1897, practiced briefly in Montfort and then settled in Boscobel. A Progressive Republican, he was mayor of Boscobel for four terms. He served in the state senate (1909-1912) where he gained prominence (1909) as a leader in the investigation of the campaign expenditures of Senator Isaac Stephenson (q.v.) in an attempt to block his re-election. A vigorous advocate of progressivism and the principles of Robert M. La Follette, Sr. (q.v.), Blaine frequently bolted orthodox Republican lines. He was a La Follette delegate to the Republican convention of 1912 and, when the nomination was given to Theodore Roosevelt, was one of the organizers and vice-president of the Wilson National Progressive Republican League. In 1914 he was an independent Progressive candidate for governor and in 1918 he was elected state attorney general, serving from Jan., 1919, to Jan., 1921. In 1921 he became governor, an office that he held for three consecutive terms (Jan., 1921-Jan., 1927). Although hampered during part of his administration by a hostile legislature, Blaine was instrumental in the passage of many progressive measures. He was successful in promoting pro-labor legislation, creating the state department of markets, fostering a campaign to wipe out bovine tuberculosis, providing equal rights for women, and readjusting inheritance and income taxes. During his administration, state constitutional amendments were passed providing greater home rule for cities and villages and for recall of elective public officials. In 1926 he won the Republican nomination for U.S. Senator over the more conservative incumbent Irvine L. Lenroot (q.v.), was elected, and served from 1927 to 1933. A vigorous opponent of prohibition, Blaine was one of the leaders in the Senate to repeal the 18th Amendment. He championed the cause of labor and agriculture and, in line with Progressive principles, opposed large government appropriations and American membership in the World Court and the League of Nations. He cast the only vote in the Senate against ratification of the Kellogg-Briand Treaty. In 1932 he sought reelection to his Senate seat, but was defeated in the Republican primary by a dark horse, John B. Chapple. Although he always ran for office on the Republican ticket, Blaine shifted his allegiance frequently in national elections. He supported Robert La Follette, Sr., and the Progressive ticket in the presidential election of 1924, Democrat Al Smith in 1928, and Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1932. One of the most important men in the Progressive movement, Blaine was often ranked next to La Follette in political importance. After leaving the Senate in 1933 he was appointed by President Roosevelt as a director of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation. Milwaukee Sentinel, Apr. 17, 1934; Madison Capital Times, Apr. 17, 1934; W. F. Raney, Wis. (New York, 1940); Wis. Blue Book (1927); J. J. Blaine Papers.
[Source: Blue book]


Zimmerman, Fred R. 1880 - 1954
  Definition: governor, secretary of state, politician, b. Milwaukee. After finishing grade school, he sold newspapers and delivered dairy products on a milk route until he became a salesman for a leather goods concern, and later a bookkeeper for a Milwaukee lumber company. He served one term (1909-1910) as a member of the state assembly. His work in behalf of the Progressives won him the reputation as a man "who never forgot a name or a face" and election as secretary of state in 1922 and re- election in 1924. When the Progressives refused to endorse him in the gubernatorial election in 1926, Zimmerman ran as an Independent and was elected, but in 1928 was defeated for re-election by Walter J. Kohler, Sr. Thereafter he went into a political eclipse for several years, briefly holding a position in the Beverage Tax Commission in 1936. Zimmerman was 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 received the highest total ever given any candidate for any office in the state. He was a delegate to the Republican national conventions in 1916, 1920, 1924, 1940, and 1944. Zimmerman was attacked as a member of America First, but he denied membership therein. He generally followed the isolationist position. He died in Milwaukee. Wis. Blue Book (1954); Madison Capital Times, Dec. 14, 1954.
[Source: Blue book]


Kohler, Walter Jodok 1875 - 1940
  Definition: industrialist, politician, governor, b. Sheboygan. He was the son of J. M. Kohler (q.v.). In 1890 he went to work in the enameling department of his father's farm-implement firm (established in 1873). On the death of his father (1900), Kohler and his two brothers, Carl and Robert, assumed management of the firm, and when Robert died in 1905, Walter Jodok Kohler became president, serving in this capacity from 1905 to 1937, and from 1937 until his death was chairman of the board of directors. After 1912 the firm was known as The Kohler Co. Under Walter J. Kohler's direction, the company grew to be one of the largest of its kind in the nation, and pioneered in the production of plumbing equipment and the manufacture of vitreous china and enamelware. Kohler also held important offices in other businesses; he was chairman of the board of the Vollrath Co. and an officer of the Security National Bank (Sheboygan). He was national vice-president and director of the National Association of Manufacturers, a director of the Wisconsin Manufacturers Association, a trustee of Lawrence College, and a regent of the Univ. of Wisconsin (1918-1924). Noted for conceiving and building Kohler Village near Sheboygan (begun in 1912) and planned as a model industrial community for his employees, Kohler was often the target for bitter criticism by progressives and labor groups because of his "paternalism" and vigorous opposition to trade unionism. In 1934 when his employees were attempting to organize under the A. F. of L., Kohler refused to bargain, and a strike occurred which brought nationwide notoriety because of its violence (2 killed, 47 wounded, July 27, 1934). A conservative Republican, Kohler was a delegate at large to the party's national convention in 1928, and in the same year received the Republican nomination for governor due to a split in the state progressive faction of the party. Although the Progressives, headed by Philip and Robert M. La Follette, Jr. (q.v.), attempted to challenge the nomination, claiming that Kohler had violated the state corrupt practices act, the state supreme court upheld the nomination; Kohler was elected in the November election, and served one term (Jan., 1929-Jan., 1931). Defeated for the Republican gubernatorial nomination by Philip La Follette in 1930, Kohler was successful in his bid for the nomination in 1932, but lost the general election to Democrat Albert Schmedeman (q.v.). Although talked of as a possible Republican presidential candidate in 1936, the continued labor difficulties at Kohler's plant virtually ended his career as a candidate for public office. Dict. Amer. Biog., Suppl. 2; Who Was Who in Amer. (1934); Wis. Blue Book (1929); Madison Wis. State Journal, Apr. 22, 1940; N.Y. Times, Apr. 22, 1940.  [Source: Blue book]


La Follette, Philip Fox, 1897-1965
  Definition: son of "Fighting Bob" and Belle Case La Follette; governor (1931-1933, 1935-1939).  [Source: Dictionary of Wisconsin Biography (Madison: State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1960).]
  Philip Fox La Follette (May 8, 1897 August 18, 1965). Born in Madison, Wisconsin, he was the son of Robert M. La Follette, Sr., brother of Robert M. La Follette, Jr., and uncle of Bronson Cutting La Follette, was Governor of the U.S. state of Wisconsin from 1931 to 1933 and 1935 to 1939. He was elected as a member of the Progressive Party of Wisconsin. The gregarious governor was known as "Phil" on the streets of Madison during his governorship, much as his father had been known as simply "Bob." His governorship saw the implementation of many of the progressive measures of the New Deal.
  He was defeated seeking reelection in 1938. That spring he had attempted to launch the National Progressive Party of America in an attempt to create a national third party (as the La Follettes had helped create in Wisconsin) in anticipation of Franklin Delano Roosevelt not seeking a third term for President. The plan for a new national Progressive Party never materialized at the time, and Roosevelt soon decided to defy convention and precedent and seek a third term; La Follette never again sought public office for himself.
  Much as his father opposed U.S. entry into World War I, Phil La Follette strongly opposed U.S. entry into World War II. Once war was declared, he abandoned his opposition and joined the U.S. Army, serving on the staff of General Douglas MacArthur. He would later spearhead MacArthur's unsuccessful 1952 presidential campaign.
  From 1955 to 1959, he served as president of Hazeltine Electronics.


Schmedeman, Albert George 1864 - 1946
  Definition: merchant, politician, diplomat, governor, b. Madison. He graduated from Northwestern Business College in Madison, and in 1884 began working in a local clothing store. By 1892 Schmedeman had become senior partner in the Madison clothing firm of Schmedeman and Baillie. A Democrat, he was a member of the Madison city council (1903-1907), and in 1910 was an unsuccessful candidate for Congress. He later served as treasurer of the Democratic state central committee, actively supported Woodrow Wilson for the presidency in 1912, and in 1913 received an appointment as U.S. minister to Norway, serving in this capacity from 1913 to 1921. After leaving the foreign service in 1921, Schmedeman returned to Madison, where for several years he was the leader of the Democratic party in the area. In 1932 he defeated Republican incumbent Walter J. Kohler (q.v.) in the gubernatorial election, and served one term (Jan. 1933-Jan. 1935). During his administration, he succeeded in cutting the state budget, but in 1934 was narrowly defeated in his bid for re-election by Progressive candidate Philip La Follette. From 1935 to 1942 Schmedeman served by appointment from President Franklin D. Roosevelt as state administrator of the Federal Housing Administration with headquarters in Milwaukee, but after retiring in 1942 returned to Madison, where he made his home until his death. Wis. Blue Book (1933); Madison Capital Times, Nov. 26, 1946; Madison Wis. State Journal, Nov. 26, 1946.  [Source: Blue book]

Info and has been compiled from various sources including:

Wisconsin Blue Book, Wisconsin Historical Society, and Wikipedia - The Free Encyclopedia

Index

Page 1

Page 2

Page 3

Page 4

Page 5

Page 6

 


Note: The Wisconsin Blue Book is a biannual publication of the Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau. The Blue Book is an almanac containing information on the government, economics, demograpics, geography, and history of the state of Wisconsin. The Blue Book is published in the fall of every odd year, corresponding to the start of each new biennium of the Wisconsin state government. Since 1995, the Blue Book has been available in free electronic form. Hardcover editions of the book may be obtained by Wisconsin residents by contacting their Assembly representative or State Senator.


HOME

©Genealogy Trails