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Robert F. Wagner, Sr.

AKA Robert Ferdinand Wagner, Sr.

Born: 8-Jun-1877
Birthplace: Nastatten, Hessen-Nassau, Germany
Died: 4-May-1953
Location of death: New York City
Cause of death: unspecified
Remains: Buried, Calvary Cemetery, Queens, NY

Gender: Male
Religion: Roman Catholic
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Politician
Party Affiliation: Democratic

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: US Senator from New York, 1927-49

US Senator Robert F. Wagner was identified with some of the most progressive legislation of the 1920s-40s, including laws defining labor rights and affordable housing, and he has been described as a leading architect of the modern welfare state. He was born in Germany, and came to America with his parents before his teens. His parents endured a decade of poverty before returning to Germany in 1895, but young Robert, then 18, stayed to work his way through law school.

He was elected to the New York State Assembly in 1904, then to the State Senate four years later. During his tenure in Albany, he sponsored and passed a groundbreaking workmen's compensation statute, and after the disastrous Triangle factory fire he pushed through legislation requiring safety standards for the workplace and granting legal status to trade unions. He then served eight years on the state bench, where he issued landmark rulings that blocked employers from breaking union contracts and upheld rent control regulations. Elected to the US Senate in 1926, he fought against prohibition, and became Franklin D. Roosevelt's point man in the Senate in passing numerous aspects of the New Deal. He authored the Wagner Act of 1935, encoding labor rights, regulating employers' unfair practices, and establishing the National Labor Relations Board. He led the successful fight to pass the U.S. Housing Act, which provided the first government subsidies for housing for the poor. His son, Robert F. Wagner, Jr., became Mayor of New York City.

Father: Reinhard Wagner (merchant)
Mother: Magdalene Schmidt (teacher)
Wife: Margaret Marie McTague (m. 1908, d. 1919, one son)
Son: Robert F. Wagner, Jr. (Mayor of New York City, b. 1910, d. 1991)

    University: City College of New York
    Law School: LLB, New York Law School (1900)

    US Senator, New York (1927-49)
    New York State Court of Appeals (1919-26)
    New York State Senate (1908-18)
    New York State Assembly (1904-08)
    Converted to Catholicism
    Naturalized US Citizen 1894
    German Ancestry

Appears on the cover of:
Time, 19-Mar-1934


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