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Emil Seidel (December 13, 1864June 24, 1947) was the mayor of Milwaukee from 1910 to 1912. He was the first Socialist mayor of a major city in the United Statesmarker, and ran as the Vice Presidential candidate for the Socialist Party of America in the 1912 presidential election.

Seidel was born in Ashland, Pennsylvaniamarker, USAmarker. His family moved to Wisconsinmarker when he was a child. As a young man he lived in Germanymarker where he trained as a woodcarver and also became a socialist.

When he returned to the United States he joined the Socialist Party of America. Settling in Milwaukeemarker, he and eight other Socialists were elected as city aldermen in 1904.

In 1910, Seidel was elected mayor of Milwaukee, becoming the first Socialist mayor of a major city in the United States. During his administration the first public works department was established, the first fire and police commission was organized, and a city park system came into being. Seidel cleaned the town up with strict regulation of bars and the closing of brothels and sporting parlors (modern-day casinos). It was also during his administration that he employed the noted American poet and author Carl Sandburg for a brief time. It was Seidel's socialist inclinations that attracted Sandburg to Milwaukee.

In the 1912 mayoral election, the Democratic and Republican parties joined forces to defeat Seidel, resulting in his loss to Gerhard Bading. Seidel then chose to run for Vice President of the United States on the Socialist ticket with Eugene V. Debs, and the pair won a respectable 901,551 votes in the 1912 presidential election (6% of the total). Most of his remaining political involvement was in local Milwaukee politics, but in 1932 he ran for a seat in the United States Senate in Wisconsin, winning 6% of the vote, the best showing for a Socialist candidate running for the United States Senate. Seidel served two more terms as alderman in Milwaukee, in 1916–20 and 1932–36, before his death.

See also


  1. Wisconsin Historical Society. Dictionary of Wisconsin History "Seidel, Emil 1864 - 1947"


  • What we have done in Milwaukee Chicago, IL : National Office of the Socialist Party, 1911
  • Which must go?: America or private ownership of railroads? Milwaukee : Socialist Party of Wisconsin, 1923

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