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William Lemke
William Frederick Lemke (August 13, 1878May 30, 1950) was a United Statesmarker politician.

He was born in Albany, Minnesotamarker, and raised in Towner County, North Dakotamarker, the son of Fred Lemke and Julia Anna Klier, pioneer farmers who had accumulated some of land. As a boy, Lemke worked long hours on the family farm, attending a common school for only three months in the summers. However, the family did reserve enough money to send him to the University of North Dakota, where he was a superior student. Graduating in 1902, he stayed at the state university for the first year of law school but moved to Georgetown Universitymarker, then to Yale, where he finished work on his law degree and won the praise of the dean. He returned to his home state in 1905 to set up practice at Fargomarker.

Lemke was the attorney general of North Dakotamarker from 1921 to 1922. He later was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1932, an NPLer on the Republican Party ticket. He served four two-year terms in Congress.

While in Congress, Lemke earned a reputation as a progressive populist and supporter of the New Deal, championing the causes of family farmers and co-sponsoring legislation to protect farmers against foreclosures during the Great Depression.

In 1934, Lemke co-sponsored the Frazier–Lemke Farm Bankruptcy Act, which would have provided for government refinancing of farm mortgages. President Franklin D. Roosevelt refused to support Lemke on that issue and ultimately sank the bill.

Later in 1936, Lemke accepted the nomination of the Union Party, a short-lived third party, as their candidate for President of the United States. He received 892,378 votes, or just under 2% nationwide, and no electoral votes (see also: United States presidential election, 1936). Simultaneously, he was reelected to the House of Representatives as a Republican. Many believe Lemke's acceptance of the Union Party nomination in 1936 was out of bitterness toward Roosevelt over the farm mortgage issue.

In 1940, after having already received the Republican nomination for a fifth House term, he withdrew from that race to launch an unsuccessful run as an independent for the U.S. Senate. He ran again for Congress in 1942 as a Republican and served four more terms, until his death in 1950.

Lemke died in Fargo, North Dakotamarker and is buried in Riverside Cemetery.


Former Atlanta Braves baseball player Mark Lemke is a second cousin twice removed of William Lemke.


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