Frederick A. Schroeder
Frederick A. Schroeder was an American industrialist and politician of German descent. As mayor of Brooklyn
Brooklyn is the most populous of New York City's five boroughs, with nearly 2.6 million residents, and the second-largest in area. Since 1896, Brooklyn has had the same boundaries as Kings County, which is now the most populous county in New York State and the second-most densely populated...
—before the city's merger with New York—and New York state senator
A state senator is a member of a state's Senate, the upper house in the bicameral legislature of 49 U.S. states, or a legislator in Nebraska's one house State Legislature.There are typically fewer state senators than there are members of a state's lower house...
, Schroeder earned a reputation for his fight against the political machine
A political machine is a political organization in which an authoritative boss or small group commands the support of a corps of supporters and businesses , who receive rewards for their efforts...
of the Brooklyn ring and for more efficient city government.
Youth in GermanyFrederick A. Schroeder was born in Trier
Trier, historically called in English Treves is a city in Germany on the banks of the Moselle. It is the oldest city in Germany, founded in or before 16 BC....
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...
. His father Michael Schroeder was a merchant who later worked as a surveyor
See Also: Public Land Survey SystemSurveying or land surveying is the technique, profession, and science of accurately determining the terrestrial or three-dimensional position of points and the distances and angles between them...
. From 1841, Schroeder was a pupil of the Friedrich-Wilhelm-Gymnasium
A gymnasium is a type of school providing secondary education in some parts of Europe, comparable to English grammar schools or sixth form colleges and U.S. college preparatory high schools. The word γυμνάσιον was used in Ancient Greece, meaning a locality for both physical and intellectual...
in Trier, one of Germany's oldest institutions of secondary education
Secondary education is the stage of education following primary education. Secondary education includes the final stage of compulsory education and in many countries it is entirely compulsory. The next stage of education is usually college or university...
, from which Karl Marx
Karl Heinrich Marx was a German philosopher, economist, sociologist, historian, journalist, and revolutionary socialist. His ideas played a significant role in the development of social science and the socialist political movement...
had graduated in 1835. Schroeder's academic achievements, however, were poor. In 1848, he dropped out of the school. In the same year, Schroeder's mother, Salomé née Abel, died. One year later, Schroeder, together with his father and two sisters, left Trier and emigrated to the USA. Frederick A. Schroeder's oldest brother stayed in Germany, but joined the rest of the family a few years later. The decision of the Schroeder family to leave Germany was linked to the events of the revolution of 1848
Revolutions of 1848 in the German states
The Revolutions of 1848 in the German states, also called the March Revolution – part of the Revolutions of 1848 that broke out in many countries of Europe – were a series of loosely coordinated protests and rebellions in the states of the German Confederation, including the Austrian Empire...
. Michael Schroeder seems to have sympathized with he democratic cause. The family arrived in the USA on May 10, 1849 and settled in Williamsburg, Brooklyn
Williamsburg is a neighborhood in the New York City borough of Brooklyn, bordering Greenpoint to the north, Bedford-Stuyvesant to the south, Bushwick to the east and the East River to the west. The neighborhood is part of Brooklyn Community Board 1. The neighborhood is served by the NYPD's 90th ...
Even before leaving Germany, Schroeder seems to have learned the trade of a cigar worker. After his arrival in America, Schroeder started earning money by rolling cigars. Already in 1852 Schroeder was able to found his own Tobacco Manufacture. In 1863, Schroeder took on Isidore M. Bon as a partner and continued his business under the firm "Schroeder & Bon".
In 1867 the firm of Schroeder & Bon switched its business activities from the production of cigars to the importation of tobacco leafs. The firm—and Schroeder personally—are credited with the introduction of shade tobacco, then an important innovation.
When Isidore M. Bon retired from the firm in 1893, Schroeder's son, Edwin A. Schroeder (1859—1902) and his son in law, Frank M. Arguimbau became partners in the firm.
His success in the tobacco business enabled Schroeder to start other business projects. He played an important role in the development of Shelter Island
Shelter Island (town), New York
Shelter Island is a town and island at the eastern end of Long Island in the U.S. state of New York. It forms the tip of Suffolk County and is separated from the rest of the county by water. The population was 2,228 at the 2000 census.-Geography:...
and built his own summer residence there. In 1867, Schroeder was one of the founders of Germania Savings Bank. Schroeder remained president of the bank until his death.
Supreme Court Cases involving Schroeder & BonThe economic success of the firm of Schroeder & Bon is also indicated by the fact that they were involved in several high profile commercial cases which were decided by the US Supreme Court:
In 1894, the firm was the losing party in the Supreme Court case of Erhardt v. Schroeder, 155 U.S. 124 (1894), which concerned the customs duties due on a shipment of tobacco.
In 1905, the Supreme Court decided the case of Allen v. Arguimbau, 198 U.S. 149 (1905), which concerned issues of federal jurisdiction
The United States of America being a federal country is made up of many States and a central government. This central government may be known as the Union, the United States, or the Federal government...
. Defendant Frank M. Arguimbau was sued in his capacity as surviving partner of the firm of Schroeder & Bon.
Political careerIn 1871 Schroeder was nominated by the Republican party
Republican Party (United States)
The Republican Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Democratic Party. Founded by anti-slavery expansion activists in 1854, it is often called the GOP . The party's platform generally reflects American conservatism in the U.S...
for the office of comptroller
A comptroller is a management level position responsible for supervising the quality of accounting and financial reporting of an organization.In British government, the Comptroller General or Comptroller and Auditor General is in most countries the external auditor of the budget execution of the...
of Brooklyn. He was elected and served for one year. During his term, Schroeder sought to improve the city's financial situation and fought against the "Brooklyn ring" a political machine ran by the "Boss
A boss, in politics, is a person who wields the power over a particular political region or constituency. Bosses may dictate voting patterns, control appointments, and wield considerable influence in other political processes. They do not necessarily hold public office themselves...
" of the Democratic party
Democratic Party (United States)
The Democratic Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. The party's socially liberal and progressive platform is largely considered center-left in the U.S. political spectrum. The party has the lengthiest record of continuous...
, Hugh McLaughlin
Hugh McLaughlin (politician)
Hugh McLaughlin was an American politician and for many years the "boss" of the Democratic Party in Brooklyn.-Life:Hugh McLaughlin was born in Brooklyn as son of Irish immigrants. He learned the trade of a rope maker. In 1855 he became master mechanic in the Brooklyn Navy Yard...
. Schroeder reportedly even took some corrupt officials to court and forced them to pay back public money they had put in heir own pockets. Schroeder did not seek re-election, but ran for mayor in 1875. He was elected and used his term to continue the fight against corruption. During Schroeder's tenure, Ocean Parkway
Ocean Parkway (Brooklyn)
Ocean Parkway is a broad boulevard in the west central portion of the borough of Brooklyn in New York City.-Route description:Ocean Parkway extends over a distance of about five miles , running almost north to south from the vicinity of Prospect Park to Brighton Beach...
was opened and the first wire of Brooklyn Bridge
The Brooklyn Bridge is one of the oldest suspension bridges in the United States. Completed in 1883, it connects the New York City boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn by spanning the East River...
Immediately after the expiry of his term as mayor, Schroeder was elected into the state senate of New York. During his time in the senate, Schroeder was instrumental in the creation of a new city charter for Brooklyn. The new charter strengthened the position of the mayor and replaced the three-headed commissions which had presided over the city departments with single heads of departments. Schroeder also sponsored legislation limiting the amount of debt that municipalities could take on.
When his term as senator expired in 1878, Schroeder retired from politics. There were several attempts by the Republican party to nominate him again for the posts of mayor of Brooklyn, governor of New York and mayor of Greater New York after the merger of Brooklyn and New York City. However, Schroeder declined to run again, even though in 1896, Seth Low
Seth Low , born in Brooklyn, New York, was an American educator and political figure who served as mayor of Brooklyn, as President of Columbia University, as diplomatic representative of the United States, and as Mayor of New York City...
offered to forgo his own candidacy for the Citizens Union
Citizens Union is one of the United States' first good government groups. Founded in 1897 as a political party, the group was reconstituted in 1908 as a non-partisan member organization with the broad mission of serving "as a watchdog for the public interest and an advocate for the common...
, should Schroeder be prepared to run against Robert Anderson Van Wyck
Robert Anderson Van Wyck
Robert Anderson Van Wyck, was the first mayor of New York City after the consolidation of the five boroughs into the City of New York in 1898.-Biography:...
for mayor of New York. Van Wyck was the candidate of Tammany Hall
Tammany Hall, also known as the Society of St. Tammany, the Sons of St. Tammany, or the Columbian Order, was a New York political organization founded in 1786 and incorporated on May 12, 1789 as the Tammany Society...
, a political machine which played a role in New York politics that was similar to (and even more important than) that of the Brooklyn ring against which Schroeder had fought as mayor of Brooklyn.
The exact reasons for Schroeder's unwillingness to seek another political office are not known. However, according to Schroeder's own statement, his refusal to accept the republican nomination for the post of governor was due to the pro-prohibition stance of components of the Republican Party in the state, which Schroeder felt was driving away German-American voters.
DeathSchroeder died in 1899 in New York. The cause of his death was pneumonia which he had contracted at the funeral of his daughter Mary Jane (born 1866). His wife (Mary Jane Schroeder, née Rusher, 1830—1913) who he had married in 1854, his son Edwin and five more daughters (Leonora Mary, born 1857, Harriet Louise, born 1861, wife of Schroeder's business partner Frank N. Arguimbau, Alice, born 1872 and Frances, born 1874) survived him. Schroeder was buried at Green-Wood Cemetery
Green-Wood Cemetery was founded in 1838 as a rural cemetery in Brooklyn, Kings County , New York. It was granted National Historic Landmark status in 2006 by the U.S. Department of the Interior.-History:...
. Among his honorary pallbearers were his former business associate Isidore M. Bon, brewer H. B. Scharmann, civil war veteran and Brooklyn Union Gas (now part of KeySpan
KeySpan Corporation, now part of National Grid USA, was the fifth largest distributor of natural gas in the United States. KeySpan was formed in 1998 as result of the merger of Brooklyn Union Gas Company and Long Island Lighting Company...
Corporation) president James Jourdan, and former general and Secretary of the Navy
United States Secretary of the Navy
The Secretary of the Navy of the United States of America is the head of the Department of the Navy, a component organization of the Department of Defense...
Benjamin F. Tracy
Benjamin F. Tracy
Benjamin Franklin Tracy was a United States political figure who served as Secretary of the Navy from 1889 through 1893, during the administration of U.S. President Benjamin Harrison.-Biography:...
Schroeder's death was mourned even back in his native town of Trier.