Daniel Webster Hoan (March 12, 1881 – June 11, 1961) was an American politician who served as the 32nd Mayor of Milwaukee, Wisconsin from 1916 to 1940. A lawyer who had served as Milwaukee City Attorney from 1910 to 1916, Hoan was a prominent figure in Socialist politics and Milwaukee's second Socialist mayor. His 24-year administration remains the longest continuous Socialist administration in United States history.
|32nd Mayor of Milwaukee|
|Preceded by||Gerhard Adolph Bading (Fusion)|
|Succeeded by||Carl Zeidler (D)|
|Milwaukee City Attorney|
|Born||Daniel Webster Hoan
March 12, 1881
|Died||June 11, 1961
|Political party||Socialist (until 1940)
Democratic (to 1961)
Hoan was born in Waukesha, Wisconsin, on March 12, 1881 to Daniel Sr. and Margaret Augusta (née Hood) Hoan. He left school early, but studied at evening classes and in 1908 qualified as a lawyer. A member of the Socialist Party, Hoan moved to Milwaukee where he worked closely with Victor Berger, the editor of The Milwaukee Leader, a socialist newspaper, in trying to persuade the city to adopt radical reforms. These included municipal ownership of utilities, urban renewal programs, and free legal, medical and educational services.
On October 9, 1909, the non-religious Hoan, a member of the Knights of Pythias, married Agnes Bernice Magner (1883 – December 28, 1941), a devout Catholic. She was active in her husband's political campaigns and in women's organizations including the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. They had two children:
- Daniel Webster Hoan III (July 22, 1910 – April 26, 1988)
- Agnes, later Mrs. Agnes B. Steininger (October 27, 1915 – March 1, 1993)
Daniel Hoan, a widower since December 28, 1941, married Gladys Arthur Townsend (March 17, 1901 – July 16, 1952), a divorced Indiana schoolteacher two decades his junior,[better source needed] on April 7, 1944 in Delaware, Indiana. Gladys Hoan died in 1952, leaving him a widower once again. He never remarried.
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Hoan began his political career with his election to city attorney for Milwaukee in 1910. He won the election by a plurality of more than 7300 votes out of about 59,000 votes cast over Democratic and Republican opponents. This was the same year Emil Seidel was elected mayor of Milwaukee as the first socialist leader of a major city in the United States. Over the next six years, Hoan clamped down on the corruption of public officials.
In 1916 Hoan was elected as mayor of Milwaukee. He would remain mayor for 24 years, the longest continuous Socialist administration in United States history. Part of the reason for Hoan's electoral success was his break with the rest of the Socialist Party on the issue of United States entry into the First World War. The Socialist Party opposed entry; Hoan did not. Instead, as mayor, he organized the Milwaukee County Council of Defense on April 30, 1917.
As mayor, Hoan developed a reputation for honest and efficient government. He implemented progressive reforms, including the country's first public housing project, Garden Homes, started in 1923. He also led the successful drive towards municipal ownership of the stone quarry, street lighting, sewage disposal, and water purification.
During Hoan's administration, Milwaukee implemented the first public bus system in the United States. This was prompted by dangerous accidents: pedestrians were run over by street trolleys that ran down the middle of the road. Among the victims of such streetcar accidents was Hoan's fellow Socialist, Victor L. Berger, who was killed in 1929.
At the May 1932 convention of the Socialist Party, Hoan ran for national chairman of the party against incumbent Morris Hillquit. In addition to the "constructive Socialists" from Wisconsin, Hoan garnered the support of the young Marxist "militant" faction and the radicals around Norman Thomas, but this bloc was insufficient to unseat Hillquit, who won reelection by a vote of 105-86.
Hoan was defeated in the Milwaukee mayoral campaign of 1940 and the next year left the Socialist Party and joined the Democratic Party. He ran unsuccessfully for governor in 1944 and 1946. In 1948 he was unsuccessful in his attempt to once again become mayor of Milwaukee when he was defeated by the Socialist Party's candidate, Frank P. Zeidler. Hoan remains the last sitting mayor of Milwaukee to be defeated in a reelection bid.
A highway system was started under his administration, but federal funding was scarce. The system was later expanded to include the Hoan Bridge, which was completed in 1972 but not opened to the public until 1977.
Today, Hoan is remembered as one of the best mayors in American history. In 1999, author Melvin Holli and a group of experts on local government, voted Hoan as the eighth best mayor in United States history. Holli wrote:
"Although this self-identified socialist had difficulty pushing progressive legislation through a nonpartisan city council, he experimented with the municipal marketing of food, backed city-built housing, and in providing public markets, city harbor improvements, and purging graft from Milwaukee politics. Perhaps Hoan's most important legacy was cleaning up the free-and-easy corruption that prevailed before he took office."
Death and legacyEdit
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Twice widowed, Hoan died on June 11, 1961, aged 80, and was buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in Milwaukee. The Hoan papers reside with the Milwaukee County Historical Society, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The Hoan Bridge on Milwaukee's lakefront is the most visible monument that bears his name.
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- Lincoln, the Commoner: Helped in Fight for Education for Workers. Saginaw, MI: Saginaw County Socialist Party, n.d. [192-].
- Socialism and the City: How to Remove Chaos and Put Order and Beauty into American Cities. Girard, KS: Haldeman-Julius Publications, 1931.
- Taxes and Tax Dodgers. Chicago: Committee on Education and Research, Socialist Party of America, 1933.
- Abraham Lincoln: A Real American. Chicago: Socialist Party of the USA, n.d. [c. 1936].
- City Government: The record of the Milwaukee Experiment. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Co., 1936.
- Why a Farmer-Labor Progressive Federation? : Address Delivered to the Convention on Saturday, May 21, 1938, at Madison. Milwaukee: The Federation, 1938.
- Dollars vs. The People. Milwaukee: Milwaukee County Central Campaign Committee, n.d. .
- The St. Lawrence Seaway: Navigation Aspects. n.c.: Great Lakes Harbors Association n.d, [1948?].
- Michael E. Stevens (ed.). The Family Letters of Victor and Meta Berger, 1894-1929. Madison: Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 1999, p. 389.
- Milwaukee County Historical Society. Daniel Webster Hoan, 1889-1966.
- "The Official Figures", Social-Democratic Herald [Milwaukee], vol. 12, no. 51, whole no. 611 (April 16, 1910), p. 6.
- Leslie Midkiff DeBauche. Reel Patriotism: The Movies and World War I, pg. 91.
- James Myers. Do You Know Labor? New York: John Day, 1945, p. 149.
- Melvin G. Holli. The American Mayor: The Best & The Worst Big-City Leaders. University Park, Pa.: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1999, p. 75.
- Anna Bercowitz, "The Milwaukee Convention". The American Socialist Quarterly, v. 1, no. 3 (Summer 1932), p. 53.
- Benoit, Edward A., A Democracy of Its Own: Milwaukee's Socialisms, Difference and Pragmatism. MA thesis. University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 2009.
- Kerstein, Edward S. Milwaukee's All-American Mayor: Portrait of Daniel Webster Hoan. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1966.
- Reinders, Robert C. "Daniel W. Hoan and the Milwaukee Socialist Party during the First World War," Wisconsin Magazine of History, vol. 36, no. 1 (Autumn 1952), pp. 48–55.
- Stevens, Michael E. Give 'em Hell, Dan! How Daniel Webster Hoan Changed Wisconsin Politics", Wisconsin Magazine of History, vol. 98, no. 1 (Autumn 2014), pp. 16–27.