Fredrick Crissman Wheeler (1867 – November 23, 1934) was a Los Angeles, California, City Council member who was active in labor-union affairs and state and municipal politics.

Fred C. Wheeler
Wheeler c. 1913
Member of the Los Angeles City Council for the At-Large district
In office
July 1, 1913 – June 30, 1925
Personal details
Born1867 (1867)
DiedNovember 3, 1934(1934-11-03) (aged 66–67)
Los Angeles, California
Political partySocialist (until 1915)
Republican (since 1915)
SpouseLucina Cook

In 1909 he came within "a small plurality" of being elected mayor of the city.[1]

Career edit

Wheeler was active in early 20th-century labor activities in California. In 1905, he was state organizer of the California Federation of Labor.[2] He was in 1907 one of the promoters of the Union Labor News Company, which aimed to publish a daily newspaper to cover news of labor union activities.[3] By 1908, Wheeler was head of Carpenters Union Los Angeles Local 158, which was the "largest local carpenters union in the world."[4]

Wheeler in 1909

In 1909, Wheeler was active in the Socialist Party of America. In that year he ran for mayor of Los Angeles in a recall election of Mayor Arthur C. Harper. He at first was denied a place on the ballot because his candidacy had assertedly not followed regulations. The denial was overturned by a judicial appeal.[5][6] Harper resigned the mayor's position, and in the election to succeed him, Wheeler lost to George Alexander by a "small plurality" of 1,650 votes of some 35,000 cast. It was the first election "ever held in any American city for the recall of a mayor."[1][7][8][9] The Associated Press reported that "The vote for Wheeler was a great surprise."[10]

In 1910, Wheeler was the Socialist Party nominee for lieutenant governor of California.[11] He was a member of a freeholders board to propose a new city charter in 1912. He and other members were active in proposing the use of proportional representation in any new charter; the proposal lost in a tie vote of board members.[12] In 1913, Wheeler was elected to the Los Angeles City Council, receiving the fourth-highest number of votes of the nine successful candidates.[13] In 1915, Wheeler was renominated for the council and polled the second-highest number of votes among ninety candidates.[14] Soon, Wheeler was instrumental in a campaign to establish a Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. Historian Jeff Stansbury wrote that:

Wheeler led a successful fight against an attempt to split the power-bond issue into two separate ballot propositions, one to complete the aqueduct's generating stations, the other to create a city-owned distribution system. Such a division would probably have doomed public power.[15]

In 1915 also, Wheeler defended City Council member Estelle Lawton Lindsey, who was ousted from the Socialist Party, and then he himself announced he was leaving it.[16] He later became a Republican.[14][17]

Los Angeles City Council (1919–1925) edit

Wheeler in 1923

Wheeler, as a candidate for City Council in 1919, was supported by the Civic Betterment Association but opposed by the Merchants and Manufacturers Association, whose president, H. B. Woodhill, said of him: "[...] we cannot stand for Wheeler, [who was] the man who deliberately took occasion in an address given before a large gathering in Lincoln Park to declare, "To hell with the newspapers," and in the City Council he turned to a crowd of red anarchists and called them "My brothers."[18]

"The Watchman," a political column that ran in the Los Angeles Times, said of the councilman in 1919: "Wheeler opposed the City Council on city employees taking part in the Preparedness Day parade, opposed the buying of flags for city employees to carry in this parade, and refused to ride with the City Council in the parade."[19]

Wheeler introduced a resolution, adopted unanimously by the City Council in February 1922, that the chief of police should grant a permit for the use of fireworks in Los Angeles during Chinese New Year. "It will not cost the city of Los Angeles anything, and it will give the Chinese a good deal of pleasure," he said.[20]

Post-political career edit

He retired in 1925 after five terms in the council, asking voters to choose A.J. Barnes as his successor. He said he, Wheeler, would "engage in building work, as he was a builder before he entered public life."[21][22]

Wheeler appeared in court along with four other retired or active city officials in 1928 to deny a claim by E.E. Sweeney, former land and tax agent of the Southern California Gas Company, that they had accepted "several thousand dollars" in bribes from him.[23][24][25][26] In a public statement, a Los Angeles County grand jury "absolved" the officials "of any connection with Sweeney."[27]

Personal life and death edit

Fred Wheeler was born in 1867, the son of C.M. Wheeler of Minnesota and Elisabeth of Pennsylvania. As a youth, he was assistant captain of a football club in St. Paul, Minnesota. He had a brother, E.P. Wheeler. Fred left Minnesota for California in 1887.[28][29][30]

He and Lucina Cook of Missouri were married in Pomona, California, on December 14, 1898.[31][32] They had a daughter, Frances Wheeler (later DeShields).[33]

In Los Angeles, they lived at 1342 Mohawk Street[34] in the Silver Lake neighborhood.

Frederick C. Wheeler was a member of the Encino Country Club[35] and of the California PolicyHolders' League.[36] He was president of the League of California Municipalities in 1923.[37]

Lucina Cook Wheeler died December 6, 1931, with a funeral in Lynwood, California.[38] Wheeler died in Los Angeles on November 23, 1934.[33]

References edit

  1. ^ a b "27 Mar 1909, Page 1 - San Francisco Chronicle at". Retrieved 2019-08-17.
  2. ^ "Unions Want No Politics in Ranks", San Francisco Examiner, January 4, 1905, image 5.
  3. ^ "Machinery to Umionize City", Los Angeles Times, October 9, 1929, image 6.
  4. ^ "Socialists Will Parade Before Debs' Meeting". Los Angeles Herald. September 8, 1908. p. 3. Retrieved 2019-08-17.
  5. ^ "Socialists' Choice for Mayor of the City", Los Angeles Herald, February 26, 1909, image 5.
  6. ^ "Socialist Candidate: Case Under Advisement", Los Angeles Times, March 2, 1909, image 16.
  7. ^ "Election Results to Be Known Early", Los Angeles Herald, March 26, 1909, image 5.
  8. ^ "He has figured in politics before, making a fine run during the last mayoralty campaign in Los Angeles." "Socialists Talk to a Big Crowd", Bakersfield Californian, October 17, 1910, image 4.
  9. ^ "Los Angeles In Quandary", Des Moines Evening Tribune, March 15, 1909, image 3.
  10. ^ "Los Angeles Elects Reform Mayor", Tonopah (Nevada) Bonanza, March 27, 1909, image 1.
  11. ^ "8 Oct 1910, Page 5 - Los Angeles Herald at". Retrieved 2019-08-17.
  12. ^ "29 Jun 1912, 16 - The Los Angeles Times at". Retrieved 2019-08-17.
  13. ^ "4 Jun 1913, 17". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2019-08-17.
  14. ^ a b "Socialist Councilman Resigns From Party", San Francisco Chronicle, May 22, 1915, image 1.
  15. ^ Jeff Stansbury, "How Kilowatt Socialism Saved L.A. From the Energy Crisis", Los Angeles Times, April 29, 2001, image 249.
  16. ^ "22 May 1915, 17 - The Los Angeles Times at". Retrieved 2019-08-17.
  17. ^ "Political Notes", Los Angeles Times, May 6, 1919, image 19.
  18. ^ "Recommend Men for City Posts", Los Angeles Times, April 9, 1919, image 22.
  19. ^ "Inclusion of Wheeler Shock", Los Angeles Times, April 10, 1919, image 22.
  20. ^ "Safety First Doesn't Stop Chinese Crackers", Noblesville (Indiana) Daily Ledger, February 22, 1922, image 3.
  21. ^ "Wheeler Quits Council Fight", Los Angeles Times, March 21, 1925, image 17.
  22. ^ The Watchman, Los Angeles Times, April 24, 1925, image 26.
  23. ^ "Sweeney Story Accuses Eight", Los Angeles Times, August 17, 1928, image 21.
  24. ^ "Sweeney Adds to Accusations," Los Angeles Times, August 18, 1928, image 18
  25. ^ "Sweeney Case Ready for Jury", Los Angeles Times, August 31, 1928, image 35.
  26. ^ "Term in Prison Given Sweeney", Los Angeles Times, September 5, 1928, image 24.
  27. ^ "Sweeney Bribe Trial Tale Exploded", Los Angeles Times, October 30, 1928, image 21.
  28. ^ "16 Jul 1883, 4 - The Saint Paul Globe at". Retrieved 2019-08-17.
  29. ^ "29 Nov 1903, Page 7 - Star Tribune at". Retrieved 2019-08-17.
  30. ^ "Carpenters' Working Rules". The Minneapolis Journal. December 4, 1903. p. 10. Retrieved 2019-08-17.
  31. ^ Source California, County Birth, Marriage, and Death Records, 1849-1980 [database on-line. Lehi, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2017.
  32. ^ "Marriage Licenses", Los Angeles Herald, December 13, 1898, image 5.
  33. ^ a b "Deaths" Los Angeles Times, November 25, 1934, image 24.
  34. ^ "Wheeler Recovering", Los Angeles Times, December 10, 1927, image 28.
  35. ^ "Councilman Wheeler Purchases at Encino", Los Angeles Times, September 23, 1923, image 99.
  36. ^ "California Pays High insurance, C of C Is Told", Oakland Tribune, January 6, 1923, image 7.
  37. ^ "Candidates for Council", Los Angeles Times, June 3, 1923, image 18.
  38. ^ "Deaths", Los Angeles Times, December 9, 1931, image 20.