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William Alexander Ekwall (June 14, 1887 – October 16, 1956) was a United States Representative from Oregon and a Judge of the United States Customs Court.

William Alexander Ekwall
William Alexander Ekwall.jpg
Judge of the United States Customs Court
In office
February 13, 1942 – October 16, 1956
Appointed byFranklin D. Roosevelt
Preceded byWalter Howard Evans
Succeeded byScovel Richardson
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Oregon's 3rd district
In office
January 3, 1935 – January 3, 1937
Preceded byCharles H. Martin
Succeeded byNan Wood Honeyman
Personal details
William Alexander Ekwall

(1887-06-14)June 14, 1887
Ludington, Michigan
DiedOctober 16, 1956(1956-10-16) (aged 69)
Portland, Oregon
Resting placePortland Memorial Cemetery
Portland, Oregon
Political partyRepublican
EducationUniversity of Oregon School of Law (LL.B.)

Education and careerEdit

Born in Ludington, Michigan to Alexander and Emilie Ekwall,[1] both Swedish immigrants,[2] Ekwall moved to Klamathon, California with his parents in 1893.[3] In 1902, the town of Klamathon was destroyed in a massive fire,[4] and the Ekwalls eventually made their way to Portland, Oregon in 1906.[3] He attended the public schools and then the University of Oregon School of Law, then located in Portland, graduating in 1912 with a Bachelor of Laws.[3] He was admitted to the bar the same year and commenced practice in Portland in the firm Senn, Ekwall, and Recken.[1][3] During World War I, Ekwall served in the United States Army as a private in the Infantry, attending the Central Officers Training School in 1918. After his Army service, he worked in Portland as a Municipal Judge from 1922 through 1927, and as Judge of the circuit court for the fourth judicial district (Multnomah County), department 8 until 1935.[3]

Congressional serviceEdit

In 1934, Democrat Charles H. Martin, the incumbent United States Representative for Oregon's 3rd congressional district in Portland, announced that he would run for Governor of Oregon. Ekwall ran for Martin's congressional seat as a Republican, winning the May primary election and facing Walter B. Gleason, who two years earlier, had lost the 1932 United States Senate election to Frederick Steiwer.[5] With several third-party candidates in the race, Ekwall earned a narrow 41%–38% plurality over Gleason and a seat in the United States House of Representatives of the 74th United States Congress.[6] In Congress, Ekwall was known for a somewhat belligerent style.[7] He once referred to Representative Wright Patman as a "stool pigeon"[8] and Representative Marion Zioncheck as a "jackass."[9] Ekwall sought re-election in 1936. He was challenged by Nan Wood Honeyman, a Portland community activist and family friend of President and Mrs. Roosevelt.[10] Honeyman's aggressive door-to-door campaign, coupled with Roosevelt's landslide re-election, helped her defeat Ekwall, earning 51% of the vote to Ekwall's 33%.[10][11] Following his loss, Ekwall returned to his Portland law practice, serving as a delegate to the Republican National Convention in 1940.[3]

Federal judicial serviceEdit

Ekwall was nominated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on January 19, 1942, to a seat on the United States Customs Court vacated by Judge Walter Howard Evans.[12] He was confirmed by the United States Senate on February 9, 1942, and received his commission on February 13, 1942.[12] Ekwall was initially appointed as a Judge under Article I, but the court was raised to Article III status by operation of law on July 14, 1956, and Ekwall thereafter served as an Article III Judge.[12] His service terminated on October 16, 1956, due to his death.[12]


Ekwall died while on vacation in Portland on October 16, 1956.[13] Ekwall and his wife Lina and the couple had two daughters.[13] He was interred in Portland Memorial Cemetery.[3]


  1. ^ a b "Appointed by Roosevelt". New York Times. October 18, 1956. Retrieved May 13, 2010.
  2. ^ "United States Census, 1900", FamilySearch, retrieved March 12, 2018
  3. ^ a b c d e f g "Ekwall, William Alexander". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. U.S. Government Printing Office. Retrieved 2010-05-13.
  4. ^ "Lost Cities: Klamathon". Retrieved May 13, 2010.
  5. ^ Wharton, Wallace S (May 27, 1934). "Radicals defeated in Oregon primary". New York Times. Retrieved May 13, 2010.
  6. ^ "Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 6, 1934" (PDF). United States House of Representatives. p. 26. Retrieved May 13, 2010.
  7. ^ Krock, Arthur (November 18, 1936). "In Washington; Identifying Some Prominent Casualties of Nov. 3". New York Times. Retrieved May 13, 2010.
  8. ^ Krock, Arthur (July 17, 1935). "In Washington; Activities of Congress Likened to a Broadway Burlesque". New York Times. Retrieved May 13, 2010.
  9. ^ "Epithets of 'Jackass' and 'Fool' Stir House; Leaders Condemn 'Increasing Disorder'". New York Times. March 12, 1936. Retrieved May 13, 2010.
  10. ^ a b "Nan Wood Honeyman". Women in Congress. Retrieved May 13, 2010.
  11. ^ "Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 3, 1936" (PDF). United States House of Representatives. p. 26. Retrieved May 13, 2010.
  12. ^ a b c d William Alexander Ekwall at the Biographical Directory of Federal Judges, a public domain publication of the Federal Judicial Center.
  13. ^ a b "William A. Ekwall, Customs Judge, 69". New York Times. October 18, 1956.