WAGNER, Robert Ferdinand (1877-1953), German-American,
lawyer and legislator, born in Nastätten, Germany. He went to the U.S. with his parents in 1885 and graduated from the City College of the City of New York in 1898. He was admitted to the bar in 1900. From
1904 to 1908 Wagner was a member of the New York state assembly, and from 1908 to 1918 he occupied a seat in the state senate. In 1918 he became a justice of the New York state supreme
court. A member of the Democratic party, Wagner was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1926 and served there until his retirement in 1949. He was a leader in the field of housing legislation and the sponsor of
important laws passed during the era of the New Deal, including the National Industrial Recovery Act in 1933, the National Labor Relations Act, known as the
Wagner Act, and the Social Security Act in 1935. Wagner's son, Robert Ferdinand Wagner, Jr. (1910-91), a graduate of Yale University, also became a lawyer and a Democratic political
leader. The younger Wagner was borough president of Manhattan (1949-53) and mayor of New York City (1954-66). He was also U.S. ambassador to Spain (1968-69). Upon his return to the U.S., he entered private law practice.