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Esch, John Jacob 1861 - 1941 | Wisconsin Historical Society

Historical Essay

Esch, John Jacob 1861 - 1941

Esch, John Jacob 1861 - 1941 | Wisconsin Historical Society

lawyer, politician, Congressman, Interstate Commerce Commissioner, b. Norwalk, Monroe County. He graduated from the Univ. of Wisconsin (B.L., 1882; LL.B., 1887), was admitted to the bar (1887), and set up a practice in La Crosse. A Progressive Republican, he was elected to Congress in 1898 (serving Mar. 1899-Mar. 1921). Beginning in 1903, when he was appointed to the committee on interstate and foreign commerce, Esch became nationally prominent for his work on legislation regulating transportation. As co-author of the Esch-Townsend bill, he helped lay the groundwork for passage of the Hepburn Act of 1906, and later was co-author of the Esch-Cummins Act (Transportation Act of 1920), a measure that brought many phases of railroad operation and policy under the supervision of the ICC. After leaving Congress in 1921, he was appointed to the ICC, and served in this capacity until 1928, when a group of Southern senators blocked his reappointment because of alleged favoritism toward eastern railroads. While in Congress, Esch was also influential in securing funds to establish Camp McCoy in Wisconsin. Returning to La Crosse, he resumed his private law practice. Biog. Dir. Amer. Cong. (1928); Who's Who in Amer., 21 (1940); La Crosse Tribune and Leader-Press, Apr. 28, 1941; Madison Wis. State Journal, Apr. 28, 1941; J. J. Esch Papers.

The Wisconsin Historical Society has manuscripts related to this topic. See the catalog description of the John J. Esch Papers for details.

View a related article at Wisconsin Magazine of History Archives.

View newspaper clippings at Wisconsin Local History and Biography Articles.

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[Source: Dictionary of Wisconsin biography]