Berger, Victor Louis

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Berger, Victor Louis

Victor Louis Berger, 1860–1929, American Socialist leader and congressman, b. Austria-Hungary. After studying at the universities of Budapest and Vienna, he emigrated (1878) to the United States and settled in Milwaukee. After 1892 he devoted himself to Socialist politics and journalism, editing the Milwaukee Vorwärts! (1892–98) and a weekly that became (1911) the influential Milwaukee Leader. With Eugene V. Debs he pioneered in creating the American Socialist party. His leadership brought (1910) the Socialists control of Milwaukee for many years and made Berger the first Socialist member of Congress (1911–13). Reelected twice (1918, 1919), he was excluded by Congress on grounds of sedition, for which he was sentenced (1918–19) to a 20-year prison term. The decision was reversed by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1921, and he was allowed to take his seat when reelected in 1922. Again elected in 1924 and 1926, he was defeated in 1928. Voice and Pen (1929) is a collection of his speeches and editorials.

See U.S. Congress, House, Special Committee on Victor L. Berger Investigation, Case of Victor L. Berger of Wisconsin: Hearings (1919 and 1921, repr. 1972); study by S. M. Miller (1973).

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