Thaddeus was born in Milwaukee on December 2, 1904, the second son of Felicia (Baranowski) and Frank Wasielewski (Featured Profile #15). He attended St. Josaphat's and then SS. Cyril and Methodius grade schools and then went on to South Division High School After graduating from there, he spent two years attending Marquette College and then transferred to the University of Michigan, where he received a B.A. At first he considered becoming a doctor, following in the footsteps of both his father and his older brother, Stanley. In furtherance of this goal, he attended one year of medical school at the University of Michigan. However, he changed his mind, and he returned to Milwaukee to attend law school at Marquette University. He graduated from there in 1931,was admitted to the Bar and entered private practice.
In 1938, he decided to jump into politics by running for the South Side (Wisconsin 4th) congressional district. At the time, he was not even expected to get to the general election because he first had to defeat the incumbent, Raymond J. Cannon, in the Democratic primary, However, he won that primary in a surprise upset. His fortunes in the general election were not so good, and he lost to Republican John C. Schafer, who had held the seat before Raymond J. Cannon. In the next election, he was more successful and was sent to Congress.
During most of Wasielewski's first term, many Americas wanted to maintain its neutrality in WWII. However, Wasielewski, who was a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee was a strong advocate for supporting countries fighting Nazism and for preparing the USA for war. For example, in September, 1940, President Roosevelt had signed the Selective Service and Training Act of 1940, the first peace time draft in the history of the United States. The term of service for the draftees was only to be one year. Thus, by August, 1941, with America still not in the War, the the term of those draftees was set to expire and the size of the American army would once again revert to its tiny all-volunteer regular army. Congress voted to extent that term of service, but just barely. In the House, the extension succeeded by one vote (203 to 202). Had Wasielewski, who voted for the extension, voted against, America would have had only a tiny military force when attacked by Japan just four months later.
Wasliewski was reelected in 1942 and 1944 and during these terms he served on the powerful Ways and Means Committee. He sponsored bills to allow medical expenses as an income tax deduction and to complete the St. Lawrence Seaway. The Milwaukee Journal praised his Congressional service. During his first term, he had served with "courage and foresight" and in his second term "he maintained his record for standing for his country first, and above all else, and added a record of independence on other important measures."
He ran again for Congress in 1946, but lost the Democratic primary to Edmund V. Bobrowicz. Part of his defeat may be attributed to his his harsh criticism of the concessions Roosevelt and Churchill had made to Stalin at the Yalta Conference. This criticism drew the ire of the powerful CIO labor union which praised the Yalta Conference as "a great step forward in strengthening the unity of the United Nations." (The CIO was also duped by Stalin's pledge for free and independent elections in Poland.) In fact, Wasielewski had long been criticized by the CIO for other perceived anti-labor stands he had taken.
Edmund V. Bobrowicz was a strong labor candidate which may be why he won the primary. However, after the primary, but before the general election, he was "exposed" as having Communist ties, a political death warrant during that strong anti-Communist time. He was repudiated by the Democratic party. Wasilewski jumped back into the race to run in the general election as an Independent (and in was endorsed by the Milwaukee Journal), but he and Bobrowicz split the Democratic vote and the election was carried by Republican John C. Brophy. Wasielewski returned to his private practice on Mitchell St., but still stayed very active in many organizations benefiting Milwaukee and the Polish community.
Thaddeus Wasielewski died of a heart attack on April 25, 1976. He was survived by his wife, Stephanie (Gorak) Wasielewski, two sons, and three daughters. One son, Francis Wasielewski, retired just last year after serving 25 years as a Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge.
Relation to Nearest Featured Profile (Frank S. Wasielewski, Featured Profile #15): son.Path From Nearest Featured Profile: Frank S. Wasielewski > son, Thaddeus F. Wasielewski
Sources: (all page references for the Milwaukee Journal are for pages on Google News.)
"Bringing Down the Gavel on Retirement," Milwaukee Journal Sentinel On-Line, July 31, 2011
"CIO's, CIO's and Still More CIO's Debated with Wasielewski About Votes in Congress," Milwaukee Journal, September 3, 1943, p. 25.
"Condemn Congressmen," Milwaukee Journal, December 4, 1941, p. 3.
"Conscription in the United States," on Wikipedia
Edmund V. Bobrowicz, on Wikipedia
"Hit Wasielewski for Yalta Stand," Milwaukee Journal, March 30, 1945, p. 23.
"John C. Schafer" on Wikipedia
"Return Wasielewski to Congress!" Milwaukee Journal, November 1, 1946, p.20
"Speed Seaway, Plea in House," Milwaukee Journal, November 8, 1945, p. 21
"Thad Wasielewski" Milwaukee Journal, November 3, 1944, p. 20.
"Thaddeus Wasielewski," on Wikipedia
"Wasielewski - On His Record," Milwaukee Journal, August 10, 1944, p. 20.
"Wasielewski Queries Stand of Bobrowicz," Milwaukee Journal, September 27, 1946, p. 34.
"Wasielewski Rites to be Wednesday," Milwaukee Journal, April 27, 1976, p 20.
"Wasielewski, Thaddeus Francis Boleslaw," The Pinkowski Files, quoting both the 2008 Congressional database, and "Who's Who in Polish America."