Johann Jakob Scherer

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Johann Jakob Scherer

Johann Jakob Scherer (born November 10, 1825 in Schönenberg as Johann Jakob Schärer , † December 23, 1878 in Bern , resident in Richterswil and Winterthur ) was a Swiss politician , officer and businessman . After a military career, he was a member of the government of the Canton of Zurich from 1866 and of the National Council from 1869 . As a representative of the Democrats (at that time still an opponent of the FDP ) he was elected to the Federal Council in 1872 . Six years later he died in office.


Military career

He was the eldest son of the wealthy landowner and horse dealer Johann Jakob Schärer and Elisabeth Eschmann. Raised unusually strict by his father, he attended elementary school in Schönenberg and secondary school in Richterswil . In 1840 he joined the Hüni trading institute in Horgen , but also had to take care of his parents' business. As an interpreter, cashier and assistant, Schärer accompanied his father on business trips to Italy . After completing the cavalry recruit school in Winterthur in 1846 , he took part in the Sonderbund War as a corporal in November 1847 . During the battle of Gisikon he was in the vicinity, but was not directly involved in the fighting. In the summer of 1848 he completed an officer training course in Zurich . In 1850 he was appointed to the General Staff , two years later he was promoted to captain (combined with a permanent position as an instructor).

In February 1854, against his father's will, Schärer married Anna Studer, the daughter of a wealthy baker from Winterthur; the couple remained childless. In 1856 he was promoted to major , in 1860 to lieutenant colonel , and in 1865 to colonel in the general staff. He led two infantry brigades and was chief instructor of the cavalry from 1865 to 1867. After a riding accident in 1857 that went smoothly, he increasingly sought less dangerous occupations. In 1860 he opened a trading company in Winterthur that specialized in British goods. In the same year he acquired citizenship in Winterthur and changed his surname to Scherer in order to distance himself from his father, who had since passed away.

Cantonal and federal politics

Scherer stood up for direct democracy and rejected the system of representative democracy that existed in the canton of Zurich at the time , as it mainly served the interests of the business circles around Alfred Escher and the canton capital. As a candidate for the Democrats , he was elected to the Winterthur city ​​council in 1860 . Together with several industrialists, he was involved in founding the bank in Winterthur in 1862 and was henceforth a member of the board of directors. In May 1864 he was elected to the Grand Council . This in turn elected him on December 27, 1866 to the Zurich government council . Scherer took over the military direction and in 1869, as a member of the Constitutional Council, worked on the drafting of the democratic revision of the cantonal constitution. In the years 1869 and 1870 he served as district president.

In the parliamentary elections in 1869 Scherer ran in the constituency of Zurich-North and was successful in the second ballot. In the National Council he was a member of the constitutional commission and was a spokesman for military matters. Shortly after the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War in November 1870, he received the second most votes in the election for Chief of Staff . A month later he was appointed commander of the 8th Division. After the demobilization, Scherer strongly criticized the administration of General Hans Herzog , but the majority of the press opposed him. Nevertheless, the Federal Council gave him command of the autumn maneuvers of 1872.

Six weeks after the surprising resignation of Federal Councilor Jakob Dubs , the election of his successor took place on July 12, 1872. The right of the canton of Zurich to be represented in the state government was by no means undisputed, and the conflict between centralists and federalists over the issue of the constitutional revision complicated the situation. After the first ballot, Carlo Battaglini from Ticino was in the lead ahead of Fridolin Anderwert from Thurgau , followed by Winterthur Scherer and Gottlieb Ziegler . Battaglini and Ziegler were later eliminated, leaving Anderwert and Scherer. The latter prevailed in the fourth ballot with 91 of 147 valid votes (52 votes for other values, 4 votes for isolated ones). Scherer accepted the election after a day to think about it. But he asked to be allowed to lead the maneuver, which Parliament approved.

Federal Council

Scherer was initially unable to bring his military experience to the government as he had to take over the finance department that had become vacant . In 1873 he switched to the railway and trade department . In this he was responsible, among other things, for the implementation of the new railway law, which granted the federal government more supervisory powers. He was also significantly involved in drafting the new factory law . In 1875 Scherer was Federal President . In this function he headed the Political Department , as was customary at the time , and was thus Foreign Minister.

In 1876 Scherer was finally able to take over the military department after swapping with Emil Welti . Its main task was the implementation of the new Military Organization Act, with which numerous competences were transferred from the cantons to the federal government. After the complete revision of the Federal Constitution of 1874, the federal government's tasks, which were significantly increased, and the consequences of the Great Depression led to a sharp rise in the deficit. Scherer therefore implemented extensive cost-cutting measures. At the same time, he had to face the criticism that the military was threatening to “ extort ”. A bill drawn up by him to reform the military service replacement rate failed in a referendum on July 9, 1876. The second bill, which had only been changed little, was also passed in a referendum on October 21, 1877. There was no referendum against the third bill in 1878.

Scherer had been suffering from health problems for some time and had to take longer breaks with spa stays. Shortly after his re-election in December 1878, he fell ill with acute appendicitis . The later Nobel Prize winner Theodor Kocher performed the necessary operation, but could not save his life. Scherer died at the age of 53 and was solemnly buried on December 27th in Winterthur.


Web links

Commons : Johann Jakob Scherer  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Wägli: The Federal Council Lexicon . P. 136.
  2. ^ Wägli: The Federal Council Lexicon . Pp. 136-137.
  3. a b Wägli: The Federal Council Lexicon . P. 137.
  4. ^ Wägli: The Federal Council Lexicon . P. 138.
  5. ^ Wägli: The Federal Council Lexicon . Pp. 137-138.
  6. a b Wägli: The Federal Council Lexicon . P. 138.
predecessor Office successor
Jakob Dubs Member of the Swiss Federal Council
Wilhelm Hertenstein