Josef Martin Knüsel

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Josef Martin Knüsel

Josef Martin Knüsel (born November 16, 1813 in Lucerne ; † January 15, 1889 there , authorized to reside in Lucerne) was a Swiss politician and lawyer . In canton Lucerne , he was a prosecutor , Grand Council and Executive Council operates. One year after his election to the National Council , he was elected to the Federal Council in 1855 as a representative of the liberal center (today's FDP ) and the first from Central Switzerland . During his twenty-year term in office, he headed five different departments, more than any other Federal Councilor. He was Federal President in 1861 and 1866.


Studies and canton politics

He was the son of the wealthy grocer Melchior Josef Knüsel. In his hometown of Lucerne, he attended high school and the lyceum. He then studied law at the Ruprecht-Karls-Universität in Heidelberg and at the Georg-August-Universität in Göttingen , where he gradually moved away from the values ​​of his conservative parents. In 1838 he obtained an advocacy license and temporarily lived in French- speaking Switzerland to improve his French. Back in Lucerne , he joined the moderate liberals around Josef Karl Amrhyn . Because of his advocacy, the government of the Canton of Lucerne elected him in 1839 as deputy criminal court clerk. Although the conservative forces took power in 1841, the Grand Council elected the liberal Knüsel as prosecutor .

During the turmoil surrounding the appointment of Jesuits to the higher education institutions (a decision that he disapproved of) and the subsequent free troops, Knüsel initially stayed out of cantonal politics. This changed in 1845 with the election to the city council, the legislature of the city of Lucerne. Even after the fall of the conservative cantonal government at the end of the Sonderbund War, he remained in office as a public prosecutor. In 1847 he was elected to the Grand Council as a member of the Weggis constituency. In the same year he married Bernhardine Brunner, the marriage remained childless. In 1848 he led the legal proceedings against the representatives of the overthrown regime, but was anxious to reconcile with the defeated. In 1852 Knüsel resigned as public prosecutor after he had been elected to the government council. He took over the management of the police department and took action against ultramontane agitators. In the years 1853 and 1855 he was mayor (district president). Knüsel ran successfully in the National Council elections in 1854 and then also represented the Lucerne-South constituency in the National Council .

Federal Council

Almost five months after the death of Federal Councilor Josef Munzinger , the choice of his successor was up for debate on July 11, 1855. Casimir Pfyffer from Lucerne received 66 votes in the first round, missing the absolute majority by six votes and then withdrew his candidacy. One day later, Johann Jakob Stehlin from Basel was elected in the fourth ballot . However, he did not accept the election the following day - on the grounds that he did not have the necessary experience for this office. Finally, on July 14th, the Federal Assembly decided in favor of the still little-known Knüsel, who received 94 of 142 votes in the second ballot (26 votes were for Maurice Barman and 22 votes for other people).

During his 20-year term of office, Knüsel, who had become a Federal Councilor by chance, headed five different departments: 1855–1856 and 1862–1863 the Finance Department , 1857 and 1859–1860 the Commerce and Customs Department , 1858, 1864–1865 and 1867– 1873 to the Justice and Police Department , 1861 and 1866 as Federal President to the Political Department and 1874–1875 to the Department of the Interior .

In the years 1859 and 1860, Knüsel belonged to Jakob Stämpfli's camp , which called for a military occupation of Haute-Savoie during the Savoy trade . The Neue Zürcher Zeitung described him at the time as "the most docile student of the master Stämpfli". When asked about the routing of a railway line crossing the Alps, Knüsel advocated the Gotthard Railway right from the start and in 1860 presented the expertise of Uri civil engineer Karl Emanuel Müller to his Federal Council colleagues . He wanted to prevent a railway line through the Lukmanier , as it was strategically unfavorable from his point of view. He managed to change the mind of the influential National Councilor and railway entrepreneur Alfred Escher , who had previously preferred the Lukmanier variant.

After the refused revision of the Federal Constitution , Knüsel came under pressure in 1872 and only managed to get re-elected in the second round of the confirmatory elections. During the Kulturkampf , his position was again endangered: As a loyal supporter of the Roman Catholic Church , he was less and less able to identify with the increasingly radical liberals . In addition, he rejected the (ultimately adopted) federal law revision of 1874, because he was critical of the legal standardization and the freedom of establishment. Culture-fighting circles from Solothurn , Bern and Geneva demanded his removal. Knüsel finally gave in to the pressure and announced his resignation on December 31, 1875.

further activities

When his intention to resign was already known, Knüsel ran in the National Council elections in 1875 on October 31, but got caught between the fronts. In the Lucerne-East constituency he was subject to the Liberals, in the Lucerne-Northwest constituency to the Catholic Conservatives. Subsequently, he presided over the non-profit society, the Central Switzerland Art and Trade Exhibition in Lucerne, the General Reading Society and various educational institutions. In addition, he was a board member of the Swiss Agricultural Association and a member of the board of directors of the Swiss mobile insurance company . Knüsel ran for the National Council elections in 1878 and was successful in the Lucerne-East constituency. As he had subsequently voted several times with the Catholic Conservatives and had finally fallen out of favor in his own camp, the Liberals did not nominate him three years later.


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Steiner: The Federal Council Lexicon. P. 88.
  2. Steiner: The Federal Council Lexicon. Pp. 88-89.
  3. Steiner: The Federal Council Lexicon. P. 89.
  4. Steiner: The Federal Council Lexicon. Pp. 89-90.
  5. Steiner: The Federal Council Lexicon. P. 90.
  6. Steiner: The Federal Council Lexicon. P. 91.
predecessor Office successor
Josef Munzinger Member of the Swiss Federal Council
Joachim Heer