(born June 8, 1877, Nastätten, Hesse-Nassau, Ger.—died May 4, 1953, New York, N.Y., U.S.) U.S. politician. He immigrated with his family to New York City in 1885. He became active in Democratic Party politics, serving in the state legislature (1904–19) and as a justice of the state court of appeals (1919–26). In the U.S. Senate (1927–49), he became an ally of Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt and introduced New Deal labour and social-reform legislation, including the National Industrial Recovery Act (1933), the National Labor Relations Act (known as the Wagner Act), and the Social Security Act. He cosponsored the Wagner-Steagall Act (1937), which created the U.S. Housing Authority. His son, Robert F. Wagner, Jr. (1910–91), served as mayor of New York (1954–65).
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Wilms was a colleague of famed Berlin-Charité surgeon Bernhard von Langenbeck (1810-1887), and was a catalyst in establishing Bethanien Hospital as a center of learning for students and young surgical assistants. Some of his better known assistants in Berlin were Edmund Rose (1836-1914, Heinrich Irenaeus Quincke (1842-1922), Ernst Georg Ferdinand Küster (1839-1930) and Werner Körte (1853-1937), the latter having served as provisional head at the Bethanien when Wilms was incapacitated due to illness. Wilms made improvements to urethrotomy (surgery of the urethra), and reintroduced tracheal surgery for problems caused by diphtheria.
While still a student, Wilms was part of an expedition headed by Johannes Peter Müller (1801-1858) to Helgoland, where he researched chaetognaths, which were the topic of his thesis, Observationes de Sagitta mare germanicum circa Helgoland.