Furuseth, Andrew

Furuseth, Andrew (b. Anders Andreassen Nilsen)

(1854–1938) labor leader; born in Romedal, Norway. He came to the U.S.A. in 1880, and as a seaman helped to organize the Sailor's Union of the Pacific, becoming its secretary in 1887. From then to the end of his life he was dedicated to improving the working conditions and lives of sailors. He fought for passage of various federal laws culminating in the La Follette Seamen's Act of 1915, and as president of the International Seamen's Union (1908–38) he worked to get other nations to adopt equally progressive laws on behalf of seamen. Austere in his idealism, he never married, took only the wages of a seaman, and lived much of his life in a cheap hotel room. He sailed first class for the first time in his life in 1913, as President Wilson's delegate to the London Conference on Safety at Sea. His ashes were scattered over the Atlantic.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.