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Emil Johann Rudolf Frey (October 24, 1838 – December 24, 1922) was a Swiss politician, soldier in the American Civil War and member of the Swiss Federal Council (1890–1897).

Early life[]

Frey was born in Arlesheim, Switzerland, as the son of Emil Remigius Frey. His father was a liberal separatist politician.

Frey's family provided refuge for Friedrich Hecker when he fled the repression following the revolution in Germany in 1848. Frey later emigrated to the USA arriving in Belleville, Illinois an area with many Forty-Eighters, veterans of the 1848 revolutions in Europe. For a while he worked for Hecker, but they had a falling out.[1]

Career during the American Civil War[]

Frey entered the unionist 24th Illinois Volunteer Infantry Regiment‎ as a private. Hecker was his commander, and they became friends again, with Frey sharing a tent with Hecker's son. Frey was later promoted to 1st. lieutenant but resigned on June 17, 1862. He began raising a company for the Second Hecker Regiment (The 82nd Illinois Volunteer Infantry) and became the company's captain. Captain Frey was taken prisoner at the battle of Gettysburg on July 1, 1863 and held in Libby Prison for eighteen months before being exchanged for Captain Gordon, a Confederate prisoner under sentence of death.[2]

Swiss politician[]

After the Civil War, Frey returned to Switzerland. From 1866 to 1872, he was a member of the cantonal government of Basel-Country. In 1870, he married Emma Kloss (1848–1877) with whom he had one child, a son, Engelbert.

In 1872, Frey was elected to the Swiss National Council, council he presided in 1875/1876.

From 1882 to 1888, Frey was the first ambassador (Minister) of Switzerland to the United States in Washington.

He was elected to the Federal Council of Switzerland on December 11, 1890 and handed over office on March 31, 1897. He was affiliated to the Free Democratic Party. During his office time he held the Military Department.

He was President of the Confederation in 1894.

From 1897 to 1921, Frey was director of the International Telegraph Union.[3]

See also[]

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32x28px United States Army portal
32x28px American Civil War portal


  1. II Formation and Enlistment by Ray W. Burhop, accessed December 10, 2007
  2. 'Receiving the Swiss Minister: Col. Frey receiving the congratulations of his countrymen' New York Times, November 20, 1882; Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Illinois, Civil War, vols. 2 and 5.
  3. ITU: ITU's Former Secretaries-General

External links[]

Template:Start box |- style="text-align: center;" |- style="text-align:center;" |width="30%" align="center" rowspan="1"|Preceded by
Jakob Stämpfli |width="40%" style="text-align: center;" rowspan="1"|President of the Swiss National Council
1875/1876 |width="30%" align="center" rowspan="1"| Succeeded by
Arnold Otto Aepli |- |- style="text-align: center;" |- style="text-align:center;" |width="30%" align="center" rowspan="1"|Preceded by
Bernhard Hammer |width="40%" style="text-align: center;" rowspan="1"|Member of the Swiss Federal Council
1890–1897 |width="30%" align="center" rowspan="1"| Succeeded by
Ernst Brenner |- |}

Template:Swiss Presidents

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