United States Secretary of War

United States Secretary of War
Flag of the Secretary of War
Last in office
Kenneth C. Royall

September 18, 1947 – April 27, 1949
United States Department of War
Style Mr. Secretary
Member of Cabinet
Reports to President of the United States
Seat Washington, D.C.
Appointer The President
with Senate advice and consent
Term length No fixed term
Precursor Secretary at War
Formation 1789
First holder Henry Knox
Final holder Kenneth C. Royall
Abolished 1947
Succession Secretary of the Army
Secretary of the Air Force

The Secretary of War was a member of the United States President's Cabinet, beginning with George Washington's administration. A similar position, called either "Secretary at War" or "Secretary of War", had been appointed to serve the Congress of the Confederation under the Articles of Confederation between 1781 and 1789. Benjamin Lincoln and later Henry Knox held the position. When Washington was inaugurated as the first president under the Constitution, he appointed Knox to continue serving as Secretary of War.

The Secretary of War was the head of the War Department. At first, he was responsible for all military affairs, including naval affairs. In 1798, the Secretary of the Navy was created by statute, and the scope of responsibility for this office was reduced to the affairs of the United States Army. From 1886 onward, the Secretary of War was in the line of succession to the presidency, after the Vice President of the United States, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the President pro tem of the Senate and the Secretary of State.

In 1947, with the passing of the National Security Act of 1947, the Secretary of War was replaced by the Secretary of the Army and the Secretary of the Air Force, which, along with the Secretary of the Navy, have since 1949 been non-Cabinet subordinates under the Secretary of Defense. The Secretary of the Army's office is generally considered the direct successor to the Secretary of War's office although the Secretary of Defense took the Secretary of War's position in the Cabinet, and the line of succession to the presidency.

List of Secretaries

Secretary at War (1781–1789)

The office of Secretary at War was modelled upon Great Britain's Secretary at War, who was William Barrington, 2nd Viscount Barrington, at the time of the American Revolution. The office of Secretary at War was meant to replace both the Commander-in-Chief and the Board of War, and like the President of the Board, the Secretary wore no special insignia. The Inspector General, Quartermaster General, Commissary General, and Adjutant General served on the Secretary's staff. However, the Army itself under Secretary Henry Knox only consisted of 700 men.

No. Portrait Name State of residence Took office Left office Congress
1 Benjamin Lincoln Massachusetts March 1, 1781 November 2, 1783 Congress of the Confederation
2 Henry Knox Massachusetts March 8, 1785 September 12, 1789

Secretary of War (1789–1947)

Parties

  No party (1)   Federalist (3)   Democratic-Republican (8)   Democratic (14)   Whig (5)   Republican (25)

No. Portrait Name State of Residence Took office Left office President(s)
1 Henry KnoxMassachusettsSeptember 12, 1789December 31, 1794 George Washington
2 Timothy PickeringPennsylvania[1]January 2, 1795December 10, 1795
3 James McHenryMarylandJanuary 27, 1796June 1, 1800[2]
John Adams
4 Samuel DexterMassachusettsJune 1, 1800January 31, 1801
5 Henry DearbornMassachusettsMarch 5, 1801March 4, 1809 Thomas Jefferson
6 William EustisMassachusettsMarch 7, 1809January 13, 1813 James Madison
7 John Armstrong, Jr.New YorkJanuary 13, 1813September 27, 1814
8 James MonroeVirginiaSeptember 27, 1814March 2, 1815
9 William H. CrawfordGeorgiaAugust 1, 1815October 22, 1816
10 John C. CalhounSouth CarolinaOctober 8, 1817March 4, 1825 James Monroe
11 James BarbourVirginiaMarch 7, 1825May 23, 1828 John Quincy Adams
12 Peter Buell PorterNew YorkMay 23, 1828March 9, 1829
13 John H. EatonTennesseeMarch 9, 1829June 18, 1831 Andrew Jackson
14 Lewis CassOhioAugust 1, 1831October 5, 1836
15 Joel Roberts PoinsettSouth CarolinaMarch 7, 1837March 4, 1841 Martin Van Buren
16 John BellTennesseeMarch 5, 1841September 13, 1841 William Henry Harrison
John Tyler
17 John Canfield SpencerNew YorkOctober 12, 1841March 4, 1843
18 James Madison PorterPennsylvaniaMarch 8, 1843February 14, 1844
19 William WilkinsPennsylvaniaFebruary 15, 1844March 4, 1845
20 William Learned MarcyNew YorkMarch 6, 1845March 4, 1849 James K. Polk
21 George W. CrawfordGeorgiaMarch 8, 1849July 22, 1850 Zachary Taylor
22 Charles Magill ConradLouisianaAugust 15, 1850March 4, 1853 Millard Fillmore
23 Jefferson DavisMississippiMarch 7, 1853March 4, 1857 Franklin Pierce
24 John B. FloydVirginiaMarch 6, 1857December 29, 1860 James Buchanan
25 Joseph HoltKentuckyJanuary 18, 1861March 4, 1861
26 Simon CameronPennsylvaniaMarch 5, 1861January 14, 1862 Abraham Lincoln
27 Edwin M. StantonPennsylvaniaJanuary 20, 1862May 28, 1868
Andrew Johnson
28 John McAllister SchofieldIllinoisJune 1, 1868March 13, 1869
29 John Aaron RawlinsIllinoisMarch 13, 1869September 6, 1869 Ulysses S. Grant
30 William W. BelknapIowaOctober 25, 1869March 2, 1876
31 Alphonso TaftOhioMarch 8, 1876May 22, 1876
32 J. Donald CameronPennsylvaniaMay 22, 1876March 4, 1877
33 George W. McCraryIowaMarch 12, 1877December 10, 1879 Rutherford B. Hayes
34 Alexander RamseyMinnesotaDecember 10, 1879March 4, 1881
35 Robert Todd LincolnIllinoisMarch 5, 1881March 4, 1885 James A. Garfield
Chester A. Arthur
36 William Crowninshield EndicottMassachusettsMarch 5, 1885March 4, 1889 Grover Cleveland
37 Redfield ProctorVermontMarch 5, 1889November 5, 1891 Benjamin Harrison
38 Stephen Benton ElkinsWest VirginiaDecember 17, 1891March 4, 1893
39 Daniel S. LamontNew YorkMarch 5, 1893March 4, 1897 Grover Cleveland
40 Russell A. AlgerMichiganMarch 5, 1897August 1, 1899 William McKinley
41 Elihu RootNew YorkAugust 1, 1899January 31, 1904
Theodore Roosevelt
42 William Howard TaftOhioFebruary 1, 1904June 30, 1908
43 Luke Edward WrightTennesseeJuly 1, 1908March 4, 1909
44 Jacob M. DickinsonTennesseeMarch 12, 1909May 21, 1911 William Howard Taft
45 Henry L. StimsonNew YorkMay 22, 1911March 4, 1913
46 Lindley Miller GarrisonNew JerseyMarch 5, 1913February 10, 1916 Woodrow Wilson
47 Newton D. BakerOhioMarch 9, 1916March 4, 1921
48 John W. WeeksMassachusettsMarch 5, 1921October 13, 1925 Warren G. Harding
Calvin Coolidge
49 Dwight F. DavisMissouriOctober 14, 1925March 4, 1929
50 James William GoodIllinoisMarch 6, 1929November 18, 1929 Herbert Hoover
51 Patrick J. HurleyOklahomaDecember 9, 1929March 4, 1933
52 George DernUtahMarch 4, 1933August 27, 1936 Franklin D. Roosevelt
53 Harry Hines WoodringKansasSeptember 25, 1936June 20, 1940
54 Henry L. StimsonNew YorkJuly 10, 1940September 21, 1945
Harry S. Truman
55 Robert P. PattersonNew YorkSeptember 27, 1945July 18, 1947
56 Kenneth C. RoyallNorth CarolinaJuly 19, 1947September 18, 1947

See also

References

Footnotes

Further reading

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