Henry Morgenthau, Jr.
(1891 - 1967)
Henry Morgenthau, Jr., was nominated by President
Franklin D. Roosevelt to be the 52nd Secretary of the Treasury. He served
from January 1, 1934 until July 22, 1945.
In 1913, he purchased a large farm in Dutchess County,
New York and specialized and dairy and apple growing. During World War
I, he worked with Herbert Hoover's U.S. Farm Administration on a plan
to send tractors to France. From 1922 to 1933, he served as Publisher
of "American Agriculturalist."
In 1929, his long-time friend and then Governor of
New York, Franklin D. Roosevelt, appointed him Chairman of the New York
State Agricultural Advisory Commission. In 1930, he was appointed State
Commissioner of Conservation, and directed a million-acre reforestation
program. He also was appointed to the Taconic State Park Commission.
Upon Roosevelt's election to the Presidency, Morgenthau was appointed
Chairman of the Federal Farm Board and Governor of the Farm Credit Administration
in 1933. On November 17, 1933, he was appointed Acting and Under Secretary
of the Treasury, when Secretary of the Treasury William H. Woodin's
ill health forced his resignation after the first year of Roosevelt's
"New Deal" Administration. Morgenthau served as Roosevelt's
advisor, Cabinet member, and Secretary of the Treasury for 11 years,
in peace and war. During his term, Morgenthau is credited with exercising
a stabilizing effect on administation monetary policies. In that time,
through taxation and loans he raised $450 billion for government programs
and for war purposes. This was more than all of the previous 51 Secretaries.
From 1934 through December 7, 1941, Morgenthau defended
the dollar against devaluation by other competitive nations. This was
accomplished by intervening in the world financial markets through buying
and selling foreign currencies, gold and dollars. Protecting the dollar
against the depredations of Nazi Germany which was using blocked currencies
to produce anarchy in the foreign exchange markets, Morgenthau succeeded
until after the Munich Pact of 1938, when a stabilization agreement
was reached. As a result, the United States dollar became the strongest
currency in the world. In 1939, with Poland overtaken by Germany, Morgenthau
established a procurement service in the Treasury Department to facilitate
the purchase of American munitions by Britain and France, and he geared
the American economy to meet the enormously expanded requirements that
followed the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Morgenthau's major effort was financing the war effort,
and he achieved remarkable success with his program for the sale of
defense bonds (later known as war bonds). In 1942 alone, sale of these
savings bonds amounted to a $1 billion distribution, which not only
supported the war needs, but also prevented a serious inflationary threat
by syphoning off excess funds.
In 1944, he proposed the Morgenthau plan, under which
post-war Germany would be stripped of its industry and converted into
an agricultural nation. At the Bretton Woods conference in 1944, Morgenthau
assumed a leading role in establishing post-war economic policies and
currency stabilization. That had been one of his prime goals since depression
In July 1945, three months after the death of President
Roosevelt, Morgenthau resigned as Secretary, but remained in office
until President Truman's return from the "Big Three" conference
in Berlin. From 1947 until 1950, he was Chairman of the United Jewish
Appeal, which raised $465 million during that time, and from 1951 to
1954, he served as Chairman of the Board of Governors of the American
Financial and Development Corporation for Israel, which handled a $500
million bond issue for the new nation.
Mr. Morgenthau was born on May 11, 1891, in New York
city. He was the son of Henry and Josephine (Sykes) Morgenthau. He attended
private schools including Exeter Academy. He studied architecture and
agriculture for two years at Cornell University. He married Elinor Fatman
in 1916. They had three children. Two years after her death in 1949,
he married Mrs. Marcelle Puthon Hirsch of New York. Henry Morgenthau,
Jr., died on February 6, 1967, in Poughkeepsie, New York.
of the Treasury