Charles G. Dawes

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Charles G. Dawes
Chas G Dawes-H&E.jpg
30th Vice President of the United States
In office
March 4, 1925 March 4, 1929
President Calvin Coolidge
Preceded byCalvin Coolidge
Succeeded by Charles Curtis
United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom
In office
June 15, 1929 December 30, 1931
President Herbert Hoover
Preceded by Alanson B. Houghton
Succeeded by Andrew Mellon
1st Director of the Bureau of the Budget
In office
June 23, 1921 June 30, 1922
President Warren G. Harding
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded by Herbert Lord
10th Comptroller of the Currency
In office
January 1, 1898 September 30, 1901
President William McKinley
Theodore Roosevelt
Preceded by James H. Eckels
Succeeded by William Ridgely
Personal details
Born(1865-08-27)August 27, 1865
Marietta, Ohio
DiedApril 23, 1951(1951-04-23) (aged 85)
Evanston, Illinois, U.S.
Resting place Rosehill Cemetery, Chicago
Political party Republican
(m. 1889)
Education Marietta College (BA)
University of Cincinnati (LLB)
Civilian awards Nobel Peace Prize
Signature Charles G Dawes Signature.svg
Military service
AllegianceFlag of the United States (1912-1959).svg  United States
Branch/serviceFlag of the United States Army.svg  United States Army
Years of service1917–1919
Rank Army-USA-OF-06.svg Brigadier General
Unit American Expeditionary Forces
Liquidation Commission of the War Department
Battles/wars World War I
Military awards Army Distinguished Service Medal

Charles Gates Dawes (August 27, 1865 – April 23, 1951) was an American banker, general, diplomat, composer, and Republican politician who was the 30th vice president of the United States from 1925 to 1929. For his work on the Dawes Plan for World War I reparations, he was a co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1925.


Born in Marietta, Ohio, Dawes attended Cincinnati Law School before beginning a legal career in Lincoln, Nebraska. After serving as a gas plant executive, he managed William McKinley's 1896 presidential campaign in Illinois. After the election, McKinley appointed Dawes as the Comptroller of the Currency, and he remained in that position until 1901 before forming the Central Trust Company of Illinois. Dawes served as a general during World War I and was the chairman of the general purchasing board for the American Expeditionary Forces. In 1921, President Warren G. Harding appointed Dawes as the first Director of the Bureau of the Budget. Dawes also served on the Allied Reparations Commission, where he helped formulate the Dawes Plan to aid the struggling German economy, though the plan was eventually replaced by the Young Plan.

The 1924 Republican National Convention nominated President Calvin Coolidge without opposition. After Frank Lowden declined the vice-presidential nomination, the convention chose Dawes as Coolidge's running mate. The Republican ticket won the 1924 presidential election, and Dawes was sworn in as vice president in 1925. Dawes helped pass the McNary–Haugen Farm Relief Bill in Congress, but President Coolidge vetoed it. Dawes was a candidate for renomination at the 1928 Republican National Convention, but Coolidge's opposition to Dawes helped ensure that Charles Curtis was nominated instead. In 1929, President Herbert Hoover appointed Dawes to be the Ambassador to the United Kingdom. Dawes also briefly led the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, which organized a government response to the Great Depression. He resigned from that position in 1932 to return to banking, and he died in 1951 of coronary thrombosis.

Early life and family

From 1909 to 1951, Charles G. Dawes lived in this house at 225 Greenwood St. in Evanston, Illinois, which was built in 1894 by Robert Sheppard. The house is a National Historic Landmark. Dawes 1.JPG
From 1909 to 1951, Charles G. Dawes lived in this house at 225 Greenwood St. in Evanston, Illinois, which was built in 1894 by Robert Sheppard. The house is a National Historic Landmark.

Dawes was born in Marietta, Ohio, in Washington County, son of Civil War General Rufus Dawes and his wife Mary Beman Gates. [1] Rufus had commanded the 6th Wisconsin Regiment of the Iron Brigade from 1863 to 1864 during the American Civil War. His uncle Ephraim C. Dawes, younger brother to Rufus, was a Major who served under Ulysses S. Grant at the Battles of Shiloh and Vicksburg.

Dawes's brothers were Rufus C. Dawes, Beman Gates Dawes, and Henry May Dawes, all prominent businessmen or politicians. He also had two sisters, Mary Frances Dawes Beach, and Betsey Gates Dawes Hoyt. [2]

Dawes was a descendant of Edward Doty, a passenger on the Mayflower, and William Dawes who rode with Paul Revere to warn American colonists of the advancing British army at the outbreak of the American Revolution.

Dawes married Caro Blymyer on January 24, 1889. [3] They had a son, Rufus Fearing (1890–1912), and a daughter, Carolyn. They later adopted two children, Dana and Virginia. [4]


He graduated from Marietta College in 1884 [5] and Cincinnati Law School in 1886. [6] His fraternity was Delta Upsilon.[ citation needed ]

Early business career

Dawes was admitted to the bar in Nebraska, and he practiced in Lincoln, Nebraska, from 1887 to 1894. [5] [7] When Lieutenant John Pershing, the future Army general, was appointed as a military instructor at the University of Nebraska while attending its law school, he and Dawes met and formed a lifelong friendship. [8] Dawes also met Democratic Congressman William Jennings Bryan. The two became friends despite their disagreement over free silver policies. [9]

Dawes relocated from Lincoln to Chicago during the Panic of 1893. [9] In 1894, Dawes acquired interests several Midwestern gas plants. He became the president of both the La Crosse Gas Light Company in La Crosse, Wisconsin, and the Northwestern Gas Light and Coke Company in Evanston, Illinois. [4]

Interest in music

Dawes was a self-taught pianist and a composer. His composition Melody in A Major became a well-known piano and violin song in 1912. [10] Marie Edwards made a popular arrangement of the work in 1921. [11] Also, in 1921, it was arranged for a small orchestra by Adolf G. Hoffmann. [12] Melody in A Major was played at many official functions that Dawes attended. [13]

In 1951, Carl Sigman added lyrics to Melody in A Major, transforming the song into "It's All in the Game". [13] Tommy Edwards's recording of "It's All in the Game" was a number-one hit on the American Billboard record chart for six weeks in 1958. [14] Edwards's version of the song also hit number one on the United Kingdom chart that year. [15]

Since then, it has become a pop standard. Numerous artists have recorded versions, including Cliff Richard, The Four Tops, Isaac Hayes, Jackie DeShannon, Van Morrison, Nat "King" Cole, Brook Benton, Elton John, Mel Carter, Donny and Marie Osmond, Barry Manilow, and Keith Jarrett.

Dawes is the only vice president to be credited with a number-one pop hit. [13] Dawes and Sonny Bono are the only people credited with a number-one pop hit who were also members of the United States Senate or House of Representatives. [16] Dawes and Bob Dylan (as a writer) are the only persons credited with a number-one pop hit to have also won a Nobel Prize. [lower-alpha 1]

Dawes was a brother of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia. [17]

Early political career

Dawes's prominent positions in business caught the attention of Republican party leaders. They asked Dawes to manage the Illinois portion of William McKinley's bid for the Presidency of the United States in 1896. [18] Following McKinley's election, Dawes was rewarded for his efforts by being named Comptroller of the Currency, United States Department of the Treasury. Serving in that position from 1898 to 1901, he collected more than $25 million from banks that had failed during the Panic of 1893 and changed banking practices to try to prevent another panic.[ citation needed ]

In October 1901, Dawes left the Department of the Treasury to pursue a U.S. Senate seat from Illinois. He thought that, with the help of the McKinley Administration, he could win it. McKinley was assassinated and his successor, President Theodore Roosevelt, preferred Dawes's opponent. [19] In 1902, following this unsuccessful attempt at legislative office, Dawes declared that he was done with politics. He organized the Central Trust Company of Illinois, where he served as its president until 1921. [4]

On September 5, 1912, Dawes's 21-year-old son Rufus drowned in Geneva Lake, [20] while on summer break from Princeton University. In his memory, Dawes created homeless shelters in both Chicago and Boston [21] and financed the construction of a dormitory at his son's alma mater, the Lawrenceville School in Lawrenceville, New Jersey. [22]

World War I

Gen. Charles Dawes during World War I BGen Charles G Dawes.jpg
Gen. Charles Dawes during World War I

Dawes helped support the first Anglo-French Loan to the Entente powers of $500 million. Dawes's support was important because the House of Morgan needed public support from a non-Morgan banker. The Morgan banker Thomas W. Lamont said that Dawes's support would "make a position for him in the banking world such as he otherwise could never hope to make." [23] (Loans were seen as possibly violating neutrality, and Wilson was still resisting permitting loans.)

During the First World War, Dawes was commissioned as a major on June 11, 1917, in the 17th Engineers. He was subsequently promoted to lieutenant colonel (July 17, 1917), and colonel (January 16, 1918). In October 1918, he was promoted to brigadier general. [24] From August 1917 to August 1919, Dawes served in France during World War I as chairman of the general purchasing board for the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF). His proposal to Gen. Pershing was adopted informed the Military Board of Allied Supply, on which he served as the American delegate in 1918. When the war ended in November, he became a member of the Liquidation Commission of the United States War Department. He was decorated with the Distinguished Service Medal [25] and the French Croix de Guerre in recognition of his service. He returned to the United States on board the SS Leviathan in August 1919. [26]

In February 1921, the U.S. Senate held hearings on war expenditures. During heated testimony, Dawes burst out, "Hell and Maria, we weren't trying to keep a set of books over there, we were trying to win a war!" [27] He was later known as "Hell and Maria Dawes" (although he always insisted the expression was "Helen Maria", an exclamation he claimed was common in Nebraska). [28] Dawes resigned from the Army in 1919 [4] and became a member of the American Legion.

1920s: Financing Europe and the Nobel Peace Prize

He supported Frank Lowden at the 1920 Republican National Convention, but the presidential nomination went to Warren G. Harding. [9] When the Bureau of the Budget was created, he was appointed in 1921 by President Harding as its first director. Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover appointed him to the Allied Reparations Commission in 1923. He came up with the solution to the European crisis: The Dawes Plan loaned large sums of American bank money to the German economy. The loans permitted Germany to recover its industrial production while making reparation payments to France and Belgium as required by the Versailles Treaty. In 1929 the Reparations Commission, under Owen Young, replaced the plan with the more permanent Young Plan, which reduced the total amount of reparations and called for the removal of occupying forces. [29] [30] For his work on the Dawes Plan that enabled Germany to restore and stabilize its economy, Dawes shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 1925. [4]

Vice presidency

Dawes (r) and Calvin Coolidge Coolidge-Dawes.jpg
Dawes (r) and Calvin Coolidge

I should hate to think that the Senate was as tired of me at the beginning of my service as I am of the Senate at the end.

Charles G. Dawes [31]

At the 1924 Republican National Convention, President Calvin Coolidge was quickly selected almost without opposition to be the Republican presidential nominee. [32] The vice-presidential nominee was more contested. Illinois Governor Frank Lowden was nominated, but declined. Coolidge's next choice was Idaho Senator William Borah, but he also declined the nomination. The Republican National Chairman, William Butler, wanted to nominate then Commerce Secretary Herbert Hoover, but he was not sufficiently popular. Eventually, the delegates chose Dawes. Coolidge quickly accepted the delegates' choice and felt that Dawes would be loyal to him and make a strong addition to his campaign. [32]

Dawes traveled throughout the country during the campaign, giving speeches to bolster the Republican ticket. He frequently attacked Progressive nominee Robert M. La Follette as a dangerous radical who sympathized with the Bolsheviks. [9] The Coolidge-Dawes ticket was elected on November 4, 1924, with more popular votes than the candidates of the Democratic and Progressive parties combined. [33] The inauguration was held on March 4, 1925. [34]

On March 10, the Senate debated the president's nomination of Charles B. Warren to be United States Attorney General. In the wake of the Teapot Dome scandal and other scandals, Democrats and Progressive Republicans objected to the nomination because of Warren's close association with the Sugar Trust. At midday, six speakers were scheduled to address Warren's nomination. Desiring to take a break for a nap, Dawes consulted the majority and minority leaders, who assured him that no vote would be taken that afternoon. After Dawes left the Senate, however, all but one of the scheduled speakers decided against making formal remarks, and a vote was taken. When it became apparent that the vote would be tied, Republican leaders hastily called Dawes at the Willard Hotel, and he immediately left for the Capitol. The first vote was 40-40, a tie which Dawes could have broken in Warren's favor. While waiting for Dawes to arrive, the only Democratic senator who had voted for Warren switched his vote. The nomination then failed 41-39—the first such rejection of a president's nominee in nearly 60 years. [31] This incident was chronicled in a derisive poem, based on the Longfellow poem "Paul Revere's Ride;" it began with the line, "Come gather round children and hold your applause for the afternoon ride of Charlie Dawes." The choice of poem was based on Charles Dawes being descended from William Dawes, who rode with Paul Revere.[ citation needed ]

Dawes and Coolidge quickly became alienated from one another. Dawes declined to attend Cabinet meetings and annoyed Coolidge with his attack on the Senate filibuster. Dawes championed the McNary–Haugen Farm Relief Bill, which sought to alleviate the 1920s farm crisis by having the government buy surplus farm produce and sell that surplus in foreign markets. Dawes helped ensure the passage of the bill through Congress, but President Coolidge vetoed it. [9]

In 1927, Coolidge announced that he would not seek re-election. Dawes again favored Frank Lowden at the 1928 Republican National Convention, but the convention chose Herbert Hoover. [9] Rumors circulated about Dawes being chosen as Hoover's running mate. Coolidge made it known that he would consider the renomination of Dawes as vice president to be an insult. Charles Curtis of Kansas, known for his skills in collaboration, was chosen as Hoover's running mate. [35]

Court of St. James's and the RFC

After Dawes had finished his term as vice president, he served as the U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom (known formally as the Court of St. James's) from 1929 to 1931. [36] Overall, Dawes was a very effective U.S. ambassador, as George V's son, the future Edward VIII, would later confirm in his memoirs.[ citation needed ] Dawes was rather rough-hewn for some of his duties, disliking having to present American débutantes to the King. On his first visit to the royal court, in deference to American public opinion, he refused to wear the customary Court dress, which then included knee breeches. This episode was said to upset the King, who had been prevented by illness from attending the event.

As the Great Depression continued to ravage the United States, Dawes accepted President Herbert Hoover's appeal to leave diplomatic office and head the newly created Reconstruction Finance Corporation (RFC). But after a few months, Dawes resigned from the RFC. As chairman of the failing Central Republic Bank and Trust Company of Chicago, he felt obligated to work for its rescue. Political opponents alleged that, under Dawes's leadership, the RFC had given preferential treatment to his bank. This marked the end of Dawes's career in public service. For the 1932 election, Hoover considered the possibility of adding Dawes to the ticket in place of Curtis, but Dawes declined the potential offer. [37]

Later in 1932, Dawes and associates formed the City National Bank and Trust Co. to take over the deposits of the failed Central Republic Bank and Trust Company. [38]

Later life

Dawes served for nearly two decades as chairman of the board of City National from 1932 until his death. [39] He died on April 23, 1951 at his Evanston home from coronary thrombosis at the age of 85. [40] He is interred in Rosehill Cemetery, Chicago. [41]


Dawes belonged to several military, hereditary and veteran organizations. These included the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States, the Sons of the American Revolution, the General Society of Colonial Wars and the American Legion.


A Chicago public school located at 3810 w 81st Place is named in his honor.

United States military awards

Distinguished Service Medal citation:

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting the Army Distinguished Service Medal to Brigadier General Charles G. Dawes, United States Army, for exceptionally meritorious and distinguished services to the Government of the United States, in a duty of great responsibility during World War I. General Dawes rendered most conspicuous services in the organization of the General Purchasing Board as General Purchasing Agent of the American Expeditionary Forces and as the Representative of the U.S. Army on the Military Board of Allied Supply. His rare abilities, sound business judgment, and aggressive energy were invaluable in securing needed supplies for the Allied armies in Europe. (War Department, General Orders No. 12 (1919))

Foreign honors


According to Annette Dunlap, Dawes was:

a self-made man who valued hard work and thriftiness tempered with Christian generosity. He spent his life promoting solid Republican values of small government with restrained budgets. Franklin Roosevelt’s philosophy of big government spending was anathema to him. [43]

In 1944, he bequeathed his lakeshore home in Evanston to Northwestern University for the Evanston Historical Society (later renamed the Evanston History Center). Dawes lived in the house until his death. The Dawes family continued to occupy it until the death of Mrs. Dawes in 1957. Since then, the Evanston History Center operates out of the house and manages it as a museum. Designated a National Historic Landmark, the Charles G. Dawes House is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Selected writings

See also


  1. Dylan, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2016, wrote "Mr. Tambourine Man", a No. 1 hit for The Byrds.

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  1. Dunlap, Annette B. (2016). Charles Gates Dawes: a Life. Northwestern University Press and the Evanston History Center. p. 12. ISBN   9780810134195.
  2. Gates Dawes Ancestral Lines
  3. "The religion of Charles G. Dawes, U.S. Vice-President". Retrieved June 7, 2018.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 Davis, Jr., Henry Blaine (1998). Generals in Khaki. Raleigh, NC: Pentland Press, Inc. p. 103. ISBN   1571970886.
  5. 1 2 Dunlap, Annette B. Charles Gates Dawes: a Life. p. 17.
  6. Dunlap, Annette B. Charles Gates Dawes: a Life. p. 18.
  7. Dunlap, Annette B. Charles Gates Dawes: a Life. pp. 20–38.
  8. Dunlap, Annette B. Charles Gates Dawes: a Life. pp. 24–25.
  9. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "Charles G. Dawes, 30th Vice President (1925–1929)". US Senate. Archived from the original on November 6, 2014. Retrieved February 2, 2017.
  10. Dawes, Charles Gates. Melody [in A major] for violin with piano acc. Chicago: Gamble Hinged Music, 1912. OCLC   21885776
  11. Dawes, Charles Gates, and Marie Edwards. Melody. Chicago, Ill: Gamble Hinged Music Co, 1921. OCLC   10115887
  12. Dawes, Charles Gates, and Adolf G. Hoffmann. Melody, small orchestra. Chicago: Gamble Hinged Music Co, 1921. OCLC   46679677
  13. 1 2 3 "Archived copy". Archived from the original on July 26, 2015. Retrieved January 26, 2017.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  14. Joel Whitburn, The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits, revised and enlarged 6th edition (New York: Billboard Publications, 1996), 201.
  15. (Hatfield 1997: 360)
  16. Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942–2004. Record Research. p. 539.
  17. "The Vice President Who Wrote a Hit Song". August 16, 2011.
  18. Davis, Jr., Henry Blaine (1998). Generals in Khaki. Pentland Press, Inc. p. 81. ISBN   1571970886. OCLC   40298151
  19. (Waller 1998: 274)
  20. "Charles Gates Dawes Timeline – Evanston History Center".
  21. "Let's Talk It Over". The National Magazine. 46 (September): 905. 1917. Retrieved January 26, 2017.
  22. DAWES HOUSE DEDICATED.; Lawrenceville School Building Partly Financed by Ambassador. Accessed April 6, 2020.
  23. Merchants of Death Revisited Mises Institute p. 61
  24. New York Times. October 4, 1918.
  25. "Valor awards for Charles G. Dawes".
  26. New York Times. August 7, 1919.
  27. Dunlap, Annette B. Charles Dawes Gates: a Life. p. 144.
  28. "Vice President Dawes". Forbes Library. Retrieved July 12, 2018.
  29. Dunlap, pp. 214–15.
  30. Stephen A. Schuker, The end of French predominance in Europe: the financial crisis of 1924 and the adoption of the Dawes Plan (U of North Carolina Press, 1976).
  31. 1 2 Hatfield, M. O. (1997). Vice Presidents of the United States, 1789–1993. Senate Historical Office. Washington: United States Government Printing Office
  32. 1 2 Hatfield 1997: 363
  33. Hatfield 1997: 364
  34. Reviews, C.T.I (October 16, 2016). American Foreign Relations, A History. p. 193. ISBN   9781619066649 . Retrieved January 26, 2017.
  35. Mencken, Henry Louis; George Jean Nathan (1929). The American Mercury. p. 404.
  36. Dunlap, Annette B. Charles Gates Dawes: a Life. pp. 221–44.
  37. Witcover, Jules (2014). The American Vice Presidency. Smithsonian Books. p. 296.
  38. "DAWES'S NEW BANK OPENS IN CHICAGO; City National and Trust Has $4,000,000 Capital and $1,000,000 Surplus. IN OLD BANK'S OFFICES Institution Formed by Taking Over Some Departments of Central Republic". New York Times. October 7, 1932.
  39. "Dawes, Charles Gates – Biographical Information". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Archived from the original on September 15, 1999. Retrieved January 17, 2018.
  40. "Charles G. Dawes, Ex-Vice President, Dies (April 24, 1951)".
  41. Rumore, Kori. "Buried in Chicago: Where the famous rest in peace".
  42. Dunlap, Annette B. Charles Gates Dawes: a Life. pp. 178–79.
  43. Cited in Indiana Magazine of History, (2018) 114(1) p. 76.


Government offices
Preceded by
James H. Eckels
Comptroller of the Currency
Succeeded by
William Ridgely
New office President of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation
Succeeded by
Atlee Pomerene
Political offices
New office Director of the Bureau of the Budget
Succeeded by
Herbert Lord
Preceded by
Calvin Coolidge
Vice President of the United States
Succeeded by
Charles Curtis
Party political offices
Preceded by
Frank Orren Lowden
Republican nominee for Vice President of the United States
Succeeded by
Charles Curtis
Awards and achievements
Title last held by
Fridtjof Nansen
Laureate of the Nobel Peace Prize
With: Austen Chamberlain
Succeeded by
Aristide Briand
Gustav Stresemann
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Alanson B. Houghton
United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom
Succeeded by
Andrew Mellon