United States Secretary of War

Last updated
United States Secretary of War
Seal of the United States Department of War.png
Flag of the United States Secretary of the Army.svg
Flag of the Secretary of War
KCR portrait.jpg
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.
AppointerThe President
with Senate advice and consent
Term length No fixed term
PrecursorSecretary at War
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.

United States Federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country composed of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.

President of the United States Head of state and of government of the United States

The president of the United States (POTUS) is the head of state and head of government of the United States of America. The president directs the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces.

Presidency of George Washington First United States presidential term

The presidency of George Washington began on April 30, 1789, when Washington was inaugurated as the first President of the United States, and ended on March 4, 1797. Washington took office after the 1788–89 presidential election, the nation's first quadrennial presidential election, in which he was elected unanimously. Washington was re-elected unanimously in the 1792 presidential election, and chose to retire after two terms. He was succeeded by his vice president, John Adams of the Federalist Party.


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.

United States Department of War Former US government agency

The United States Department of War, also called the War Department, was the United States Cabinet department originally responsible for the operation and maintenance of the United States Army, also bearing responsibility for naval affairs until the establishment of the Navy Department in 1798, and for most land-based air forces until the creation of the Department of the Air Force on September 18, 1947.

United States Navy Naval warfare branch of the United States Armed Forces

The United States Navy (USN) is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. It is the largest and most capable navy in the world and it has been estimated that in terms of tonnage of its active battle fleet alone, it is larger than the next 13 navies combined, which includes 11 U.S. allies or partner nations. with the highest combined battle fleet tonnage and the world's largest aircraft carrier fleet, with eleven in service, and two new carriers under construction. With 319,421 personnel on active duty and 99,616 in the Ready Reserve, the Navy is the third largest of the service branches. It has 282 deployable combat vessels and more than 3,700 operational aircraft as of March 2018, making it the second-largest air force in the world, after the United States Air Force.

United States Secretary of the Navy statutory office and the head of the U.S. Department of the Navy

The Secretary of the Navy is a statutory officer and the head of the Department of the Navy, a military department within the Department of Defense of the United States of America.

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.

National Security Act of 1947 United States law restructuring its armed forces

The National Security Act of 1947 was a major restructuring of the United States government's military and intelligence agencies following World War II. The majority of the provisions of the Act took effect on September 18, 1947, the day after the Senate confirmed James Forrestal as the first Secretary of Defense.

United States Secretary of the Army position

The Secretary of the Army is a senior civilian official within the Department of Defense of the United States with statutory responsibility for all matters relating to the United States Army: manpower, personnel, reserve affairs, installations, environmental issues, weapons systems and equipment acquisition, communications, and financial management.

United States Secretary of the Air Force Head of the Department of the Air Force

The Secretary of the Air Force is the head of the Department of the Air Force, a component organization within the United States Department of Defense. The Secretary of the Air Force is appointed from civilian life by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate. The Secretary reports to the Secretary of Defense and/or the Deputy Secretary of Defense, and is by statute responsible for and has the authority to conduct all the affairs of the Department of the Air Force.

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.

Secretary at War historical English political position

The Secretary at War was a political position in the English and later British government, with some responsibility over the administration and organization of the Army, but not over military policy. The Secretary at War ran the War Office. After 1794 it was occasionally a cabinet-level position, although it was considered of subordinate rank to the Secretaries of State. The position was combined with that of Secretary of State for War in 1854 and abolished in 1863.

William Barrington, 2nd Viscount Barrington British politician

William Wildman Shute Barrington, 2nd Viscount Barrington PC was a British politician who sat in the House of Commons for 38 years from 1740 to 1778. He was best known for his two periods as Secretary at War during Britain's involvement in the Seven Years War and American War of Independence.

Board of War

The Board of War, also known as the Board of War and Ordnance, was created by the Second Continental Congress as a special standing committee to oversee the American Continental Army's administration and to make recommendations regarding the army to Congress. On January 24, 1776, Congressional delegate Edward Rutledge, echoing General George Washington's own concerns, suggested that a war office similar to Great Britain's be established. Pressure from Washington and the large volume of military business led Congress to establish the Board of War and Ordnance on June 12, 1776. Five delegates of Congress, initially John Adams, Roger Sherman, Benjamin Harrison, James Wilson, and Edward Rutledge, assisted by a permanent secretary, Richard Peters, composed the Board of War. They assumed the prescribed responsibilities for compiling a master roster of all Continental Army officers; monitoring returns of all troops, arms, and equipment; maintaining correspondence files; and securing prisoners of war. The Board of War began functioning on June 21, 1776.

No.PortraitNameState of residenceTook officeLeft officeCongress
1 General Benjamin Lincoln-restored.jpg Benjamin Lincoln Massachusetts March 1, 1781November 2, 1783 Congress of the Confederation
2 Henry Knox by Gilbert Stuart 1806.jpeg Henry Knox Massachusetts March 8, 1785September 12, 1789

Secretary of War (1789–1947)

Swearing in of Dwight F. Davis as Secretary of War in 1925. Former Secretaries John W. Weeks and Chief Justice William Howard Taft are standing beside him. Swearing in of Secretary Dwight Davis.jpg
Swearing in of Dwight F. Davis as Secretary of War in 1925. Former Secretaries John W. Weeks and Chief Justice William Howard Taft are standing beside him.

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

Federalist Party first American political party

The Federalist Party, referred to as the Pro-Administration party until the 3rd United States Congress as opposed to their opponents in the Anti-Administration party, was the first American political party. It existed from the early 1790s to the 1820s, with their last presidential candidate being fielded in 1816. They appealed to business and to conservatives who favored banks, national over state government, manufacturing, and preferred Britain and opposed the French Revolution.

Democratic-Republican Party Historical American political party

The Democratic-Republican Party was an American political party formed by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison around 1792 to oppose the centralizing policies of the new Federalist Party run by Alexander Hamilton, who was Secretary of the Treasury and chief architect of George Washington's administration. From 1801 to 1825, the new party controlled the presidency and Congress as well as most states during the First Party System. It began in 1791 as one faction in Congress and included many politicians who had been opposed to the new constitution. They called themselves Republicans after their political philosophy, republicanism. They distrusted the Federalist tendency to centralize and loosely interpret the Constitution, believing these policies were signs of monarchism and anti-republican values. The party splintered in 1824, with the faction loyal to Andrew Jackson coalescing into the Jacksonian movement, the faction led by John Quincy Adams and Henry Clay forming the National Republican Party and some other groups going on to form the Anti-Masonic Party. The National Republicans, Anti-Masons, and other opponents of Andrew Jackson later formed themselves into the Whig Party.

Democratic Party (United States) political party in the United States

The Democratic Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. Tracing its heritage back to Thomas Jefferson and James Madison's Democratic-Republican Party, the modern-day Democratic Party was founded around 1828 by supporters of Andrew Jackson, making it the world's oldest active political party.

No.PortraitNameState of ResidenceTook officeLeft office President(s)
1 Henry Knox by Gilbert Stuart 1806.jpeg Henry Knox Massachusetts September 12, 1789December 31, 1794 George Washington
2 Timothy-Pickering.jpg Timothy Pickering Pennsylvania [1] January 2, 1795December 10, 1795
3 JMcHenry.jpg James McHenry Maryland January 27, 1796June 1, 1800 [2]
John Adams
4 Samuel Dexter.jpg Samuel Dexter Massachusetts June 1, 1800January 31, 1801
5 Henry Dearborn by Gilbert Stuart.jpeg Henry Dearborn Massachusetts March 5, 1801March 4, 1809 Thomas Jefferson
6 William Eustis.jpg William Eustis Massachusetts March 7, 1809January 13, 1813 James Madison
7 John Armstrong Jr..jpg John Armstrong, Jr. New York January 13, 1813September 27, 1814
8 Jamesmonroe-npgallery.jpg James Monroe Virginia September 27, 1814March 2, 1815
9 WilliamHarrisCrawford5.jpg William H. Crawford Georgia August 1, 1815October 22, 1816
10 JCCalhoun-1822.jpg John C. Calhoun South Carolina October 8, 1817March 4, 1825 James Monroe
11 BarbourT.jpg James Barbour Virginia March 7, 1825May 23, 1828 John Quincy Adams
12 Peter Buell Porter.jpg Peter Buell Porter New York May 23, 1828March 9, 1829
13 John Eaton.jpg John H. Eaton Tennessee March 9, 1829June 18, 1831 Andrew Jackson
14 Lewis Cass 2.jpg Lewis Cass Ohio August 1, 1831October 5, 1836
15 Jrpoinsett.jpg Joel Roberts Poinsett South Carolina March 7, 1837March 4, 1841 Martin Van Buren
16 JBell.jpg John Bell Tennessee March 5, 1841September 13, 1841 William Henry Harrison
John Tyler
17 SpencerJohn.jpg John Canfield Spencer New York October 12, 1841March 4, 1843
18 PorterJM.jpg James Madison Porter Pennsylvania March 8, 1843February 14, 1844
19 William Wilkins United States Senator - Brady-Handy.jpg William Wilkins Pennsylvania February 15, 1844March 4, 1845
20 William L. Marcy.png William Learned Marcy New York March 6, 1845March 4, 1849 James K. Polk
21 GWCrawford2.jpg George W. Crawford Georgia March 8, 1849July 22, 1850 Zachary Taylor
22 Charles Magill Conrad.jpg Charles Magill Conrad Louisiana August 15, 1850March 4, 1853 Millard Fillmore
23 President-Jefferson-Davis.jpg Jefferson Davis Mississippi March 7, 1853March 4, 1857 Franklin Pierce
24 John Buchanan Floyd.jpg John B. Floyd Virginia March 6, 1857December 29, 1860 James Buchanan
25 Joseph Holt.jpg Joseph Holt Kentucky January 18, 1861March 4, 1861
26 Smn Cameron-SecofWar.jpg Simon Cameron Pennsylvania March 5, 1861January 14, 1862 Abraham Lincoln
27 Edwin McMasters Stanton Secretary of War.jpg Edwin M. Stanton Pennsylvania January 20, 1862May 28, 1868
Andrew Johnson
28 John Schofield.jpg John McAllister Schofield Illinois June 1, 1868March 13, 1869
29 John Aaron Rawlins - Brady-Handy.jpg John Aaron Rawlins Illinois March 13, 1869September 6, 1869 Ulysses S. Grant
30 WWBelknap.jpg William W. Belknap Iowa October 25, 1869March 2, 1876
31 Alphonso Taft seated.jpg Alphonso Taft Ohio March 8, 1876May 22, 1876
32 JDonaldC2.jpg J. Donald Cameron Pennsylvania May 22, 1876March 4, 1877
33 GWMcCrary.jpg George W. McCrary Iowa March 12, 1877December 10, 1879 Rutherford B. Hayes
34 Alexander Ramsey - Brady-Handy.jpg Alexander Ramsey Minnesota December 10, 1879March 4, 1881
35 Robert Todd Lincoln, Brady-Handy bw photo portrait, ca1870-1880.jpg Robert Todd Lincoln Illinois March 5, 1881March 4, 1885 James A. Garfield
Chester A. Arthur
36 William Endicott, bw photo portrait, 1886.jpg William Crowninshield Endicott Massachusetts March 5, 1885March 4, 1889 Grover Cleveland
37 Redfield Proctor, bw photo portrait, 1904.jpg Redfield Proctor Vermont March 5, 1889November 5, 1891 Benjamin Harrison
38 SBElkins.jpg Stephen Benton Elkins West Virginia December 17, 1891March 4, 1893
39 Daniel Lamont, bw photo portrait, 1904.jpg Daniel S. Lamont New York March 5, 1893March 4, 1897 Grover Cleveland
40 Russell Alexander Alger by by The Detroit Publishing Co..jpg Russell A. Alger Michigan March 5, 1897August 1, 1899 William McKinley
41 Elihu Root, bw photo portrait, 1902.jpg Elihu Root New York August 1, 1899January 31, 1904
Theodore Roosevelt
42 William Howard Taft.jpg William Howard Taft Ohio February 1, 1904June 30, 1908
43 Luke Edward Wright.jpg Luke Edward Wright Tennessee July 1, 1908March 4, 1909
44 Jacob Dickinson, bw photo portrait standing, 1909.jpg Jacob M. Dickinson Tennessee March 12, 1909May 21, 1911 William Howard Taft
45 HLStimson.jpg Henry L. Stimson New York May 22, 1911March 4, 1913
46 Lindley Garrison, BW photo portrait, 1913.jpg Lindley Miller Garrison New Jersey March 5, 1913February 10, 1916 Woodrow Wilson
47 Newton Baker, Bain bw photo portrait.jpg Newton D. Baker Ohio March 9, 1916March 4, 1921
48 John Wingate Weeks, Bain bw photo portrait.jpg John W. Weeks Massachusetts March 5, 1921October 13, 1925 Warren G. Harding
Calvin Coolidge
49 Dwight Davis, Bain bw photo portrait.jpg Dwight F. Davis Missouri October 14, 1925March 4, 1929
50 James William Good, Harris & Ewing bw photo portrait, 1919.jpg James William Good Illinois March 6, 1929November 18, 1929 Herbert Hoover
51 PJayHurl.jpg Patrick J. Hurley Oklahoma December 9, 1929March 4, 1933
52 George Dern, Bain bw photo portrait.jpg George Dern Utah March 4, 1933August 27, 1936 Franklin D. Roosevelt
53 Harry Hines Woodring, 53rd United States Secretary of War.jpg Harry Hines Woodring Kansas September 25, 1936June 20, 1940
54 Henry Stimson, Harris & Ewing bw photo portrait, 1929.jpg Henry L. Stimson New York July 10, 1940September 21, 1945
Harry S. Truman
55 Robert P. Patterson, 55th United States Secretary of War.jpg Robert P. Patterson New York September 27, 1945July 18, 1947
56 KCR portrait.jpg Kenneth C. Royall North Carolina July 19, 1947September 18, 1947

See also

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  1. http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/D?hlaw:7:./temp/~ammem_WqlO::
  2. "Papers of the War Department". Wardepartmentpapers.org. Retrieved 2012-05-15.

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