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John Albert Knebel
John Albert Knebel - USDA portrait.png
19th United States Secretary of Agriculture

In office
November 4, 1976 – January 20, 1977
President Gerald Ford
Preceded by Earl L. Butz
Succeeded by Robert S. Bergland
Personal details
Born October 4, 1936(1936-10-04) (age 83)
Tulsa, Oklahoma
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Zenia Marks Knebel
Children 3
Alma mater West Point
Creighton University
American University

John Albert Knebel (born October 4, 1936) is a former United States government official who served as Secretary of Agriculture under President Gerald Ford.[1]


Early life and educationEdit

Knebel was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma on October 4, 1936. He graduated from West Point in 1959 and received his Master's at Creighton University in 1962.[1] In 1965, he received his law degree from American University.[1] Between 1965 and 1968 he was engaged in private practice with the firm of Howrey, Simon, Baker and Murchison in Washington, DC.[1] He was a legislative assistant to Congressman J. Ernest Wharton in 1963 and 1964 and served as general counsel to the Small Business Administration during Nixon's second term.[1] He was also a member of the American, Federal, and District of Columbia Bar Association.[1] In March 1971, he became the General Counsel of the Small Business Administration, and in January 1973 he was appointed as General Counsel of the Department of Agriculture.[1] He was a partner in the law firm of Brownstein, Zeidman, Schomer and Chase from April until December 1975, when he was named the Under Secretary/Deputy Secretary of Agriculture.[1]

U.S. Secretary of AgricultureEdit

On November 4, 1976, Knebel was named Secretary of Agriculture to by President Gerald R. Ford after his predecessor, Earl L. Butz to resigned amid a scandal involving a racist comment.[1] His period in this office was brief and ended January 20, 1977, when Jimmy Carter replaced Ford in the White House.[2] After that, he returned to law and as of 2014 was still the president of the American Mining Congress.[2]

Personal lifeEdit

Knebel married Zenia Marks of New Jersey, with whom he has had three children.[1] He and his family resided in McLean, Virginia at the time on his appointment as Secretary of Agriculture in 1976.[1]


External linksEdit

Political offices
Preceded by
Earl Butz
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture
Served under: Gerald Ford

Succeeded by
Robert Bergland

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