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Secretary of War of the
United States of America
Former political post
Flag of the United States Secretary of the Army
Secretary of War flag
Predecessor Secretary at War
Successor Secretary of Defense
Secretary of the Army
Secretary of the Air Force
Style The Honorable
Appointer The President
with Senate advice and consent
Office began 1798
Office ended 1947

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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," was 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. 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 third in the line of succession to the presidency, after the Vice President of the United States 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 SecretariesEdit

Secretary at War (1781–1789)Edit

The office of Secretary of War was modelled upon Great Britain's Secretary at War, who was William Barrington, 2nd Viscount Barrington, at the time of the American Revolution. By 1776, the position of the British Secretary at War was a sophisticated managerial role, but the duties in 1661 to 1666 of England's first Secretary at War, Sir William Clarke, were more basic ones of literally handling the secretarial duties of managing official correspondence, memoranda, military orders, and financial accounts.[citation needed]

No. Portrait Name State of residence Took office Left office Congress
1 General Benjamin Lincoln-restored Benjamin LincolnMassachusetts17811783Congress of the Confederation
2 Henry Knox by Gilbert Stuart 1806Henry KnoxMassachusettsMarch 8, 1785September 12, 1789

Secretary of War (1789–1947)Edit

Swearing in of Secretary Dwight Davis

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       Federalist       Democratic-Republican       Democratic       Whig       Republican

No. Portrait Name State of residence Took office Left office President(s)
1 Henry Knox by Gilbert Stuart 1806Henry KnoxMassachusettsSeptember 12, 1789December 31, 1794 George Washington
2 Timothy-PickeringTimothy PickeringPennsylvania[1]January 2, 1795December 10, 1795
3 JMcHenryJames McHenryMarylandJanuary 27, 1796June 1, 1800[2]
John Adams
4 Samuel DexterSamuel DexterMassachusetts June 1, 1800January 31, 1801
5 Henry Dearborn by Gilbert StuartHenry Dearborn MassachusettsMarch 5, 1801March 4, 1809 Thomas Jefferson
6 William EustisWilliam EustisMassachusetts March 7, 1809January 13, 1813 James Madison
7 John Armstrong Jr.John Armstrong, Jr.New York January 13, 1813September 27, 1814
8 Jamesmonroe-npgalleryJames MonroeVirginia September 27, 1814March 2, 1815
9 WilliamHarrisCrawford5William H. Crawford Georgia August 1, 1815October 22, 1816
10 JCCalhoun-1822John C. CalhounSouth Carolina October 8, 1817March 4, 1825 James Monroe
11 BarbourTJames Barbour VirginiaMarch 7, 1825May 23, 1828 John Quincy Adams
12 Peter Buell PorterPeter Buell PorterNew York May 23, 1828March 4, 1829
13 John EatonJohn H. EatonTennessee March 9, 1829June 18, 1831 Andrew Jackson
14 Lewis Cass 2Lewis CassOhio August 1, 1831October 5, 1836
15 JrpoinsettJoel Roberts PoinsettSouth Carolina March 7, 1837March 4, 1841 Martin Van Buren
16 JBellJohn BellTennessee March 5, 1841September 13, 1841 William Henry Harrison
John Tyler
17 SpencerJohnJohn Canfield SpencerNew York October 12, 1841March 4, 1843
18 PorterJMJames Madison PorterPennsylvania March 8, 1843February 14, 1844
19 William Wilkins United States Senator - Brady-HandyWilliam WilkinsPennsylvania February 15, 1844March 4, 1845
20 William L. MarcyWilliam Learned MarcyNew York March 6, 1845March 4, 1849 James K. Polk
21 GWCrawford2George W. CrawfordGeorgia March 8, 1849July 22, 1850 Zachary Taylor
22 Charles Magill ConradCharles Magill ConradLouisiana August 15, 1850March 4, 1853 Millard Fillmore
23 President-Jefferson-DavisJefferson DavisMississippi March 7, 1853March 4, 1857 Franklin Pierce
24 John Buchanan FloydJohn B. FloydVirginia March 6, 1857December 29, 1860 James Buchanan
25 Joseph HoltJoseph HoltKentuckyJanuary 18, 1861March 4, 1861
26 Smn Cameron-SecofWarSimon CameronPennsylvania March 5, 1861January 14, 1862 Abraham Lincoln
27 Edwin McMasters Stanton Secretary of WarEdwin M. StantonPennsylvania January 20, 1862May 28, 1868
Andrew Johnson
28 John SchofieldJohn McAllister SchofieldIllinois June 1, 1868March 13, 1869
29 John Aaron Rawlins - Brady-HandyJohn Aaron RawlinsIllinois March 13, 1869September 6, 1869 Ulysses S. Grant
30 WWBelknapWilliam W. BelknapIowa October 25, 1869March 2, 1876
31 Alphonso Taft seatedAlphonso TaftOhio March 8, 1876May 22, 1876
32 JDonaldC2J. Donald CameronPennsylvania May 22, 1876March 4, 1877
33 GWMcCraryGeorge W. McCraryIowa March 12, 1877December 10, 1879 Rutherford B. Hayes
34 Alexander Ramsey - Brady-HandyAlexander RamseyMinnesota December 10, 1879March 4, 1881
35 Robert Todd Lincoln, Brady-Handy bw photo portrait, ca1870-1880Robert Todd LincolnIllinois March 5, 1881March 4, 1885 James A. Garfield
Chester A. Arthur
36 William Endicott, bw photo portrait, 1886William Crowninshield EndicottMassachusetts March 5, 1885March 4, 1889 Grover Cleveland
37 Redfield Proctor, bw photo portrait, 1904Redfield ProctorVermont March 5, 1889November 5, 1891 Benjamin Harrison
38 SBElkinsStephen Benton ElkinsWest Virginia December 17, 1891March 4, 1893
39 Daniel Lamont, bw photo portrait, 1904Daniel S. LamontNew York March 5, 1893March 4, 1897 Grover Cleveland
40 Russell Alexander Alger by by The Detroit Publishing Co.Russell A. AlgerMichigan March 5, 1897August 1, 1899 William McKinley
41 Elihu Root, bw photo portrait, 1902Elihu RootNew York August 1, 1899January 31, 1904
Theodore Roosevelt
42 William Howard TaftWilliam Howard Taft OhioFebruary 1, 1904June 30, 1908
43 Luke Edward WrightLuke Edward WrightTennessee July 1, 1908March 4, 1909
44 Jacob Dickinson, bw photo portrait standing, 1909Jacob M. Dickinson TennesseeMarch 12, 1909May 21, 1911 William Howard Taft
45 HLStimsonHenry L. StimsonNew York May 22, 1911March 4, 1913
46 Lindley Garrison, BW photo portrait, 1913Lindley Miller GarrisonNew Jersey March 5, 1913February 10, 1916 Woodrow Wilson
47 Newton Baker, Bain bw photo portraitNewton D. BakerOhio March 9, 1916March 4, 1921
48 John Wingate Weeks, Bain bw photo portraitJohn W. WeeksMassachusetts March 5, 1921October 13, 1925 Warren G. Harding
Calvin Coolidge
49 Dwight Davis, Bain bw photo portraitDwight F. DavisMissouri October 14, 1925March 4, 1929
50 James William Good, Harris & Ewing bw photo portrait, 1919James William Good IllinoisMarch 6, 1929November 18, 1929 Herbert Hoover
51 PJayHurl Patrick J. HurleyOklahoma December 9, 1929March 4, 1933
52 George Dern, Bain bw photo portraitGeorge DernUtah March 4, 1933August 27, 1936 Franklin D. Roosevelt
53 Harry Hines Woodring, 53rd United States Secretary of WarHarry Hines WoodringKansas September 25, 1936June 20, 1940
54 Henry Stimson, Harris & Ewing bw photo portrait, 1929Henry L. StimsonNew York July 10, 1940September 21, 1945
Harry S. Truman
55 Robert P. Patterson, 55th United States Secretary of WarRobert P. PattersonNew York September 27, 1945July 18, 1947
56 KCR portrait Kenneth C. RoyallNorth Carolina July 19, 1947September 18, 1947



Further readingEdit

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