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George M. Humphrey

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
George Humphrey
55th United States Secretary of the Treasury
In office
January 21, 1953 – July 29, 1957
PresidentDwight D. Eisenhower
Preceded byJohn Snyder
Succeeded byRobert B. Anderson
Personal details
George Magoffin Humphrey

(1890-03-08)March 8, 1890
Cheboygan, Michigan, U.S.
DiedJanuary 20, 1970(1970-01-20) (aged 79)
Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.
Resting placeLake View Cemetery
Political partyRepublican
Pamela Stark
(m. 1913)
Alma materUniversity of Michigan, Ann Arbor (BA, LLB)

George Magoffin Humphrey (March 8, 1890 – January 20, 1970)[1] was an American lawyer, businessman and banker. He served as the United States Secretary of the Treasury for President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Early life


Humphrey was born on March 8, 1890, and raised in Cheboygan, Michigan, the son of Caroline (née Magoffin) Humphrey (1861–1946) and Watts Sherman Humphrey (1844–1916).[2]

Through his brother Watts S. Humphrey, he was the uncle of software engineer Watts Humphrey.

He received both his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Michigan.[3]



After practicing law in Saginaw, Michigan for five years with his father's firm, he accepted a position as general counsel with steel manufacturer M. A. Hanna Company in 1917.[3] That association lasted 35 years and included his ascension to company president in 1929. He served as Chairman of The Business Council, then known as the Business Advisory Council for the United States Department of Commerce in 1946.[4] Following Dwight Eisenhower's election to the Presidency in 1952, Humphrey was recommended by close adviser General Lucius D. Clay, who had worked with the corporate magnate regarding post-war plans in Germany.

Secretary of the Treasury


As Secretary of the Treasury in the first Republican Administration in 20 years, Humphrey was one of the most influential of President Eisenhower's Cabinet members.[5] Eisenhower was once quoted as saying, "When George speaks, we all listen."[6]

Humphrey had given up a $300,000 salary to accept the Cabinet position that paid just $22,500. He fought to have a balanced budget, tight money, limits on welfare and foreign aid, as well as "trickle down" tax cuts.[3] He was even more adamant about government spending, saying in a 1957 press conference that if it wasn't curbed, "you will have a depression that will curl your hair."[6] Humphrey left office on July 29, 1957.[7] Following Humphrey's departure that same year, he returned to the Hanna Company, serving as honorary board chairman and director, then later became chairman of National Steel Corporation.[8][9]

Later life


In 1962, Humphrey became embroiled in a potential controversy when a Senate committee investigated the stockpiling of nickel during his time in the Cabinet.[10] The $98 million deal involved companies he had once headed, but he explained that his motivation was to increase the country's strategic stockpiles and was thus cleared. He made no profit from the deal.[citation needed]

Personal life


On January 15, 1913, Humphrey was married to Pamela Stark of Saginaw.[3] They had three children together:[11]

  • Cynthia Pamela Humphrey, who married Royal Firman Jr.[12] They divorced in September 1970.[13]
  • Gilbert Watts Humphrey (d. 1979), who became the Chairman of the Hanna conglomerate.[14]
  • Caroline Helen Humphrey, who married John G. Butler.[12]

In his later years, Humphrey essentially remained out of the spotlight. His health deteriorated when he suffered an apparent heat stroke in August 1969. He then became a frequent visitor to hospitals until entering Cleveland's University Hospital cardiac unit on December 27, 1969. He died there on January 20, 1970.[1][15] He was buried at the Lake View Cemetery in Cleveland, Ohio.


  1. ^ a b "George M. Humphrey, 79, Dies; Former Secretary of Treasury" (PDF). The New York Times. 21 January 1970. Retrieved 26 April 2019.
  2. ^ "HUMPHREY, GEORGE MAGOFFIN". case.edu. Encyclopedia of Cleveland History | Case Western Reserve University. 5 March 2019. Retrieved 26 April 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d "Corporation Builder; George Magoffin Humphrey" (PDF). The New York Times. 17 August 1962. Retrieved 26 April 2019.
  4. ^ The Business Council, Official website, Background Archived March 3, 2016, at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ "George M. Humphrey (1953–1957)". millercenter.org. Miller Center of Public Affairs. 4 October 2016. Retrieved 26 April 2019.
  6. ^ a b "A Proud Conservative; George Magoffin Humphrey A Success in Business Not So Hoover-like" (PDF). The New York Times. 18 January 1957. Retrieved 26 April 2019.
  7. ^ "Mr. Humphrey's Departure" (PDF). The New York Times. 30 July 1957. Retrieved 26 April 2019.
  8. ^ Times, Special to The New York (22 February 1961). "Millsop Succeeding Humphrey As Chairman of National Steel; NATIONAL STEEL PICKS CHAIRMAN" (PDF). The New York Times. Retrieved 26 April 2019.
  9. ^ "HUMPHREY FINDS U.S. APPRECIATED; Ex-Treasury Chief Asserts Eisenhower Is Held in High Regard Abroad" (PDF). The New York Times. 1 November 1960. Retrieved 26 April 2019.
  10. ^ Loftus, Joseph A. (12 August 1962). "Inquiry Will Ask George Humphrey About Stockpile Profit Case; Political Overtones Funds Advanced" (PDF). The New York Times. Retrieved 26 April 2019.
  11. ^ Van Tassel, David Dirck; University, Case Western Reserve (1987). The Encyclopedia of Cleveland history. Indiana University Press. Retrieved 26 April 2019.
  12. ^ a b Congress, United States (1955). Congressional Directory. U.S. Government Printing Office. p. 377. Retrieved 26 April 2019.
  13. ^ "Mrs. Farley and Royal Firrnan Jr. Disclose Wedding Here on July 28" (PDF). The New York Times. 10 September 1970. Retrieved 26 April 2019.
  14. ^ Cook, Joan (20 June 1979). "Gilbert W. Humphrey, Chairman Of Hanna Conglomerate, Is Dead" (PDF). The New York Times. Retrieved 26 April 2019.
  15. ^ "Estate of George Humphrey Joins in Hanna Stock Sale". The New York Times. 21 October 1970. Retrieved 26 April 2019.
Political offices
Preceded by U.S. Secretary of the Treasury
Served under: Dwight D. Eisenhower

Succeeded by