Henry Morgenthau, Jr.

Morgenthau, Henry, Jr., 1891–1967, American cabinet officer, b. New York City; son of Henry Morgenthau. He became interested in agriculture and bought a farm in Dutchess co., N.Y., where he became an intimate of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. In 1922, Morgenthau purchased the American Agriculturalist, a leading Eastern farm journal. After Roosevelt's election (1928) as governor of New York, he appointed Morgenthau chairman of the state agricultural advisory committee and later made him state conservation commissioner. When Roosevelt became President in 1933, he appointed Morgenthau chairman of the Federal Farm Board and governor of the Farm Credit Administration. Upon the illness of William H. Woodin, Morgenthau was named (Nov., 1933) Undersecretary of the Treasury. As Secretary of the Treasury (1934–45), he administered federal tax programs that raised unprecedented revenues, supervised the sale of over $200 billion worth of government bonds to finance America's defense and war activities, and advocated international monetary stabilization. Toward the end of World War II, Morgenthau outlined his plan for controlling Germany by converting it from an industrial to an agricultural economy. The plan was briefly considered but never put into operation. Morgenthau was influential in formulating postwar economic policy at the Bretton Woods Conference, which set up the International Monetary Fund and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (the World Bank). After resigning as Secretary of the Treasury, Morgenthau became involved in philanthropic activities.

See J. M. Blum, From the Morgenthau Diaries (2 vol., 1959–65) and the condensed version, Roosevelt and Morgenthau (1970); A. J. App, Morgenthau Era Letters (1986).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: U.S. History: Biographies