Miller Center

American President

A Reference Resource

Andrew W. Mellon (1923–1929): Secretary of the Treasury

Andrew Mellon was born March 24, 1855, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Educated at Western University of Pennsylvania (now the University of Pittsburgh), he graduated in 1873.

Mellon was working in the family business by age seventeen and became president of the lumber business two years later. He went on to create a vast empire of industrial enterprise in the banking, oil, steel, and shipping industries, and founded, in 1913, the Mellon Institute of Industrial Research. During World War I, Mellon served on the boards of the American Red Cross and the National War Council of the YMCA.

Mellon was appointed the nation's forty-ninth secretary of the treasury by President Harding on March 4, 1921, and was retained by Presidents Coolidge and Hoover, serving as treasury secretary until February 2, 1932. Mellon advocated conservative tax and spending policies for the purpose of reducing overall federal expenditures and outlays for service on the federal debt. His "Mellon Plan," proposed in 1924, called for limiting federal budget expenditures and using surpluses to reduce the debt, a program designed to lower tax rates. The Mellon Plan became the Revenue Act of 1924.

Hoover later named Mellon U.S. ambassador to Great Britain (1932), and Mellon served in that post for one year. Mellon returned to private business in 1933 and became one of the country's leading philanthropists. He died on August 27, 1937.