Miller Center

American President

A Reference Resource

Frederick A. Seaton (1956–1961): Secretary of the Interior

Frederick Andrew Seaton was secretary of the interior under President Eisenhower from June 8, 1956, until January 20, 1961. Seaton graduated from Kansas State Agricultural College in Manhattan, Kansas, in 1931. While in college, he became a radio sportscaster for KSAC and WIBW and continued in that line of work until 1937.

In 1931, he began his career in print journalism, becoming wire news editor of his father's Manhattan Morning Chronicle in 1932, city editor of the Mercury in 1933, and then associate editor of the Seaton group of newspapers (1933-1937).

He was elected chairman of the Young Republicans in 1935, then vice-chairman of the Kansas Republican National Convention delegation in 1936; Seaton was also secretary to Alfred Landon, the Republican presidential candidate in that same year. In 1937, he became publisher of the Daily Tribune and president of his father's company.

He was twice elected to the state legislature (1945-1949), though he was defeated on his third attempt. Seaton was named by Governor Val Peterson to fill a vacant U.S. Senate seat on December 10, 1951. During the remaining thirteen months of the term, Seaton established his conservative credentials.

He served in a number of capacities in the Eisenhower administration, including assistant secretary of defense for legislative affairs (1953-1955), presidential administrative assistant for congressional liaison (1955), and deputy assistant to President Eisenhower (1955-1956), before being made secretary of the interior.

Seaton avoided the problems of his predecessor and struck a successful balance between conservationists and industry over the use of the nation's natural resources. He also set up a program to investigate the possibility of a desalinization program to eliminate water shortages.

After his tenure in the Eisenhower administration, he ran unsuccessfully for the governorship of Nebraska in 1962. Seaton continued to manage his publishing businesses but also remained active in party politics, serving as chairman of President Nixon's Committee on Timber and Environment. He died in 1974.