Miller Center

American President

A Reference Resource

George H. Dern (1933–1936): Secretary of War

George Henry Dern was born September 8, 1872, in Nebraska and attended the University of Nebraska for three years before leaving to join his family in Utah. He began his career as a clerk in the Mercury Gold Mining and Milling Company, becoming general manager in 1900.

Along with Theodore Holt, Dern was responsible for the Holt-Dern roaster process, a popular method of treating mined ore. In 1914, he was elected to the Utah State Senate (1915-1923) and later served as governor of Utah (1925-1933). Dern was also chairman of the National Governors' Conference (1929-1930).

When President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed him secretary of war in 1933, he did so primarily because of Dern's administrative abilities. Dern remained in that post until his death on August 26, 1936.