Miller Center

American President

A Reference Resource

Harry H. Woodring (1936–1940): Secretary of War

Harry Hines Woodring was born May 31, 1887, in Elk City, Kansas, and was educated at the Lebanon (Indiana) Business University. He began his career as a janitor at the First National Bank of Neodesha, Kansas, of which he eventually became vice president and then owner. During World War I, Woodring enlisted as a private in the U.S. Army and later served as a first lieutenant in the Tank Corps.

He served one term as governor of Kansas (1931-1933) before becoming assistant secretary of war (1933-1936) under President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Woodring became acting secretary after the death of Secretary of War George Dern in 1936 and was not officially nominated to the post until April 1937. He was asked to resign in 1940 after disagreeing publicly with the administration's policy of shipping war materials to Britain. Woodring died on September 9, 1967, in Topeka, Kansas.