Miller Center

American President

A Reference Resource

Harold L. Ickes (1933–1945): Secretary of the Interior

Harold LeClaire Ickes was born March 15, 1874, in Pennsylvania. He graduated from the University of Chicago in 1897 and returned to study the law, graduating in 1907. Ickes began his career as a reporter for the Chicago Record, eventually rising to the post of assistant political editor before returning to school and becoming an attorney. Politically, Ickes was considered an independent Republican and was nominated to join Roosevelt's cabinet on March 4, 1933.

He would serve Roosevelt as secretary of the interior from 1933 to 1945. Ickes was also a member of the National Recovery Administration and acted as custodian of the nation's natural resources; in May 1941, Roosevelt made him Petroleum Coordinator for the National Defense.

Ickes remained interior secretary following Roosevelt's death, but he resigned in February 1946 following a disagreement with President Harry S. Truman. Ickes then returned to the private sector to write his memoirs and a newspaper column. He died on February 3, 1952, in Washington, D.C.