Miller Center

American President

A Reference Resource

Rogers C. B. Morton (1974–1975): Secretary of the Interior

Rogers Clark Ballard Morton was born on September 19, 1914, in Louisville, Kentucky. In 1937, he received a B.A. degree from Yale University. Morton served in the U.S. Army from 1943 to 1945, entering as a private in the field artillery. After completing a tour of the European Theater during World War II, Morton was promoted to the rank of captain.

Morton began his professional career with Ballard and Ballard Company, a family-owned company in Louisville in 1939. He served as president of the company from 1947 until 1951. When the company merged with Pillsbury Company, Morton held the position of vice president until 1953 and then served as director until 1971. However, his career ambitions were not limited to the business world; he also set his sights on politics.

Morton was elected to the 88th Congress from Maryland's First District in 1962, and was reelected to four successive terms. While in Congress, Morton was a member of the Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs, the Committee on Merchant Marine and Fisheries, the Select Committee on Small Business, and the Committee on Ways and Means. In 1969, he began serving as chairman of the Republican National Committee.

On January 29, 1971, Morton succeeded Frederick B. Dent, as secretary of the Interior in the Nixon administration. He stayed at this position until May 1, 1975, when President Ford swore him in as secretary of Commerce. While in the Cabinet, Morton also served as chairman of the Energy Resources Council, a body was charged with developing a national energy program and policies which would make America less dependent on both foreign fuel and mineral supplies.

Morton died on April 19, 1979, in Maryland.

Shannon Torgersen contributed to the writing of this entry.