Miller Center

American President

A Reference Resource

John W. Snow (2003–2006): Secretary of the Treasury

John William Snow was born in 1939 in Toledo, Ohio. He earned a B.A. from the University of Toledo in 1962, a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Virginia in 1965, and an LL.B. from George Washington Law School in 1967. Snow then served as an assistant professor of economics at the University of Maryland (1965-1967) before working at a Washington, D.C., law firm from 1967 to 1972.

After working for a year at the Department of Transportation as an assistant general counsel, Snow became an adjunct professor of law at George Washington University Law School (1972-1975). From 1973 to 1977, he served in various governmental positions, including deputy assistant secretary for policy, plans, and international affairs, assistant secretary for governmental affairs, and deputy undersecretary at the Department of Transportation; he was also an administrator at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Snow returned to academia as a visiting professor of economics at the University of Virginia in 1977. He was then a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute before becoming vice president of government affairs at Chessie System Incorporated (1977-1980). During this time, he also served as a distinguished fellow at the Yale School of Management (1978-1980).

Beginning in 1980, Snow served in various positions in the CSX Corporation, including, by 1991, chairman, president, and chief executive officer. In 1992, he became cochairman of the National Commission on Financial Institution Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement that addressed the savings and loan crisis. From 1994 to 1996, he served as chairman of the Business Roundtable and helped secure passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

John William Snow left CSX in January 2003 to become President George W. Bush’s second secretary of the treasury following the resignation of Paul O’Neill. He served in that capacity until 2006, when he resigned.