Miller Center

American President

A Reference Resource

John W. Weeks (1921–1923): Secretary of War

John Wingate Weeks was born near Lancaster, New Hampshire, on April 11, 1860. He attended public school and graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1881. Weeks then served as a midshipman from 1881 to 1883.

Weeks began a career in civil engineering in 1884 and later became involved with banking and brokerage in Boston. He was a member of the Massachusetts Naval Brigade from 1890 to 1900, was a member of the U.S. Naval Academy Board of Visitors (1896), and served as a lieutenant in the Spanish-American War.

Weeks became interested in politics and was elected mayor of Newton, Massachusetts, serving from 1902 to 1903. Elected to Congress in 1904, Weeks served as a representative from Massachusetts from 1905 to 1913, when he entered the Senate. Weeks remained in the Senate from 1913 to 1919, having been defeated for reelection in 1918.

President Warren G. Harding appointed Weeks secretary of war in 1921, and President Calvin Coolidge reappointed him to that post following Harding's death; Weeks remained in that position until he retired due to poor health in 1925. Weeks died July 12, 1926, and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.