Miller Center

American President

A Reference Resource

Henry L. Stimson (1929–1933): Secretary of State

Henry Lewis Stimson was born in New York on September 21, 1867, and attended college at Yale University (1884-1888) and Harvard Law School (1888-1890). Stimson went to work at the law firm of Root and Clark beginning in 1891 and later established a law partnership with Bronson Winthrop in 1899.

He was a candidate for the governorship of New York in 1910 and gained national prominence when he was appointed by President William Howard Taft to replace Jacob Dickinson as secretary of war in 1911; Stimson remained in that post until the end of Taft's term in 1913. He then filled delegate positions in 1915 and 1916, attending both the New York state constitutional convention and the Republican National Convention from New York, respectively.

Stimson participated in World War I, fighting as a colonel with the 305th Field Artillery in France. Thereafter, he would be known as "Colonel Stimson." He would then become presidential emissary to Nicaragua in 1927 and serve as governor general of the Philippines between 1927 and 1929.

President Herbert Hoover made him secretary of state, and Stimson would serve in that capacity for the entirety of the Hoover administration (1929-1933). In 1932, Stimson and Hoover articulated what has come to be known as the "Stimson Doctrine," an assertion of nonrecognition of territorial gains taken by force, following Japanese aggression in Manchuria in 1931.

Stimson returned to his law practice following his time in the Hoover cabinet, but would reenter the cabinet once again during World War II, having been appointed secretary of war by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in July 1940. He remained in that post until September 1945. Henry L. Stimson died on Long Island, New York, on October 20, 1950.