Miller Center

American President

A Reference Resource

Patrick J. Hurley (1929–1933): Secretary of War

Patrick Jay Hurley was born January 8, 1883, in Choctaw Nation, Indian Territory, Oklahoma. He attended Indian University (now Bacone College) and graduated in 1905. Hurley earned law degrees from the National University of Law (1908) and from George Washington University (1913) and then practiced private law in Oklahoma.

Hurley served as a member of the Oklahoma National Guard (1914-1917) and was a member of the American Expeditionary Force in World War I, rising to the rank of lieutenant colonel. He was appointed assistant secretary of war under President Herbert Hoover, and he served in that capacity from March to December 1929. With the death of War Secretary James W. Good, Hurley assumed leadership of the War Department; he remained at the helm from December 8, 1929 to March 3, 1933.

Following his time in the cabinet, Hurley served as U.S. minister to New Zealand, as a personal representative to the Soviet Union, and as ambassador to China (1943-1944). Thereafter, he returned to private business and died in Santa Fe, New Mexico, on July 30, 1963.