Miller Center

American President

A Reference Resource

William N. Doak (1930–1933): Secretary of Labor

Born in Roanoke, Virginia, on December 12, 1882, William Nuckles Doak attended Virginia public and business schools. Employed as a trainman, he eventually grew active in the union and became vice president of the Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen.

Doak became involved in politics, serving as a representative to the Republican National Convention in 1916 and 1932. He was an unsuccessful congressional candidate from the Sixth District of Virginia in 1920; he also lost a bid for the U.S. Senate in 1924.

President Herbert Hoover appointed Doak to succeed Secretary of Labor James Davis in December 1930. Doak served in that capacity until the end of Hoover’s term in 1933. During his tenure in the cabinet, he was responsible for encouraging passage of the Davis-Bacon Act, which required government contracts to pay the prevailing wage. Doak died in Virginia on October 23, 1933.