Miller Center

American President

A Reference Resource

Henry H. Fowler (1965–1968): Secretary of the Treasury

Henry Hamill Fowler was born on September 5, 1908, in Roanoke, Virginia and attended Yale Law School. Following his graduation in 1934, he took a job as counsel for the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). His position with the TVA was the first of many government jobs that Fowler would hold. Some of these involved work for federal agencies and boards during the Second World War.

At the end of the war, Fowler went into private practice. He reentered government service during the Korean War as the director of the Office of Defense Mobilization and as a member of President Truman's National Security Council. With the onset of the Eisenhower administration, Fowler returned to his private law practice and served on the Democratic Advisory Council, which helped outline party positions on many issues.

During the Kennedy administration, Fowler served as undersecretary of the treasury. He spent most of his time at Treasury working on passage of the administration's tax program, which included an $11.5 billion tax cut. In March 1964, Fowler once again returned to his private law practice.

President Johnson would appoint Fowler as secretary of the treasury in April 1965. As treasury secretary, Fowler was known for his loyalty to Johnson throughout the administration's ups and downs. The major problems facing Fowler were inflation and the balance of payments deficit. In August 1967, Fowler began the fight for a 10 percent tax surcharge and saw the proposal passed by a House-Senate conference in June 1968. In the debate over the balance of payments deficit, Fowler was a proponent of the "go-slow" approach. He left his post in December 1968, joining the noted investment firm of Goldman, Sachs, & Co. Henry Fowler died of pneumonia on January 3, 2000.