Miller Center

American President

A Reference Resource

Malcolm Baldrige (1981–1987): Secretary of Commerce

Howard Malcolm Baldrige was born in 1922 in Omaha, Nebraska, graduating from Yale in 1944 with a B.A. in English. He then joined the Army and was stationed as a private in the Pacific. Baldrige ultimately reached the rank of captain when he concluded his service in 1946.

Upon his return to the United States, Baldrige worked as a mill hand and then as a foundry foreman at the Eastern Malleable Iron Company. By 1960, he owned the company; two years later, the Scovill Corporation hired him as an executive vice president. Baldrige supervised the company’s takeover of several important assets, and by 1972, he was president of the international manufacturing company.

Throughout this time, Baldrige was active in Republican Party politics, serving in 1968 as head of Richard Nixon’s presidential campaign in Connecticut, a role he would reprise in 1980 for George H.W. Bush. When Bush joined Ronald Reagan as part of the 1980 Republican presidential ticket, Baldrige served as a fund-raiser for Businessmen for Reagan-Bush. When Reagan won the election, he tapped Baldrige as his secretary of commerce. Howard Malcom Baldrige agreed and served from 1981 until his death in 1987.