A Reference Resource
George von L. Meyer (1909–1913): Secretary of the Navy
Born in Boston to an East India merchant, George von Lengerke Meyer graduated from Harvard with a B.A. in 1879. Meyer began his political career as member of the Massachusetts State House of Representatives (1892-1896), where he served as Speaker at the end of his tenure (1894-1896). He then entered the diplomatic service, becoming ambassador to Italy (1900-1905) and later ambassador to Russia (1905).
Meyer served as postmaster general in the presidential cabinet of Theodore Roosevelt from March 1907 to March 1909. His achievements included the establishment of postal savings banks and automobile mail collection.
President William Howard Taft named him secretary of the Navy, a position Meyer would hold for the entirety of the Taft administration. During that time, Meyer reformed the Navy, overhauling almost fifty battleships and cruisers, and made naval yards more efficient. After resigning in 1913, he became a vocal critic of his successor, Josephus Daniels, and promoted the political career of Theodore Roosevelt. Meyer died in Boston on March 9, 1918, at age 59.