Miller Center

American President

A Reference Resource

James Byrnes (1945–1947): Secretary of State

James Francis Byrnes was born on May 2, 1879, in Charleston, South Carolina and was accepted to the South Carolina bar in 1903.

From 1911 until 1925, Byrnes served in the U.S. House of Representatives. He was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1930 and served in that body until 1941, at which time President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed him associate justice of the Supreme Court. Byrnes served in this post until 1942, when he resigned and became wartime director of economic stabilization. From 1943 until 1945, he headed the War Mobilization Board.

Byrnes was a failed contender for the Democratic vice-presidential nomination in 1944 but was appointed secretary of state by President Harry S. Truman in 1945. He resigned in 1947, returning to his law practice. Byrnes later served as governor of South Carolina (1950-1955). He died on April 9, 1972.