Miller Center

American President

A Reference Resource

William C. Redfield (1913–1919): Secretary of Commerce

William Cox Redfield was born in Albany, New York, on June 18, 1858, and was educated in public schools and at home. He moved to Massachusetts to work first at the Pittsfield post office and thereafter at a local paper company.

He then moved to New York and took up work at a stationery firm, later becoming involved with mining and manufacturing as well as banking and life insurance. Redfield would serve as Brooklyn's Commissioner of Public Works before winning a seat in Congress (1910) from the staunchly Republican Fifth District in New York.

After President William Howard Taft split the Department of Commerce and Labor on his last day in office, Wilson appointed Redfield the nation's first secretary of commerce. Redfield remained in the cabinet until 1919, at which time he moved back to New York to work in the fields of banking, investments, and insurance. During this period, he wrote The New Industrial Day about the "new scientific spirit in management." William Cox Redfield died in New York on June 13, 1932.