Miller Center

American President

A Reference Resource

William G. McAdoo (1913–1918): Secretary of the Treasury

Not many people can claim to have married the boss' daughter, but William McAdoo did exactly that when he married Eleanor Randolph Wilson, the daughter of President Wilson, at the White House in 1914. William Gibbs McAdoo was born near Marietta, Georgia, on October 31, 1863. He attended the University of Tennessee briefly being appointed, in 1882, deputy clerk of the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Tennessee. McAdoo studied law and passed the Tennessee bar in 1885, taking up a practice in Chattanooga.

He moved to New York City in 1892, forming a law practice with William McAdoo (no relation), the former assistant secretary of the Navy. William G. McAdoo also tried his hand at business, and his company -- the Hudson and Manhattan Railroad Company -- built the first tunnel under the Hudson River. McAdoo stumped for Woodrow Wilson during the latter's run at the presidency, serving as campaign chair for much of the electoral season.

He was appointed secretary of the treasury on March 6, 1913. While in the cabinet, he was chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, the War Finance Corporation, and the Federal Farm Loan Board. He was also director general of U.S. railroads when the railroads came under governmental control. McAdoo resigned on January 10, 1919, resuming his law practice in New York and Los Angeles.

He later tried and failed to gain the Democratic nomination for President in both 1920 and 1924. McAdoo would be elected to the U.S. Senate from California in 1932 and served until resigning in 1938. He died in Washington, D.C., on February 1, 1941.