Miller Center

American President

A Reference Resource

Carter Glass (1918–1920): Secretary of the Treasury

Carter Glass was born in Lynchburg, Virginia, on January 4, 1858, the son of a newspaper editor. He had little schooling, due to financial distress, but rose to become editor of The Republican. A disagreement with his father, a rival newspaper owner, led Glass to purchase yet another paper.

His first taste of politics came with his winning a seat in the Virginia Senate, where he served from 1899 to 1903. Glass then went from Richmond to Washington, serving in the U.S. House of Representatives following a special election in 1902; he remained in Congress until December 1918. Glass is known largely for drafting the legislation creating the Federal Reserve System.

President Woodrow Wilson appointed Glass to the cabinet following the resignation of treasury secretary William McAdoo (making Glass the first Virginian to serve in the cabinet since the Buchanan administration). Glass resigned in February 1920 to become a U.S. Senator, filling the seat of Senator Thomas Martin, who died in office. While serving in the Senate until his death in 1946, Glass had a significant influence on laws regulating the financial industry.

He clashed with President Franklin D. Roosevelt over fundamental economic issues, and it was Glass who termed FDR's attempt to increase the number of supreme court justices as "court packing." Despite falling health, Glass was named president pro tempore of the Senate in 1941. He died on May 28, 1946, in Washington, D.C.