Forrestal, James Vincent
(1892-1949)
   James Forrestal was born in New York and attended both Dartmouth College and Princeton University but left without graduating. He found work on Wall Street as a bond salesman and during World War I worked in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations in Washington, D.C. After the war, he resumed work on Wall Street and became a successful executive. In 1940, Forrestal was appointed as an assistant to President Franklin D. Roosevelt and then became undersecretary of the navy with responsibility for procuring and distributing raw material. In 1944, he was appointed secretary of the navy after the death of Frank Knox. He was a firm supporter of the policy of containment and advocated sending the U.S. fleet to the eastern Mediterranean during the crisis in Azerbaijan in 1946. In 1947, he was appointed the first secretary of defense under the terms of the National Security Act. Forrestal faced criticism for some of the problems in the new department and also for his perceived pro-Arab and anti-Israeli views. In 1949 President Harry S. Truman asked for his resignation. Suffering from depression, Forrestal committed suicide shortly afterward.

Historical Dictionary of the Roosevelt–Truman Era . . 2015.

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