- Morgenthau, Henry, Jr.
- (1891-1967)Henry Morgenthau was born into a wealthy Jewish family in New York City and educated at Phillips Exeter Academy, Sachs Collegiate Institute, and Cornell University, but he left the university after three years in 1913 without graduating. During World War I, Morgenthau worked in the Food Administration. Having studied agriculture and purchased farmland in New York, from 1922 onward he published the farm journal American Agriculturalist. A personal friend of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Morgenthau was appointed chair of the New York Agricultural Advisory Commission in 1928 and commissioner on conservation in 1930. When Roosevelt became president, Morgenthau became chair of the Federal Farm Board (which had been created in 1929) and helped create the Farm Credit Administration. At the start of 1934 he became secretary of the treasury, a post he held until 1945. As secretary of the treasury, Morgenthau defended the dollar by buying and selling foreign currencies, gold, and dollars. In this way, he helped establish the dollar as the strongest currency by 1938. Although a fiscal conservative, he accepted deficit spending and managed by a double-budget system, a normal budget and emergency budget that provided for various New Deal agencies. During World War II, he worked to finance the war effort through the sale of war bonds that raised more than $200 billion. Morgenthau was also involved in planning for the postwar settlement. He proposed, in what became known as the “Morgenthau Plan,” that Germany be stripped of industrial resources and turned solely into an agricultural producer, a plan that was never adopted. Morgenthau resigned shortly after Roosevelt’s death and devoted himself to fundraising for Jewish causes. He became chair of the United Jewish Appeal from 1947 to 1950 and chair of the American Financial and Development Corporation for Israel from 1951 to 1954.
Historical Dictionary of the Roosevelt–Truman Era . Neil A. Wynn . 2015.