George M. Humphrey
George M. Humphrey, U.S. Secretary of the Treasury
George Magoffin Humphrey was born on March 8, 1890, in Cheboygan, Michigan. He graduated from the University of Michigan with a law degree in 1912, and he spent the next several years practicing law with his father in Saginaw, Michigan. In 1917, Humphrey became general counsel for M.A. Hanna and Company, a steel company located in Ohio. Humphrey quickly advanced through the company, becoming its president in 1929 and eventually the chairman of the board of directors in 1952. Under Humphrey's leadership, M.A. Hanna and Company diversified its interests beyond steel. It now produced copper, plastics, coal, rayon, and natural gas, among other items. The firm also engaged in banking.
During the late 1940s, Humphrey became involved in politics, principally as a consultant on economic matters. In 1948 and 1949, Humphrey was chairman of the Reparations Survey Committee of the Economic Cooperation Administration. In 1949, he served on the Business Advisory Council of the Department of Commerce, and in 1950, he helped the federal government negotiate a contract between coal company owners and the United Mine Workers of America.
In 1953, President Dwight David Eisenhower selected Humphrey as Secretary of the Treasury. Humphrey accepted the position and resigned all of his positions with privately-controlled businesses, including with M.A. Hanna and Company, as well as with this company's many subsidiaries. Humphrey took office on January 21, 1953, and he proved to be one of Eisenhower's most trusted advisors. Humphrey worked hard to reduce government spending. At Humphrey's urging, the federal government also reduced income taxes, although the Secretary of the Treasury eventually campaigned against additional tax reductions. In 1956, Humphrey's fiscal policies allowed the United States to experience its first budget surplus in five years, helping to reduce the national debt. Humphrey reintroduced a fiscally-conservative spending policy within the federal government.
On July 29, 1957, Humphrey resigned as Secretary of the Treasury. He retired to Ohio, where he died on January 20, 1970.