Appointed by President William H. Taft
Philander Chase Knox was born in Brownsville, Pennsylvania, on May 6, 1853. He grew up in moderate circumstances as the 11th child and last son of a bank cashier. Before his death in 1921, he would serve in the U.S. Senate and the cabinets of three Republican presidents—William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, and William Howard Taft. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1872 from Mount Union College of Ohio and read law at a Pittsburgh law office before being admitted to the bar of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, in 1875. He served as assistant U.S. district attorney from 1876 to 1877 and then formed a successful law practice in Pittsburgh with James H. Reed. In this practice Knox built a fortune as a corporate attorney. Knox's highest honor, as an attorney, was his selection as president of the Pennsylvania Bar Association. Although his critics pegged him as pro-business, he handled many cases against corporations. In 1880, he married Lillie Smith, daughter of Andrew D. Smith, who was one of the principle owners of a controlling interest of La Belle Steele Company. The couple had four children, two of which worked for Knox briefly in the State Department. He has been described as a self-made product of an industrial society, rather than an old-world conservative who paid attention to tradition and procedure characteristic of a preindustrial society. His most important legacy comes from his foreign policy of promoting stability in underdeveloped nations by providing economic aid while encouraging political reforms.
After Knox's friend, William McKinley, won reelection to the presidency of the United States, he accepted an offer to become U.S. Attorney General. Knox held this office between 1901 and 1904 under both President McKinley and McKinley's successor, President Theodore Roosevelt. As attorney general, Knox became known as a “trust” buster and proponent of the government's right to intervene in a private damage suit to uphold federal safety appliance laws. His background as a successful corporate attorney aided him when President Roosevelt assigned him the task of enforcing the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890. The Sherman Antitrust Act outlawed contracts, combinations, trusts, or conspiracies that restrained or