Appointed by President Herbert Hoover
Henry Lewis Stimson was one of America's most distinguished public servants, ranking with such other statesmen in the twentieth century as John Hay, Elihu Root, and Charles Evans Hughes. His important contributions spanned almost a half century—a period during which the United States passed from a newly acquired status of world power, barely beyond having a Western frontier, to the dominant world power, albeit briefly, with a monopoly of atomic weapons. It was Stimson's hope that the United States would assume responsibilities of world leadership, and before he died in 1950 there was evidence that America had accepted a major international role.
Stimson's family history in America goes back to the seventeenth century. His ancestors fought in the colonial wars and the Revolution; his father served in the Civil War. When young Henry was almost four, his father left his business on Wall Street to study medicine in Europe, eventually becoming a prominent New York surgeon. Thus, at an early age, Henry was introduced to the world beyond America. Henry's mother, after a progressive illness, died when he was eight. He and his sister went to live with grandparents and were reared under the particular care of a loving unmarried aunt.
Stimson attended small private schools in New York City before his father determined a more rigorous education was necessary and sent him to Phillips Academy at Andover. From there he went to Yale, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and Skull and Bones, a prestigious senior society. Stimson believed that the latter was the most important educational experience of his life. Harvard law school, an editorship of the Harvard Law Review, and intellectual contact with George F. Palmer, Josiah Royce, and John Fiske followed. Leaving Cambridge after two years and returning to New York, Stimson came under the strong influence of his father, who arranged a position with Root and Clarke, a law firm that within a few years admitted Stimson as a partner. Thus began a long association with Elihu Root whose example, advice, and favor supported Stimson in his rise in private and pub-