The following is a listing of former Secretaries of Commerce:
First Secretary of Commerce
The first Secretary of Commerce, William C. Redfield, was an iron and steel executive and author of a book, The New Industrial Day. The first Secretary of Commerce and Labor was George B. Cortelyou.
Length of Service
The longest-serving Secretary of Commerce was Herbert C. Hoover, a mining engineer who directed projects in Australia and for the Chinese before his public service career, which culminated in his election as President of the United States. Hoover served almost seven and one-half years. The Department of Commerce headquarters building is named in his honor.
Both William C. Redfield and Malcolm Baldrige served for more than six years.
Eight Secretaries served less than a year.
Two Secretaries died while in office: Malcolm Baldrige and Ronald H. Brown.
Juanita Kreps, the first woman and the only economist to serve as Secretary, was vice president of Duke University and a labor demographics specialist.
Barbara Franklin was the second woman to serve as Secretary. She was among the first women to graduate from Harvard Business School and served in the administrations of four U.S. presidents. In 1971, she directed the first White House program to recruit women for high-level government jobs.
Penny Pritzker was the third woman to serve as Secretary. Before Secretary Pritzker’s term in government service, she helped found multiple businesses including PSP Capital and the Pritzker Realty Group.
Ronald Brown was the first African American to serve as Secretary. A lawyer, a negotiator, a pragmatic bridge builder and a past Chairperson of the Democratic National Committee, Brown, unlike many of his predecessors, did not come out of the business community directly.
Brown died in a plane crash while on a trade mission to Croatia and Bosnia on April 3, 1996.
Norman Mineta was the first Asian-American Secretary (July 21, 2000-Jan. 19, 2001). Secretary Gary Locke later followed as the second. He resigned August 1, 2011, when he was sworn in as U.S. Ambassador to the People's Republic of China.
Other Offices Held
Henry Wallace served as Vice President of the United States before his appointment as Secretary of Commerce. Three secretaries served in the U.S. Congress. Sinclair Weeks served in the U.S. Senate, and Joshua Alexander served seven terms and Rogers C. B. Morton four terms in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Four others held top state offices. Luther Hodges was elected governor and lieutenant governor of North Carolina. Charles Sawyer was lieutenant governor of Ohio and Elliot Richardson served as lieutenant governor of Massachusetts. Gary Locke was a two-term governor of the state of Washington, 1997-2005.
Richardson, an attorney, was Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, Secretary of Defense, Attorney General and a U.S. Ambassador before becoming Secretary of Commerce.
W. Averell Harriman and Mickey Kantor also held diplomatic posts before becoming Secretaries of Commerce. Harriman served as U.S. Ambassador to the U.S.S.R. and to Great Britain. Kantor served as the U.S. Trade Representative.
Daniel Roper's 50-year career of government service included positions with the U.S. Tariff Commission, and as Commissioner of Internal Revenue. He also worked for the Census Bureau, which was part of the Department of Commerce when he became Secretary.
Youngest and Oldest Appointees
The youngest person to be named Secretary was 38-year-old Alexander Trowbridge, an oil company executive who joined the Department as an assistant secretary.
The oldest to be appointed was Philip Klutznick, 79, who had over 55 years of investment banking and private equity experience.
Most Secretaries were college graduates, many with degrees from Ivy League universities; but Jesse Jones, the Secretary who directed the Commerce Department's responses to war needs between 1940-1945, received his formal education at a rural schoolhouse in Kentucky.
Secretaries of Commerce and the Years They Served
Wilbur L. Ross, Jr.
February 28, 2017 – January 20, 2021
Penny S. Pritzker
June 26, 2013 – January 20, 2017
John E. Bryson
October 21, 2011- June 21, 2012
Gary F. Locke
March 26, 2009 - August 1, 2011
Carlos M. Gutierrez
February 7, 2005 - January 19, 2009
Donald L. Evans
January 20, 2001 - February 3, 2005
Norman A. Mineta
July 21, 2000 - January 19, 2001
William M. Daley
January 30, 1997 - July 19, 2000
April 12, 1996 - January 21, 1997
Ronald H. Brown
January 22, 1993 - April 3, 1996
Barbara H. Franklin
February 27, 1992 - January 20, 1993
Robert A. Mosbacher
January 31, 1989 - January 15, 1992
C. William Verity
October 19, 1987 - January 30, 1989
January 20, 1981 - July 25, 1987
Philip M. Klutznick
January 9, 1980 - January 19, 1981
Juanita M. Kreps
January 23, 1977 - October 31, 1979
Elliot L. Richardson
February 2, 1976 - January 20, 1977
Rogers C. B. Morton
May 1, 1975 - February 2, 1976
Frederick B. Dent
February 2, 1973 - March 26, 1975
Peter G. Peterson
February 29, 1972 - February 1, 1973
Maurice H. Stans
January 21, 1969 - February 15, 1972
C. R. Smith
March 6, 1968 - January 19, 1969
Alexander B. Trowbridge
June 14, 1967 - March 1, 1968
John T. Connor
January 18, 1965 - January 31, 1967
Luther H. Hodges
January 21, 1961 - January 15, 1965
Frederick H. Mueller
August 10, 1959 - January 19, 1961
Lewis L. Strauss (Interim appointee)
November 13, 1958 - June 30, 1959
January 21, 1953 - November 10, 1958
May 6, 1948 - January 20, 1953
W. Averell Harriman
October 7, 1946 - April 22, 1948
Henry A. Wallace
March 2, 1945 - September 20, 1946
Jesse H. Jones
September 19, 1940 - March 1, 1945
Harry L. Hopkins
December 24, 1938 - September 18, 1940
Daniel C. Roper
March 4, 1933 - December 23, 1938
Roy D. Chapin
August 8, 1932 - March 3, 1933
Robert P. Lamont
March 5, 1929 - August 7, 1932
William F. Whiting
August 22, 1928 - March 4, 1929
Herbert C. Hoover
March 5, 1921 - August 21, 1928
Joshua W. Alexander
December 16, 1919 - March 4, 1921
William C. Redfield
March 5, 1913 - October 31, 1919
Secretaries of Commerce and Labor
March 6, 1909 - March 4, 1913
Oscar S. Straus
December 17, 1906 - March 5, 1909
Victor H. Metcalf
July 1, 1904 - December 16, 1906
George B. Cortelyou
February 18, 1903 - June 30, 1904