News Column

Foxx Wouldn't Be First Cabinet Secretary From Carolinas

April 29, 2013

Anthony Foxx, meet your predecessors.

At least 19 men and one woman from the Carolinas have served in presidential cabinets, dating to President James Madison and including one other secretary of transportation, James Burnley IV of Greensboro, who served under Ronald Reagan.

Some North Carolinians claim Elizabeth Dole, secretary of transportation under Ronald Reagan and secretary of labor under George H.W. Bush. But Dole lived in Kansas at the time of the appointments. So officially, Juanita Kreps, secretary of commerce under Jimmy Carter, is the only woman cabinet member from the Carolinas.

Bob Anthony, curator of the North Carolina Collection at UNC Chapel Hill, who helped compile the list, said he was surprised there haven't been more cabinet members from North Carolina, given the state's big population.

Walter Edgar, author of "South Carolina: A History," noted a large gap in years between the last cabinet members from North and South Carolina in the 19th century and the next ones in the 20th century. "There will probably be a similar gap for other Southern states because of the Civil War," Edgar said. "... By 1912 there were 48 states so proportional representation becomes scattered."

From North Carolina, the list of cabinet members includes:

John Branch, secretary of Navy, 1829-1831, under Andrew Jackson.

George Badger, secretary of Navy, March 1841-September 1841, under William Henry Harrison and John Tyler.

William Graham, secretary of Navy, 1850-52, under Millard Fillmore.

James Dobbin, secretary of Navy, March 1853-March 1857, under Franklin Pierce.

Josephus Daniels, secretary of Navy, 1913-1921, under Woodrow Wilson.

Kenneth Royall, secretary of war, July 1947-September 1947, under Harry Truman.

Luther Hodges, 1961-65, secretary of commerce, under John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson.

Juanita Kreps, secretary of commerce, 1977-1979, under Jimmy Carter.

Luther Hodges Jr., acting secretary of commerce, October 1979-January 1980, under Jimmy Carter.

William Bennett, secretary of education, 1985-1988, under Ronald Reagan.

James Burnley IV, secretary of transportation, 1987-1989, under Ronald Reagan.

From South Carolina, the list includes:

Paul Hamilton, secretary of Navy, 1809-1812, under James Madison.

Joel Roberts Poinsett, secretary of war, 1837-1841, under Martin Van Buren.

Hugh Legare, attorney general, 1841-1843, and acting secretary of state from May 1843 until his death in June 1843, under John Tyler.

John Calhoun, Secretary of state, 1844-1845, under John Tyler. Secretary of war, 1817-1825, under James Monroe.

Daniel Roper, secretary of commerce, 1933-1938, under Franklin Roosevelt.

James Byrnes, secretary of state, 1945-47, under Harry Truman.

Frederick Dent, secretary commerce, 1973-75, under Richard Nixon.

James Edwards, secretary of energy, 1981-82, under Ronald Reagan.

Richard Riley, secretary of education, 1993-2001, under Bill Clinton.

Secretary of Navy and secretary of war are no longer cabinet-level positions. They are now included under the secretary of defense.


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