George B. Cortelyou


George B. Cortelyou

Infobox US Cabinet official
name=George Bruce Cortelyou


order=1st
title=United States Secretary of Commerce and Labor
term_start=February 18, 1903
term_end=June 30, 1904
predecessor="(none)"
successor=Victor H. Metcalf
order2=42nd
title2=United States Postmaster General
term_start2=March 6, 1905
term_end2=January 14, 1907
predecessor2=Robert J. Wynne
successor2=George von L. Meyer
order3=44th
title3=United States Secretary of the Treasury
term_start3=March 4, 1907
term_end3=March 7, 1909
predecessor3=Leslie M. Shaw
successor3=Franklin MacVeagh
birth_date=birth date|1862|7|26|mf=y
birth_place=New York City, New York, U.S.
death_date=death date and age|1940|10|23|1862|7|26
death_place=Long Island City, New York, U.S.
party=Republican
spouse=Lilly Morris Hinds Cortelyou
profession=Politician
religion=

George Bruce Cortelyou (July 26, 1862 – October 23, 1940) was an American Presidential Cabinet secretary of the early 20th century.

Biography

Early life

Born to Rose Seery and Peter Crolius Cortelyou, and part of an old New Netherlands family whose immigrant ancestor arrived in 1652, he was educated at public schools in Brooklyn, the Nazareth Military Academy in Pennsylvania, and the Hempstead Institute on Long Island. At the age of 20, he received a BA degree from Massachusetts State Normal School, a teacher's college in Westfield, Massachusetts. He then studied at and graduated from law schools of Georgetown University and Columbian University (the latter now being George Washington University). Courtelyou then began teaching, later taking a stenography course and mastering shorthand.

In 1891, he obtained a position as secretary to the chief postal inspector of New York. The following year a promotion led to a job as the secretary to the Fourth Assistant Postmaster General in Washington, D.C. In 1895 President Grover Cleveland hired Cortelyou as his chief clerk on the recommendation of Postmaster General Wilson S. Bissell. President Cleveland recommended him as secretary to his successor, William McKinley. Cortelyou was working on improvements in office efficiency in 1901 when President McKinley was assassinated.

George Cortelyou was serving as President William McKinley's secretary in Buffalo, New York on September 6, 1901. McKinley was greeting visitors in the Temple of Music at the Pan-American Exposition. The president was shot twice by assassin, Leon Czolgosz. President McKinley was caught and supported by his aides, he whispered, " My wife -- be careful, Cortelyou, how you tell her -- oh, be careful."

New president Theodore Roosevelt charged Cortelyou with transforming the White House into a more professional organization. Cortelyou developed procedures and rules that guided White House protocol and established processess where there had been only personal prerogative. Cortelyou is also credited with establishing a line of communication between the President's office and the press: he provided reporters with their own workspace, briefed journalists on notable news, handed out press releases and selected news items to bring to the President's attention. These "current clippings" were the first attempt by a President to gauge public opinion through the media. Cortelyou selected items objectively, a practice that would not be consistently followed by his successors.

ecretary of Commerce & Labor

During this time, Cortelyou served as the first United States Secretary of Commerce and Labor from February 18, 1903 to June 30, 1904; as United States Postmaster General from 1905 to 1907; and as United States Secretary of the Treasury from March 4, 1907 to March 7, 1909; all under President Theodore Roosevelt.

Cortelyou also served as chairman of Republican National Committee from 1904 through 1907, working for the successful re-election of Roosevelt.

ecretary of the Treasury

Cortelyou was Secretary of the Treasury during the devastating Panic of 1907. Like his predecessor, Treasury Secretary Leslie M. Shaw, Cortelyou believed it was Treasury's duty to protect the banking system, but he realized that the Treasury was not equipped to maintain economic stability.

He eased the crisis by depositing large amounts of government funds in national banks and buying government bonds. To prevent further crises, Cortelyou advocated a more elastic currency and recommended the creation of a central banking system. In 1908, the Aldrich-Vreeland Act was passed, providing special currency to be issued in times of panic, and creating a commission, which led to the creation of the Federal Reserve in 1913.

He returned to private enterprise as the president of the Consolidated Gas Company, later New York Gas Company.

Death

He died in Long Island City, New York, in 1940. He is buried in the Memorial Cemetery of St. John's Church in Cold Spring Harbor, New York. Brooklyn's Cortelyou Road, in the Flatbush section, was named for him.

External links

* [http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=6850514 Find-A-Grave profile for George B. Cortelyou]


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