Biographical sketches

James Rowe

James H. Rowe, Jr. (1909-1984) was a lawyer and New Dealer who was one of the Democrats appointed to the Commission for the Reorganization of the Executive Branch of Government, commonly known as the Hoover Commission. Committed to an active federal government, Rowe often found himself at odds with Herbert Hoover, whose commitment to limiting the size of government was his philosophical bedrock.

After earning both his undergraduate and law degrees from Harvard, Rowe served as secretary to Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes. In 1935, Rowe moved on to the Reconstruction Finance Corporation as a legal adviser. He spent the next decade working his way through New Deal agencies and up the Democratic Party ranks, eventually working as administrative assistant to President Roosevelt from 1939-1941.

During World War II, Rowe served as assistant attorney general and in the U.S. Naval Reserves. He moved to the Bureau of the Budget after the war, where he worked with director James Webb to balance the budget. It was from this position that Truman selected Rowe for the Hoover Commission in the fall of 1947.

Rowe was discomfited by the political jockeying in the timing of the reports of the Hoover Commission. He argued that all 'non-political' reports should be published when complete, regardless of the timing in relation to the fall elections. Hoover, for his part, wanted revisions and additional research done; thus delaying publication until after the November 1948 elections. Hoover's position carried the day.

Rowe weathered the dispute with Hoover and continued to work in the Truman administration. He chaired the commission to reorganize the government of Puerto Rico and held various positions in the State Department. With the election of Eisenhower, Rowe returned to his legal practice. For more information see: Who's Who in America, 1952-1953, p. 2090.

 


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