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Harold LeClaire Ickes

Ickes, Harold LeClaire (ĭkˈēz) [key], 1874–1952, American statesman, b. Blair co., Pa. As a Chicago newspaper reporter and later as a lawyer, he became interested in local reform politics. Originally a Republican, he joined (1912) the Progressive party and became that party's state leader, but he returned to the Republican party in 1916. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt appointed (1933) Ickes secretary of the Interior and also made him head of the Public Works Administration (PWA). During World War II he was also administrator in control of the country's fuel resources. Ickes came into frequent conflict with business interests both as a conservationist and because of the public programs he set up. On the other hand he was criticized for spending PWA money too slowly to make an immediate impact on the Depression. President Harry Truman accepted Ickes's resignation (1946) from the cabinet in an argument over Truman's nomination of Edwin W. Pauley, an oil executive, as undersecretary of the Navy. Ickes's reputation for outspoken bluntness is upheld by his New Democracy (1934) and The Autobiography of a Curmudgeon (1943). His Secret Diary (3 vol., 1953–54, repr. 1974) provides a valuable view of the Roosevelt presidency and the New Deal.

See biography by T. H. Watkins (1990); study by G. White and J. Maze (1985).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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