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William McChesney Martin, Jr.

Martin, William McChesney, Jr., 1906–98, U.S. banker, chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (1951–70), b. St. Louis. After an early career as a stockbroker, Martin became (1938) the first salaried president of the New York Stock Exchange. He served in World War II and then held high-level positions in the Export-Import Bank, the U.S. Treasury Dept., and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. President Harry Truman appointed him chairman of the Federal Reserve Board in 1951, and he held the position under six successive administrations until his retirement. Favoring a "hard money" policy, Martin fought to keep the Federal Reserve System independent of political control, and he opposed excessive expansion of the monetary supply, which he considered a major cause of inflation. He is considered the creator of the modern, independently operating Federal Reserve. He reentered private business after 1970.

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

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