- Elliot Richardson
Infobox US Cabinet official
name=Elliot Lee Richardson
United States Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare
predecessor1=Robert H. Finch
United States Secretary of Defense
January 30, 1973
May 24, 1973
Melvin R. Laird
James R. Schlesinger
United States Attorney General
May 25, 1973
October 20, 1973
William B. Saxbe
United States Secretary of Commerce
February 2, 1976
January 20, 1977
Juanita M. Kreps
Massachusetts, United States
death_date=death date and age |1999|12|31|1920|07|20
Massachusetts, United States
order5 = 62nd
Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts
term_start5 = 1965
term_end5 = 1967
John A. Volpe
Francis X. Bellotti
Francis W. Sargent
Elliot Lee Richardson (
July 20, 1920– December 31, 1999) was an American lawyer and politician who was a member of the cabinet of Presidents Richard Nixonand Gerald Ford. He was a prominent figure in the Watergate Scandal, having refused an order from Nixon to fire special prosecutor Archibald Cox.
As of 2008, Richardson is the only individual to serve in four Cabinet-level positions within the
United States government: Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfarefrom 1970 to 1973, Secretary of Defense from January to May 1973, Attorney General from May 24to October 1973, and Secretary of Commercefrom 1976 to 1977.
Early life and military service
Richardson was born in Boston,
Massachusetts. He obtained his undergraduate degree from Harvard University, where he resided in Winthrop House, and graduated cum laudein 1941.
In 1942, following America's entry into
World War II, Richardson entered the combat medical corps in the U.S. 4th Infantry Division. He participated in the June 6, 1944 Normandy Invasion, where he carried a legless man to safety under enemy fire.
He was among the first troops of the "Big Ivy" to come up "Causeway No. 2" from
Utah Beachwhich had been under fire from German artillery at Brécourt Manor. He was among the many that noticed the guns ceasing their firing after (unbeknown to him), paratroopers of the 101st under Dick Wintershad knocked them out. After Stephen Ambrose's book " Band of Brothers" was published, he wrote to Winters and thanked him.
He continued on in the war in Europe with the 4th Infantry Division and received numerous decorations, including the
Purple Heartmedal. He was discharged in 1945 with the rank of first lieutenant.
In 1947, he graduated with a law degree from
Harvard Law School. He also became editor and president of the " Harvard Law Review".. [ cite web|url=http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C0CE2DC1631F935A35751C0A966958260|title=First Black Elected to Head Harvard's Law Review|accessdate=2008-03-24 |publisher=NYT]
After his graduation from Law School, Richardson clerked for Appeals Court Judge
Learned Hand, and then for Justice Felix Frankfurterof the U.S. Supreme Court. Richardson then served as U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts from 1959 to 1961, and was later elected the Lieutenant Governor of Massachusettsand Attorney General of Massachusetts.
Richardson's son, Henry S. Richardson, is a professor of philosophy at
Georgetown University, where he focuses in moral and political philosophy.
Richardson had the nearly-unique distinction of serving in three high-level Executive Branch posts in a single year --the tumultuous year of 1973 -- as the
Watergate Scandalcame to dominate the attention of official Washington, and the American public at large.
Having served three relatively uneventful years as the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare for a popular sitting President, few would suspect the pivotal role Richardson would play in the chaos that would soon ensue.
Richardson was appointed
United States Secretary of Defenseon January 30, 1973. When President Nixon selected Richardson as Secretary, the press described him as an excellent manager and administrator, perhaps the best in the cabinet. In his confirmation hearing, Richardson expressed agreement with Nixon's policies on such issues as the adequacy of U.S. strategic forces, NATO and relationships with other allies, and Vietnam.
Although he promised to examine the budget carefully to identify areas for savings, and in fact later ordered the closing of some military installations, he cautioned against precipitate cuts. As he told a Senate committee, "Significant cuts in the Defense Budget now would seriously weaken the U.S. position on international negotiations—in which U.S. military capabilities, in both real and symbolic terms, are an important factor." Similarly, he strongly supported continued military assistance at current levels. During his short tenure, Richardson spent much time testifying before congressional committees on the proposed FY 1974 budget and other Defense matters. [ cite web|url=http://www.defenselink.mil/specials/secdef_histories/bios/richardson.htm |title=SecDef Histories - Elliot Richardson |accessdate=2007-12-30 |publisher=Secretary of Defense]
Richardson would serve as Secretary of Defense for only a few short months, before becoming Nixon's Attorney General, a move that would soon put him in the Watergate spotlight.
In October 1973, after just five months as Attorney General, President Nixon ordered Richardson to fire the top lawyer investigating the Watergate scandal, Special Prosecutor
Archibald Cox. Richardson refused the order and resigned from the Nixon administration. President Nixon subsequently asked Richardson's second-in-command, Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshausto carry out the order. But he also refused and tendered his resignation. The third in command, Solicitor General Robert Bork, also planned to resign but Richardson persuaded him not to in order to ensure proper leadership at the Department of Justice during the crisis. [ cite journal|title=Interview with Deputy Assistant Attorney General John C. Keeney|journal=U.S. Attorneys' Bulletin|date=interviewed on 1998-10-13|first=David M.|last=Nissman|coauthors=|volume=47|issue=02, Cumulative Index|pages=2|id= |url=http://cybersafe.gov/usao/eousa/foia_reading_room/usab4702.pdf|format=PDF|accessdate=2007-12-30] Bork carried out the President's order, thus completing the events generally referred to as the Saturday Night Massacre.
Just prior to the resignation of Vice-President
Spiro Agnew, Richardson was portrayed as a cartoonfigure with Agnew and Nixon on the cover of " Time Magazine" dated October 8, 1973. [ cite web|url=http://www.time.com/time/covers/0,16641,19731008,00.html |title=TIME Magazine Cover: Spiro Agnew - Oct. 8, 1973 |accessdate=2007-12-30 |date=1973-10-08 |work=TIME] Agnew was quoted as saying: "I am innocent of the charges against me. I will not resign if indicted!" [cite news |first= |last= |coauthors= |title=Agnew Takes on the Justice Department |date= 1973-10-08|publisher= |url =http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,907981,00.html |work =TIME |pages = |accessdate = 2007-12-30 |language =]
During the Administration of President
Gerald Ford, Richardson served as United States Secretary of Commercefrom 1976 to 1977, and as ambassador to the United Kingdom.
From 1977 to 1980, he served as an Ambassador at Large and Special Representative of President
Jimmy Carterfor the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seaand head of the U.S. delegation to the Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Seas. [ cite news |first= |last= |coauthors=Richardson, Elliot L. |title=Power, Mobility and the Law of the Sea |date= Spring 1980 |work=Foreign Affairs |url=http://www.foreignaffairs.org/19800301faessay8260/elliot-l-richardson/power-mobility-and-the-law-of-the-sea.html |pages= |accessdate = 2008-04-22 |language= (Article Preview).]
Later life and death
In 1980 Richardson received a
L.H.D.from Bates College. In 1984, he ran for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Paul Tsongas. He was defeated in the GOP primary by Ray Shamie, who lost the general election to John F. Kerry. Richardson was a moderate-liberal Republican, and his defeat at the hands of the very conservative Shamie was seen as symbolizing the decline of the moderate wing of the GOP, even in a section of the country where it was historically strong.
In the late 80s and early 90s, Richardson was associated with the
Washington, D.C.office of the New York Citylaw firm of Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy, of which John J. McCloywas a founding partner. In the 1980s and early 1990s, Richardson was the attorney for Inslaw, Inc., an American software company which alleged that their software had been pirated by the U.S. Justice Department.
In 1994 Richardson backed President
Bill Clintonduring his struggle against Paula Jones' charge of sexual harassment. In 1998, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor.
On December 31, 1999, Richardson died of a
cerebral hemorrhagein Boston, Massachusetts, at the age of 79. Major media outlets, such as CNN, recognized him as the "Watergate martyr" for refusing an order from President Nixon to fire special prosecutor Archibald Cox. [cite news |first= |last= |coauthors= |title='Saturday Night Massacre' attorney general dies |date= 1999-12-31|publisher=CNN |url =http://archives.cnn.com/1999/ALLPOLITICS/stories/12/31/richardson/index.html |work =CNN.com |pages = |accessdate = 2007-12-30 |language =]
* [http://www.ssa.gov/history/richards.html SSA biography]
* [http://www.defenselink.mil/specials/secdef_histories/bios/richardson.htm DoD biography]
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