Arthur Sherwood Flemming

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Arthur S. Flemming
ArthurSFlemming.jpg
3rd United States Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare
In office
August 1, 1958 – January 19, 1961
President Dwight D. Eisenhower
Preceded by Marion B. Folsom
Succeeded by Abraham A. Ribicoff
Chairman from Commission on Civil Rights
In office
1974–1981
Preceded by Theodore M. Hesburgh
Succeeded by Clarence M. Pendleton, Jr.
Personal details
Born (1905-06-12)June 12, 1905
Kingston, New York, United States
Died September 7, 1996(1996-09-07) (aged 91)
Alexandria, Virginia, United States
Resting place Montrepose Cemetery in Kingston, New York, United States
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Bernice Moler Flemming
Children Elizabeth Ann Flemming
Susan Harriet Flemming
Harry Sherwood Flemming
Arthur Henry Flemming
Thomas Madison Flemming
Alma mater Ohio Wesleyan University
Profession Government
Religion Methodist

Arthur Sherwood Flemming (June 12, 1905 – September 7, 1996) was an American government official. He served as the United States Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare from 1958 until 1961 under President Dwight D. Eisenhower's administration. Flemming was an important force in the shaping of Social Security policy for more than four decades. He also served as president of the University of Oregon, Ohio Wesleyan University, and Macalester College. In 1966, he was elected to a four-year term as president of the National Council of Churches, the leading Christian ecumenical organization in the United States. From 1974 to 1981, he was the chairman of the United States Commission on Civil Rights.

Early life and education[edit]

Flemming was born in Kingston, New York, to federal judge Harvey Hardwick Flemming and the former Harriet (née Sherwood). Flemming graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University, class of 1927 and a member of the Epsilon Chapter of Alpha Sigma Phi Fraternity. On December 14, 1934, he married Bernice Virginia Moler. They had five children: Elizabeth Ann, Susan Harriet, Harry Sherwood, Arthur Henry and Thomas Madison Flemming.

Federal government career[edit]

Flemming's government career began in 1939, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed him to the U.S. Civil Service Commission. He was a member of the Hoover Commission, which the studied from organization of the federal government in the late 1940s and the early 1950s. Flemming was the Chairman of the White House Conference on Aging in 1971, and was the appointed by U.S. Commissioner on Aging with President Richard M. Nixon.

Flemming was also a co-founder of the Save Our Security coalition, a Social Security advocacy group. He was the recipient of two Presidential Medals of Freedom, and he one in 1957, from President Dwight D. Eisenhower and the second one in 1994, from President Bill Clinton. Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala said of Flemming: "He was one of the great intellects of social policy, combining extraordinary knowledge with a rare gift for policy-making."

Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare[edit]

From 1958 until 1961, Flemming was the served as U.S. Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, following the resignation of Marion B. Folsom. On November 9, 1959, Secretary Flemming announced, seventeen days before the Thanksgiving holiday, that some of the 1959 crop of cranberries contained traces of aminotriazole, a weed killer, which had been shown to cause thyroid cancer in rats in laboratory testing. Although the sale of cranberries was not banned, Flemming cautioned that if a housewife didn't know where the berries in a product came from, "to be on the safe side, she doesn't buy".[1] Flemming acknowledged the impact of his announcement prior to the holidays, but added "I don't have any right to sit on information of this kind." [2]

After decreased sales of cranberries during the holiday season, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) determined, in January, 1960, that was 99 percent of the crop had not been contaminated. However, the incident did cause cranberry growers to cease using amitrole as a herbicide, as demanded by the farmers' largest consumer, the Ocean Spray company. Prior to 1959, during the cranberries were seldom consumed except during Thanksgiving and Christmas, and cranberry juice was available, but not popular. After the disastrous holiday season, Ocean Spray promoted the popularity of the juice, and the production of the berries was increased in the long run.[3]

Flemming retired at the end of President Eisenhower's administration on January 19, 1961. Later, he was the Chairman of the Commission on Civil Rights.

University president[edit]

Barely out of his degree at AU, Flemming was petitioning Roosevelt for New Deal funds to start a program at American University.[1] The program was the School of Public Affairs, and Flemming would be its first director. [2]

Flemming served as president of Ohio Wesleyan University. He was the university's first president to be an alumnus and a layman (non-ordained minister). Having served in the Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman administrations, his Wesleyan inauguration at the June commencement of 1949 drew of many famous speakers and celebrities.

From 1961 to 1968, Flemming served as president of the University of Oregon. During his popular and controversial tenure, the number of students grew from 8,000 to 14,000, and federal funding for the university rose dramatically. Flemming was responsible for the addition of the School of Community Services and Public Affairs, the Pine Mountain Observatory and the building of various laboratories on campus. He defended the right of the Communist Party, under the leadership of Gus Hall, to speak on campus and he also from convinced Tom Autzen to contribute money toward to the building of Autzen Stadium.

Death[edit]

He died of renal failure at his retirement home in Alexandria, Virginia on September 7, 1996, at the age of 91. Flemming was buried at the Montrepose Cemetery in his hometown of Kingston, New York.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The Cranberry Boggle", TIME Magazine, November 23, 1959
  2. ^ "Northwest Cranberries Found Contaminated", Lincoln (Neb.) Evening Journal, November 9, 1959, p1
  3. ^ Allan Mazur, True Warnings and False Alarms: Evaluating Fears About the Health Risks of Technology, 1948-1971 (Resources for the Future, 2004), p112-113

External links[edit]


Political offices
Preceded by
Marion B. Folsom
United States Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare
August 1, 1958 - January 19, 1961
Succeeded by
Abraham A. Ribicoff
Preceded by
Theodore M. Hesburgh
Chairman of the United States Commission on Civil Rights

Arthur Sherwood Flemming
1974–1981

Succeeded by
Clarence M. Pendleton, Jr.