John R. Steelman

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John Roy Steelman
Photograph of President Truman and members of his staff relaxing on the after deck of his yacht, the U.S.S.... - NARA - 199029.jpg
Steelman (left) during Truman's vacation in 1950
1st White House Chief of Staff
In office
December 12, 1946 – January 20, 1953
President Harry S. Truman
Preceded by None
Succeeded by Sherman Adams
Personal details
Born (1900-06-23)June 23, 1900
Died July 14, 1999(1999-07-14) (aged 99)
Naples, Florida
Resting place Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia
Political party Republican

John Roy Steelman (June 23, 1900 – July 14, 1999) was the first Assistant to the President of the United States, serving President Harry S. Truman from 1946 to 1953. The office later became the White House Chief of Staff.

He was the only White House Chief of Staff to serve the full term of a president. He also holds the record for the longest term as Chief of Staff at six years.

Steelman attended Henderson Brown College in Arkadelphia, Arkansas and graduated in 1922. He later went to Vanderbilt University, (MA 1924) and University of North Carolina (PhD 1928). He was Professor of Sociology and Economics in Alabama College in Montevallo, Alabama from 1928–1934.

Before joining the White House, Steelman served as:

  • Commissioner of Conciliation, U.S. Conciliation Service, Department of Labor 1934–36
  • Special Assistant to the Secretary of Labor 1936–1937
  • Director, U.S. Conciliation Service, Department of Labor 1937–1944
  • Special Assistant to the President, 1945–1946
  • Director, Office of War Mobilization and Reconversion, 1946
  • Chairman, President's Scientific Research Board, 1946–1947
  • Assistant to the President, 1946–1953
  • Acting Chairman, National Security Resources Board, 1948–1950
  • Acting Director, Office of Defense Mobilization, 1952

After leaving the White House, Steelman became an Industrial Relations Consultant in Washington, D.C. from 1953–1968. From 1955 to 1969 he served in a variety of corporate roles:

  • President of the Montgomery Publishing Company
  • Chairman of the Board of the Record Publishing Company
  • Publisher of newspapers in Bethesda, Silver Spring, and Rockville, Maryland

Steelman died of natural cause in July 1999, in Naples, Florida, at the age of 99.


Political offices
Preceded by
New office
White House Chief of Staff
Served under: Harry S. Truman

Succeeded by
Sherman Adams