Lyman J. Gage

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Lyman Judson Gage
Lyman Gage, Bain photo portrait.jpg
42nd United States Secretary of the Treasury
In office
March 6, 1897 – January 31, 1902
President William McKinley
Theodore Roosevelt
Preceded by John G. Carlisle
Succeeded by Leslie M. Shaw
Personal details
Born (1836-06-28)June 28, 1836
DeRuyter, New York, U.S.
Died January 26, 1927(1927-01-26) (aged 90)
San Diego, California, U.S.
Political party Republican
Profession Politician, Banker

Lyman Judson Gage (June 28, 1836 – January 26, 1927) was an American financier and Presidential Cabinet officer.

He was born at DeRuyter, New York, educated at an academy at Rome, New York, and at the age of 17 he became a bank clerk. In 1853 he removed to Chicago, served for three years as bookkeeper, and in 1858 entered the Merchants Loan and Trust Company, where he was cashier in 1861-1868. Afterwards be became successively assistant cashier, vice-president and president of the First National Bank of Chicago, one of the strongest financial institutions in the Middle West.

He was chosen in 1890 to be president of the board of directors of the World's Columbian Exposition, the successful financing of which was due more to him than to any other man. Following the exposition, he became president of the newly formed Chicago Civic Federation, which sought to reform city governance. In politics he was originally a Republican, and was a delegate to the national convention of the party in 1880, and chairman of its finance committee.

Bureau of Engraving and Printing portrait of Gage as Secretary of the Treasury.

In 1884, however, he supported Grover Cleveland for the presidency, and came to be looked upon as a Democrat. In 1892 President Cleveland, after his second election, offered Gage the post of secretary of the treasury, but Gage declined the offer. In the free-silver campaign of 1896, Gage labored effectively for the election of Republican candidate William McKinley, and from March 1897 until January 1902 he served as Secretary of the Treasury in the cabinets successively of Presidents McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt.

As Secretary of the Treasury, Gage was influential in securing passage of the Gold Standard Act of March 14, 1900, which reestablished a currency backed solely by gold. Since this limited the amount of currency in circulation, it initiated a period, continuing until 1912, in which the Secretary of Treasury was obliged to interact in the money market by introducing into circulation the Treasury surplus. The inability of the Treasury to respond to the needs of the market and the perceived need for a currency which would expand and contract with the needs of the nation, led to the creation of the Federal Reserve in 1913 to regulate the money market.

Gage resigned in 1902 to become a banker in New York. From April 1902 until 1906 he was president of the United States Trust Company in New York City. His administration of the treasury department, through a more than ordinarily trying period, was marked by a conservative policy, looking toward the strengthening of the gold standard, the securing of greater flexibility in the currency, and a more perfect adjustment of the relations between the government and the National banks.

In 1906, Gage indulged his longtime interest in metaphysical phenomena by purchasing property on and subsequently living at Lomaland, a Theosophist retreat in Southern California. Though this came as somewhat of a shock to the American public, those who knew him privately were not surprised, as Gage had previously studied spiritualism, astrology, and prophesized the death of his own brother through a "psychic flash".[1]

Gage was one of the 30 founding members of the Simplified Spelling Board, founded in 1906 by Andrew Carnegie to make English easier to learn and understand through changes in the orthography of the English language.[2]

He died at San Diego, California, in 1927 and is buried at Rosehill Cemetery in Chicago.

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Political offices
Preceded by
John G. Carlisle
U.S. Secretary of the Treasury
Served under: William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt

March 6, 1897 – January 31, 1902
Succeeded by
Leslie M. Shaw