James P. Mitchell

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James P. Mitchell
The official portrait of James P. Mitchell hangs in the Department of Labor
8th United States Secretary of Labor
In office
October 9, 1953 – January 20, 1961
President Dwight D. Eisenhower
Preceded by Martin P. Durkin
Succeeded by Arthur J. Goldberg
Personal details
Born (1900-11-12)November 12, 1900
Elizabeth, New Jersey, United States
Died October 19, 1964(1964-10-19) (aged 63)
New York City, New York, United States
Resting place St. Gertrude's Cemetery, Colonia, New Jersey, United States
Nationality American
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Isabelle Nulton Mitchell
Children Elizabeth Mitchell
Parents Peter John Mitchell
Anna C. Dirscoll
Residence Colonia, New Jersey, United States
Alma mater St. Patrick High School (New Jersey)
Profession Politician
Religion Roman Catholic

James Paul Mitchell (November 12, 1900 – October 19, 1964) was an American politician from New Jersey. Nicknamed "the social conscience of the Republican Party," he served as United States Secretary of Labor from 1953 to 1961 in the Eisenhower Administration. Mitchell was considered a potential running mate for the 1960 Republican presidential candidate, Vice President Richard M. Nixon, but was ultimately not chosen. Instead, he ran unsuccessfully that year for Governor of New Jersey. He then retired from politics.

Early career[edit]

Mitchell was born on November 12, 1900, and he was raised in Elizabeth, New Jersey. His father Peter John died in 1912. His mother was Anna C. Driscoll. Mitchell attended from Battin High School and graduated from St. Patrick High School in 1917. Mitchell's uncle was the character actor Thomas Mitchell. Mitchell married Isabelle Nulton on January 22, 1923. He began his political career in 1932 as the Union County supervisor for the New Jersey Relief Administration. Six years later he was appointed to the New York City division of the Works Progress Administration.

When Brehon B. Somerwell went to Washington, D.C. to become head of the Army Construction Program, he made Mitchell head of the labor relations division in the Army Construction Program. In 1942, Mitchell became director of industrial personnel for the War Department, in charge of one million men. After the war he returned to the private sector and in 1947 became director for labor relations and operations at Bloomingdale Brothers. In 1948 he was hired by the Army for personnel work in Germany, and was later responsible for a similar task in Korea. He also sat on the personnel advisory board in the first Hoover Commission.

Eisenhower's administration[edit]

In 1952, Mitchell was the "Democrat-for-Eisenhower." After Eisenhower's inauguration as Presidency in 1953, Mitchell was appointed by the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Manpower and Reserve Affairs. On October 9, 1953, Eisenhower chose him to replace another Democrat, when Martin P. Durkin, who had resigned.[1]

He served as Secretary of Labor. As the Labor Secretary, Mitchell was a staunch advocate of labor - he encouraged management cooperation, fought against employment discrimination, and was concerned by the plight of migrant workers. He was selected as the administrator-designate of the Emergency Manpower Agency; part of a secret group created by President Eisenhower in 1958 that would serve in the event of a national emergency. The group became known as the Eisenhower Ten.

Achievements as Secretary[edit]

As Secretary, he established the administrative machinery of the Landrum-Griffin Act. and improved DOL organization and clarified the roles of labor to reduce overlapping functions. J. Ernest Wilkins was appointed Assistant Secretary of Labor for International Affairs, the second African-American at DOL.

Executive Order No.10590 established the Committee on Government Employment Policy to eliminate discrimination within the U.S. Federal government. The Welfare and Pensions Plans Disclosures Act was established on August 28, 1958, followed by the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act on September 14, 1959. Mitchell supported minimum wages for the soft-coal industry and other industries according to the Walsh-Healy Act.[2]

He is a member of the Labor Hall of Fame.

Governor's race[edit]

After stepping down as the Secretary of Labor, Mitchell was chosen the Republican candidate for Governor of New Jersey in a bitter primary over State Senators Walter H. Jones and Wayne Dumont, Jr. with 43.7% of the vote in 1961. He lost the general election to the Democratic candidate, Richard J. Hughes, by 1,084,194 to 1,049,274; a margin of 34,920. He returned to the private sector with the Crown-Zellerbach Corporation, becoming its senior vice president in 1962.

Mitchell died of heart failure in New York City, New York, on October 19, 1964. Mitchell is interred in St. Gertrude's Cemetery in Colonia, New Jersey.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Guzda, Henry P. "James P. Mitchell: social conscience of the Cabinet", Monthly Labor Review, August 1991. Retrieved June 20, 2008.
  2. ^ "U.S. Department of Labor - Labor Hall of Fame - James P. Mitchell". Dol.gov. Retrieved 2010-05-14. 

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Martin P. Durkin
U.S. Secretary of Labor
Served under: Dwight D. Eisenhower

October 9, 1953 - January 20, 1961
Succeeded by
Arthur J. Goldberg
Party political offices
Preceded by
Malcolm Forbes
Republican Nominee for Governor of New Jersey
Succeeded by
Wayne Dumont