John W. Weeks

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John Weeks
John Wingate Weeks, Bain bw photo portrait.jpg
48th United States Secretary of War
In office
March 5, 1921 – October 13, 1925
PresidentWarren G. Harding
Calvin Coolidge
Preceded byNewton D. Baker
Succeeded byDwight F. Davis
United States Senator
from Massachusetts
In office
March 4, 1913 – March 3, 1919
Preceded byWinthrop M. Crane
Succeeded byDavid I. Walsh
Member of the
U.S. House of Representatives
from Massachusetts
In office
March 4, 1905 – March 4, 1913
Preceded bySamuel L. Powers
Succeeded byJohn Mitchell
Constituency12th district (1905–13)
13th district (1913)
Personal details
John Wingate Weeks

(1860-04-11)April 11, 1860
Lancaster, New Hampshire, U.S.
DiedJuly 12, 1926(1926-07-12) (aged 66)
Lancaster, New Hampshire, U.S.
Resting placeArlington National Cemetery
Political partyRepublican
SpouseMartha Aroline Sinclair
EducationUnited States Naval Academy (BS)
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Navy
Years of service1881–1883

John Wingate Weeks (April 11, 1860 – July 12, 1926) was an American banker and politician from Massachusetts. A Republican, he served as Mayor of Newton from 1902 to 1903, a United States representative from 1905 to 1913, United States Senator from 1913 to 1919, and Secretary of War from 1921 to 1925.[1]

Life and career[edit]

Time cover, October 22, 1923

John Wingate Weeks was born and raised in Lancaster, New Hampshire. He received an appointment to the United States Naval Academy, graduating in 1881, and served for two years in the United States Navy. He married Martha Aroline Sinclair on October 7, 1885.

Former Washington, D.C. residence of John W. Weeks

Weeks made a fortune in banking during the 1890s, after co-founding the Boston financial firm Hornblower & Weeks in 1888.[2] During the Spanish-American War, he returned to active duty with the U.S. Navy from April to October 1898 with the rank of lieutenant.

With his financial well-being assured, Weeks became active in politics, first at a local level in his then-home of Newton, Massachusetts, serving as alderman in 1899–1902 and as mayor in 1903–04. He then moved on to the national scene in 1905, when he was elected to serve the 12th Congressional District of Massachusetts in United States Congress.[3]

As a member of the United States House of Representatives and United States Senate, Weeks made various contributions to important banking and conservation legislation. His most notable accomplishment as Congressman was the passage of the Weeks Act in 1911, his name-sake bill that enabled the creation of national forests in the eastern United States.

In the election of 1918, Weeks was defeated in his re-election campaign. Due to the passage of the Seventeenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, this was the first time election to his U.S. Senate seat was decided by the voters rather than the state legislature. His defeat has been attributed to his refusal to support women's suffrage, and his opposition to the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, a distinction he shared with Senator Willard Saulsbury Jr. of Delaware.[4] Despite his defeat for re-election to the Senate in 1918, Weeks remained an active and influential participant in the national Republican Party. He was an early supporter of the nomination of Warren G. Harding for President in 1920, and when Harding became President, he named Weeks to his cabinet.

As Secretary of War, Weeks was a competent, honest, and respected administrator and adviser, who guided the Department of War through its post-World War I downsizing. Weeks's hard work and long hours led to a stroke in April 1925, which led in turn to his resignation as Secretary in October of that year.

Weeks died several months later, at his summer home on Prospect Mountain in Lancaster, New Hampshire. His ashes were buried in Arlington National Cemetery[5] near what is now known as Weeks Drive.[6]


Weeks's son, Charles Sinclair Weeks, served as United States senator from Massachusetts, and was later Secretary of Commerce during the Eisenhower administration.[7]

His great uncle, for whom he was named, John Wingate Weeks (1781–1853), was a major in the U.S. Army during the War of 1812 and served as a congressman from New Hampshire.[8] Edgar Weeks congressman from Michigan was mis-attributed as a cousin of John Wingate Weeks in the past.[9]


Weeks's summer home where he died is now open for tours as part of the Weeks State Park. A nearby mountain within the White Mountain National Forest was named Mount Weeks in his honor.

The John W. Weeks Bridge, a footbridge over the Charles River on the campus of Harvard University in Boston and Cambridge, Massachusetts, was named for Weeks and opened in 1927.

The John Wingate Weeks Junior High School built in 1930 in Newton Centre, Massachusetts, was named for him.

During World War II, the U.S. Navy destroyer escort USS Weeks (DE-285) was named for Weeks. Her construction was cancelled in 1944.

The destroyer USS John W. Weeks (DD-701) then was named for Weeks. She was in commission from 1944 to 1970.

The investment banking and brokerage firm Hornblower and Weeks, founded in 1888, was named for Weeks and co-founder Henry Hornblower.

Weeks Field in Fairbanks, Alaska was named after him.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Weeks, John Wingate Biographical Information". Retrieved November 8, 2016.
  2. ^ Garraty, John A. and Carnes, Mark C.: American National Biography, vol. 22, "Weeks, John Wingate". New York : Oxford University Press, 1999.
  3. ^ "John W. Weeks (1860–1926)". Forest History Society. March 25, 2010.
  4. ^ DuBois, Ellen Carol (April 20, 2020). "A pandemic nearly derailed the women's suffrage movement". National Geographic. Retrieved April 27, 2020.
  5. ^ Notable Graves: Politics and Government – Arlington National Cemetery
  6. ^ Burial Details: Weeks, John Wingate – ANC Explorer
  7. ^</
  8. ^ "Bioguide Search".
  9. ^>
  10. ^ Harkey, Ira (1991). Pioneer Bush Pilot. Bantam Books. p. 95. ISBN 0553289195.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by Mayor of Newton
Succeeded by
Preceded by United States Secretary of War
Succeeded by
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Massachusetts's 12th congressional district

Succeeded by
Preceded by Chair of the House Post Office Committee
Succeeded by
Preceded by Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Massachusetts's 13th congressional district

Succeeded by
U.S. Senate
Preceded by U.S. Senator (Class 2) from Massachusetts
Served alongside: Henry Cabot Lodge
Succeeded by
Party political offices
First Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from Massachusetts
(Class 2)

Succeeded by
Awards and achievements
Preceded by Cover of Time Magazine
October 22, 1923
Succeeded by