Oscar L. Chapman

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Oscar Chapman
Oscar Littleton Chapman.png
34th United States Secretary of the Interior
In office
December 1, 1949 – January 20, 1953
PresidentHarry S. Truman
Preceded byJulius Krug
Succeeded byDouglas McKay
Personal details
Oscar Littleton Chapman

(1896-10-22)October 22, 1896
Omega, Virginia, U.S.
DiedFebruary 8, 1978(1978-02-08) (aged 81)
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Resting placeArlington National Cemetery
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Olga Edholm
Ann Kendrick
EducationUniversity of Denver
University of New Mexico, Albuquerque
Westminster University (LLB)
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Navy
Years of service1918–1920
UnitNavy Medical Corps
Battles/warsWorld War I

Oscar Littleton Chapman (October 22, 1896 – February 8, 1978) was the U.S. Secretary of the Interior, during President Truman's administration, from 1949 to 1953.

Early life and career[edit]

Chapman was born in Omega, Halifax County, Virginia, to James Jackson Chapman, a Virginia farmer, and his wife, Rosa Archer Blunt. He started taking night classes at the University of Denver, spent the 1927–1928 school year at the University of New Mexico, before eventually receiving his LLB from the law school of Westminster University (now a part of the University of Denver) in 1929.[1]

During World War I, Chapman served in the United States Navy Medical Corps, from 1918 to 1920. Chapman was manager of Edward P. Costigan's Senate campaign in 1930, and the Alva B. Adams Senate campaign in 1932. After Franklin Roosevelt's election in 1932, he was appointed Assistant Secretary of the Department of the Interior.

Secretary of the Interior Oscar L. Chapman (right), Under Secretary of the Interior Jebby Davidson (center), and President Harry S. Truman, (December 21, 1950).

In 1939, Chapman was an early victim of the House Committee on Un-American Activities, as then-chairman Martin Dies, Jr. published a list of the government employees who were members of a Communist-controlled organization (Chapman was considered a member because there was a record that he had contributed two dollars to the American League for Peace and Democracy, which was raising money for the loyalists during the Spanish Civil War).

At the 1944 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, Illinois, Chapman was impressed by Truman sticking to his early agreement to support the current Vice-President Henry A. Wallace. He was promoted to serve as the Under-Secretary by President Harry S. Truman in 1946. Chapman was one of Truman's advisers supporting the decision to recognize the state of Israel in May 1948 over the objections of the State Department.

Chapman worked to promote Truman in 1948 election, and late in 1949, was promoted to serve as Secretary of the Interior, replacing to Julius A. Krug, who had not supported Truman's campaign.

In 1951, Chapman denied a government loan to the Harvey Aluminum Company, because of a scandal that Harvey had sold artillery shells to the Navy during World War II that were dangerously out of specification.[2]

After end of his service in the Department of the Interior, he practiced law in the firm of Chapman, Duff, and Paul.

Personal life and family[edit]

On December 21, 1920, at aged 24, Chapman married his first wife, Olga Pauline Edholm, from the Methodist. His first wife died in 1932.

On February 24, 1940, after the death of his first wife, he married his second wife, the former Ann Kendrick (March 1, 1905 – April 4, 2003). They had one son of James Raleigh was also known as Jimmy.

Chapman died in Washington, D.C., at aged 81, and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.


  2. ^ "HARVEY CO. LOAN DENIED BY D.P.A.; California Concern Proposed to Build 2 Aluminum Plants With R.F.C. $46,000,000". New York Times. 1951-08-25. Retrieved 2022-08-14.
Political offices
Preceded by U.S. Secretary of the Interior
Served under: Harry S. Truman

December 1, 1949 – January 20, 1953
Succeeded by