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Sumner Pike

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Sumner Pike
Pike in 1937
Member of the Maine House of Representatives from Lubec
In office
January 7, 1959 – January 1, 1969
Preceded bySherman Denbow
Succeeded byJohn A. Donaghy
Member of the United States Atomic Energy Commission
In office
October 1946 – December 15, 1951
PresidentHarry S. Truman
Preceded byNone (office created)
Succeeded byEugene M. Zuckert
Member of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
In office
June 4, 1940 – April 30, 1946
PresidentFranklin D. Roosevelt
Harry S. Truman
Preceded byGeorge C. Mathews
Succeeded byRichard B. McEntire
Personal details
Sumner Tucker Pike

(1891-02-22)February 22, 1891
Lubec, Maine, U.S.
DiedFebruary 21, 1976(1976-02-21) (aged 84)
Lubec, Maine, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Alma materBowdoin College (BA)
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/serviceUnited States Army
Years of service1917–1919
UnitCoast Artillery Corps
Battles/warsWorld War I

Sumner Tucker Pike (August 30, 1891 – February 21, 1976) was an American politician and government official who was a member of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission from 1940 to 1946 and a member of the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) from 1946 to 1951, serving as acting chairman of the AEC during 1950.

Early life and education


Pike grew up in Lubec, Maine,[1] a small fishing village in the northeastern portion of the state.[2] He was a Bowdoin College graduate,[2] in the year 1913.

Business career


Pike entered the sardines industry and became a self-made millionaire.[3] He then went to Wall Street in 1928 where he became an investment banker.[2] He retired from business in 1939.[2]

Securities and Exchange Commission


After retiring, Pike came to Washington, D.C. and served as an advisor to the U.S. Secretary of Commerce.[2] During World War II he was on the Securities and Exchange Commission and also was in the Office of Price Administration.[2]

Atomic Energy Commission

Pike (far right) with the other original members of the AEC, c. 1947

Pike was chosen as one of the five original members of the Atomic Energy Commission created by the Atomic Energy Act of 1946.[4]

The first atomic bomb test by the Soviet Union in August 1949 came earlier than expected by Americans, and over the next several months there was an intense debate within the U.S. government, military, and scientific communities regarding whether to proceed with development of the far more powerful hydrogen bomb, then known as "the Super".[5] In November 1949, Pike joined a 3–2 majority of commissioners in recommending against proceeding with the Super.[6] However, by the time President Harry S. Truman ordered that development of the Super go on, Pike's position had drifted to being in favor of proceeding.[7]

Another issue Pike faced on the AEC was whether to allowed nuclear testing in the United States. In March 1949, he had stated that only a national emergency could justify such testing; but following the onset of the Korean War, it was considered that such an emergency existed and nuclear bomb testing began in Nevada in 1951.[8]

In 1950, the Joint Atomic Energy Committee of Congress voted five to four (with one Democrat joining the four Republicans on the panel) not to approve of President Harry S. Truman's nomination of Pike as chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, when he was acting as chairman.[9] Instead, though Pike was renominated and approved as a member, Truman picked Gordon Dean as chairman.[10] When Pike resigned from the AEC in December 1951, he was the last of the original five members still on it.[11]

Maine politician


Pike was a member of the Republican Party.[1] When he returned to Maine from Washington, he resisted calls to run for governor but did serve in the legislature.

From 1965 to 1975, Pike was a charter member of the Roosevelt Campobello International Park Commission,[12] which governs Roosevelt Campobello International Park, serving with Sen. Edmund S. Muskie and Franklin Delano Roosevelt Jr.[1]


  1. ^ a b c Two articles by Donald R. Larrabee , one each from Bangor Daily News and Maine Sunday Telegram, entered in CONGRESSIONAL RECORD – SENATE June 10, 1975 Page 18115 by Sen. Edmund Muskie, in Bates College Muskie archives.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Hewlett, Richard G.; Duncan, Francis (1969). Atomic Shield, 1947–1952 (PDF). A History of the United States Atomic Energy Commission. Vol. 2. University Park, Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania State University Press. p. 5.
  3. ^ Rhodes, Richard (1995). Dark Sun: The Making of the Hydrogen Bomb. New York: Simon and Schuster. pp. 379–380. ISBN 0-684-80400-X.
  4. ^ Young, Ken; Schilling, Warner R. (2019). Super Bomb: Organizational Conflict and the Development of the Hydrogen Bomb. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press. pp. 40–41. ISBN 978-1-5017-4516-4.
  5. ^ Young and Schilling, Super Bomb, pp. 1–2.
  6. ^ Rhodes, Dark Sun, p. 404.
  7. ^ Young and Schilling, Super Bomb, p. 62.
  8. ^ Hewlett and Duncan, Atomic Shield, p. 535.
  9. ^ "Pike & Pique". Time. July 10, 1950. Archived from the original on 2011-01-31. Retrieved 2009-02-07.
  10. ^ "The Atom: A friendly favor". Time. July 24, 1950. Archived from the original on 2011-01-31. Retrieved 2009-02-07.
  11. ^ Hewlett and Duncan, Atomic Shield, p. 588.
  12. ^ https://uscode.house.gov/statutes/pl/88/363.pdf [bare URL PDF]