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James P. Mitchell: Wikis


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The official portrait of James P. Mitchell hangs in the Department of Labor

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, and instead ran unsuccessfully that year for Governor of New Jersey. He then retired from politics.


Early career

Born and raised in Elizabeth, New Jersey, Mitchell attended Battin High School and St. Patrick High School there, graduating in 1917. 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 over 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 to the Army for personnel work in Germany, and was later responsible for a similar task in Korea. He also sat in the personnel advisory board in the first Hoover Commission.

Eisenhower administration

In 1952, Mitchell was a "Democrat-for-Eisenhower." After Eisenhower's inauguration as President in 1953, Mitchell was appointed Assistant Secretary of the Army for Manpower and Reserve Affairs. In 1953, Eisenhower chose him to replace another Democrat, Martin P. Durkin, as Secretary of Labor.[1] He served as Secretary of Labor from 9 October 1953 to 20 January 1961. As Secretary, Mitchell was a staunch advocate of labor-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 that became known as the Eisenhower Ten.


Achievements as Secretary

  • Established the administrative machinery of the Landrum-Griffin Act.
  • 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. (January 18, 1955)
  • Welfare and Pensions Plans Disclosures Act established. (August 28, 1958)
  • Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act. (September 14, 1959)
  • Supported minimum wages for the soft-coal industry, and made that other industries according to the Walsh-Healy Act.[2]

Governor's race

After stepping down as 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, but lost a close 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.

He died of congestive heart failure in New York City in 1964. He is buried in the St. Gertrude's Cemetery in Rahway, New Jersey.

See also


External links

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

Succeeded by
Arthur J. Goldberg
Party political offices
Preceded by
Malcolm Forbes
Republican Nominee for Governor of New Jersey
Succeeded by
Wayne Dumont


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