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Richard Achilles Ballinger

In office
March 6, 1909 – March 12, 1911
Preceded by James R. Garfield
Succeeded by Walter L. Fisher

Born July 9, 1858(1858-07-09)
Boonesboro, Iowa, U.S.
Died June 6, 1922 (aged 63)
Seattle, Washington, U.S.
Political party Republican
Alma mater Williams College
Profession Politician

Richard Achilles Ballinger (July 9, 1858 – June 6, 1922) was mayor of Seattle, Washington, from 1904–1906 and U.S. Secretary of the Interior from 1909–1911.

Ballinger was born in Boonesboro, Iowa. He graduated in 1884 from Williams College, where he was admitted to the Zeta Psi fraternity,[1] and passed the bar exam in 1886.

He served 1904–1906 as mayor of Seattle, following the scandal-prone Yukon Gold Rush era administration of Thomas D. Humes. Elected with the support of the downtown business elite, he cracked down somewhat (but not heavily) on vice, opposed labor unions, and was a roadblock to the city's strong municipal ownership movement.[2]

After serving as mayor of Seattle, Ballinger was commissioner of the General Land Office from 1907–1908. In 1909, President William Howard Taft appointed him Secretary of the Interior. While Secretary, he was accused of having interfered with investigation into the legality of certain private coal-land claims in Alaska. After a series of articles in Collier's Weekly that roused the conservationists an investigation was demanded. A congressional committee exonerated Ballinger, but the questioning of committee counsel Louis D. Brandeis made Ballinger's anti-conservationism clear. He resigned in March, 1911. The incident split the Republican Party and helped turn the election of 1912 against Taft.

Ballinger died on June 6, 1922, in Seattle, Washington.


  1. ^ Baird, William Raymond (1915). Baird's Manual of American College Fraternities, pp. 349–355.
  2. ^ Berner, Richard C. (1991), Seattle 1900–1920: From Boomtown, Urban Turbulence, to Restoration, Seattle: Charles Press, ISBN 0962988901. p. 111.

See also

Political offices
Preceded by
Thomas D. Humes
Mayor of Seattle
Succeeded by
William Hickman Moore
Preceded by
James Rudolph Garfield
United States Secretary of the Interior
Succeeded by
Walter Lowrie Fisher


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