Monday, August 1, 2011

Oscar Solomon Straus Secretary of Commerce and Labor

Oscar Solomon Straus, who succeeds Victor L. Metcalf as Secretary of Commerce and Labor, was born in Otterberg, Rhenish Bavaria, on December 23d, 1850, of Bavarian ancestors. His early life was spent in Geor­gia, but his family moved North and he was educated at Columbia Grammar School, New York, and Columbia College, where he was graduated in 1871, standing fifth in his class. While at college Mr. Straus supported himself by writing for the papers and magazines. He was graduated from the Columbia Law School in 1873, and then took up the practice of law. He soon reached a high place in his profession and was for some time counsel for the Chamber of Commerce, the Board of Trade and several prominent corporations. In 1887 he was appointed Minister to Turkey by President Cleveland, succeeding the late S. S. Cox. He was reap­pointed Turkish Minister by McKinley. In 1902, President Roosevelt appointed him to the vacancy in the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague, caused by the death of Ex-President Harrison. He is the au­thor of a number of works on civic, historical and religious themes and is president of the New York Board of Trade and Transportation, and of the National Primary League, Vice President of the National Civic Fed­eration and a member of the International Law Association. It will thus be seen that he is interested in and even an authority on both commerce and labor. He will be the first Jew to hold a Cabinet office.

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