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Commerce Cabinet Crisis XIII: Sinclair Weeks

In January of 1953, Dwight David Eisenhower swept into office and finally ended the long Democratic Party hegemony in the White House. That presented, needless to say, an opportunity to restore the Commerce Department to the luster it enjoyed under the interwar GOP Presidents. But the opportunity was squandered, as Ike chose instead Charles Sinclair Weeks.

Weeks is a curious sort of character, who never seems to have actually done anything noteworthy but then would be randomly selected by other people for semi-important jobs. For example, he was Mayor of Newton, Massachusetts from 1930 to 1935 then went back to the business world. But in 1944 Governor Leverett A. Saltonstall needed a caretaker senator to fill a vacancy created by Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr.’s resignation and for some reason he picked Weeks. Then Weeks went back to business. In 1946 he became head of the American Enterprise Association, which he seems to have mostly run into the ground. He left in 1950, then a new group of conservative intellectuals revived it in 1952 and renamed it the American Enterprise Institute.

Ike was the last President to really attempt “cabinet government” whereby the president would decline to play a prominent leadership role in domestic policy and instead leave that role to his appointees. Despite this, Weeks appears to have continued the tradition of the Secretary of Commerce not being involved with any noteworthy initiatives.

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