Henry M. Dawes was sworn in as the fifteenth Comptroller of the Currency on May 1, 1923. He left the post on December 17, 1924. Under the provisions of the original Federal Reserve Act, the comptroller of the Currency was an ex-officio member of the Federal Reserve Board.
Dawes was born in 1877 in Marietta, Ohio. He received a bachelor’s degree from Marietta College in 1896, and remained at the institution to earn a doctorate in law. Dawes moved to Chicago in 1907 where he became president of the Southwestern Gas & Electric Co. and vice president at Dawes Brothers, Inc.
In 1923, President Warren Harding nominated Dawes to serve as Comptroller of the Currency. (Dawes’ older brother Charles served in the role from 1898 to 1901.) During his time as comptroller, Dawes organized a nationwide effort to gather recommendations from national bank officials, as well as other experts in the industry, to propose reforms to existing bank laws. The recommendations assembled by Dawes went on to play a significant role in the drafting of the McFadden Act of 1927. The act gave individual states the authority to govern bank branches located within the state, including branches of national banks.
In late 1923, Dawes chaired an ad-hoc committee created by the Reparation Commission to review the stalemate between the European powers regarding the reparation of Germany. In April 1924, the committee presented the Dawes Plan, which would effectively restructure Germany’s debt burden. The plan reduced Weimar Germany’s annual reparation payments and allowed time for the country’s economy to begin recovering from hyperinflation.
After retiring as comptroller, Dawes became president of Pure Oil Co. In 1947, he became the chairman of the company’s executive committee. In addition, Dawes served as a director at City National Bank & Trust Co. He also served as a vice president at the American Petroleum Institute and would eventually become a director at the association.
Throughout his career, Dawes was a member of several groups, including the Industry War Council, the Chemical Warfare Service Advisory Board, and the National Petroleum Council.
Dawes died in 1952.
Written by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. See disclaimer.