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Photo of James K. Vardaman Jr.

James K. Vardaman Jr.

  • Governor, Board of Governors, 1946–1958
  • Born: August 28, 1894
  • Died: July 28, 1972

James K. Vardaman Jr. was appointed to the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System on April 4, 1946. He resigned on December 1, 1958.

Vardaman was born in 1894 in Greenwood, Mississippi. His father, James Sr., served in the US Senate.

Vardaman attended the US Naval Preparatory School in Annapolis and the University of Mississippi before earning his law degree from Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi, in 1914. He practiced law in Jackson from 1914 until 1917, when he joined the US Army as a second lieutenant with the 335th Field Artillery. He was discharged in 1919 at the rank of captain.

After he returned from military service, Vardaman moved to Missouri, where he provided legal representation to banking syndicates and became more involved with banking issues. In 1926, he took a loan officer position at Liberty-Central Trust Company. He then moved on to leadership positions at numerous financial companies, including Tower Grove National Bank and Trust.

In 1939, Vardaman left the Army Reserve for the Navy Reserve and was called to active duty in 1941. He went first to Algeria to lead the US invasion of North Africa. In 1943, Vardaman received the Legion of Merit and the Silver Star for his role in the fall of Messina. He returned to Washington in 1945 to be naval aide to President Harry Truman. He was appointed a member of the Board of Governors the following year.

Vardaman took office at a time when the Federal Reserve needed to curb inflation resulting from World War II.  The Federal Reserve tackled this issue by enacting price controls and using open market operations. During his tenure, Vardaman was a proponent of price and wage controls.

After leaving the Board of Governors, Vardaman reentered the banking business in Albany, Georgia.

Vardaman died in 1972.

Written by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. See disclaimer.