William H. Woodin was secretary of the Treasury from March 4, 1933, to December 31, 1933. Under the provisions of the original Federal Reserve Act, the Treasury Secretary was also ex-officio chairman of the Federal Reserve Board.
Woodin was born in 1868 in Berwick, Pennsylvania. He was educated at Woodbridge School in New York and graduated from Columbia University School of Mines in 1890. He joined the Jackson & Woodin Manufacturing Company in Berwick and was soon the general superintendent of the company. In 1896, he became vice president of the company. The firm was acquired by the American Car and Foundry Company (ACF) in 1899 and Woodin, who stayed with ACF after the merger, became its president in 1916.
Woodin served as a director of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York from 1927 through 1932. He also served as chairman of the board of directors of the American Locomotive Company, the J. B. Brill Company, the Montreal Locomotive Works, and the Railway Steel Spring Company. He was a member of the board of directors of the Remington Arms Company, the Super Heated Company, the Cuba Company, the Cuba Railroad Company, Compania Cubana Consolidated Railroads of Cuba, and the American Ship and Commerce Company.
As Treasury secretary during the Great Depression, Woodin was tasked with restoring public confidence in the government and with carrying out President Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal policies of fiscal and monetary expansion, which were in stark contrast to those of Woodin’s predecessor Ogden Mills. Woodin was immediately confronted with the Banking Crisis of 1933 and the effort to pass the Banking Act of 1933. He devised regulations permitting banks to resume operations following the declaration of a national bank holiday.
Woodin was plagued by illness through much of his tenure. As a result, Under Secretary Dean Acheson often served as acting secretary of the Treasury. Woodin resigned the post after less than a year.
Woodin was an avid coin collector and even authored a book about coins, The United States Pattern: Trial and Experimental Pieces (1913). He was also an accomplished songwriter and musician, having written a book of children’s songs and five symphonies at the time of his appointment to the Treasury.
Woodin died in 1934.
Written by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. See disclaimer.