James P. Mitchell (1953–1961) - Secretary of Labor [cite this] ↑Dwight D. Eisenhower Home Page James Paul Mitchell was secretary of labor under President Eisenhower from October 8, 1953, to January 20, 1961. Though his father died when he was twelve, James Mitchell managed to complete high school before he became manager of a local grocery store. He went on to open two unsuccessful grocery stores of his own that failed in 1923 and eventually found work as an expediter with Western Electric Company in Kearny, New Jersey, where he was soon transferred to the personnel department. In 1932, Mitchell was Union County supervisor for the New Jersey Relief Administration. He became head of labor relations in the New York City division of the Works Progress Administration in 1938, though when program head Brehon B. Somervell went to Washington to become head of the Army construction program, he took Mitchell to head up its labor relations division. In 1942, Mitchell became director of industrial personnel for the War Department, in charge of over one million men. In 1945, he returned to the private sector as director of personnel and industrial relations for R. H. Macy and Co. (1945) and later became vice president in charge of labor relations and operations at Bloomingdale Brothers (1947).In 1948, he was hired by the Army for personnel work in Germany, performed a similar task in Korea, and served on the personnel advisory board of the Hoover Commission on the organization of the executive branch of the government. Mitchell became assistant secretary of the Army in charge of manpower and reserve forces affairs (1953) before replacing Martin Durkin as secretary of labor. He streamlined and reorganized the department and is credited with its revitalization and improvements in morale. He created a number of new positions and offices and was the first secretary to determine prevailing minimum wages for the soft coal industry; he did the same for other industries in accord with the Walsh-Healy Act. Mitchell oversaw a prosperous economy, marked by improvements in labor relations, and he helped to resolve a number of strikes in his time. After leaving the Eisenhower administration, he was the Republican candidate for governor of New Jersey but lost the election to the Democratic incumbent. He returned to the private sector with paper manufacturer Crown-Zellerbach, becoming senior vice-president in 1962. He died in 1964. Dwight D. Eisenhower Essays Life in Brief Life Before the Presidency Campaigns and Elections Domestic Affairs Foreign Affairs Life After the Presidency Family Life The American Franchise Impact and Legacy [ print all essays ] Dwight D. Eisenhower Home Citation Information Consulting Editor Chester J. Pach, Jr. Professor Pach is an associate professor of history at Ohio University and former director of the Contemporary History Institute. His writings include: Presidency of Dwight D. Eisenhower (part of the American Presidency Series, co-authored with Elmo Richardson, University Press of Kansas, 1991) Arming the Free World: The Origins of the United States Military Assistance Program, 1945–1950 (University of North Carolina Press, 1991) American President has changed! Click here to take a short survey and tell us what you think!