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  Richardson, Elliot L.
NameElliot L. Richardson
Brookline, Massachusetts , United States
Born July 20, 1920
DiedDecember 31, 1999 (79 years)
Contributor*crickets chirp*
Last ModifedJuan Croniqueur
Dec 03, 2015 12:14pm
Tags U.S. Army -
InfoElliot L. Richardson (January-May 1973) Laird's successor, Elliot L. Richardson, sworn into office on 30 January 1973, served less than four months and thus had limited impact on the affairs of the department. Born in Boston on 20 July 1920, Richardson graduated from Harvard College in 1941 and from the Harvard Law School in 1947. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1942 as a private, subsequently received a commission, and left the service as a first lieutenant in 1945, after participating in the D-Day invasion of Normandy and receiving several decorations, including the Purple Heart.

Richardson served as a law clerk to Justice Learned Hand of the U.S. Court of Appeals and then to Justice Felix Frankfurter of the U.S. Supreme Court. In 1949 he joined a Boston law firm, with which he was associated between service in a series of appointive and elective positions: assistant to Sen. Leverett Saltonstall of Massachusetts (1953-54); assistant secretary in the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (1957-59); U.S. attorney for Massachusetts (1959-61); special assistant to the U.S. attorney general (1961); lieutenant governor (1965-67) and attorney general (1967-69) of Massachusetts; under secretary of state (1969-70); and secretary of health, education, and welfare (1970-73).

When President Nixon selected Richardson as secretary of defense, the press described him as an excellent manager and administrator, perhaps the best in the cabinet. In his confirmation hearing, Richardson expressed agreement with Nixon's policies on such issues as the adequacy of U.S. strategic forces, NATO and relationships with other allies, and Vietnam. Although he promised to examine the DoD budget carefully to identify areas for savings, and in fact later ordered the closing of some military installations, he cautioned against precipitate cuts. As he told a Senate committee, "Significant cuts in the Defense Budget now would seriously weaken the U.S. position in international negotiations-in which U.S. military capabilities, in both real and symbolic terms, are an important factor." Similarly, he strongly supported continued military assistance at current levels. During his short tenure, Richardson spent much time testifying before congressional committees on the proposed FY 1974 budget and other Defense matters.

On 30 April President Nixon announced that he would nominate Secretary Richardson to be attorney general. It was understood that Richardson would guide the administration's handling of the Watergate investigation, which had reached a critical stage. Richardson continued as secretary of defense until 24 May, the day before he became attorney general. His tenure in that position was short also; he resigned abruptly in October 1973 after declining to support the president's decision to fire a Watergate special prosecutor Richardson had appointed. Subsequently, Richardson served President Gerald Ford as ambassador to Great Britain and secretary of commerce, and President Jimmy Carter as ambassador at large and special representative for the Law of the Sea Conference (1977-80). Thereafter, he practiced law and remained publicly active, speaking and writing widely on national security and other issues.


Title Purchase Contributor
Reflections of a Radical Moderate  Purchase *crickets chirp* 

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Presidential Medal of Freedom Recipient Elliot L. Richardson  Discuss
  09/18/1984 MA US Senate - R Primary Lost 37.59% (-24.79%)
  08/19/1976 US President - R Convention Lost 0.04% (-52.52%)
  08/19/1976 US Vice President - R Convention Lost 0.09% (-84.95%)
  02/24/1976 NH US Vice President - R Primary Lost 2.58% (-71.67%)
  02/01/1976 US Secretary of Commerce Won 100.00% (+100.00%)
  02/20/1975 US Ambassador to United Kingdom Won 100.00% (+100.00%)
  05/25/1973 U.S. Attorney General Won 96.47% (+92.94%)
  01/30/1973 Secretary of Defense Won 98.78% (+97.56%)
  06/23/1970 Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare Won 100.00% (+100.00%)
  01/23/1969 Under Secretary of State Won 100.00% (+100.00%)
  11/08/1966 MA Attorney General Won 51.84% (+4.53%)
  11/03/1964 MA Lt. Governor Won 50.22% (+1.10%)
  09/18/1962 MA Attorney General - R Primary Lost 45.12% (-9.76%)
MA US President - R Primary - Mar 04, 1980 R George H. W. Bush