Strauss, Lewis L

Alternative names
Active 1907
Active 1950

Biographical notes:

Secretary to Herbert Hoover, 1917-1919; chairman, United States Atomic Energy Commission, 1953-1958; secretary of commerce, 1958-1959.

From the description of Lewis L. Strauss miscellaneous papers, 1918-1945. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 754868921

Government executive, financier.

From the description of Reminiscences of Lewis Lichtenstein Strauss : oral history, 1973. (Columbia University In the City of New York). WorldCat record id: 86158380

Executive, naval officer, and U.S. secretary of commerce.

From the description of Lewis L. Strauss autograph collection, 1749-1885. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 70980685

Biographical/Historical Note

Secretary to Herbert Hoover, 1917-1919; chairman, United States Atomic Energy Commission, 1953-1958; secretary of commerce, 1958-1959.

From the guide to the Lewis L. Strauss miscellaneous papers, 1918-1945, (Hoover Institution Archives)

Admiral Lewish Lichtenstein Strauss, Jr.1896-1974

Lewis Lichtenstein Strauss, Jr. was born on January 31, 1896 in Charleston, West Virginia, to Lewis and Rosa (Lichtenstein) Strauss. He grew up in Richmond, and became a traveling salesman for his family's wholesale shoe business. In 1917, he presented himself to Herbert C. Hoover. At the time, Hoover was organizing volunteers in the cause of Belgian relief. Later, when Hoover became head of the Food Administration, Lewis L. Strauss became his personal secretary and accompanied him on several European missions. He worked for Hoover's election to the presidency in 1928, and maintained a life-long friendship with President Hoover until the latter's death in 1964.

In 1919, Lewis L. Strauss was hired by the investment firm Kuhn, Loeb & Company, and in 1923 he married Alice Hanauer, a daughter of a partner in the firm. In 1929, he himself became a partner in the firm. One of Kuhn, Loeb & Company's founders was Jacob Schiff, the important American Jewish leader and philanthropist. As a result of Lewis L. Strauss' association with Kuhn, Loeb &. Company, he became friendly with many wealthy and influential American Jewish figures, especially the core members of the American Jewish Committee. Between 1950 and 1953, he served as financial adviser to the Rockefeller family.

Lewis L. Strauss maintained a keen interest in scientific and technological advancements, and was an early investor in Kodachrome. After the death of his parents from cancer, his interest in the atom led him to fund the construction of a surge generator to produce isotopes for cancer treatment. Beginning in 1926, Lewis L. Strauss was in the Navy Reserve, and he entered active duty in 1941, becoming adviser to Navy Undersecretary James Forrestal. He directed the development of the radar proximity fuse, conceived of the Big "E" war production incentive program, and in 1945 was promoted to the rank of Rear Admiral by President Truman. In 1946, Truman appointed Lewis L. Strauss to serve on the Atomic Energy Commission, on which he served through 1950. In 1953, President Eisenhower reappointed Lewis L. Strauss to the commission, this time as its chairman.

As the breadth of the Papers of Admiral Lewis L. Strauss illustrates, Lewis L. Strauss was deeply committed to American Jewish life and Jewish welfare generally. He served as a member of the board of directors of several important Jewish philanthropic, academic and communal organizations, and he also maintained a special interest in inter-religious affairs.

In his lifetime, Lewis L. Strauss was thrust into public controversy on several occasions. In the 1920s and 1930s, he played a central role in combating the anti-Semitic propaganda of Henry Ford and Father Charles E. Coughlin. Also beginning in this period, he became a leading member of the American Jewish Committee and embroiled in disputes over Zionism and American Jewish politics, notably the American Jewish Conference. Later, during his tenure as chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, he attracted public attention when the White House suspended the security clearance of Commissioner J. Robert Oppenheimer. Lewis L. Strauss eventually voted against Oppenheimer's reinstatement to the Atomic Energy Commission, but he did seek to have him retained in the Princeton Institute for Advanced Study and other nuclear research enterprises. In 1954, another controversy flared when the Atomic Energy Commission engaged the Dixon-Yates combine to erect a power plant in West Memphis, Arkansas. Lewis L. Strauss, a deeply conservative Republican, was eager then to admit private industry into the nuclear field. But liberals saw in the Dixon-Yates contract a threat to the Tennessee Valley Authority and public power. They attacked the contract so vigorously that President Eisenhower canceled it in 1955.

In 1958, President Eisenhower appointed Lewis L. Strauss to be Acting Secretary of Commerce, and in 1959 he nominated him for the position. After a protracted public debate concerning ethical considerations, and one in which the specter of anti-Semitism was also raised, the Senate refused to confirm Lewis L. Strauss' nomination. Following this episode, Lewis L. Strauss returned to private life. On January 21,1974, Lewis L. Strauss died at the age of 78 at his home in Brandy Station, West Virginia.

  • January 31, 1896: Born in Charleston, West Virginia
  • 1917 - 1919 : Personal Secretary to Herbert C. Hoover, Head of the Belgian Relief Committee
  • 1919: U.S. Delegate to Final Armistice Convention
  • 1919: Joins Kuhn, Loeb & Company (New York, NY)
  • 1926: Enters Navy Reserve
  • 1929 - 1947 : Partner of Kuhn, Loeb & Company (New York, NY)
  • 1938 - 1948 : President of Temple Emanu-El (New York, NY)
  • 1941: Enters active naval duty; Adviser to Navy Undersecretary James Forrestal
  • 1945: Promoted to rank of Rear Admiral; President, Princeton Institute for Advanced Study
  • 1946 - 1950 : Member of the Atomic Energy Commission
  • 1950 - 1953 : Financial Adviser to Rockefeller Family
  • 1953 - 1958 : Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission
  • 1958 - 1959 : Acting Secretary of Commerce under President Dwight D. Eisenhower
  • 1959: Returns to private life
  • 1962: Publishes Men and Decisions
  • January 21, 1974: Dies in Brandy Station, Virginia


Biographical note compiled on the basis of archival documents in the Papers of Admiral Lewis L. Strauss as well as data presented in Geoffrey Wigoder, ed.

Dictionary of Jewish Biography (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1991). pp. 506-507; American Jewish Year Book vol. 76 (1976), p. 518; Encyclopaedia Judaica (15), pp. 435-436.

RANK: Rear Admiral

HONORS: Distinguished Service Medal, Medal for Freedom, Legion of Merit, French Legion of Honor, Belgian Order of Leopold

From the guide to the Admiral Lewis Lichtenstein Strauss Papers, 1908-1973, (American Jewish Historical Society)


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  • World War, 1914-1918--Civilian relief
  • World War, 1939-1945--Diplomatic history
  • Government executives--Interviews
  • World War, 1939-1945--United States
  • World War, 1939-1945
  • Investment bankers--Interviews
  • World War, 1939-1945--Naval operations, American
  • International relief


  • Executives
  • Naval officers
  • Cabinet officers
  • Collectors, Autograph


  • United States (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • Virginia (as recorded)