Vilsack, Thomas J. (Thomas James), 1950-

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Thomas James Vilsack (born December 13, 1950) is an American politician and lawyer serving as the 32nd United States secretary of agriculture under the Biden administration. A member of the Democratic Party, he previously served as the 30th secretary of agriculture from 2009 to 2017 in the Obama administration and as the 40th governor of Iowa from 1999 to 2007.

On November 30, 2006, he formally launched his candidacy for nomination for President of the United States by the Democratic Party in the 2008 election, but ended his bid on February 23, 2007.

Barack Obama announced Vilsack's selection to be Secretary of Agriculture on December 17, 2008. His nomination was confirmed by the United States Senate by unanimous consent on January 20, 2009. Until his January 13, 2017 resignation one week prior to the end of Obama's second term as president, he had been the only member of the U.S. Cabinet who had served since the day Obama originally took office.

On July 19, 2016, the Washington Post reported that Vilsack was on Hillary Clinton's two-person shortlist to be her running mate for that year's presidential election. Virginia Senator Tim Kaine was ultimately selected.

Vilsack was born on December 13, 1950 in a Roman Catholic orphanage (or "Foundling Home") in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where his 23-year-old birth mother (a secretary) had lived since September 1950 under the pseudonym of "Gloria"; he was baptized as "Kenneth." He was adopted in 1951 by Bud, a real-estate agent and insurance salesman, and Dolly Vilsack. They named him Thomas James.

Vilsack attended Shady Side Academy, a preparatory high school in Pittsburgh. He received a bachelor's degree in 1972 from Hamilton College in New York. While at Hamilton he joined the Delta Upsilon fraternity. He received a Juris Doctor (J.D.) in 1975 from Albany Law School of Union University, New York.

He married Christie Bell in 1973, and moved with her to her hometown of Mount Pleasant, Iowa in 1975, where he practiced law.

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Miller, Russell R., 1937-. Russell R. Miller papers, 1970-2008. UC Berkeley Libraries
referencedIn Pigford v. Vilsack Claims Files, 1997-2014 National Archives Library, National Archives Records Administration
referencedIn Records of the National Park Service, 1785 - 2006. Legislative Files, ca. 2010 - 1/3/2016 National Archives Library, National Archives Records Administration
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Records of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health, 1950 - 1992. Committee Files, 2013 - 2015 National Archives at College Park
Relation Name
alumnusOrAlumnaOf Albany law school corporateBody
alumnusOrAlumnaOf Hamilton College (New York) corporateBody
associatedWith Miller, Russell R., 1937- person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Pittsburgh PA US
Mount Pleasant IA US
Cabinet officers


Birth 1950-12-13






Ark ID: w6m33n7k

SNAC ID: 17116101