Sherman Adams

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Sherman A. Adams (1899-1986) was a United States politician, best known as White House Chief of Staff for President Dwight D. Eisenhower, the culmination of a relatively short (18-year) political career that also included a stint as Governor of New Hampshire. He lost his White House position in a scandal over a vicuņa fur coat.

Born in East Dover, Vermont, Adams was educated in Providence, Rhode Island public schools. He graduated from Dartmouth College (1920), having taken time off briefly in 1918 to serve in the U.S. Marine Corps. He then went into the lumber business, first in Headville, Vermont (1921), then to a combined lumber and paper business in Lincoln New Hampshire. He also was involved in banking.

Adams entered state politics as a Republican legislator (1941-44; Speaker of the House, 1944). He served a term in the United States House of Representatives (1945-47), making a failed effort to capture the 1946 Republican gubernatorial nomination in New Hampshire. He lost to Chester M. Dale; he later won this office in 1948.

When Adams took office as governor, New Hampshire was suffering post-war recession. He called for frugality and thrift in both personal and state expenditures. Retirees were (and are) a significant part of New Hampshire's population; Adams called for increased state aid for the aged, and for legislation which would enable the state's seniors to qualify for Federal Old Age & Survivors Insurance. In 1950 he formed a Reorganization Committee to recommend changes in state operations, and he called for the legislature to act on the recommendations.

Adams's clipped New Hampshire twang and calls for frugality made him a virtual poster boy for Republican balanced budget values. He served as chairman of the U.S. Conference of Governors (1951-52), and was then asked to be White House Chief of Staff for the new Republican president, Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Adams took his role as Chief of Staff very seriously, and all requests for access to Eisenhower had to go through his office. This alienated traditional Republican Party loyalists, and when the chance came to attack Adams (over the gift of a vicuņa overcoat from a Boston businessman friend who had business with the government), they did so. Adams was compelled to resign (1958). He returned to Lincoln, New Hampshire where he started Loon Mountain Corporation, today a major ski resort.

Sherman Adams was one of the most powerful men in Washington D.C. during the six years he served as Chief of Staff to President Eisenhower. He had virtual control over White House staff operations and domestic policy. The extent of internal strife between strong willed personalities was chronicled in his 1961 memoir "First Hand Report". Among the heated conflicts within the Eisenhower administration were the best method to handle flamboyant personalities such as U.S. Senator Joe McCarthy and anti-Communist accuser Whittaker Chambers. Adams was a frequent broker of such controversies. When Adams resigned in 1958, and Secretary of State John Foster Dulles died the same year, the administration went into a two year period that lacked direction.

Preceded by:
John R. Steelman
White House Chief of Staff Succeeded by:
Wilton Persons
de:Sherman Adams
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