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John R. Steelman facts for kids

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John Steelman
John R. Steelman.png
Director of the Office of Defense Mobilization
In office
March 31, 1952 – September 8, 1952
President Harry S. Truman
Preceded by Charles Wilson
Succeeded by Henry H. Fowler
1st White House Chief of Staff
In office
December 12, 1946 – January 20, 1953
President Harry S. Truman
Preceded by Position established
Succeeded by Sherman Adams
Personal details
John Roy Steelman

(1900-06-23)June 23, 1900
Thornton, Arkansas, U.S
Died July 14, 1999(1999-07-14) (aged 99)
Naples, Florida, U.S.
Resting place Arlington National Cemetery
Education Henderson State University (BA)
Vanderbilt University (MA)
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (PhD)

John Roy Steelman (June 23, 1900 – July 14, 1999) was first person to serve as "The Assistant to the President of the United States", in the administration of President Harry S. Truman from 1946 to 1953. The office later became the White House Chief of Staff.

He holds the record for the longest term as Chief of Staff at six years.


Before joining the White House, Steelman served as:

  • Commissioner of Conciliation, U.S. Conciliation Service, Department of Labor 1934–36
  • Special Assistant to the Secretary of Labor 1936–1937
  • Director, U.S. Conciliation Service, Department of Labor 1937–1944
  • Special Assistant to the President, 1945–1946
  • Director, Office of War Mobilization and Reconversion, 1946
  • Chairman, President's Scientific Research Board, 1946–1947
  • Assistant to the President, 1946–1953
  • Acting Chairman, National Security Resources Board, 1948–1950
  • Acting Director, Office of Defense Mobilization, 1952

After President Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected to a fourth term, Steelman worked for a short time in New York City as a public relations consultant. But when Roosevelt died in 1945 and Vice President Harry Truman became President, Steelman returned to the federal government as an adviser to the Secretary of Labor. Later he became a special assistant to the President, serving as Director of the Office of War Mobilization and Reconversion. In 1946, he became "The Assistant to the President."

After leaving the White House, Steelman became an Industrial Relations Consultant in Washington, D.C. from 1953–1968. From 1955 to 1969 he served in a variety of corporate roles:

  • President of the Montgomery Publishing Company
  • Chairman of the Board of the Record Publishing Company
  • Publisher of newspapers in Bethesda, Silver Spring, and Rockville, Maryland


Steelman's first marriage to Jean Mitchell and second marriage to Ruth Emma Zimmerman ended in divorce. When he died of natural causes in July 1999, in Naples, Florida, at the age of 99, he was survived by his wife of 38 years, Ellen Brown Steelman.

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