Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Matthews, Francis P.

Matthews, Francis P.

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(1887-1952). Secretary of the Navy, 1949-1951

Francis Patrick Matthews was born in Albion, Nebraska, on 15 March 1887. A graduate of Creighton University in Omaha, he practiced law in that city beginning in 1913 and was active in business pursuits, civic and religious affairs and Democratic Party politics. During the Second World War, Mr. Matthews served as a Director and Vice President of the United Service Organizations (USO) and was also involved in war relief work.


Francis P. Matthews became Secretary of the Navy in May 1949, at a time of internal turmoil in the Department of Defense resulting from significant funding reductions and controversial defense priorities decisions. He served through the first year of the Korean War, when the fiscal situation was massively reversed in the face of international crisis, and all the armed forces were badly stressed to simultaneously meet the demands of a hot war in Asia and an intensive defense build up in Europe. He resigned the Navy post in July 1951 to become Ambassador to Ireland, the home of his ancestors. Mr. Matthews died on 18 October 1952, during a visit to Omaha, Nebraska.


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