Paul V. McNutt bigraphy, stories - American diplomat

Paul V. McNutt : biography

July 19, 1891 - March 24, 1955

Paul Vories McNutt (July 19, 1891 - March 24, 1955) was an American politician who served as the 34th Governor of Indiana during the Great Depression, high commissioner to the Philippines, administrator of the Federal Security Agency, chairman of the War Manpower Commission and ambassador to the Philippines.

Final years

McNutt loyally supported Roosevelt in 1940 and was given added responsibilities at the FSA in managing defense-related health and safety programs. In 1942, Roosevelt appointed him chairman of the War Manpower Commission, which was charged with planning to balance the labor needs of agriculture, industry and the armed forces, but the position carried little real power. While in this capacity, McNutt publicly urged "the extermination of the Japanese in toto." When asked for clarification, McNutt indicated that he was referring to the Japanese people as a whole—not just the Japanese military--"for I know the Japanese people." In a further qualification one week after the original statement, McNutt stated that the comments reflected his personal views and not official U.S. government policy.Dower, p. 55

After Japan's surrender in 1945, President Harry S. Truman sent McNutt back to the Philippines for a second tour as high commissioner. Following Philippine independence on July 4, 1946, McNutt served as America's first ambassador to the islands, a post he left in 1947 to take up law practice in New York and Washington, D.C. After serving as ambassador, he also chaired the Philippine-American Trade Council, a business organization, and was a director of several firms in Manila. McNutt's prominence was demonstrated by his appearance on the covers of Life and Time magazines in 1939 when he returned from the Philippines, and on a Time cover in 1942 when he took the chair of the War Manpower Commission.

In 1950, McNutt became chairman of the board of United Artists Corporation. His involvement with the company was short-lived, as he and his management team stepped aside in favor of Arthur B. Krim and Robert Benjamin within less than a year.

McNutt fell ill in 1955 and decided to travel on a cruise to the Philippines to recover in the warm climate after a surgery. His condition only worsened and after arriving in Manila he flew to New York for better care. He died March 24, 1955 in New York City, aged 63, and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.Gugin, p. 298

Paul V. McNutt Quadrangle, a residence hall complex at Indiana University-Bloomington, is named for him and has a bust of him the front foyer of the main building.

Political career

McNutt became chairman of the state party and led the Indiana delegation to the Democratic National Convention in 1932. Up until the very last ballot, he and the delegation refused to support the nomination of Franklin D. Roosevelt for President. McNutt was dismissive and rude to Roosevelt when he came to personally ask for their support. Roosevelt never forgot the slight, and from then on in private he referred to McNutt as the "that platinum blond S.O.B from Indiana."Gugin, p. 291


The same year, Indiana's Democrats nominated McNutt for governor at the state convention. In the general campaign he focused his attacks on Republicans by blaming them for doing too little resolve the problems of the Great Depression. His campaign created the first political club for supporters in the United States. Members could join for a small fee with the contributions going to the campaign. The idea became popular and is now employed in many campaigns nationwide. He won easily, swept along in that year's national Democratic landslide led by Franklin D. Roosevelt. The Democrats swept the Indiana General Assembly as well, taking 91 out of 100 house seats, and 43 of the 50 senate seats.Gugin. p. 292

McNutt was a forceful and controversial governor. With an overwhelming Democratic majority in the legislature, he completely reorganized state government with the passage of the Executive Reorganization Act. The act effectively rolled back over fifty years of restrictions the legislation had placed on the governor in appointing officials, in having control over policy, giving him a measure of control over the more independent branches of the administration, and also granting new and expanded powers to the Lieutenant Governor of Indiana.Gugin, p. 293

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