David Franklin Houston was an American academic, businessman and conservative Democratic politician. Houston served as President Woodrow Wilson’s Secretary of Agriculture from 1913 to 1920, when he became the Secretary of the Treasury until 1921.
During his time as Agriculture Secretary many important agricultural laws were passed by the U.S. Congress, including the Smith-Lever Act, the Farm Loan Act, the Warehouse Act, and the Federal Aid Road Act.
Houston came to the Treasury Department as World War I was ending. As ex officio Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, he issued severe warnings and, increased rediscount rates in order to prevent the inflation that the European allies were experiencing. Houston predicted a fall in U.S. prices, particularly of farm products, after the optimism of the Armistice wore off. He pushed for easier credit for farmers and urged them to produce less.
But when prices fell more dramatically than expected in 1920, farm spokesmen unfairly accused Houston of deliberately wrecking agrarian prosperity. Abroad, England and France were pushing to cancel their war debts. Houston, the U.S. Congress and the President, against cancellation, converted the short-term debts to long-term loans. Houston resigned at the end of President Wilson’s term, after only a year in office.