Harold LeClair Ickes was an American administrator and politician. He served as United States Secretary of the Interior for 13 years, from 1933 to 1946, the longest tenure of anyone to hold the office, and the second longest-serving Cabinet member in U.S. history next to James Wilson. He and Labor Secretary Frances Perkins were the only original members of the Roosevelt cabinet who remained in office for his entire presidency.
Ickes was responsible for implementing much of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “New Deal”. He was in charge of the major relief program, the Public Works Administration (PWA), and in charge of the federal government’s environmental efforts.
In his day, he was considered a prominent liberal spokesmen, a skillful orator and a noted supporter of many African-American causes, although he was at times politically expedient where state-level segregation was concerned. Before his national-level political career, where he did remove segregation in areas of his direct control, he had been the president of the Chicago NAACP.
Robert C. Weaver, who in 1966 became the first African-American person to hold a cabinet position in the U.S., was in the “Black Kitchen Cabinet,” Ickes’ group of advisers on race relations.
He was the father of Harold M. Ickes, White House Deputy Chief of Staff for President Bill Clinton.