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William Adams Richardson

From Academic Kids

William Adams Richardson (November 2, 1821October 19, 1896) was an American judge and politician.

Born in Tyngsborough, Massachusetts, he graduated from Harvard University in 1843.

In 1873 he was appointed United States Secretary of the Treasury by President Ulysses S. Grant. He had served as an Assistant Treasury Secretary under his predecessor, George S. Boutwell. He served one year, from 1873 until 1874.

The post-war economy had expanded so quickly that commercial banks became nervous and began calling in their loans. As a result, in the summer of 1873 the money supply tightened drastically, causing the Panic of 1873. Richardson responded by issuing $26 million in greenbacks to meet the demand. The legality of his action was doubtful, but the Congress did not interfere and the crisis was eased. Such cycles of expansion and panic continued for the next thirty years, however, and were the basis for the creation of the Federal Reserve in 1913.

In his last months in office Richardson became embroiled in the "Sanborn Incident."

After leaving the Treasury, Richardson was appointed by Grant to serve as a Justice and Chief Justice of the U.S. Court of Claims in Massachusetts from 1874 until his death in Washington D.C. in 1896.

Further reading

  • Hackett, Frank Warren, Sketch of the Life and Public Services of William Adams Richardson, Washington D.C., 1898.



Preceded by:
George S. Boutwell
United States Secretary of the Treasury
18731874
Succeeded by:
Benjamin H. Bristow

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