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William P. Rogers

From Academic Kids

Portrait of U.S. Secretary of State William P. Rogers

William Pierce Rogers (June 23, 1913January 2, 2001) was an American politician, who served as a Cabinet officer in the administrations of two U.S. Presidents in the third quarter of the 20th century.

Rogers was born June 23, 1913, in Norfolk, New York. He was raised, from early in his teens, following the death of his mother, by his grandparents, in Canton, New York.

After education at Colgate University and Cornell University Law School, he passed the bar in 1937. Under Thomas E. Dewey he worked from 1938 to 1942 in the prosecution of organized crime in New York City. He entered the US Navy in 1942, serving on the USS Intrepid, including her action in the Battle of Okinawa.

While serving as a Committee Counsel to a US Senate committee, he examined the documentation from the House Un-American Activities Committee's investigation of Alger Hiss at the request of then-Congressman Richard M. Nixon, and advised Nixon that Hiss had lied and that the case against him should be pursued.

In 1950, Rogers became a partner in a New York City law firm, Dwight, Royall, Harris, Koegel & Caskey. Thereafter he returned to this firm when not in government service. It was later renamed Rogers & Wells, and subsequently Clifford Chance Rogers & Wells. He worked in the firm's Washington, D.C. office until several months before his death.

Rogers joined the Administration of President Dwight D. Eisenhower in a Deputy-Attorney-General position in 1953, and then served from 1957 to 1961, as Attorney General. He remained a close advisor to then-Vice-President Nixon, throughout the Eisenhower administration, especially in the slush fund scandal that led to Nixon's Checkers speech, and Eisenhower's two medical crises.

He also served as Secretary of State in the Nixon Cabinet, from 1969 January 22 through 1973 September 3.

Rogers is also notable for leading the investigation into the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger. This panel, called the Rogers Commission, was the first to criticize NASA management for its role in negligence of safety in the Space Shuttle program. Among the more famous members of Rogers' panel were astronauts Neil Armstrong and Sally Ride, Air Force general Donald Kutyna, and physicist Richard Feynman.

Rogers died of congestive heart disease in January 2, 2001, in Bethesda, Maryland.


Preceded by:
Herbert Brownell, Jr.
United States Attorney General
1957—1961
Succeeded by:
Robert F. Kennedy
Preceded by:
Dean Rusk
United States Secretary of State
1969—1973
Succeeded by:
Henry Kissinger

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