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Iowa History Daily: January 7 - Shaw Takes Over US Treasury

Iowa History Daily: On January 7, 1902, former Iowa Governor Leslie M. Shaw became the United States Secretary of the Treasury during the administration of President Theodore Roosevelt. Hard headed, logical, and shrewd, Shaw helped guide American fiscal policy during the early 1900s.

Born in Vermont, Shaw dreamed of moving west to get a college education and become a landowner. Shaw worked on his father’s farm to save a few hundred dollars before heading west to attend Cornell College in Mt. Vernon. While at Cornell, Shaw sold fruit trees and taught school to work his way through college. Upon graduation, he again heeded west to enroll at the Iowa College of Law in Des Moines. 

Shaw set up shop in Denison after passing the Iowa Bar Exam, again selling fruit trees on the side to earn extra cash. His penchant for peddling fruit trees earned him the nickname "Old Apple Tree." Always enterprising, in 1880 Shaw and his law firm partner, Carl F. Kuehnle, established the Bank of Denison to provide private mortgage loans. Running for governor on a gold standard platform in 1898, Iowans elected Shaw to the state’s highest office.

While Shaw served as governor, he gained national attention for his speeches during presidential campaigns on America's finances. Campaigning while Theodore Roosevelt ran for vice president, Shaw's ability to captivate his audience while explaining financial issues in an understandable manner impressed Teddy. When President McKinley died in 1901 to elevate Roosevelt to President, he selected Shaw to be secretary of the treasury, where he served from February 1902 until March 1907. #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaHistoryCalendar


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