Lewis Strauss

Lewis Lichtenstein Strauss (/ˈstrɔːz/ "straws"; January 31, 1896  January 21, 1974) was an American businessman, philanthropist, and naval officer who served two terms on the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), the second as its chairman. He was a major figure in the development of nuclear weapons, the nuclear energy policy of the United States, and nuclear power in the United States.[1]

Lewis Strauss
Strauss c. 1959
United States Secretary of Commerce
In office
November 13, 1958  June 19, 1959
PresidentDwight D. Eisenhower
Preceded bySinclair Weeks
Succeeded byFrederick H. Mueller
Chair of the United States Atomic Energy Commission
In office
July 2, 1953  June 30, 1958
PresidentDwight D. Eisenhower
Preceded byGordon Dean
Succeeded byJohn A. McCone
Member of the United States Atomic Energy Commission
In office
November 12, 1946  April 15, 1950
PresidentHarry S. Truman
Preceded byNone (office created)
Succeeded byT. Keith Glennan
Personal details
Lewis Lichtenstein Strauss

(1896-01-31)January 31, 1896
Charleston, West Virginia, U.S.
DiedJanuary 21, 1974(1974-01-21) (aged 77)
Brandy Station, Virginia, U.S.
Resting placeHebrew Cemetery (Richmond, Virginia)
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Alice Hanauer
OccupationInvestment banker
Civilian awardsMedal of Freedom
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Navy
Years of service1941–1945
Rank Rear admiral
UnitBureau of Ordnance
Military awardsLegion of Merit (4)
Distinguished Service Medal

Raised in Richmond, Virginia, Strauss became an assistant to Herbert Hoover as part of relief efforts during and after World War I. Strauss then worked as an investment banker at Kuhn, Loeb & Co. during the 1920s and 1930s, where he amassed considerable wealth. As a member of the Executive Committee of the American Jewish Committee and several other Jewish organizations in the 1930s, Strauss made several attempts to change U.S. policy in order to accept more refugees from Nazi Germany but was unsuccessful. During World War II Strauss served as an officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve and rose to the rank of rear admiral due to his work in the Bureau of Ordnance in managing and rewarding plants engaged in production of munitions.

As a founding commissioner with the AEC during the early years of the Cold War, Strauss emphasized the need to protect U.S. atomic secrets and to monitor and stay ahead of atomic developments within the Soviet Union. As such Strauss was a strong proponent of developing the hydrogen bomb. During his stint as chairman of the AEC, Strauss urged the development of peaceful uses of atomic energy, including making an ill-advised prediction that atomic power would make electricity "too cheap to meter". At the same time he minimized the possible health effects of radioactive fallout such as those experienced by Pacific Islanders following the Castle Bravo thermonuclear test.

Strauss was the driving force in the controversial hearings, held in April 1954 before an AEC Personnel Security Board, in which physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer's security clearance was revoked. As a result, Strauss has often been regarded as a villain in American history. President Dwight D. Eisenhower's nomination of Strauss to become U.S. Secretary of Commerce resulted in a prolonged, nationally visible political battle during 1959 and Strauss was not confirmed by the U.S. Senate.