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Home North Carolina Union County City of Monroe Historical Markers David F. Houston

David F. Houston

Stewart Street at Main Street, Monroe, NC, USA
  North Carolina State Historical Marker
    North Carolina State
Historical Marker
    Marker Text:
"Secretary of Agriculture and later of the Treasury under Wilson. College president and author. His birthplace stood 60 yards north."
     Author, university administrator, U.S. cabinet official, and businessman David Franklin Houston had his beginnings in Union County. Houston was born in Monroe on February 17, 1866, the youngest child of William Henry and Cornelia Anne Stevens Houston. His family left North Carolina for Darlington, South Carolina, in 1872. He graduated from the College of South Carolina in 1887 and after a year of graduate school, served as superintendent of public schools in Spartanburg, South Carolina. From there he went on to receive a Masters of Arts from Harvard University in 1892.

     Leaving Harvard, Houston headed to Texas where served as a professor of political science at the University of Texas. Among his noteworthy accomplishments while there were publishing A Critical Study of Nullification in South Carolina, serving as dean of the faculty for three years, and marrying his wife, Helen Beall, in 1895. In 1902 he was chosen president of Texas A. & M. University, but he returned to the University of Texas to serve as president in 1905. Houston left the Longhorn State in 1908 to become chancellor at Washington University in St. Louis.

     Woodrow Wilson appointed Chancellor Houston to the post of Secretary of Agriculture in 1913. The legacy he created while serving in that position derived from his work to change the department of agriculture’s emphasis on bolstering production to one of improving marketing, prices, and distribution of products. He served as Secretary of the Treasury from February 1920 to March 1921 and then was elected chairman of the Federal Reserve Board. In 1924 he was mentioned as a potential Democratic candidate; however, Houston was ready to end his political career.

     Out of politics Houston stayed involved in the corporate world and in education. He was president of Bell Telephone Securities Company and financial vice-president of American Telephone & Telegraph Company from 1921 to 1927. From 1927 to 1940 he was president of Mutual Life Insurance Company of New York. Meanwhile he served as a member of the Board of Overseers of Harvard and as a trustee of Columbia University. David Franklin Houston died on September 2, 1940, and was buried in New York’s Cold Spring Harbor Memorial Cemetery.

William S. Powell, ed., Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, III, 211—sketch by E. Dale Odom
Department of the Treasury website:
University of Texas website: http://www.utexas.edu/faculty/council/2000-2001/memorials/AMR/Houston/houston.html