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Home North Carolina Wayne County City of Goldsboro Historical Markers Kenneth C. Royall

Kenneth C. Royall

West Ash Street, Goldsboro, NC, USA
  North Carolina State Historical Marker
    North Carolina State
Historical Marker
    Marker Text:
"Last Sec'y of War & first Sec'y of Army, 1947-49. Attorney; state senator; brig. gen., 1943-45. Led military justice reform. Home was here."
     The last United States Secretary of War and the first Secretary of the Army, Kenneth Claiborne Royall was born on July 24, 1894, in Goldsboro. He was the son of George C. and Clara H. Jones Royall. He graduated from Episcopal High School in Alexandria, Virginia, at age fifteen, and proceeded to the University of North Carolina. After earning his B.A., Royall entered Harvard Law School, where he was associate editor of the Harvard Law Review, and from which he graduated in 1917. In May of that year, with the United States having entered World War I, Royall joined the army. He served in France from August 1918 until wounded in February 1919. At that time, Royall returned to Goldsboro and began practicing law.

     Royall served in the state Senate in 1927 and was president of the North Carolina Bar Association from 1929 to 1930. In June 1942, he retired from his legal practice, by then headquartered in both Goldsboro and Raleigh, in order to accept a commission as colonel in the U. S. Army, managing the War Department’s legal services. Royall advanced his position in the War Department, and was promoted to brigadier general in 1943. In 1945 he was appointed undersecretary of war and received the Distinguished Service Medal. President Harry S. Truman selected Kenneth C. Royall to be Secretary of War in July 1947. Two months later, with the formation of the Defense Department, that position was eliminated, and Royall was designated Secretary of the Army. He held that position until he resigned in April 1949. Later that year Royall became a partner in a New York City law firm. He retired from that firm in 1968 and moved to Raleigh. Kenneth C. Royall died in Durham on May 25, 1971. He was buried at Willow Dale Cemetery in Goldsboro. Royal married Margaret Best on August 18, 1917. The couple had two children.

Inventory of Kenneth Royall Papers, Southern Historical Collection, UNC-CH:
William S. Powell, ed., Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, V, 260—sketch by George M. Caldwell
Goldsboro New-Argus, May 26, 1971
Miller Center for Public Affairs, University of Virginia website: