One of the major figures in the industrial and financial development of the Trans-Allegheny region, Andrew W. Mellon (1855 - 1937) was appointed Secretary of the Treasury by President Warren G. Harding in 1921, and he continued to serve under Presidents Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover. As the Nation embarked on the most materialistic period in its history, Mellon's philosophy was one of debt reduction, tax reduction, and a balanced budget. His tax reform scheme, known as the Mellon Plan, reduced taxes for business.
Sec. Andrew W. Mellon
Philip Alexius de Laszlo
Oil on canvas
68 1/2 x 55 x 1 3/4"
His theory was that big business would prosper in proportion to the lightening of its tax load and its profit would be transferred to the rest of the Nation. During much of his tenure, general prosperity and times of peace enabled Mellon to implement his measures. The Great Depression, however, beginning in 1929, undercut Mellon's prestige and brought him under increasing criticism. Despite the downturn in the economy, Mellon continued his policy of balancing the budget by cutting spending and increasing taxes, which worsened the effect of the Depression on the ordinary citizen. When Mellon began spending a great deal of time overseas renegotiating World War I debt payments, Hoover relied more and more on Ogden L. Mills, Mellon's Under Secretary, for advice. In 1932 Mellon left Treasury to become Ambassador to Great Britain, and he was replaced by Mills.