U.S. Secretary of Agriculture (1925-1929), educator. Born: January 16, 1879, Oneida Co., Idaho. Died: January 17, 1955, San Antonio, Tex.
Several Kansans were to play roles in national politics during the 1920s. One of these, William Marion Jardine, was to become Secretary of Agriculture during the presidency of Calvin Coolidge. As one of the first Kansans to gain a cabinet level position at the national level, he was quite instrumental in directing a farm program that had become economically depressed during the post World War I period.
Although not a native Kansan, Jardine had become well known to many levels of the farming community. Prior to his selection to this cabinet level position he had served as Dean of the School of Agriculture at Kansas State Agricultural College (Kansas State University) and subsequently was to become president of that institution from 1918 - 1925.
Not only was Jardine a practitioner of farming methods having been born and raised on a farm, but early in his career became an authority on soils and farm crops and wrote extensively on agriculture. His bulletins and articles on such subjects were distributed and widely read in farm circles. Because of this recognition and authority, and the position he was to take on measures for farm relief, his selection as Secretary of Agriculture came as no surprise to the vocal Farm Bloc.
As Secretary of Agriculture, Jardine was a competent administrator and was to prove an effective bulwark against those in favor of governmental price-fixing of surplus crops and commodities. He was a strong advocate of the farm cooperative movement, which was later to become a major feature of the farming community.
Following his tenure as Secretary of Agriculture, President Hoover appointed Jardine as Ambassador to Egypt in 1930. Upon his return to this country in 1933, Gov. Alf Landon appointed him a temporary Kansas State Treasurer in the wake of the Finney Bond Scandal. Jardine resigned from that position in April 1934 and became the president of the University of Wichita (now Wichita State University). Having reached the school's retirement age of 70, he retired in June 1949.