Most of whom you’ve never heard of.
Jerry does this because no president accomplishes anything alone. The President of the United States is at the top, but he needs someone to run foreign policy, handle the money, and keep an eye on the army as well as all the ships at sea.
This was never more true than in the early days of the American Republic, before presidents figured out how things worked and relied on these early Cabinet secretaries to define the departments of the Executive Branch and figure out how they were supposed to work, and what they were supposed to be doing. All the while dealing with things like economic calamities and wars, both declared and undeclared.
We know about some of these early Cabinet secretaries, like Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe, who went on to be President themselves, and Alexander Hamilton, because of a certain Broadway play. But Jerry digs into the lesser-known ones, in many cases those who have never really been studied by historians.
Why? Because without them, America would have been in trouble.
Jerry seems to like talking about Navy Secretaries with me, despite my penchant for seasickness and me having no idea about how boats work. This is my second time as a guest on Seat at the Table, and it is our second Secretary of the Navy—William Jones, who served during the War of 1812.
Jerry also likes to keep the identity of the Cabinet member a secret from his guest, which adds to the suspense, but doesn’t make me look in the least bit knowledgeable. So I have to make things up as I go.
This is something you long-time listeners of History’s Trainwrecks may be acquainted with.
Take a listen to the story of one of the early Navy Secretaries and why they mattered so much to the early American Republic.