Ezra Taft Benson Chronology (Part II): Nov 5, 1952 to January 20, 1961 (years as Secretary of Agriculture)
Early in life, Benson was a county agricultural agent and then became involved in various farming enterprises which gave him the experience that lead to his invitation to be the secretary of agriculture in the Eisenhower administration. After consulting with David O. McKay, Benson accepted the appointment where he worked towards a free market economy for agricultural goods, lessening government price controlling measures that protected farmers. Benson’s “get big, or get out of farming” approach made him unpopular among small farmers, who sometimes threw eggs at him. He had limited success in his efforts and eventually the gains he had made were overturned by a democratically controlled congress.
Eisenhower appointed Benson as the leader of the secret “Eisenhower Ten” – a group that would run the country in the event of a national catastrophe. Eisenhower eventually distanced himself from Benson when trying to help Nixon get elected. At one point, McKay privately told Eisenhower that if Benson became enough of liability, he (McKay) would extend a calling to Benson to take him out of Washington D.C.
Benson was considered by some to be the most controversial member of Eisenhower’s cabinet, and by others – the most influential. Near the end of his term, his role expanded beyond that of agriculture, and he became a voice on the ideological right of the political spectrum. Continue reading “Ezra Taft Benson chronology: Secretary of Agriculture” »