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OGC Key Personnel Archive - 1935-1937

Former General Counsel Thomas H. Eliot

Thomas H. Eliot

General Counsel Social Security Board, 1935-1937

Harvard Law School 1932
Harvard University 1928

Served in the Roosevelt Administration
Served under Administrator John G. Winant


Thomas Eliot, at age twenty-eight, was appointed to General Counsel of the Social Security Board in 1935. In this capacity, Eliot was in charge of drafting the Social Security Act.

Prior to his tenure as the General Counsel of the Social Security Board, Eliot was Assistant Solicitor of the Department of Labor.

In his book, Recollections of The New Deal, he details the myriad of legal issues he and his deputies encountered in drafting the legislation. A major part of their time was spent answering endless questions as to who was covered by the act. In addition, the office was responsible for keeping tax and benefit payment records which required negotiating and drafting contracts with suppliers of materials, mainly International Business Machines.

After serving as General Counsel for the Social Security Board, he returned to Massachusetts to teach at Harvard. Mr. Eliot was an unsuccessful candidate for election in 1938 to the Seventy-sixth Congress. However, he was elected as a Democrat to the Seventy-seventh Congress on January 3, 1941. He joined the faculty of Washington University in St. Louis in 1952. Eliot served as Chancellor of that institution from 1962-1971.

Thomas Eliot came from a prominent and well-known family. He is the grandson of Charles W. Eliot, a President of Harvard University, and is also related to William Greenleaf Eliot, a founder of Washington University, and the poet T.S. Eliot.

Presented for archival purposes. Current as of November 25, 2002.


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Content last reviewed on June 30, 2014