Dern, George Henry

George Henry Dern

George Henry Dern

Profession: Governor of Utah, Secretary of War
Born: 1872
Died: 1936

Initiated: 04/16/1897
Passed: 04/23/1897
Raised: 05/07/1897

Most Worshipful Brother Dern began his political career in 1914 with an election to the Utah State Senate representing Salt Lake County as a Democrat. He served two terms in the State Senate where he became known for his progressive ideas and reformist stance. One of which was Utah’s first workman’s compensation act with was passed into law in 1917. A Democrat and a non-Mormon in a state that was ardently republican and contained the bulk of the institution and administration of the LDS church, Dern was well liked. He has been described as personal, and empathetic, willing to listen and would respond to all points of view. These traits served him well and help him win the 1924 gubernatorial election for Utah.

Again serving two terms (1925-1933), Dern continued his reformist agenda overhauling the State’s tax system, and improving financial support for public schools. He is most noted for his role in the ratification of the revised Colorado River Compact.

During his time as Governor of Utah, Dern was chairman of the National Governor’s Conference where he became acquainted with Franklin D. Roosevelt, who at the time was Governor of New York. This acquaintance resulted in Dern backing Roosevelt’s 1932 presidential campaign. Upon his election, Roosevelt appointed Dern as Secretary of War. This nomination secured Dern as the first Utahn to fill a position in a president cabinet. Although the first years of the New Deal were concerned mostly with domestic matters, Dern did succeed in enlarging and motorizing the Army.

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