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Posted on: October 24, 2020

[ARCHIVED] Greenburgh Slice of History - William Gibbs McAdoo

The Forgotten Story of a Former U.S Secretary of the Treasury and his connection to Irvington: William Gibbs McAdoo

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The Forgotten Story of a former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury and his connection to Irvington: William Gibbs McAdoo 

By: Riley Wentzler &Felicia Barber


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William Gibbs McAdoo  (1863-1941)


William Gibbs McAdoo was born near Marietta, Georgia in 1863. He went to college at the University of Tennessee and then went to law school. He practiced law at a local firm in the city of Chattanooga from 1885 until 1892, before starting his own law firm in New York City. He then got in on the railroad boom in 1902 by becoming president of the Hudson and Manhattan Railroad Company. From this position he oversaw the development of the first tunnel under the Hudson River(William Gibbs McAdoo, MICROSOFT ENCARTA, 1993-2003 Microsoft Corporation).


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William McAdoos House in Irvington Photo Credit Paul Feiner 


In 1907, he built a house at 65 West Clinton Ave in Greenburgh’s Village of Irvington pictured above (marker on House gate The second photo is actually the same photo, just zoomed in on the marker.)


While McAdoo saw himself primarily as a businessman, as a lawyer and a railroad manager, it was in his best interest to be involved in politics. He became an active member in The Democratic Party (William Gibbs McAdoo, MICROSOFT ENCARTA, 1993-2003 Microsoft Corporation).


The star of the 39 year-old Georgia-born, Tennessee- educated lawyer turned railroad manager was definitely rising, there was no question.


As McAdoo’s star was rising so was that of a Virginia-born Georgia-educated 46 year-old man who had, rather surprisingly, become president of Princeton University in 1902. His name was Thomas Woodrow Wilson.


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President Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924)


The ambitious university president decided to do two things:


  1. Drop his first name in order to make himself sound more distinguished.




  1. Run for the Governorship of New Jersey on the Democratic ticket.


These two proud southerners who moved north for greater economic opportunities knew little about each other in 1902. That would change however in the exciting political landscape of the Progressive Era, as Woodrow Wilson resigned his position at Princeton to serve as Governor of New Jersey in 1910. He served in this position until 1913. However, in 1912 he began using issues in New Jersey to launch a campaign for the U.S. Presidency. In  the 1913 Democratic Primary, Woodrow Wilson faced a tough race against   Representative Champ Clark of Missouri and Representative Oscar W. Underwood of Alabama (Woodrow Wilson, MICROSOFT ENCARTA, 1993-2003 Microsoft Corporation)


One person watching this contest with baited-breath was William McAdoo. He enthusiastically supported Wilson’s bid for the Democratic Party’s nomination and his general election campaign against Republican incumbent President William Howard Taft. When Wilson was elected president in 1913, he chose McAdoo as his Secretary of the Treasury.  From this position, McAdoo was the driving force behind the creation of the Federal Reserve System. That same year, McAdoo married his boss’s daughter, Eleanor Randolph Wilson. Woodrow Wilson was reelected President of the United States in 1917, therefore, McAdoo continued to serve as his Secretary of the Treasury until 1918 (William Gibbs McAdoo, MICROSOFT ENCARTA, 1993-2003 Microsoft Corporation).


Knowing that Wilson’s term would run out in 1921, McAdoo himself ran for president in 1920, but narrowly lost the Democratic Nomination to then Ohio Governor James Middleton Cox (Warren G Harding, MICROSOFT ENCARTA, 1993-2003 Microsoft Corporation) In 1924, he tried again, but again narrowly lost his party’s nomination this time to John W. Davis (Calvin Coolidge MICROSOFT ENCARTA, 1993-2003 Microsoft Corporation).


From 1933-1938 he served as one  of California’s senators. He died in 1941 (William Gibbs McAdoo, MICROSOFT ENCARTA, 1993-2003 Microsoft Corporation).





Previous Slices of History include:


  1. Greenburgh’s BROTHERLY LOVE, RELIEF AND TRUTH: A History of The Freemasons in Greenburgh (9/12/18)



  1. A Final Resting Place for “Man’s Best Friend”: The Peaceable Kingdom (9/29/18)


  1. Greenburgh’s Hall of Heroes: Ferncliff Cemetery Where Memories Live Forever (10/12/18)


  1. Greenburgh at The Great American Crossroads: Greenburgh's Civil War Story(10/19/18)


  1. A Different Kind of Rebel: Greenburgh’s Contributions to the Underground Railroad  (10/27/18)


  1. "The Disappearing Railroad Blues" in Greenburgh: The Fate of the Putnam Railroad Line and the old Putnam Trail  (11/6/18)


  1. A Thousand Words Which You Never Knew: The Forgotten Story of the Seal of Greenburgh (11/17/18)


  1. How a Flat Tire led to a Happy Escape: The Story of Carvel in Greenburgh (12/11/18)


  1. The Guardians of History: Greenburgh’s Historical Societies (1/6/19)


  1. A Small House, an Important Meeting, a Huge Victory: The Story of the Odell House (1/12/2019)


  1. The Intersection of Banking, Ballet, and School: Greenburgh’s Warburg Estate  (Updated) (10/22/19) 
  2. Lost History: The Tragedy of Malkasten (1/26/19)



  1. The Power of Wealth and Humility: A Reflection on Two Highly Influential African Americans (2/18/19)


  1. Greenburgh Under the Hollywood Lights: The TV shows and movies Filmed in Greenburgh Part I (2/23/19)


  1. Oh, The Places Your Mail has Gone: A History of The Hartsdale Post Office (3/9/2019)



  1. Greenburgh Under the Hollywood Lights: The TV shows and Movies Filmed in Greenburgh Part II (3/29/19)


  1. From Chasing Rabbits to Setting Records: The Amazing Story of Larry James (4/7/2019)


  1. From Fixing Cars to building Infrastructure: How Massaro Park Got its name (4/13/2019)


  1. There is no church here, but “the brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated” this ground: The Story of The Little White Church Cemetery (4/27/19)


  1. Irvington in Chains and our Process A History of Slavery in Irvington and A look at how Slices of History are made (and our interview with historian Robert Marchant) (5/11/2019)


  1. From Farmland to Shopping District: The Rise of Central Avenue  (5/25/2019)


  1. Like a long lost friend”: The story of how summer recreation has evolved in Greenburgh (6/7/2019)


  1. Abandon Ship!!! The Story of United Nuclear Corporation and their Short-lived Elmsford Facility (6/28/19)


  1. Beyond Heritage Versus Hate Toward Hope and Reconciliation: The story of Mount Hope Cemetery and its Confederate Monument (7/13/19)


  1. Hidden History: The Story of Fairview Fairgrounds Part I (7/27/19)




  1.  When Greenburgh Went “East  Bound and Down”: Greenburgh  During Prohibition (10/6/2019)


  1. From Mopping The Floor of One Institution to Managing Three at Once: The Amazing Story of Former Westchester County Commissioner of Public Welfare Ruth Taylor (12/12/19)


  1. Greenburgh Gets its “Sun Daze on” Under the Watchful Eyes of the Boys in Blue (1/9/2020)


  1. Making Martin Luther King Jr’s Dream Come Alive the Success Story of the Parkway Homes/ Parkway Gardens Community:(1/18/2020)


  1. Formed By Adversity, Held Together by Faith: The History of the Parkway Homes/Parkway Gardens Community (2/27/2020)


  1. From an Apple Orchard to The Olympics: The Saint Andrew’s Golf Club (3/8/2020)


  1. Ashes “Ashes, Ashes!!We all Fall Down”(3/23/2020)


  1. A Leading Medical Institution at The Border of Greenburgh: The Story of New York Medical College (4 /4 /2020)


  1. When the Cure was Worse than the Disease: A Look back on When The Medical Profession Wasn’t so Reliable: ( 4/18/2020)


  1. All Aboard!!! The Story of The Old Putnam Railroad In Greenburgh (5/31/2020)


  1. Juneteenth: A Day of Liberation (6/6/2020)
  1. The Jewel of Greenburgh: The Life of Charles Lewis Tiffany (7/25/2020)


  1. Hastings’ Best and Brightest: Nobel Laureates of Hastings



  1. Happy Hour Amid Civil Strife In Elmsford The Story of How the Brother Against Brother Nature of the American Revolution Led to the Cocktail. (8/8/2020)


  1. A Woman Rebel In Hastings: The Life of Margaret Sanger (1879-1966) (10/7/2020)


  1. Headless Horsemen, Long Naps, and Sunshine: Washington Irving and Sunnyside (10/17/2020)




About the Authors:


We are both Assistant Town Historians at Greenburgh Town Hall and we are engaged to be married and are currently looking for permanent employment.


Riley Wentzler:

I was born and raised in a small rural town in central Pennsylvania. In high school, I took every honors course available including four years of Spanish. I received A’s in all of them. I graduated third in my class of 146 students. This brought me to Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. Once there, I continued my trend of academic excellence. I graduated summa cum laude in Political Science with a minor in Spanish and a Master’s in Communication Studies, with a G.P.A of 3.94.  It was also there that I met my lovely fiancée, Felicia Barber. My Master’s in Communication has promoted public speaking, teamwork, and customer service. My Political Science degree has developed my research skills using computer-based tools and provided me with experience using the Microsoft Office products. My minor in Spanish has facilitated my bilingual capabilities. During my internship at Greenburgh, I created the petition for the State Roads project using website tools. My diverse education and areas of interest have provided me with a wide range of skills. I look forward to finding a career opportunity in business or government. To suggest a topic for next week’s article, you can contact me at assistanthistorian@greenburghny.comor to help me find employment, you can contact me at 


Felicia Barber:

I was born in New York City and raised in Hartsdale, New York. I graduated from Ardsley High School. I recently earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Graphic Design at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. It was here that I met my fiancé, Riley Wentzler. As a result of my academic excellence, I won a scholarship every year. I learned and applied many graphic design skills to projects during my summer internships and at school. I am proficient in using Adobe graphic design applications including Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign. For my Identity/branding course at Edinboro, I created logos to appear on the tee-shirts of Physical Education majors. For a veteran’s upcoming event, I used a typeface to focus the reader to the soldier in the poster. For the State Roads Legislative Campaign project, I created the embedded graphic-photo that accompanied the petition I am looking for a job to utilize my skills as a Graphic Designer in an agency, print shop, company or government To suggest a topic for next week’s article, you can contact me at assistanthistorian@greenburghny.comTo learn more about my artwork or to help me find employment you can contact me at



Two Interviews with the authors:






Coolidge, (John) Calvin in Microsoft Corporation. (1993-2003, (Not Given) (Not Given)). Encarta Encyclopedia. Redmond, Washington, United States of America


McAdoo, William Gibbs in Microsoft Corporation. (1993-2003, (Not Given) (Not Given)). Encarta Encyclopedia. Redmond, Washington, United States of America


Harding ,Warren G in Microsoft Corporation. (1993-2003, (Not Given) (Not Given)). Encarta Encyclopedia. Redmond, Washington, United States of America



Wilson, (Thomas) Woodrow in Microsoft Corporation. (1993-2003, (Not Given) (Not Given)). Encarta Encyclopedia. Redmond, Washington , United States of America

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