Beekman Winthrop

Beekman Winthrop

Winthrop circa 1910
Assistant Secretary of the Navy
In office
Assistant Secretary of the Treasury
In office
Preceded by Herbert Livingston Satterlee
Succeeded by Franklin D. Roosevelt
Governor of Puerto Rico
In office
July 4, 1904  April 17, 1907
President Theodore Roosevelt
Preceded by William Henry Hunt
Succeeded by Regis Henri Post
Personal details
Born (1874-09-18)September 18, 1874
Orange, New Jersey
Died November 10, 1940(1940-11-10) (aged 66)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Political party Republican
Profession Lawyer
Theodore Roosevelt and Winthrop (second from right) in Ponce, Puerto Rico, 1906
Former residence of Beekman Winthrop in Washington, D.C.

Beekman Winthrop (September 18, 1874 – November 10, 1940) was an American lawyer, government official and banker. He served as Governor of Puerto Rico from 1904 to 1907, as Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in 1907-1909, and Assistant Secretary of the Navy in 1909-1913.

Early life

The son of Robert Winthrop and Kate Wilson Taylor, Beekman "Beek" Winthrop came from a family of wealth and influence in New York. He was born in Orange, New Jersey and attended Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts where he received a Bachelor of Arts (A.B.) degree in 1897 and a LL.B degree from Harvard Law School in 1900, graduating second in his class.


A descendant of both John Winthrop, first Governor of Massachusetts, and John Winthrop, the Younger, first Governor of Connecticut, immediately after graduating he became a personal secretary to future president William Howard Taft while Taft was Governor-General of the Philippines. Winthrop was soon promoted to Assistant Executive Secretary of the Philippines (1901-1903) and was appointed as a Judge of the Court of First Instance, Philippine Islands (1903-1904). He was known to be a personal friend of Theodore Roosevelt and was appointed by him in 1904 as Governor and General Commander of Puerto Rico, at the age of only 28.[1][2][3] He was confirmed by the Congress.[4][5] Melza Riggs Wood (1870-1928), four years his senior, whom he married in 1903,[6] became the First Lady of Puerto Rico.

Winthrop took oath as governor of Puerto Rico on July 4, 1904, and served until April 17, 1907.[7] On his inauguration, he promised improvements to the educational system of Puerto Rico. Winthrop was a proponent of bringing citizenship and locally elected officials to Puerto Rico system of governance.[8] The press reported favorably on Winthrop's activities, and reporters were especially impressed with Mrs. Winthrop's fluency in Spanish, which made her popular among local population.[9]

In 1907, Winthrop was appointed as Assistant Secretary of the Treasury.[10] In 1909, he was made Assistant Secretary of the Navy,[11] a post he retained, functioning in time of need as Acting Secretary, until 1913, when he was succeeded by a young New Yorker, Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Later life

Following his retirement from public service in 1913, he was a director of National City Bank. He resigned from the bank in 1916.[12] He subsequently became a senior partner of Robert Winthrop & Co. in New York, from which capacity he stepped down in 1939. At the end of his life he lived in New York on East 69th Street,[13][14] where he died on November 10, 1940.[15] He is buried at Green-Wood Cemetery.

The Winthrops did not have children, however, Nathaniel Thayer Winthrop, a son of Frederic Bayard Winthrop, named his son, Beakman Winthrop (1941-2014) to honor his uncle.[16]

See also


  1. Frederick T. Birchall. A Colonial Governor At Twenty-Eight, Leslie's Monthly Magazine, December 1904. Vol.LIX, Iss. NO. 2, p. 172.
  2. Beekman Winthrop, The Independent, June 16, 1904. Vol.56, Iss. 2898, p. 1373.
  3. Winthrop Inaugurated, The Washington Post, July 5, 1904, p. 1.
  4. The Work of Congress, The Independent, April 28, 1904, Vol.56, Iss. 2891, p. 933.
  5. Senate Confirmations. Military, Naval and Civil. Los Angeles Times, April 28, 1904, p. 4.
  6. Society At Home And Abroad, The New York Times, October 11, 1903.
  7. Clark, Truman R. Puerto Rico and the United States, 1917-1933. Pittsburgh, Pa.: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1975, p. 18.
  8. Annual Report of the Governor of Puerto Rico, October 28, 1907.
  9. Wexler, Dorothy B. Reared in a Greenhouse: The Stories and Story, of Dorothy Winthrop Bradford. New York: Garland Pub, 1998, p. 95.
  10. Beekman Winthrop Named: Boy Governor to be Assistant Secretary of Treasury, The Washington Post, March 3, 1907, p. 1.
  11. State Wants Figurehead, The Washington Post, June 22, 1909, p. 4.
  12. Resignations from National City Bank, The Wall Street Journal, October 18, 1916, p. 8.
  13. Craig Karmin. Kermit and Big Bird Slept Here, The Wall Street Journal, February 8, 2011.
  14. The Neo-Georgian 1903 Tuckerman House -- No. 117 East 69th Street, Daytonian in Manhattan
  15. Beekman Winthrop obituary, The New York Times, November 10, 1940.
  16. Beekman Winthrop obituary, The Boston Globe, May 18, 2014.

Further reading

External links

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Government offices
Preceded by
William Henry Hunt
Governor of Puerto Rico
Succeeded by
Regis Henri Prost
Preceded by
Herbert L. Satterlee
Assistant Secretary of the Navy
March 6, 1909 March 16, 1913
Succeeded by
Franklin D. Roosevelt
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