Thomas Knight Finletter (November 11, 1893 – April 24, 1980), was an
American lawyer, politician, and statesman.
3 Political and Professional Affiliations
4 See also
Finletter was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Thomas
Dickson Finletter and Helen Grill Finletter. He took his early
The Episcopal Academy
The Episcopal Academy in
Philadelphia and graduated from
the University of
Pennsylvania with both
Bachelor of Arts degree in
1915 and bachelor of laws in 1920. He also served as editor-in-chief
of the University of
Pennsylvania Law Review. In World War I, he
served with the 312th Field Artillery advancing to the rank of
captain. He was admitted to the
Pennsylvania bar in 1920 and the New
York Bar in 1921.
Finletter practiced law in New York until he began his government
service in 1941, as a special assistant to Secretary of State Cordell
Hull on international economic affairs. In 1943, he was appointed
executive director and later deputy director of the Office of Foreign
Economic Coordinator (OFEC). In this post, he was in charge of
planning economic activities related to liberated areas and was in
control of matters of foreign exchange and matters relating to the
operations of the Alien Property Custodian. Finletter resigned his
post in 1944, when the functions of OFEC were absorbed by the newly
created Foreign Economic Administration.
In 1945, Finletter acted as consultant at the United Nations
Conference on International Organization at San Francisco.
In the same year he was a cosigner of the “Declaration of the
Dublin, N.H., Conference”, a declaration on world peace issued by
the Dublin Conference on World Peace. The declaration stated that the
United Nations was inadequate to maintain world peace, and advocated a
world federal government.
He returned to public service July 18, 1947, when President Harry S.
Truman established a temporary, five-man commission that inquired into
all phases of aviation and drafted the national air policy report.
This commission was sometimes known as “The Finletter Commission”.
Finletter served as chairman of the Air Policy Commission which, on
January 1, 1948, sent to the president the report entitled “Survival
in the Air Age.”
Finletter was chief of the Economic Cooperation Administration’s
mission to the United Kingdom with headquarters in London, to which he
had been appointed early in 1949.
President Truman appointed Finletter as the second Secretary of the
Air Force succeeding
Stuart Symington on April 24, 1950, in which
office he served until January 20, 1953.
In 1958 Finletter was a candidate for the Democratic nomination for
the U.S. Senate from New York. He won the support of some liberal
reformers, prominently including Eleanor Roosevelt Finletter was
chosen as the Liberal Party's candidate, but the Democratic Convention
preferred Frank Hogan. Finletter then withdrew from the Liberal
ticket, endorsing Hogan. President
John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy appointed
Finletter to be the Ambassador to NATO in 1961. He served in that
office until 1965.
In 1965 he retired from government service and returned to his law
practice with the firm of Coudert Brothers, in New York City.
Thomas K. Finletter
Thomas K. Finletter died April 24, 1980.
Thomas K. Finletter School
Thomas K. Finletter School in
Philadelphia is named after Mr.
Interim Report on the U.S. Search for a Substitute for Isolation, W.W.
Norton & Co., Inc., New York: 1968
Political and Professional Affiliations
Americans for Democratic Action
Council on Foreign Relations
United World Federalists
United States Air Force portal
Pace-Finletter MOU 1952
U.S. Air Force official biography at the
Wayback Machine (archived
February 10, 2004)
The Truman Library
The Political Graveyard
U.S. Air Force, The Air and Space Power Journal
Declaration of the Dublin, N.H., Conference
Television News Archive, Vanderbilt University
United States Secretary of the Air Force
Harold E. Talbott
United States Ambassador to NATO
United States Secretaries of the Air Force
United States Under Secretary of the Air Force
United States Permanent Representatives to NATO
William H. Draper Jr.
John C. Hughes
George W. Perkins
Warren R. Burgess
Thomas K. Finletter
Robert F. Ellsworth
David M. Kennedy
David K. E. Bruce
William T. Bennett
David M. Abshire
Alton G. Keel Jr.
William Howard Taft IV
Robert E. Hunter
R. Nicholas Burns
Kay Bailey Hutchison
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