John Volpe


Charles Bonaparte
1905
Charles Bonaparte first Italian American appointed as a member of the United States Cabinet.


Over the course of American history, relatively few have served in such nationally prominent positions as members of the United States Cabinet. Charles Bonaparte (1851-1921) was the first of Italian descent to achieve a Cabinet rank. The descendant of a celebrated family (his great uncle was the famous Napoleon Bonaparte), Charles was born in Baltimore, received an education in France and earned two degrees: bachelor and law at Harvard University. He enjoyed a reputation as a devout Catholic and lawyer, frequently working pro bono. An ethical minded citizen, he joined with Theodore Roosevelt in the reform movement of the late nineteenth century. When Roosevelt became president, he appointed Charles Bonaparte Secretary of Navy in 1905 and Attorney General in 1906. It was during Bonaparte's tenure in the Justice Department that a permanent investigating division was established that eventually became the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

It would take over sixty years before the appointment of the next Italian American cabinet member -Anthony Celebrezze of Cleveland's Italian colony, as Secretary of the Department Health, Education, and Welfare. While ethnic considerations did not play a role in Bonaparte's selection, they definitely were a factor in the choice of Celebrezze. Other Italian Americans chosen for cabinet posts were John Volpe, Joseph Califano, Benjamin Civiletti, Frank C. Carlucci, Andrew Cuomo, and Anthony J. Principi.

Swearing in ceremony in 1978 for Benjamin Civiletti
Frank Carlucci recieves NIAF award from Dr. Rose Basile Green Frank Stella




View Previous Entry     View Next Entry       Back to Timeline