George L. Harrison

George Leslie Harrison (January 26, 1887 – March 5, 1958) was an American banker, insurance executive and advisor to Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson during World War II.[1]

George Harrison
George L Harrison.png
President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York
In office
November 24, 1928 – December 31, 1940
Preceded byBenjamin Strong Jr.
Succeeded byAllan Sproul
Personal details
George Leslie Harrison

(1887-01-26)January 26, 1887
San Francisco, California, U.S.
DiedMarch 5, 1958(1958-03-05) (aged 71)
New York City, New York, U.S.
EducationYale University (BA)
Harvard University (LLB)

Early life and educationEdit

Harrison was born in San Francisco, California on January 26, 1887. In 1909, at Yale, he was elected to the Skull and Bones secret society.[2] He was graduated from Yale University in 1910[3] and Harvard Law School in 1913.[3]


After earning his law degree, Harrison became law clerk for one year to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes.

After serving as general counsel to the Federal Reserve Board, Harrison served as president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York for 13 years starting in 1928.[1] He left in 1941 to become president of New York Life Insurance Company.

During World War II, Harrison was War Secretary Henry L. Stimson's special assistant for matters relating to the development of the atomic bomb. One of Harrison's notable moments was when he informed Secretary Stimson of the success detonation of the atomic bomb testing in New Mexico. Specifically, he wrote that

“Doctor has just returned most enthusiastic and confident that the little boy is as husky as his big brother. The light in his eyes discernible from here to high hold and I could have heard his screams from here to my farm.”[4]

The meaning of this quote is that the "Little Boy" atomic bomb (made of Uranium-235) was as successful as the "Fat Man" bomb (made of plutonium). The light from here to high hold refers how the detonation was visible from "here" in Washington, D.C. to Stimson's Highhold estate nearly 250 miles away on Long Island. The bomb was so loud that Harrison could hear the detonation from "here" in Washington, D.C. to his farm on Upperville, VA nearly 50 miles away.

After the successful development of the atomic bomb, he served with Stimson on the eight-member Interim Committee which examined problems expected to result from the bomb's creation and which recommended direct military use of the bomb against Japan without specific warning. Harrison chaired the committee when Stimson was absent.

Harrison returned to his position at New York Life after the war, becoming chairman of the company's board in 1948.

Personal lifeEdit

Harrison married the widow of Rear Admiral Cary T. Grayson, who was the former Alice Gertrude Gordon.[3]

He died of a cerebral hemorrhage in New York City in 1958[3] and is buried in Rock Creek Cemetery in Washington, DC.


  1. ^ a b "G.L. Harrison Heads Reserve Bank Here". New York Times. November 24, 1928. Retrieved 2012-10-28.
  2. ^ "Taft's son elected to Skull and Bones". New York Times. 28 May 1909.
  3. ^ a b c d "George L. Harrison Dead at 71; Headed Federal Reserve Here" (PDF). The New York Times. New York City. 6 March 1958. Retrieved 2 September 2016.
  4. ^

External linksEdit

Government offices
Preceded by
Benjamin Strong Jr.
President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York
Succeeded by
Allan Sproul